Review: Mortal Kombat

by on April 21, 2011 >> PS3ReviewsXbox

Take a moment and think about how many fighting games you’ve played where the game actually told you an engaging story… Take your time. I’m going with NEVER! The fight game genre has always been about 1 on 1 encounters with a friend or rival enemy in a competitive form and lived or died on the mechanics of the game. I haven’t ever seen a game in this genre take the time to tell a really detailed, layered and interesting story that spans years in time and has a solid and interesting conclusion. has a story mode that does that, and over several hours.

Rather than be a straight reboot of the original three games, the story involves Lord Raiden, The God of Thunder sending himself a message from the future into the past. Raiden gets the message and sees it at first as a way to victory and uses these visions of a future gone wrong as a way to correct things and keep his warriors alive. This is all happening during the first Mortal Kombat tournament from the games. The outworld has won 9 of 10 tournaments and if they win this last one then Outworld and the Earth Realm will merge and become one place. Raiden uses this vision to make sure that never happens.

As the story progresses the player takes command of several different fighters for a few matches, each punctuated by a cut scene that future tells the story. Some of the fights are incredibly uneven with enemies teaming up in a 2 on 1 match, or when it comes to the finale of the game, having unblockable attacks and having at least ten times the health as the player. It did start to get frustrating, but this is a story mode with bosses and a level of difficulty that makes sense to the story. I did have to dumb down the AI in the end to finish it which I’m not proud of, but the conclusion of the game was still very satisfying.

Mortal Kombat has a lot more than a rich and engaging story mode behind it. There are hosts of modes that will keep players coming back for more and more karnage. One of the biggest modes in the game is the challenge tower, a series of 300 varying tasks that earn you gold coins to spend in the krypt. The challenges themselves can be anything from small mini games, trying not to get hit for 15 seconds, learning combos and fatalities and more. As you move on they become more insane like taking on all the bosses in a super tag team match and without regaining any health. I don’t think I’ll be passing that one. The krypt I mentioned is a large field where you go to spend your coins. In the field are tombstones, men strapped to torture devices, hanging from trees or floating in a marsh. Pick a guy and watch them get torn apart, explode, or have their tombstone explode with zombie hands reaching out with your prize. This is where you unlock a lot of cool stuff including extra fatalities, costumes, render art, promotional art and more. It’s a reason to keep coming back.

Up for some multiplayer? Here’s where the game shows off what it’s really capable of. Along with a regular 1 on 1 match and tag team matches (so fun) there is a new mode called King of the Hill. KotH is a lobby system much like an arcade. You keep playing as long as you keep winning. What makes it even more interesting is that the lobby players have interaction with the game as you play. Well not DIRECT interaction, but you can see them as little MK avatars (or Xbox avatars if you’re on 360) and they can cheer, jeer or score your gameplay. Staying on top is the way to show what a bad ass you are.

Mortal Kombat is loaded with interesting characters, great fatalities that are so over the top, and a story that’s interesting and makes you rethink why the movies were so bad. Finally Mortal Kombat gives us a worthy successor to the classic games, has that old school feel while maintaining a new school attitude about story telling and gameplay. But it’s not perfect. The story mode’s insane difficulty spike at the end was frustratingly annoying, and the costume design makes you think that you’re still in the 1990s. Most of the women in the game wear outfits that might have been sexy in 1994 but now just look silly. Sonya Blade for instance is a military commando who wears a vest, leather pants and that’s it… and the vest is open almost completely. Now while I’m not complaining about gratuitous skin, I just think these out fits don’t look great. in any way. The men in the game all have interesting looks including Scorpion and Sub Zero who go through a few cool transformations through out the game, but the women are left in poorly designed spandex. Oh well.

Awful costumes aside Mortal Kombat is a gorgeous game to look at. It’s some times frustrating to actually have to play because the environments are so detailed and gorgeous. There’s always something interesting going on 100 feet behind the fight. As the story moves into it’s 3rd act Earth is invaded and the levels feature the army fighting dragons or giant monsters. Helicopters and Tanks fighting dragons is always cool… ALWAYS. The gore is over the top and very well detailed as are the character models and moves. The game always runs at a solid frame rate and never dips. It also features 3D and my partner Matt seemed to really dig it.

If you’ve missed Mortal Kombat for the past few years, wanted a really solid game on this generation of systems that didn’t involve side stepping, costumed super heroes and gimmicks then this is your chance to relive the glory days of the MK franchise.

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