Mortal Kombat GOTY Review
The Mortal Kombat Series Has Had Its Highs And Lows Over The Years And Is Back With Its Latest Reincarnation, But How Does The Latest Revamp Compare?
Developer: NetherRealm Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros. interactive Entertainment
Genre: Fighting game
Rating out of 10: 8/10
Well the traits that the series is known for certainly remain, which includes enough blood and mutilated body parts to fill an Olympic swimming pool, as well as the return of classic fighters and arenas from the previous games. However Mortal Kombat has a few new tricks up its blood stained sleeve and reminds us why Mortal Kombat became so popular in the first place.
This Mortal Kombat features a rather well thought out story mode that is a combination of the plotlines from the first three Mortal Kombat games. The storyline opens with a heavily beaten Raiden, who is about to be killed by Shao Kahn in order to take over Earthrealm. However just before Raiden is about to die he casts a spell on his amulet that sends the message ‘He must win’ to his past self. This is done to prevent Shao Kahn taking over Earthrealm and to essentially stop the opening of the game becoming a reality. This gives the Raiden of the past a heads up on what to expect and sets him off to find the fighter who is ‘supposed to win’ against Shao Khan. The story itself is rather enjoyable and surprisingly lengthy, especially for a fighting game, and takes a few hours.
The story mode isn’t just a glorified arcade mode; players will fight as many characters throughout the story introduced by cutscenes between fights. This is also great for newcomers of the series as the story provides information and back-story on the different fighters from the original games. This includes finding out how Jax got his massive metal arms, how Kabal became disfigured, and even how the cyborg characters Cyrax and Sektor came to be. The way that the story makes you play as all these different characters is also a nice feature as it familiarises players with the different fighters, who all have their own unique personalities and with a roster of 27 characters there’s allot to get to grips with. Story and character information is often overlooked in fighting games and it is very refreshing to see such a thoughtful attempt at this and it only improves the playtime and enjoyability of the game.
Moving on to the fighting mechanics themselves, the combat controls are simple enough to pick up for casual players but also have enough depth for those experienced players who want to master their favourite characters. On the Xbox players can switch stances with the left trigger, whilst the right blocks. The ‘X’ and ‘Y’ button performs high hitting punches and ‘B’ and ‘A’ is used to kick. These basic commands can then be combined with directions and combos to perform character specific throws, upper cuts, tag move attacks and other abilities. None of the combos are ridiculously difficult to pull off and with practice can easily be utilised in battle. There are no combos that require you to do 15 different directions while attacking, in fact I believe that there aren’t any combos longer than 5 or 6 buttons. However do not think that this makes Mortal Kombat easy, it’s far from it in some stages, and as a gamer of pretty average skill in fighting games I had to turn the difficulty down quite a few times. Especially tricky parts occur in the story mode or arcade ladder when you face boss characters like Goro and Shao Kahn who do not get interrupted by your attacks and have vastly increased resilience and strength. There are even multiple times when players will have to face two opponents singlehandedly to progress. However the different difficulty levels can be adjusted so that even unskilled players should be able to progress after a few attempts.
There are also super moves that are unique to each character that are especially cool and stylistic this includes speedy dash attacks, projectile weapon throws, teleportation, telekinesis, freeze attacks, projectile grab attacks, stun moves and many more. Also as players perform combos and special moves as well as take damage a power bar at the bottom of the screen fills and allows for even more possibilities. There are 3 stages to this power bar; the first stage allows you to interrupt and counter out of a combo that an enemy is performing on you by pressing the triggers, and the super moves can be further enhanced by charging them with the second level of the power bar. For example performing Nightwolf’s bow and arrow attack whilst charging it with a level of the power bar fires two arrows instead of one, this in turn deals more damage and can be applied to any characters super move. The final stage of the power bar is activating by pressing both triggers when the bar is full and is something really special, this performs an X ray attack for big damage. These X ray attacks are basically mini fatalities and are particularly brutal. Each characters X ray attack is different from the others and allows close up images of the inside of your opponents body as you break their arms and legs, impale blades through eyes and perform many other brutal and bone crunching moves that really give you a feeling of power and satisfaction. One X ray attack that stood out for me was Quan Chi’s, who throws a summoned paranormal skull in the hand of his opponent and then possesses the opponent to break the skull in their own face and then break their own neck, as you can imagine it was very funny to watch.
