Mortal Kombat: Deception Review
Mortal Kombat: Deception packs in some completely off-the-wall gameplay modes, but the core one-on-one fighting action--whether you play it offline or online--is easily its best part.
The latest in Midway's influential and long-running fighting game series, Mortal Kombat: Deception, picks up where 2002's Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance left off by featuring lots of new and returning fighters, a variety of surprising new modes of play, and, perhaps best of all, the ability to play online. The strangest part about Deception is how it includes several completely off-the-wall modes, the likes of which you'd never expect from a fighting game. These include the single-player konquest mode, which is a story-driven adventure; puzzle kombat, a competitive Tetris-style puzzle game that's an unabashed homage to Capcom's Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo; and chess kombat, which is inspired by the classic computer game Archon. The konquest mode is disappointingly bland, while these other two modes are at least amusing. However, the core one-on-one fighting action--whether you play it offline or online--is easily the best part of the game. Like its predecessor, the fighting in Mortal Kombat: Deception is gory, intense, and quite complex, meaning it captures much of what's made MK an institution among fighting games.
The fighting system in Deception hasn't changed much from that of Deadly Alliance. Once again, the main twist that distinguishes this game from other 3D fighting games is that each character may freely switch between three different martial arts styles during battle--one of which is always a weapon-based style of some sort. Characters each possess a handful of unique special moves, as well as a bunch of different chain combos, some of which involve switching between different martial arts styles in midcombo. The sheer variety of different martial arts featured in MK: Deception is quite impressive, and the overall look and feel of the action is clearly inspired by kung fu movies--to good effect. Whereas many fighting games take their cues from anime and aim for action that looks more stylish than downright painful, MK: Deception goes for the hard-hitting staccato rhythms of Hong Kong action cinema and doesn't skimp on sheer graphic violence. The results don't always look perfectly fluid or natural--especially since many of the characters actually look rather stiff--but the fighting in MK: Deception nevertheless features a ton of painful-looking moves that cause the opponent on the receiving end to reel backwards, oftentimes gushing blood. The fighting action is ridiculously over-the-top, and, as a result, it's actually often quite funny.
There's a good, responsive feel to the action, and there's decent variety within the roster of selectable characters. In MK tradition, the fighters here aren't drastically different from one another. Though their special moves and combos are unique, it's not difficult to learn how to play as the different characters once you've grasped the basic game mechanics. A dozen fighters are initially available, and a dozen more are silhouetted on the character select screen, practically taunting you to unlock them. The typical match unfolds as your average best-two-out-of-three-rounds fighting game battle, but MK: Deception does have a few twists. For one thing, it's now possible to execute combo breakers (in a nod to the fighting game Killer Instinct) that let you instantly disrupt the opponent when you're on the receiving end of a string of attacks. Combo breakers are actually really easy to perform, but the catch is that you can use these only a few times during a match, and they cause no damage to the opponent. So they introduce a welcome bit of strategy to a match. Should you use your breakers right away or try to save them to turn the tables at the end of a match? MK: Deception makes a few other tweaks to Deadly Alliance's gameplay, such as eliminating the powerful impaling moves from that game and adding (back) a whole bunch of uppercut attacks--MK standbys that seemed noticeably absent from Deadly Alliance. Deception also adds a fairly useless graphical threat indicator, which (among other things) flashes red when you're susceptible to taking extra damage from a counterattack. In practice, it's just not possible to glance at this small row of flashing lights while concentrating on match action.
A much more noticeable, and welcome, addition is in how most of the battle arenas in MK: Deception feature death traps that may instantly end a round, either for a satisfying finish or a surprise comeback. For example, Mortal Kombat's classic "pit" stage returns (and MKII's acid-filled "dead pool" level is in here too), but this time, you don't need to wait until the end of a match to knock your enemy onto the spikes below. Now, if you just get him or her near the edge of the elevated platform, you can uppercut the poor sap to certain death. Should you die in this fashion, you only lose the round and not the match, which is something that's inexplicable but makes obvious sense from a gameplay standpoint. It's a like a much messier version of Virtua Fighter's ring-outs.
Most of the death traps are tucked away into the recesses of a level and sometimes require you to smash your opponent (or get smashed yourself) through a lower level before the deadly portions of it are exposed. These dangerous areas are also conveniently indicated by a red border, so you'll know when you're in a troublesome spot. A few of the levels--including one in which the edge of the level keeps collapsing, making it more and more likely that someone ends up falling--are definitely a little too prone to deaths-by-death trap. But the fact that these elements of the stages make you have to be mindful of where you're fighting mostly just help to make the combat more interesting. Plus, the death trap-related fatalities are pretty entertaining. So death traps actually turn out to be a much more fun addition to the game than you might expect. However, if you really don't like them, for some reason, you can disable death traps in the game both in offline and online play.
Of course, this wouldn't be Mortal Kombat without a whole bunch of fatalities, and, fortunately, Deception's got plenty of them.
- Player Reviews: 153
- Game Universe:
- Mortal Kombat: Special Forces (PS),
- Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (XBOX, GC, GBA, PS2),
- Mortal Kombat: Deception (PS2, XBOX, GC, PSP),
- Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks (PS2, XBOX),
- Mortal Kombat Trilogy (N64, PS, SAT, GCOM, PC),
- Mortal Kombat 4 (PC, GBC, N64, PS, ARC),
- Mortal Kombat (GB, GEN, SMS, PC, GG, SNES, SCD),
- Mortal Kombat 3 (GEN, PS, PC, ARC, GB, SNES, SMS, GG),
- Mortal Kombat II (SAT, GEN, PC, SMS, PS, AMI, ARC, GB, GG, SNES, 32X),
- Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (SAT, GEN, ARC, SNES, X360, IP)
- Offline Modes:
- Online Modes:
- Number of Players: