Reviews - Multi Platform
Written by Eric Dionne Tuesday, April 26 2011 01:30
It has Begun! Mortal Kombat has finally arrived! One week has passed since the new Mortal Kombat game released on April 19th, and this reviewer couldn't be happier! If you're looking for info on characters and stages in this game, consult my Mortal Kombat Preview and my Mortal Kombat Hands-On articles. This review is all about the final product. Here, I'm writing about story mode (no spoilers), arcade, online, and test your luck, in addition to a discussion on the gameplay, graphics, and the game's overall appeal.
This game is truly one for the ages and if you want to find out how this game stacks up to previous MK titles and other games of today, then read on because have I got a great review for you!
Developer: Netherrealm Studios
Publisher: WB Games
Platform: PlayStation 3 (Reviewed), Xbox 360
Release Date: April 19th, 2011
I have waited 15 long, grueling years for a 2D Mortal Kombat game. Sure, the 3D Mortal Kombat games were good for what they were. The fatalities looked amazing in 3D, but the MK3 combo system just simply didn't transfer well to 3D fighters. If the 3D MKs took more of a "Tekken-esque" approach, I think they would've worked out better, but we got what we got. 2D is where Mortal Kombat needs to stay. If a fighting game starts in 2D, it should stay that way, where the obvious change would simply be graphical. Super Street Fighter IV and the new MK both took this approach with the term 2.5D. This simply means the game is played on a 2D plane, but graphically both in level design and characters, they are three-dimensional.
So with that in mind, I'll begin with graphics. Many gamers of today tend to worry about graphics over gameplay. As someone who grew up during the dawn of gaming, I learned to care more about gameplay. Luckily for us, Mortal Kombat looks amazing. The character models are the best they've ever been. Every character looks entirely unique, and it shows off their personalities amazingly well. Sure, the female fighters all have huge breasts, super tight bodies and fight in ultra skimpy outfits, but that's the way fighting games go nowadays. Try playing Dead or Alive 4 or Soul Calibur IV and tell me otherwise. But even so, the models are fully detailed, clothing and all, and truly bring to life our classic MK characters. The fact that all of our favorites from the old games make a return makes this game worth it alone in my opinion. Characters like Stryker and Sheeva no longer look like a joke, and Nightwolf is now one total badass Native American.
Story mode takes an interesting turn this time around. If you played Mortal Kombat vs DC then you know how it goes. Every 3 or 4 matches you play as a different character, who the story focuses on. After a few matches you move onto someone else, until you reach the end. This time around though, the story takes a few turns, thus altering the MK timeline. The story from here on out will be totally different, though similar in ways I'm sure. The biggest complaint people seem to have about story mode are the 2v1 matches you encounter. Many of the matches in story mode involve you facing off against 2 characters alone. Personally, I had no trouble with this and it actually made it way more fun due to the fact that 1 on 1 isn't very hard at all. I had to actually think and plan my attacks more carefully since I had to take out 2 opponents. Yet, all these so-called gamers online bash this game for it calling it cheap.... Have you ever played Mortal Kombat? 2v1 matches are not new. MK 1 had an "Endurance" round that was a 2v1 match, as did all the others after it. How about you practice and get good at the game? Honestly, kids today don't want a challenge in their games and that saddens me. And yes, you can unlock this Mileena costume after completing challenge tower:
The final boss and subsequent sub bosses (be it in story or arcade mode) also get a lot of flak for being so tough. Yes, Goro, Kintaro and Shao Kahn have a special armor that occasionally lets them not flinch when attacked; deal with it. If they didn't, we'd all be complaining they were too easy. It keeps you on your toes, not knowing when they'll take the hit or not. You still do the same damage as if you hit them with the attack, they just don't react to it, so plan your strategies wisely. I suck horribly with guys like Smoke and Kung Lao in this game, so I have to plan accordingly when I attempt ladder mode with them because I know they'll be hard.
But long story short, Story mode was amazing and epic. The ending worked out for me beautifully (those of you who have finished the story and know my hated for Liu Kang and Kung Lao will attest to that) and it leaves room for MUCH more in future MK titles. Also, Johnny Cage had a huge part in the story and, as my all time favorite MK character, I couldn't be happier.
The gameplay is where this game shines when compared to every other 3D MK game. Gone are the long 10 button press dial-a-combos. We now have 2 or 3 hit combos and the ability to implement our own attacks, in essence allowing a more customizable experience without having your character freeze up just because you pressed the wrong button. It's fast paced and fluid, and those would would complain otherwise are likely Street Fighter fanboys who think all games should play like SF). The X-rays are just too cool, as bones shatter and muscles tear with every attack. Many complain that they slow down the match, but again, this isn't Street Fighter; this is Mortal Kombat. They fit perfectly for the series, and personally I see them as a successor to the old "Brutalities" of MK's past. Sure, they don't explode into a pile of bones and organs, but why would they? How does that make any sense? I for one think it plays the best of any MK game and that's what I compare it too.
