If you can remember back to Mortal Kombat Trilogy...it's that...for this generation of gaming. MK's RETURN TO FORM.
The new Mortal Kombat is very much like a reimagined version of Mortal Kombat Trilogy with up-to-date graphics, tweaked mechanics, and additional game modes. MK Trilogy was basically a compilation of MK 1-3. This new MK takes place after the events of MK: Armageddon, but time travels back to the start of the Mortal Kombat competition of the first stand-up arcade game. The story mode, for a fighting game, is surprisingly done very well. Exempted, there are obviously weak moments that are like "Hey...you're a jerk...let's fight", but com'on IT IS a fighting game and that is kind of the point. Besides that, the story is very well done and introduces newcomers to the past franchise while simultaneously retelling and recreating the events of MK 1-3 for veterans.
The character models are aesthetically wonderful and special move animations sound, look, and feel great. The sound is simply superb. The sound of crunckling bones or when Goro slaps his hand on your face to toss you around like a rag doll is supremely satisfying. Also, the animations for special moves have been reinvented or upgraded to fit the new age of gaming. During combat characters get brutally beaten and as the matches go on the character's appearance is obvious to such assaults like; eyeballs exposed from missing eyelids, flesh and or wires dangling, exposed brain matter, sections of lips missing to reveal gums and teeth, etc. If you like, or have liked, Mortal Kombat for their stapled franchise of gore and disgust you will not be disappointed.
The addition of the new X-Ray moves amplify these qualities that indorse brutality and gore. Each player, played or adversary, has a new meter that is broken up into thirds. Once you have 3/3s of the meter filled you can perform the new X-Ray move, in which the camera zooms-in and the skin can be seen through to show the carnage unfold in vigorous detail. Skulls splinter, organs rupture, femurs shatter from penetrating knifes, etc., during these X-Ray encounters. Though many fatalities have been removed, as fatalities, it is impressive the way the developers have incorporated old fatalities into these X-Ray moves instead. For example, for Liu Kang's X-Ray move he does his patented cartwheel-to-uppercut fatality from the old games as an X-Ray move now instead of taking a place of one of his fatality spots.
FATALITY. Welcome back my friend. Fatalities are back and better than ever. The fatalities are all pretty top notch and almost none of them seem idiotic like a spars few have seemed to have done in the past. Like Kabal's mask removal to "scare" his victim to death…woooooo. Those have been removed and replaced with tangibly (tangible inside the MK fantasy realm of course) and gorily satisfying multi-angled cut-scene-esque carnage fests.
Combat is a mixture of MK 2 and 3. The combos have been dumbed down from 3, but in a good way. There are no 15-hit combos unless you get extremely creative. This is why the combat feels like it takes a lot from MK 2. There ARE small several-hit button combo attacks, but the real fun is in creating your own combinations from the use of combining special abilities mixed with combat standards like; sweep, uppercut, roundhouse, and drop kicks mixed with teleport abilities to string together longer more damaging attacks. Almost all of these old simple, yet good, fighting mechanics have made a return and are as simple to operate as they were back-in-the-day. Down+an attack for an uppercut and Back+a kick for a sweep are amongst some of the old franchise standbys that make a return. Fighting is as fun and fast as ever. At times, when fights might get a little crazy, I would think to myself…"man, I can't believe I used to be really good at this." Although, old muscle memory and motor functions set in and in no-time you feel right at home and are getting flawless victories like you used to. Also, with something like 28 playable characters in Mortal Kombat you will have plenty of time to master and refamiliarize yourself with the fighting mechanics.
Some of the worst parts of the game have to do with fighting mechanics…only against one character though…Shao Kahn. Granted he is the last boss, Shao Kahn doesn't feel like he is beating you because he is better than you or stringing together his abilities in an intelligent way to defeat you. For example, Shang Tsung actually feels like he is a really good fighter. Shang might use his fireballs and other abilities to juggle your character around like he is a hacky sack to underminedly destroy you. Whereas, Shao Kahn only feels as though he is beating you because he does not follow or abide by the same game mechanics or rules as you. His animations for skills and recovery are quicker than yours, he is nearly unable to be staggered, and your undaunted connecting attacks go unchecked as he blows through them to do whatever move he has in mind to crack your face with instead. I understand he is the last boss, but he doesn't feel intelligent or like he has a keenly superb fighting technic…he just feels as though he is a cheat. Not to mention, but obviously I am, his X-Ray move removes 52% of your total health in a single move and basically all of this abilities are special moves so his meter fills quickly.
An additional downside of the game is that the ending animations, not related to the STORY MODE, are not that great. Not since MK4 have the developers used cinematic CGI endings for every playable character's conclusion of the tournament and ever since then they have yet to be as good. In this new MK the endings look like, a style I am sure you have probably seen somewhere, it is a single illustrated image and the figures on the image move or barely interact with one another as the screen pans over the "next-to-motionless" graphic novel-like illustrated image. This style of animation is fine, but feels lacking since one of their games had better cinematic endings previously and that was in 1997…14 years ago. They should at least live up to the standard that they created for themselves.
I reviewed this game on Xbox and gave it an 8/10. The reason for this is that the D-pad on the Xbox is awful. It hinders your experience and makes the game frustrating. I know it is not the game's fault because i have played it on both consoles. SO, Mortal Kombat does deserve a 9/10, but unless you have one of those new Xbox controllers (Where you can turn the little mechanism under the D-pad to make it transform into the more conventional and precise "+" shape D-pad.) i would suggest getting MK on the PS if you have the choice. Also, yes, the directional pad is worth downgrading the score an entire point. Especially in a fighting game where the controls hold the utmost importance. Keep in mind though, the game was virtually unnoticeably different from a technical standpoint, the graphics, load times, and all of that were basically the exact same.
All in all, I will go out on a limb and say that this is the best Mortal Kombat ever made. They have reinvented the stone wheel into a nice rubber tire. Taking some old great ideas and improving on them. The game supports a plethora of exhilarating moves and fatalities that are easy to execute because of great controller-to-game precision. The game looks absolutely fabulous from; characters, fatalities, special moves, level design, and so on. Fighting with friends and mutilating them has never been so much fun. The only way it could be better is if this Mortal Kombat was not nostalgic to me and I was a kid right now and many years from now, when I am playing MK 9, that this Mortal Kombat right now would be the one inducing nostalgia. I don't know if I would ever trade waiting in line to fight people with my quarters up on the machine for the modern social videogame functions…so scratch that, I wouldn't have it any other way. So, take it from an old Mortal Kombat veteran. I, personally, never buy fighting games anymore, BUT. If you're a fan of the old arcade Mortal Kombat games I would highly suggest picking this game up. If you're into fighting games, especially ones that are in the flawlessly developed 2-D genre, I would take serious considerations into buying this game. At the very least, rent it…this Mortal Kombat is worth your time.
Please, if you read it….please rate it.