If you're a gamer of a certain age say late twenties or older you'll remember Mortal Kombat as the brutal arcade fighting game which kicked up a storm in the nineties. But if youe a little younger, then your first taste could have been one of the less impressive 3D games. These tried to turn Mortal Kombat into something that it wasn, and after the lacklustre Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe it seemed the series would die a less than dignified death. But under the guidance of NetherRealm Studios, Mortal Kombat is finally back on form.
This reboot is a return to the halcyon days of brutal kombat on a fixed 2D plane. Players use the analogue stick or d-pad to dash, jump and duck, while a Tekken-style control scheme offers punches and kicks in left and right variations. Die-hard fans will find the torpedo dives and bicycle kicks exactly where they remember them, and a new flexible fighting system lets you mix the special attacks with multi-hit combos. This makes Mortal Kombat the most technically rewarding game in the series' long and bloodied history.
NetherRealm have taken cues from the competition by introducing a super gauge and Tag-Team mode both firsts for Mortal Kombat. The super gauge can be charged to three levels and delivers Enhanced specials and combo-escaping Breakers. A maxed meter also unlocks an X-ray attack that similar to the Ultra system from Street Fighter IV but rather than a squeaky-clean assault, the results are more barbaric and range from severing shoulders with twin tomahawks to shattering skulls with megaton punches. The X-rays make full use of the Unreal Engine 3 as you see every bone break in agonising slow motion.
But as savage as the X-rays undoubtedly are, the award for ost sadistic surgerygoes to the Mortal Kombat's new Fatalities. Every character has two ways to dispatch their opponent, and while Liu Kang decapitating uppercut is a bit obvious, the more inventive highlights include Noob Saibot playing tug of war with his opponent legs and Stryker punching a grenade through a chest cavity. Then when you factor in Stage Fatalities like runaway train executions, it clear that Mortal Kombat has earned its 18 rating with gutsy gusto.
Finish the Fight
Fighting games tend to focus on the multiplayer, but as an added incentive for single players Mortal Kombat features a fully fledged Story Mode that takes around seven hours to finish. The plot begins in an apocalyptic future where Raiden has finally lost to Shao Kahn. But before he bows out for good, the Thunder God sends a message back through time in an attempt to change the future. The story of the first three Mortal Kombat games is then relived across a parallel timeline where events transpire differently.
Once you're seen this tale through to its bloody conclusion, it's time to test your skills in Mortal Kombat's Challenge Tower. This marathon is made up of 300 missions that range from battling a hoard of relentless zombies, to breaking boards in the classic Test Your Might mini-game. Clearing challenges is also a good way to earn Kurrency which can be traded in the Krypt for various goodies. These include the standard character art and soundtracks, as well as secondary outfits and hidden Fatalities.
King of the Kill
Which isn't to say they've neglected multiplayer at all. Mortal Kombat online game is full of choice; you can use the matchmaking system in the Ranked and Player matches to find opponents instantly, create your own 100 player Room and watch it gradually fill or start a Private Match between you and a friend. There also a new King of the Hill mode that lets you watch a fight as your Xbox Avatar at the bottom of the screen, then once the match is over you can score the winner performance out of ten. Just remember to score generously as youl eventually have to face them yourself...
By returning to its 2D roots with 30 of its most iconic warriors, Mortal Kombat rejuvenates the series in style. But despite its many accomplishments it doesn't quite have the depth or sophistication to challenge the majesty of Super Street Fighter IV. But to criticise such a well-made game just because it doesn topple the current champion would be an injustice. Because after countless years of failed experiments, we finally have a Mortal Kombat that lives up to the series legacy. It been a long time coming, but it definitely better late than never.
- No genuinely new characters
- The story mode is well realised
- A more flexible combo system
- Short and easy single player campaign.
- Lots of cheap specials
- Fatalities could be more brutal