Its impossible to have grown up in the nineties not having heard of Mortal Kombat (MK). Old timers would probably swoon with nostalgia thinking of the time and money spent on old arcade machines in dingy neighborhood gaming parlours, humiliating their friends through violent fatalities. They may also have fond memories of the first awesome movie adaptation or cringe at its horrid sequel that seemed more like a low budget porn flick than an MK movie.
As we entered the 21st century, Ed Boon and this team decided to break away from the game’s violent roots, dabbling with a crossover to the DC universe. This resulted in a diluted game that ended up disappointing fans big time. Thankfully, NetherRealm got their act together for a sequel that now goes back to its hyper violent and totally over-the-top roots. This is the Mortal Kombat you’ve been waiting for and it’s worth the wait.
For those who are a bit late to the party, Mortal Kombat is essentially a fighting game where your goal is to kick the living crap out of your enemy and then humiliate him/her using insanely violent finishers called Fatalities. Older versions of the game made players memorise tons of complicated moves but this time around, controls have been streamlined and simplified making the game accessible to newcomers. This means you can enjoy the game by pummeling your controller but if you plan on sticking with it, you may as well learn the more intricate moves.
Don’t worry! the game has you covered through its thorough tutorial where you’ll be taught how to pull off basic moves as well as the more complicated combos. For the first time in the series, there’s even a practice mode for Fatalities where you can master every character’s fatality without jumping into the deep end lacking a paddle. And honestly, Mortal Kombat has made a name for itself today because of its ludicrous fatalities that have you ripping, tearing, cutting, maiming, and stabbing all sorts of human appendages and body parts – which now happens in glorious HD.
Get over here!
As if tearing someone in half or ripping their heart out wasn’t enough, the game even introduces something called X-Ray moves that allow players to inflict serious damage on opponents in X-Ray vision. Unlike fatalities, X-Ray moves can be pulled off during a match itself by building up your energy meter at the bottom of the screen. Pulling off combos, blocking incoming attacks and generally kicking ass will slowly build up this meter which when full can be used to unleash these devastating moves. They don’t kill your opponent (unless their health is real low) but will eat into a significant chunk of their health bar. But be warned, these moves can be blocked in which case you’d have to power it up all over again. This is why working on your defensive game is also highly advised. A well-timed block or counter can turn the tides of battle.
After understanding the basics, you can head into the game’s single player campaign that features a rather robust career mode. This allows you to experiment with every fighter in the game and by the end of the story you’ll have chosen your favorite for the long haul. I’m not too well versed with the whole MK lore which is why a lot of the plot was lost on me but I’ve spoken to a few vets and they were very happy with what the game brought to the table. The only issue I had with the campaign was the erratic difficulty that randomly kicked in from time to time.
Once you feel comfortable with a particular player(s) you can proceed to take him/her online where you can partake in a bunch of online modes. Sadly, due to the PSN outage, I couldn’t take this game online but that really didn’t bum me out since the game ships with a ton of content that’ll keep you busy for days on end. First up is your standard Ladder mode where players progress through a bunch of fighters eventually facing off against Shao Khan at the end.
After that you have something called a Challenge Tower where you’ll have to undergo 300 diverse challenges. While some of them may be the standard kick his ass before the time runs out, or pull off an X amount of moves within a stipulated time period, some are crazy innovative and hilarious like armless Kombat or topsy turvy kombat (not their real names), that literally turns the game upside down. Credits earned through the Challenge Tower (and every other mode in the game) can be used in a fully rendered area called the Krypt to purchase alternate costumes, concept art, newer fatalities, levels and lots more. Progressing through the Challenge Tower will also allow players to unlock fan favorite mini-games like Test your Might, Test Your Sight and so on.
Visually, MK is one of the most gorgeous fighters on the block. Thanks to the Unreal 3 engine, the detailing on each fighter is highly impressive. Fatalities and bone-crunching X-Ray moves, like I’ve mentioned a million times by now, look absolutely horrific (in a nice way of course). During combat, every fighter bears testament to sustained damage via cuts, bruises, nasty gashes and tons of the red stuff.
Chicks dig the deo, not the actual thing
Levels also pack in a ton of detail and there’s always something going on in the background be it tortured souls thrashing about in the Living Forest or old papers rustling around a derelict railway station. The only aspect of the game I missed from older outings was environmental destruction where you could send enemies through roofs or walls, unlocking newer areas of the map.
To sum it all up, Mortal Kombat is a game that can be enjoyed by all (except the squeamish kind). It’s ridiculously violent, gorgeous, packs in an insane amount of content and will provide players with hours of versus entertainment both online and offline. I also appreciate the fact that it is accessible to newcomers but at the same time capable of providing vets with a solid challenge.