When Ed Boon and his team at NetherRealm returned Mortal Kombat to its ultra-violent roots last year, they did so in a manner that satisfied longtime fans and newcomers alike. It combined a classic roster, fantastic gameplay, creative (and disgusting) Fatalities, and a massive amount of content to make it the most complete entry in the notorious franchise. In an impressive feat, the team has managed to cram all of that game’s content, its post-release DLC, and even more onto the Vita. Most importantly, it plays as smoothly as ever.
On home consoles, Mortal Kombat featured a lengthy, CG-filled story mode, a challenge tower with 300 stages, a krypt with hundreds of unlockables, numerous minigames, 2-on-2 tag team play, and online multiplayer. This new Vita version features all of this, but adds a 150-stage bonus challenge tower, new minigames, and a surprisingly effective touchscreen-based method of performing Fatalities (players can swipe the directional inputs on the screen, eliminating accidental jumps or strikes).
In terms of content, the bonus challenge tower is the most substantial addition to the package. Its 150 stages aren’t simple rehashes of the ones you’ve already seen, as they’ve been tailored to take advantage of the four DLC characters (Skarlet, Kenshi, Rain, and Freddy Krueger) as well as the Vita’s hardware. Early trailers featured a player wiping blood off of the screen during a match, which looked like a silly gimmick. You don’t have to worry about these admittedly gimmicky new features encroaching on the established modes, as they’re completely restricted to the occasional bonus tower appearance.
Many of these bonus stages do feel gimmicky, but most are surprisingly fun. Whether you’re flinging decapitated Sub-Zero heads at your opponent or slashing at organs in a deranged Fruit Ninja knockoff, they stay silly and entertaining throughout the tower. For every annoying new mission (such as the ones that require you to tap missiles to keep a character juggled in mid-air), there are ten fun ones waiting to be played.
Even if you never touch the bonus tower, Mortal Kombat’s core gameplay and modes (including online play) are recreated perfectly on the handheld. A little bit of detail has been lost when it comes to character models, and online play is limited to two-player (ad hoc supports four), but it remains a fantastic port. Returning fans will love the new content and touchscreen Fatalities, and first-timers will be greeted with an almost overwhelming amount of great content. This is the most complete version of Mortal Kombat available.