Now, you can’t talk about Mortal Kombat without mentioning fatalities and I can confirm that there are fatalities a plenty in the latest addition to the series. Again, they are relatively simple to perform and require just a few button and directional presses to pull off, some fatalities have to be performed within jumping distance, full screen, touching or sweeping distance and then you’re ready to unleash hell. Each character has 2 fatalities a babality and stage fatalities can also be performed. In case you didn’t know babalities turn your opponent into babies, a particularly funny one that I performed on Sub-Zero caused him to pee himself, the pee then froze causing him to slip and cry on the floor. Fatalities range from tearing your opponents heart out with your bare hands, tearing opponents in half in a tug of war, being burnt with steam inside out, decapitated, mutilated, eaten and many, many more. Fans and newcomers to Mortal Kombat should be satisfied with the fatalities and characters available to play as. There are also plenty of extra things to do beside the story mode including: classic arcade mode, which ends with a small cutscene telling you the fate of your character, this can also be played in tag team on your own, or with another player locally. Then there’s the challenge tower, which features 300 challenges of varying difficulty and consists of mini games, fighting opponents while some moves are disabled and more. Playing the story, arcade and challenges also provides players with Koins when they are successful, these can be saved up to unlock tonnes of collectibles in the Krypt, which is a desolate land full of graves and bodies that unlock collectibles when clicked on. When clicked on bodies explode, become decapitated and torn apart on torture racks which then unlocks a gift for the player. This can be anything from character and environment art, music, alternative costumes, fatalities and cheat codes that have effects such as headless fighting, disabled jumping and many more.
All of the collectibles can be viewed in the Nekropolis, this also includes 3D character models that each have their own biographies and you can even toggle the combat damage on and off to see how they look when they are really beaten up. This includes eyes nearly coming out of their sockets, bloody faces, torn flesh hanging loosely and damaged costumes. It is clear that time was taken to ensure that Mortal Kombat looks great in terms of graphics, with detailed character models and some very impressive arenas that include, living forests, destroyed cities with helicopters and dragons in the background and many familiar stages from the original games such as ‘the pit’, a stage consisting of 2 narrow bridges with a massive drop to some jagged rocks to impale your enemies with at the bottom. The classic Mortal Kombat FINISH HIM! Voices are back and the music has an effectively fitting dark and malevolent feel to it. Sound effects are also of very high quality with bone crunching, blade throwing and slushy, squelching, bloody noises as well as the glorious sounds of your enemy’s flesh being ripped apart.
Mortal Kombat also features an online mode containing standard versus matches that can also be played as a tag team as well as the new ‘king of the hill’ mode in which players waiting in the lobby can watch the fight. Spectator’s avatars will appear in a theatre as they watch other players fight, you can even interact by throwing tomatoes at the screen if you disapprove of people spamming moves, or if you’re just fed up of waiting, the match can then be rated by players when it ends. It’s a pretty interesting online mode and it at least gives players something to do while they wait their turn, however you will need to purchase an online pass unless you’re buying the game brand new.
To conclude Mortal Kombat is easily one of the best fighting games I’ve played in recent years, with a lengthy story mode, interesting characters, arcade, 300 challenges and vast amounts of collectibles there’s plenty of content here to keep you busy for a long, long time. This is also a very accessible fighting game that you can easily pick up and play and get to grips with relatively quickly with friends, whilst still maintaining enough variety and combo, juggling possibilities for advanced players. This is Mortal Kombat for fans and newcomers alike that manages to retain its old school appeal and recognisable qualities, whilst simultaneously refreshing the franchise with fun and new fighting mechanics that add a real sense of raw power and brutality to your victories.
To Game, Or Not To Game.
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