Warner Bros. Games
April 19, 2011 (NA)
April 21, 2011 (EU)
Mortal Kombat follows a string of sadly disappointing recent games in the series. They have felt like they were just pushed out of the studios quickly and without any love, but all that carelessness has stopped with NetherRealm Studios. The game wasn’t as hyped as most games are now-a-days, but that just added to the overall charm once I got my hands on it. If you are a dan of the very first Mortal Kombat’s, then you really want to check out this new and highly improved edition to the brutal series.
The gaming feel and experience has certainly taken note of the first couple of games, released back in the early 90′s. I remember playing the very first game and loving every single bit of it. Understandable – I was rather young back then, so I couldn’t exactly critique it for gameplay, because I was too busy killing the characters in the most brutal way I possibly could. The gameplay was simple, not over-complicated by a million button combination combos – they were just a few buttons long. The same style has been adopted for this entry in the series. Of course, there are going to be a few complicated combos, but they aren’t anything like Street Fighter IV where you have to be a god to even do well online. The gameplay is simple but very effective.
I started the story mode after playing a few different rounds, mainly because I don’t see the point in recent day story modes for beat ‘em ups, because they feel so much like an afterthought. Eventually, I got around to playing it and was pleasantly surprised. The story mode does strongly remind me of the Mortal Kombat film that was released in 1995, but in a good way. Although I did enjoy that film, it was very cheesy and almost cringe-worthy in places. The story develops on the battle between Earthrealm and Outworld and takes place at the same time as the first, second and third Mortal Kombat games, showing how much they have really gone back to basics with the series. The story is split into chapters, of which some are a little short and others just never end. I found myself really enjoying the storyline, as you don’t just select one character, but you play as a few dozen, of which the storyline follows. I personally liked this idea, as you have the other different modes to play as your preferred characters, so it allows you to get to know why the other contestants are actually there and maybe develop an emotional bond.
One downside to the story that I feel, isn’t the writing, but the difficulty curve. At times, I would find myself easily beating someone without having to even think, but then I would be up against two different opponents that can use long range attacks and I only have a library of short range attacks. For example, I was controlling Lu Kang and I had to fight the four armed beast, Goro. I quickly found that he was stupidly over powered: his x-ray move alone did 53% overall damage. So many times I nearly beat him and he did that stupid attack, and, not to mention, he has double your health. It does require you to develop sound strategies and maybe it has been included to just get you thinking like that all of the time, but it can still be incredibly frustrating. However, apart from a few angry rages, the story mode is a delightful edition because it actually has a solid and fun storyline that anyone can just jump into.
The graphics in a game like this need to be good, due to the mass amount of fatalities. If you manage to defeat someone and remember the fatality combo, you want it to look damned good. The graphics are actually pretty crisp, clean (not talking about the blood going everywhere) and even pretty in places. As you would expect from a Mortal Kombat game, it is a little violent, a little bloody and a little gory – the graphics don’t let you down on this front. The character models, which you can also unlock in the gallery, gradually gain damage on the bodies, really adding the effect that you have just come out of one hell of a fight, which is normally the case. Your body will be damaged in places that you have mainly been hit, but the chances are you will be hurt all over. Although the blood spatter on the body can be a little much, it is still entertaining to see and almost satisfying.
The environments around you are stunning. Even though you might be a little too busy to stop and admire them, they do play a interesting role in the gameplay. There is one level that has streams of blood coming out of a pipe that you can go under. If you do, you get covered in blood and stay like that till the opponent beats it off you. The small environment interactions like that make me smile, because those little touches like that show there has clearly been some interaction from the level designers and animators in the studio. The environments themselves range from being a nice setting, to being in the middle of a road to being in hell; you can’t say there isn’t variety in the levels. Overall, they are entertaining enough to stop and look at, but not to get distracted by.
I expected the Sound Designers to put a lot of effort into the fatality SFX’s, but fall short with everything else – but I was surprised. The voice acting is surprisingly good, even if there are an odd few accents that don’t sound like they are from anywhere on this planet. Some of the dialogue can be a little cheesy, but it adds to the effect of the game, for me anyway. I am use to ridiculously stupid and dumb dialogue when it comes to Mortal Kombat, so I am glad they have moved away from it and added a serious tone to it, when it came to the story mode. The SFXs for normal
kcombat are very well done, since it really doesn’t sound like you are punching someone smack in the face, even if you are doing so.
The sound design truly shines in the x-rays. They add such a brutal sound crunch when you stand on someones head or chest, and it really sounds convincing. The music isn’t bad, but I doubt you will really notice it in-game, since you will be too busy laughing, shouting and enjoying the brutal sound from the special effects. However, if you are a fan of the music, fear not, you can listen to it and unlock more in the gallery.
Like I touched on before, the gameplay of this Mortal Kombat game references the first original games. The movement of the characters is simple and not complicated. They all don’t have stupid stances like in the Gamecube game where only certain moves could be pulled off and you had to memorize many different combos to even do a decent amount of damage, or you could have just button bashed for your life. In this game, the combos are a lot simpler and easier to pull off. That doesn’t mean the game is too easy, because there are more complicated combos for more experienced players to master, but it caters to all players, no matter what level. The fatalities aren’t too difficult to pull off and you are given a longer time to pull them off once you have rendered your opponent to their end.
One thing that is slightly annoying is some character’s movesets. Raiden’s teleport move is just so easy to pull off and very broken if you are up against him. All you need to do is press up and down and you teleport behind the opponent very quickly. More overpowered than this is Smoke’s teleport move, where you teleport behind them, hit them and then teleport again to hit them from the other side. I have already seen people just spam this move when the opponent is on low health, which gets very, very annoying. However, when coming up against these characters, I am sure a strategy can be thought up.
There is no way you will complete everything in this game in one day; it is going to take you a long time to unlock all of the costumes, art, music, characters, fatalities, special codes, plus more, and go through all of the different modes. The amount of unlockable stuff is just amazing. It really feels like they have put a hell of a lot of time into this game, and it shows. Then you have the different co-op and multiplayer modes, ranging from 2 – 4 players for the tag team matches. I feel this game will be rather popular for nights in, just before nights out and more. I haven’t had a chance to check the online capabilities, so that will be checked once PSN is back up and running.
If you like good old fashioned, solid beat ‘em ups, or you are a fan of the old MK games or you just want to let off some rage, I highly recommend this game. The most important thing in development, for me, was they reverted back to the old ways of Mortal Kombat. They looked at how that use to be fun, how it got its name and built from that. They have pulled it off very well and it is a joy to play, even if you just want to see those brutal fatalities. The game is wonderfully built, nicely executed and will leave you wanting to play it more and more and more, just to ‘Finish him’.
Amazingly fun gameplay.
Nicely designed character models.
Large amount of items to unlock.
Sound is amazing.
Online is a little glitchy at times.