Comparing MK to Street Fighter is like comparing Tekken, to... say... War Gods. Sure they're both 3D fighters, but they play nothing alike and should stay that way. So to all of you hardcore Street Fighter fans, don't hate on MK because it "doesn't play like Street Fighter" because that logic is flawed. If anything, I prefer MK over SF and always have, which I'm sure (Glitchy Tasty Writer) Tony H. can attest to.
One side note; after finally playing more MKvsDC before this game's release, I noticed the new game plays very much like that one, just not on a full 3D plane. The way combos and moves work out are very similar, which made me appreciate MKvsDC for what it is, forgetting that it was rated T and had lame fatalities.
Here's a video of a few of the MK 2011 fatalities.
Let's get down to it, the reason we all play Mortal Kombat: the fatalities! The game does not disappoint in this department, as it shouldn't since Mortal Kombat started the whole "Finishing Move" craze of the 90's. Every game had to have them! Mace: The Dark Age, War Gods, Killer Instinct... Without MK, would they even exist? Every character has 2 fatalities (some have 3, and DLC could give us more in the future), a Stage fatality, and yes, a Babality. The only catch is that at the start, the movelist only shows the 1st fatality. You can unlock the 2nd fatality inputs so they show up in the movelist in the Krypt (which I'll get to in a minute), by spending the koins you earn throughout the game. But if you manage to figure them out beforehand, you can still do them and even unlock it for use with the movelist that way too. In fact, Stage Fatalities and Babalities have to be found on your own. Luckily for us, message boards and web sites have all of the finishing moves listed for each character and simply completing them once will unlock them permanently so you can see them in future matches. Unfortunately, players 2-4 cannot see them unless they're being used by profiles that have also unlocked everything. VERY lame, if you ask me.
These fatalities are the most detailed and disgusting of all time, and I for one couldn't be happier! For those of you who bought the PS3 version of the game, we are greeted by Kratos and his stage. This is where the 2nd part of the Kratos/Zeus battle in God of War 3 took place, on a ledge near the Flames of Olympus. The cool thing is this stage has 3 different stage fatalities, it's just a matter of which button you press when prompted. Basically, your options are to be crushed, burnt, or sliced into pieces. One thing to keep in mind is that Kratos reacts differently to Fatalities than other characters. By that, I mean while normal kombatants freak out when they're about to die, Kratos just stands there and takes it. Shrink him down in Ermac's fatality? He is angry, not frightened. Split his head with Johnny Cage and use the trophy? Nope. You'll split his head, but the trophy does not get used. I assume they didn't mind Kratos dying as long as he didn't get humiliated, too. Here's a video of some fatalities being done to Kratos. Note how his mouth never opens, even when screaming.
Arcade mode is the same as always. You start at the bottom and face 10 fighters, the 10th being Shao Kahn. As usual, you'll face Shang Tsung in match 8, and Kintaro or Goro in match 9. You simply climb the ladder, face Shao Kahn, defeat him, and watch your characters ending. It's as fun as always, and having individual endings per character as the old "what if this person won" scenario is great. This time around, we get more of a digital graphic novel style ending for each character, which can be viewed in a mode/area called the Nekropolis. Tag ladder is just how it sounds; it's ladder mode, but with tag teams. It's cool, especially since 2 human players can try it. You do unlock both endings when you win, but the ending you initially see is the ending of the 1st character you picked, not the character you used to beat the boss with (the opposite of Marvel vs Capcom 3). Also, when I beat it with Cyrax and Sektor, I unlocked Cyrax's Human alternate costume but not Sektor's, even though I beat Shao Kahn when controlling him. I did unlock both of their endings to view in the Nekropolis, however.
The Krypt and Nekropolis go hand in hand in this game. The krypt, to all you non-MK players, is an area where you unlock things using koins earned by completing various objectives in-game. It is separated into 4 areas (5 if you count the Nekropolis), and they all show people being killed in some way, which makes their soul fly out and give you an item. You'll see guillotines chopping heads, Iron Maidens stabbing people with spikes, floating bloated bodies being eaten by fish, or hanging bodies being force-fed some red object that makes their bellies burst. I must say that even though it's just something to see, it's still a nice addition. The items you can unlock range from the 2nd fatality inputs, alternate costumes (which can also be unlocked by beating arcade ladder with a character), concept art, and even kombat codes for versus mode. You all remember kombat codes from MK 3, right? when both players agree on the kode and input it correctly you are blessed with some fun stipulation in the match such as armless kombat, or Rainbow Kombat. Rainbow Kombat is fun because the blood is all rainbow colors. The Nekropolis is where you see endings and bios of the characters, as well as your unlocked krypt items. When you unlock an at costume, you have to go into the krypt and click on that character to actually be able to use it.
