Guest Article : Ray Fletcher
The Mortal Kombat series has long been known for its over the top and brutal 2D fighting roots, but in recent years it has also pushed into the realm of 3D. Now, as a fan of MK, I’ll openly admit it has been gradually running itself into the ground – losing sight of what made it awesome in the first place; but as my devotion to the fighting game I used to know and love dies off suddenly I hear news of a reboot for the brand… What!? Really!?
Mortal Kombat, the reboot of the series combines 3D models and backgrounds with the classic 2D fighting engine that we all knew and loved it for back in the 90’s. The game encompasses the events of the first Mortal Kombat game right up until the conclusion of Mortal Kombat 3. Now, there are a few changes to the story along the way, and I won’t mention them here, but the single player story mode in this game is quite simply awesome. You use each of the characters from the series as you fight through the original Mortal Kombat tournament and the two invasions of Earth Realm that followed it. All of the fights are book-ended by a game rendered cinematic, which keep the plot moving along nicely with no loading screens, which I found really helped with the momentum of the game and kept me wanting to know what was happening. “One more fight, I promise, just one more fight” was pretty much my mantra for the duration of the story.
Which brings us nicely into the actual core fighting of Mortal Kombat. Well the fights look awesome; all of the characters move in their own distinct ways and have a wealth of special moves to hand. The 3D models and backdrops, while a little busy at times, are amazing to look at – one stage in particular has you fighting on a rooftop while dragons and military helicopters do battle around you. The controls are easy to learn too, you have the basic fighting game controls. Face buttons are for punches and kicks, triggers to guard etc. and the moves list in game will tell you all of your combos (sorry, Kombos) for each fighter; including their special moves and for the first time ever their fatalities! That’s right, you don’t have to spend forever either figuring them out or scouring the interwebs to find out what they are. The new addition to the fighting comes in the form of the x-ray meter. This sits at the bottom of the screen and fills as you both give and receive damage and has three stages. The first allows you to perform an enhanced version of your special moves, the second allows an instant counter to your opponent’s combo and if you allow it to charge all of the way allows you to unleash the dreaded x-ray move.
The x-ray move is essentially a short combo accompanied with awesome shots of your fighter shattering their opponent’s bones, tearing muscles, annihilating their sensitive parts, cracking skulls and, in Noob Saibot’s case, kicking them so hard they projectile vomit all over your outstretched leg. These moves are a lot of fun and are triggered by simply hitting both shoulder buttons. The ease of their execution and the sheer game tilting damage they put out makes the game much easier for new players to start owning everyone in the room. Many shouts of equal parts amazement and shock could be heard from my house as I got to grips with these moves from the wrong end, when I thought I was so close to a victory. Ah well.
The game also includes a full online component, the most original of it’s modes being the King of the Hill style game mode which puts you against an opponent, you win, and you stay on until someone can topple you and then someone else topples them and so on. Its pretty cool and allows you to brag to no end. There are some lag issues online which can throw you timing off and can therefore be quite frustrating but I prefer to just play the game offline, get some friends round the house and destroy each other in the most over the top awesome way possible.
You can also unlock a variety of new content through the game’s Krypt section. Points are earned from whatever game mode you play, and can be spent in this gigantic mind-screw of an interface to purchase things which range from awesome, such as new fatalities, new costumes and even new arenas to the plain unexciting stage music and concept art. I mean, it’s fine if you like that from a game but the content is browsed by surfing through literally hundreds of gravestones, corpses or other such devices to find one you haven’t yet unlocked and them spending your hard-earned credits on, just to find The Pit’s stage music when I, by that I mean you, were really looking for Sub-Zero’s new fatality.
The game’s final mode is the Challenge Tower which contains over three hundred challenges for you to complete ranging from conditioned fights to the return of fan favourite Test Your Might where you break wooden boards, sheet metal and anything else that gets under your fists of fury. This is now accompanied by Test Your Sight, a hilarious mini-game which involves such challenges as finding which severed head the eyeball is hidden under and Test Your Strike, a variant on Test Your Might which requires specific amounts of raw power, not just everything you can put out. Overall this mode is pretty cool, allows you to try out challenges for all of the characters (including shooting zombies as Stryker) but I felt the sheer length of the tower makes this mode feel a little bit of a struggle sometimes to get to the top, especially after the seventh challenge in a row with a character I can’t use to save my life.
Overall, Mortal Kombat is an awesome reboot for the series which gets back to its roots, delivers an excellent story mode and plenty of other modes to keep you playing. The game never takes itself too seriously and is a blast to play. Best enjoyed with friends. My only reservations are with some of the mechanics, particularly the Krypt and the sheer length of the challenge tower. Also just the sheer filth that is Shao Kahn, he’s a beast but totally cheap in the way he fights. Not quite the return I was hoping for from the series, but I am definitely pleasantly surprised.
I give Mortal Kombat a 8.5/10