Platform: Xbox 360
1-4 players offline/ 2-8 online/ 2player co-op
400KB Game save
Flight-stick/ chat pad support
In Game Dolby Digital
For over a decade, Mortal Kombat games have struggled to stay relevant after transitioning from 2D to 3D, which included several abysmally bad action-adventure platformers alongside mediocre fighting games that lacked a real identity. Now, with franchises like Tekken and Dead or Alive becoming somewhat stagnant and 2D fighting re-emerging via Street Fighter IV and Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Mortal Kombat has returned to its roots. I’m left wondering if the franchise and its history have enough left in the tank to make any real impact in the fighting genre.
Right off most gamers will agree that the game looks amazing. All the character models are extremely polished and quite vividly detailed. I really love the blood and violence effects as they are nothing short of superb. I also like the inflicted damage that leaves its mark on players. As battles progress, any kind of damage will leave a permanent mark on the character giving the game a whole new level of brutality. To me the game's backgrounds are the most visually striking portion of each level. Each stage has a beautiful, fully dynamic background with colourful images and characters that adds to the experience of each fight. All kinds of things are in the background such as blowing wind, ice rain etc.; it definitely adds to the dark mood of the game.
One item of note is that while the games are virtually identical across both the Xbox 360 and the PS3, the PS3 has a couple of features not found on the 360. There is an extra stage and an added character with Kratos from the God of War franchise. The level is nice, and using the God of War is also very cool; but most gamers may love the inclusion of a 3D mode. While I’m still on the fence about 3D, it certainly adds a new dimension within the game.
As good as the fighting is in Mortal Kombat, the sounds from the game are equally impressive. MK features all of the old iconic sounds from previous MK games and a slew of new sounds and music that truly enhances the experience. There is no annoying background music playing; in fact, I thought every piece of music played an integral part in the game. There are some very creepy areas perfectly captured by the score, which for me is a definite plus. I played the game on my sound surround system with the bass and volume turned way up. Not only did I deafen my house plants, each hit and throw made the room bounce with heavy bass kicks. I must say it was quite satisfying. The X-Ray moves feature incredible bone crunching and splintering effects that increase the violent glory the game is intended to exhibit, and the sound effects add more depth to every blow given in the fights.
It doesn’t stop at the incredible sound design; the voice acting is very good as well. The actors are very credible in their delivery, although they can be a bit over the top sometimes. The sound in Mortal Kombat adds to the incredible package the game delivers.
I like that Mortal Kombat is now, just that. The developers have stripped away the glitz and glam that began to takeover games of recent history. No more useless sidestepping. No more gimmicky multilevel stages. No new characters awkwardly shoehorned into the storyline. Instead, the graphics and fighting system have been beautifully polished, and the game has been packed to the gunnels with content.
While still a little cheesy, the story mode in this game puts a lot of its competitors to shame. The style reminds me of that found in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, but has a much more natural flow and is more engagingly cinematic. There were times where I had forgotten that I was actually progressing as I fought numerous Kombatants.
There's no shortage of nostalgia for old fans of the series. The gameplay is familiar but fresh, with well-executed tag and combo systems. The simplified inputs for Fatalities and "X-Ray" supers make the game's fun more accessible without sacrificing its depth. The game isn't flawless, but since it flows so well the flaws seem subjective. A larger character roster would have been nice, but the present one is adequate and well-balanced. I instantly recognized the older fighters from the original games with very little in the way of changes in appearance; there were few that I had no idea about with origin and names. The gameplay isn't radically different from the first few games in the series, which may seem like a throwback for people used to the mechanics of other fighting games. Yet, the best thing about the game is that it finally, unrepentantly, has its own uncompromised identity.
The Xbox 360 controller felt really good in my hands while I played MK. The game has only a couple of base moves, but the combos and timing moves make it a complete package. In some ways the MK plays easier than the button-combo-laden Street Fighter games, and thank goodness for that. I can actually learn and perform some of the games most gruesome fatalities with just the flick of my fingers. Chaining moves together and perfecting character strategies requires a good deal of practice and fighting know-how.
That being said the controls are very different from any other fighting game I have ever played, and that is what makes Mortal Kombat its own fighting game. Overall the control schemes are simple to learn, but are actually hard to master. Which makes a 3 hit combo executed much more rewarding in this game than the others out there. The unique moves each character has makes it a very good challenge to anyone who would want to master all of the characters. It has a very familiar feel to MK2; therefore those hardcore fans will feel at home with the flow of the moves in the game. This game rewards those who can actually play over those who simply button mash because of the sophistication of the controls.