The Challenge Tower is just that; challenging. I love it, plain and simple. 300 challenges - some brutal, some super easy and some just plain fun, are there for us to explore. Some involve Test Your Luck, where a roulette wheel determines stipulations to the match. Others involve facing the 3 Shokan Warriors and trying to win using 1 health bar and only half of it regenerates after each character. They're quite a mixed bag, too. I finally beat that particular challenge, only to destroy the next 7 or so because they were stupidly easy in relation to the other challenges over the 200 mark. But as you play them, you can't help but have fun even if some are painstakingly difficult.
While Test Your luck mode works well, the downside to it is not being able to do fatalities after a match. Sure, if I have no head or arms I couldn't pull off some fatalities, but they could've made it so if the match had stipulations that didn't involve missing limbs, or the loser exploding (explosive kombat and zombie kombat), why not allow fatalities? Having a 7-stipulation roulette wheel though makes for some interesting matches. We played matches where we had no head or arms, it rained ice, the screen shook as if there was an earthquake, one player couldn't jump, the other was poisoned, and the loser would explode. Yeah, it was insane. I highly recommend this mode just because you never know what to expect in a match, and this to me is an amazing concept. Test your Might and Sight make a return, where you have to break an item by building up a meter or keep your eye on the ball as cups (or heads) move to hide it. Debuting in this new Mortal Kombat is Test Your Strike. This is much like Test your Might, however you have to keep the meter in a specific area of the bar until it turns green, then strike, breaking only the discolored object in the center of stacked objects.
Online mode is alright. It's just versus mode but online. I only got to play the day before the Playstation Network was hacked, and already MK was filled with spammers and other such crappy players. That's to be expected, anyway, so I'll stick to playing player match or matches with friends. Not saying I won't play online once PSN is back up, but I get angry when facing players who jump away and spam projectiles. Sure it's not unbeatable, but it's just annoying and not any fun. And it did lag when I played online, but only during 1 of my 5 matches I played. One odd thing though; I had 4 straight wins and lost 5th match to a spammer... yet after 3rd match it said I only played 1 and had 1 win... so that kind of sucked. Also, if you buy the game used, be prepared to fork over $10 to PSN/XBL because much like EA games, you have to pay to play online unless you buy it new. So remember, buy MK new and not only will you support WB/NetherRealm studios, but you also won't pay extra money to play online, as a new copy comes with the online pass for free.
Sound design in this game works alright, however the voice acting in story mode can sometimes become tough to hear (although I don't have surround sound so maybe it was only background voices I couldn't hear well as a result).Subtitles made that a quick fix, though, so it all worked out. You can unlock the klassic music for stages from the older MK games using the kombat code 101-101 (press Square/X and Circle/B once on both controllers). In stages like the deadpool, courtyard, pit, temple, street, rooftop, wasteland (and more), you get the classic MK music from the games they are featured in. Raiden has his patented gibberish when he flies across the screen, yet sadly Liu Kang's bicycle kick is silent as far as crazy-ass kung fu noises go.
There really isn't much more I can say about this game. As a huge Mortal Kombat fan, I'm not going to lie, I may be a bit biased. I am a huge MK fanboy and so maybe I love this game moreso than others. I love it because it's back to 2D, it has all the classic MK1-MK3 characters (plus some new ones like Quan Chi, and soon DLC will have Kenshi and a new female character most likely named Skarlett). I love that the classic music is in the game, and that Cage, Stryker, and Kabal are all awesome, as they're my favorite characters in MK. I love the controls being much more fluid, and fatalities being so much more violent this time around. I especially love this alternate timelines new story direction (and I am a huge time travel and alternate timeline sci-fi fan).
Overall, this game is my new all-time favorite fighting game hands down, and so far it's also Game of the Year for me. I can play this game for hours and not get sick of it. I haven't had an MK game do that to me since MK Trilogy for the PS1. If you are a Mortal Kombat fan you owe it to yourself to buy this game. If you love fighting games, again, you should get it. If you're a die-hard Street Fighter fanboy and will immediately compare MK to that series, then maybe you should rent it or borrow it from a friend because this is not at all like SF. This game was made primarily for fans of the original mid 90s MK games and as one of those fans, I couldn't be happier. The long wait was well worth it, as this game is "superb", as Shao Kahn would say. I look forward to playing people on PSN... if it's ever back up and running again. Enjoy the images for the Kollector's Edition of the game below! The new Mortal Kombat is a Flawless Victory for fighting game/fatality fans everywhere! Oh, and don't forget to check out my "Kombat That Kounts articles", all part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4for background on the previous Mortal Kombat games.
98 out of 100