Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat is a reboot in the truest sense. While the graphics, combo system and gameplay mechanics have all been overhauled what we have is a 2D fighting game full of crazy Kombatants featuring some seriously brutal moves. Every member of the cast will be instantly familiar to even a casual Mortal Kombat player and as usual this means a fair few ‘pallet swap’ fighters are present. I hope you like ninjas, robot ninjas and sexy girl ninjas. That said, NetherRealm Studios have done a good job of giving each these ninja-clones a unique play-style and feel.

The art style, again instantly familiar, has been given a real boost and while most elements of the game look great I can’t help but be slightly put off by some oddities. The portraits on the character select screen look a little odd. This only stands out in contrast to the excellent art elsewhere in the game. This contrast is also present in the character models. While all the monsters, ninjas and robots look super slick, some of the human fighters have a slightly strange appearance that I find distracting. It’s hard to describe what it is about them, perhaps it’s the skin texture or body proportions, I’m unsure, but once the actions starts it becomes less of an issue. Another issue with the cast is that outside of their questionable acting in cutscenes I found that they lack any personality leaving me feeling disconnected in a way that other fighting games draw me in.

Graphics and gore aside a fighting game will live or die on its combat system. While the four attacks + block system may seem familiar to Kombat vets that has changed slightly; rather than the original high and low kicks and punches we have a slightly more Tekken-like front and back kick and punch system. Although you can switch stance flipping front and back from left to right it has no effect on actual gameplay. In addition to your four attacks you also have a block button, the bane of any Street Fighter player who will instinctively hold away from their opponent to block. Learn to use your block button or pay the price.

Will these two crazy kids never learn to get on?

Combos will come quickly and easily to anyone with even the most basic understanding of 2D combat. Front and back attacks chain together nicely and combos are easily finished off with a special move. There is a heavy emphasis on juggling your opponent in the air that can be very satisfying. The game is very lenient when it come to combo input, there is often no need to wait for each move to trigger before inputting the next step, just fire them out in order and the game should queue them up for execution. While this is nice at first it does leave you, yet again, feeling a little disconnected from the game. At this early stage the true depth of the combo system is hard to judge but my initial feeling is that, once mastered, high-level play will be more about reading your opponent than frame perfect inputs.

The bells and whistles of combat that are provided through the use of the super meter. The meter is comprised of three bars that will fill when you take damage, when you perform special moves and when your opponent blocks your attacks. Once bar of super juice will allow you to perform an enhanced version of a special move by pressing block at the same time as the attack input of that move. These enhanced moves work very well in practice and are easily my preferred way to use my super meter. Two bars will allow the use of a Combo Breaker that will allow you to escape from a combo by pushing your opponent away – this is a purely defensive move and won’t deal any damage. I find myself a fairly aggressive player and rarely use breakers preferring to use my super meter to cause damage. Get your bar full to the brim and you’ll have access to an X-Ray move. Hitting both kicks and block at once will launch your character into a hit or miss attack that, if it connects, will brutalise your opponent while you watch bones break and organs splatter through an X-Ray effect. These moves are amazingly over the top and will leave you wondering how someone could even stand afterwards let alone fight on for another round or two. But as brutal as the X-Ray moves are they are nothing when compared to the game’s trademark fatalities. There is not much to say other than that there are a lot of them, they are wonderfully violent and for once are not too hard to pull off.

When it comes to presentation this game has really hit the mark. It is crammed with content. For actual fighting you have arcade mode, online play, tag battles and an extensive story mode that takes you through a retelling of the history of the Mortal Kombat universe. The Vs mode offers some crazy systems for messing with the game – fancy a  fight where neither of you have any arms? Yup, you can do that and much more. On top of that there are mini-game and challenge modes, collectibles and a nicely executed training mode for polishing your skills. All of this is essentially fluff that may well be quickly discarded but it provides a nice distraction.


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3 responses to “Mortal Kombat”

  1. Imperial avatar
    Imperial

    Who’s ‘Katana’?

  2. Dan avatar

    Alas, I had spelt her name with an ‘a’ rather than an ‘i’, I can see how that might be confusing. I have corrected it now.

  3. Bruno (daiphoenix) avatar
    Bruno (daiphoenix)

    “Kung Lao paid the price for misreading the offer of some tag team action with Mileena & Kitana.” LOOOL 😉

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