The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Mortal Kombat isn’t a mere throwback to the series’ arcade glory
days. Sure, it places combatants on a classic two-dimensional plane,
recycles Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3’s roster, ventures back to the series’
most iconic arenas, and gives that odd fellow who yells “Toasty!”
another job. However, the nostalgic nods, as great as they are, take a
backseat to the creative ideas that bolster the classic fighting
Powerful x-ray moves shatter spines and fracture skulls, special
moves can be augmented to deal additional damage, and just when you
think you’ve seen it all, the game throws bloody curveballs your way in
the form of new match types. You may find yourself battling an army of
tarkatans, or struggling to deal damage because your character can’t
stand the stench of a rotting version of Goro. With a sadistic sense of
humor accompanying most of the fights and modifiers, you never know what
to expect from Mortal Kombat – but it's always gory, hilarious, and an
absolute blast to play.
Most of the crazy match types are found in Challenge mode, a tower of
300 objective-based levels. This mode could easily be considered a full
game on its own. While Test Your Might, Strike, Sight, and Luck pop up
often, most of the other matches are unique one-offs, such as Johnny
Cage fighting a movie director or a bout where you play as a zombie. In
addition to making me question what the hell is going on every five to
10 minutes, this mode does a nice job of showing players the ropes and
teaching them how to play as each of the combatants. Some of the
objectives are incredibly difficult, but should you run into a challenge
that has your number, you can pay coins (earned in every mode) to skip
I pumped 10 hours into Challenge mode alone, and invested twice as
much time into the classic tournament structure. This is where MK
purists can enjoy no-frills one-on-one fights culminating with an
ass-beating by Shao Kahn. The combat is frantic, and even though most of
the characters’ special moves were introduced over a decade ago, it
doesn’t feel like a nostalgia act. NetherRealm Studios has created a
modern fighter that accommodates numerous play styles. If you have any
memory of the first few Mortal Kombat games, you can probably throw
Scorpion’s spear without looking at the moves list. The combos, enhanced
special attacks, x-ray attacks, and beautifully designed tag maneuvers
are all new wrinkles that make this combat experience the deepest in
Mortal Kombat’s history. Dan and I play the game in entirely different
ways, and some of the people I’ve played online have opened my eyes to
new approaches with different characters. Story mode also forces you
into the role of different characters and, like all of the modes in this
game, offers a lengthy and polished experience despite the ludicrous
tale it tells.
None of the characters are palette swaps, and there’s little
repetition in the move sets or fatalities. You can sense that Ed Boon
and his team had a great time dreaming up fatalities that best fit each
character. Some of them are hilarious; others are downright disturbing.
In Shang Tsung’s finisher, the team even takes a jab at Mortal Kombat
vs. DC Universe’s Teen rating. Each character offers two fatalities, a
secret-ality, and a stage fatality. Uncovering all the ways you can
dismember your competition is a significant and uproarious time sink.
Characters get shredded up in more ways than just fatalities. As
matches unfold, characters will bruise and bleed, and their outfits
sustain damage beyond a tailor’s repair. Most of the stages also offer
scenic views of Earthrealm being destroyed or the sick machinations
occurring in Outworld. You have to take your eye off the fight to
appreciate the amount of action occurring in the backgrounds; you’ll see
dragons battling helicopters, snakes slithering down trees, and other
combatants locked in battles in the distance. I’ve always loved the way
this series has looked, whether it was the digitized actors or exploding
polygonal characters who showered far too many rib cages onto the
playing surface. This game eschews that kind of zaniness, however, and
is downright gorgeous. In a split second, it can wipe the look of awe
off of your face with a gruesome bone snap.
Mortal Kombat also makes an impact in the online space. King of the
Hill mode brings a competitive arcade-like atmosphere to the online
bouts. Much like the days where you would put a quarter on the machine
to signify that you have the next fight, you stand in line and wait your
turn. Waiting in a day and age when “quick match” is a part of our
lexicon may seem like a silly thing to do, but I enjoyed taunting my
foes and scoring their performance sas I waited, not to mention studying
their techniques prior to throwing down with them.
The only area where Mortal Kombat feels antiquated is in its AI. On
the higher difficulty levels, computer opponents are as quick-witted and
fast-acting as the Flash. Bosses are annoyingly cheap. I realize they
should be tougher than standard opponents, but giving them immunity to
any attack, even when your foot is clearly crushing their face, is an
artificial difficulty booster that should have stayed in the past. The
other minor complaint I have is the lack of new characters, especially
from a team that has such a history of creating memorable fighters.
This is the best Mortal Kombat yet. It didn’t blow my mind to the
degree that Mortal Kombat 2 and 3 did back in the day, but when it comes
down to the gameplay and longevity tied to it, this new entry towers
above its 2D lineage.The EdgeThe Xbox 360 and
PlayStation 3 versions are identical in most ways, but the latter’s
controller is better suited for special move and fatality input. The
PlayStation 3 version also offers a substantial exclusive character in
God of War’s Kratos. He fits right in with the series’ colorful cast,
and his moves are fittingly brutal. The 360 version uses avatars during
King of the Hill mode, but this small touch can’t stand up to the PS3
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