Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mortal Kombat Review

Hide your kids and hide your wife because Mortal Kombat is here and brought enough blood to put a slaughter house to shame!  The new installment developed by NeatherRealm Studios goes back to the games' core gameplay style with violent 2D fighting, brutal fatalities and a rebooted story mode.  So is this new Mortal Kombat a legitimate fighter or just another gory bloodbath?

Good news! This is the real deal.  While previous games were more well known for pushing the envelope for violence, this latest release is actually a competitive fighter.  Even though the single-player modes are challenging and sometimes straight up frustrating, Mortal Kombat still delivers a great fighting engine with bloody fatalities and almost never ending challenges.

The story has always been a little silly, and with all the spinoffs its hard to know just what the hell is going on in the MK universe. NeatherRealm did a good thing by starting the series from the beginning, making it easy for new players and old fans to get back into the Mortal Kombat story.  Here is a quick summary: Shao Kahn invades the Earth Realm with the intent to merge it with Outland.  Raiden (God of Thunder) is the last fighter to take on Shao Kahn, but is ultimately defeated. Before his death he sends a warning to his past self in hopes of changing the outcome and preventing Armageddon. Raidens' past self receives this information and a complete reboot of the story begins.

The story this time around is very easy to follow, the cutscenes between fights make the game flow easily from chapter to chapter.  I was entertained from start to finish, mainly due to the quirky character personalities and hilariously bloody encounters. Now, lets talk about the gameplay.  Mortal Kombat is back to the original 2D side-scrolling plane. Staying true to the MK style, each character gets their own special set of moves that are easy to execute. Stringing together combos and special abilities that cause more devastating damage to your opponent may take longer to master.

The new Super Meter at the bottom of the screen is an important addition to the game because of how it effects gameplay.  During the course of a fight the meter will build up depending on the damage you deal and take.  The meter is broken into three segments that can be spent in different ways.  Filling up the first segment will allow you to enhance your special attacks by dealing more damage.  The second segment will break an opponents combo if they have you stuck in a corner and are beating your face in.  When the meter is completely filled you will have an x-ray attack that deals massive damage and can change the momentum of any match.

Lets not forget what made Mortal Kombat a household name. FATALITIES!!!!!  They are back and more brutal and gruesome than ever!  Each character has 2 fatalities, a stage fatality and a BABALITY! The second fatality can be unlocked by visiting the ever expansive Krypt and spending coins awarded through story mode, arcade mode and the challenge tower.

1 vs.1 and tag team matches are available if you want to play with or against your friends. Online play has the options you would expect.  You can join in single ranked, unranked or King of the Hill matches. One thing I loved about King of the Hill was being able to interact with other players and grade fights with respect points. Anyone who turtles during a match won't earn my respect points!

Even with so many improvements, Mortal Kombat is not without its flaws.  During single-player mode I got frustrated with the imbalance of 2 on 1 fights and found the boss fights ridiculous.  I understand NetherRealm's desire to make boss encounters harder, but when I have to spam cheap moves to win a fight,  its gotten out of hand. I don't feel the same accomplishment as I would landing big combos to finish a fight.

One technical flaw I found is not being able to skip through cinematic scenes. This gets especially annoying when you want to come back to a fight but have to watch the same 4 minute scene you just watched the last time you played.

The new Mortal Kombat is a winner when it comes to its predecessors.  Fans of the series and the fighting genre can rejoice now that they have a fun and competitive MK. I enjoyed the game the most when teaming up with a friend and moving through the arcade mode. I was disappointed in how difficult single-player could be, but it never kept me from playing through the story.  This is a must buy if you are a fan of the franchise or if you're looking to pick up a fighter that stands out from the rest.

Presentation: 8
The story is fun and easy to follow.  Not being able to skip cutscenes sucks...

Graphics: 9
X-ray attacks, fatalities and environments are badass.  Some character outfits are questionable.

Sound: 9
The sound effects are amazing and the voice acting isn't half bad.  The music could have used some work.

Gameplay: 8
The best fighter of the franchise! Loved the addition of X-ray attacks and the Super Meter.

Lasting Appeal: 9
With a 300 level challenge tower, story mode, arcade mode, tons of unlockable content and online play, this game has A LOT of replay value.

Violent Score: 9 (out of 10)


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