Mortal Kombat: Deception Hands-On

Mortal Kombat returns to the GameCube with a couple of new fighters in tow.

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Mortal Kombat: Deception was originally released on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox last year. The game started out with the foundation that had been laid by the previous MK game, Deadly Alliance, and was built from there by adding a slew of new, interesting modes, and even more importantly, online play in all of these new modes. When it comes to the GameCube, online play is pretty much a nonoption, but Midway isn't just taking the normal route of porting the game over without any extras. Players of the upcoming GameCube version will find two classic boss characters from the Mortal Kombat series staring back at them from the select screen.

Goro. The name alone is enough to send shivers up the spines of many longtime Mortal Kombat fans. The four-armed shokan warrior appeared in the original Mortal Kombat as a non-playable sub-boss. You'd take on the Claymation creature right before getting your shot at the game's big evil, Shang Tsung. At the time, there really wasn't anything quite like Goro in the fighting genre, and now he's everyone's favorite. Like the other fighters in Mortal Kombat: Deception, Goro fights with two unarmed styles and one armed stance. His weapons are short blades that attach to each of his four wrists. He also has a handful of special moves. His fireball seems pretty fast. He has a Zangief-like spin move that can juggle, and he has two stomp moves. One is a ranged attack where Goro pounds on the ground, popping up his enemies if they're within range. The other is Sheeva's jump attack from Mortal Kombat 3. When you do it, you'll jump up off the screen and come down hard on your opponent.

Shao Kahn is the final boss of Mortal Kombat II and MK3, and most of his MK3 moves return here in some form. He even has the big, skull-cracking hammer that he was packing back in the 2D days. In addition to that, he has the crazy fireball that launches out of his face, a special punch that also doubles as a shield, a shoulder charge, and a rising knee. The rising knee attack acts as a pop-up, letting you juggle for a few extra hits. He can also taunt, which you can use to regain a little health while you watch Kahn unleash some of his classic lines, like "it's official, you suck!"

Both characters have appeared as playable characters in previous console-only Mortal Kombat games, but this time around, they really seem a lot more fleshed out and complete than when they've appeared in Frankenstein's monsterlike games like Mortal Kombat Trilogy. While we haven't seen any fatalities from either character, it seems reasonable to assume that they'll both have the standard two regular fatalities and one hara-kiri finisher.

Aside from the new characters and the lack of online, there are a few other minor differences between this version and the version released last year on other platforms. You'll have more characters to choose from right at the outset. Only six characters are locked at the beginning of play, giving you 20 playable characters right off the bat (you used to have to unlock six of those 20 before getting to them). This will probably cause some changes to the konquest mode, which is where many characters are unlocked, and in the krypt, which appears to contain the same number of koffins to unlock. This presumably means that there will be some more unique content in the GameCube version of Deception, but what that content might be is still a mystery at the moment.

Even though a big part of Mortal Kombat: Deception's appeal came from its online play, so far, this GameCube version of the game appears to be making the best of a limiting situation. The new characters seem like good additions, and the gameplay and graphics still seem to be just as good as they were on the PlayStation 2 and on the Xbox last year. Look for Mortal Kombat: Deception to hit the GameCube on March 7.

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