It's a thrilling game with tons of flashy moves and combos, and specials. The specials are easy to perform, and once you wrap your mind around the logic of getting someone into the air and keeping him there, figuring out the most damaging moves is half the fun. You can also just do the math and figure out just which combos exactly do the most damage, but how fun would that be? While Mortal Kombat goes out of its way to recall some of the fighting mechanics popularized by MK2 and MK3, the game doesn't play like the stiff throwback. Carefully considering when to use the moves that drain parts of your super meter and timing those juggles just right are both pretty key.
The free flowing fast paced style of fighting drives the entire game across all of its modes. Gamers can opt to play in both a traditional one-on-one fight or in a two-on-two tag battle. The game actually lets up to four persons to play at once, if you're interested in tag-teaming with a real person. The tag battles add some extra moves to the game, letting you call in your partner to perform quick special moves or tagging out in the middle of a combo with fast switches between fighters. This can be useful to drain your opponent’s health while conserving one of your fighters. Personally, I prefer the classic one-on-one style but tagging in and out makes for a fun variant.
Mortal Kombat probably contains the best collection of single-player elements of any fighting game, ever. Its largest piece is the story mode, a chapter-based tale that takes you from one playable character to the next as the events of Mortal Kombat's first three games unfold. The timeline is altered, which allows the developers to change some pretty interesting things about the state of the Mortal Kombat universe. By the end, some characters are left in a completely different state than they were in the normal timeline, which is pretty cool. The game seamlessly weaves from fight to cut scene and back again, loading the battles in the background as you watch the story scenes unfold. Each match even ends with a custom win quote specific to that situation. In all, the mode should take around 8 to 10 hours of solid game play, which is an amazing feat for any game in its genre.
In addition to the preset story mode, you can also take on an arcade ladder mode with each character, which gives you a quick batch of fights that culminate in character-specific endings.
The other big single-player mode is the Challenge Tower, which is a collection of 300 tasks that vary up the rules of the fighting in a lot of different ways. Some are simple changes, like tag battles where the tagged out partner recovers health, or fights that must be finished with a fatality in order to be completed(this is tough), or outnumbered endurance battles. I had to laugh because some of them get way over the top, like one where instead of using normal attacks, each button press launches one of your limbs at your enemy. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen such a mode, but it is fun. The limbs grow back over time, giving you a steady stream of heads, arms, and legs to launch. Another has the whole world tilt from side to side as blows and hits land. While there are a lot of inventive twists and turns on your flight up the ladder, a few types do repeat a little too frequently as you rise to the final battle.
One of the cool things that the Challenge Tower and Story mode does is make you play specific characters. This gives you some hands on time with players you have never used or familiarizes you with some of your favourites. There are 27 of them to choose from, although certain situations will force you into using fighters not of your choice. The vast majority of the roster comes from the first three games, from classic fighters such as Scorpion, Liu Kang, and Kano to the MK3 upstarts like Kabal, Nightwolf, and Stryker. Each character gets at least two outfits and two fatalities. Unlockables such as second outfits, methods to perform the second fatalities, and loads of concept art and music are unlocked via the Krypt. There's only one type of currency this time around, and sinking time into the story mode will earn you enough coin to unlock a lot of stuff. Like past games, most of the concept art isn't really worth dwelling on for very long, so versus screen kombat kodes, costumes, and fatality instructions are the most important things to get out of the Krypt. I was surprised at the sheer amount of stuff to unlock; it’s going to take a fair amount of money not to mention time to unlock everything.
Online, the game plays pretty much like it does offline, provided the network conditions are just right. The structure of the online mode starts with the same sort of lobby system used in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. It gives players a spot to swap text with each other as challenges are passed around and battles are fought. If you don't want to mess around with chat rooms, the standard ranked and unranked options are also present. Both regular and tag battles can be played online, and a new mode called King of the Hill rounds things out pretty nicely. I really liked this mode as it allows up to eight players to join a room and spectate fights while they wait for their turn to take on the current winner. The loser of each fight goes to the back of the line. You know there’s going to be a ton of talk and throw downs in that room. The mode also includes a visual lobby, where the gamer’s avatars stand around and watch the battles. You can manipulate your avatar using different button presses to express your joy or rage during a fight, or you can just hit the select button and make the fight take up the entire screen.
There is a ridiculous amount of content to unlock that I haven’t touched on and there is also a code included within your game to punch for downloadable content. You have to hand it to the developers; this is one game that truly is supported by its makers.
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