The last time I got excited with a new Mortal Kombat release was Mortal Kombat 4 to tell the truth. The fact Mortal Kombat was finally going 3D was too exciting to be missed. Ultimate was great, every SNES game rocked, performing a fatality on the N64 would certainly be incredible. It turns out it wasn't, but it had its moments.
Some games struggle with 3D, they think they need to somehow evolve and reinvent, but a whole new dimension was never the point of Mortal Kombat. Most fighting games can tell you a similar story. Thinking back to Mortal Kombat 4 the should button strafing wasn't anything but a gimmick. It added nothing gameplay-wise.
As time went on new Mortal Kombat games didn't call my attention because they never felt right. This one did catch my attention. It took a few generations of gaming to get it right, but they did. This is a great Mortal Kombat game, it's comparable to the classics of the original trilogy plus Ultimate. In fact it's got more in common with Mortal Kombat 2 the way it's more focused on relative combos and all.
That dynamic fighting style from MK3 and Ultimate can be scratched off, many didn't really like it, even though I thought it was pretty good. No running buttons or 9-hit combos by button sequences. The maximum would be 3 or 4 hit combos with the possibility of linking them by other means like specials or normal attacks. It's also not god mode enabled, it's blockable.
The high and low button set keep things simple up to a point. Though Mortal Kombat isn't, never will be and shouldn't ever be as complex as Tekken for example, the gameplay deepens taking in consideration that attack height is pretty much a blur. Depending on the direction you press on the pad the resulting attack could be understood as medium.
The combination still results in modified attacks like uppercuts for example. Flying kicks are still a thing. There's some diversity in that, in the past when you pressed back and high kicks you'd perform a powerful backward kick, now it's much less devastating what normals generally do, with the sole exception of the uppercut, always a pleasure when done right.
The differences between characters is quite apparent as well. Much more than previous games where it tended to have an overall systematic congruity. Some characters move faster than others, some have faster dashes (double tap a direction), some perform faster moves like faster uppercuts, for instance. It's quite apparent when you choose fighters standing in opposing specters. As an example, Repitile moves quite slowly, his dash is slower than walking speed of some fighters. While Repatile might excel in other aspects, speed isn't really his strong suit.
Graphically it's an immensely pleasing experience. The highly detailed, high-definition textures fit Mortal Kombat easily. In a game that gore stands as star of the show, nothing says "hi" better than a well-performed fatality, the series' trademark. I must say I expected a lot more from fatalities, they try hard to be as gruesome as they can be, but most of them revolve around the same basic principle of decapitation, heart-ripping or severing in half.
It's funny really, but the Super Nintendo version for example had more inventive fatalities than this one in full 3D glory. If you think about it, it can be harder to show differences with higher degree of detail. I'd like to see Jade's uppercut to impalement would look in crispy 3D. I'd like to see unusual stuff like Smoke's earth explosion. We have some definite picks like Kung Lao's hat cutting machine, but the rest looks quite alike.
In terms of game modes this installment is not the least shy. The absolutely stellar story mode stands as a lesson on how to make single player story modes on fighting games. It's based on what the first movie is all about, if the earth realm wins 10 consecutive Mortal Kombats, Shao Kahn's forces are halted for 500 years. Upon losing, Kahn decides to break the rules and impose a new tournament. Raiden obviously refuses, which results in an invasion by the emperor's forces.
Kahn sets the rule for this new tournament. If he wins, he is prized with the earth realm. If he loses, he gives up for good. Hard to take this guy seriously but somehow they don't seem to have a choice. Everything revolved around the lore of Mortal Kombat. I know MK story can be confusing, lots of useless characters added making it all a complete mess, but I always enjoyed it as there's lots of interesting back-stories behind some of them, like Kabal for example.
The choose your destiny tower is the primary game mode. Ten fighters to be taken down including the two bosses, Shao Kahn being the almighty protagonist. It's good they treated this installment with a little mode refinement than other games where it seemed that the bigger the better. Most characters are from the original trilogy with rare exceptions. Even DLC brought back fighters like Rain.
The challenge mode is pretty interesting, you climb your way through a ladder full of individual tasks which the player must perform. Some don't have anything to do with fighting, requiring the player to tap buttons to break wood-boards. There's quirky moments like fighting with the screen upside-down or refusing to take a fluffy teddy-bear. Mortal Kombat have always had that, it would be a shame to watch the silliness cease.
IN the case of completionists there's nothing to complain. From anything you do you might earn some amount of koins, when you have enough of them you can spend them on the Krypt buying special stuff like new fatalities, alternate costumes or concept art from everything like characters or stages. Pretty kool stuff. There's hundreds of stuff to be found.
Most scenarios make a come back from previous games with some random new additions. Fan favorites like the acid pool or the Pit 2 are present and totally revamped. Other stuff like combos from 2-vs-2 add more depth to a gameplay that was pretty much straight forward in past games. The online is pretty robust and should offer great deal of players still fighting their way through. There's some game modes to be chosen but most of the time the good old-fashioned 1-on-1 will be your best bet.
The Super Meter bar adds three different degree of enhancements. The first lets the player do a fancier special. For example Johnny Cage's green fireball, when done using the first stage of the meter launches three projectiles. The second allows the combo breaker to be performed. The last stage unleashes the X-ray move, which is just a cheap bone-breaking attack that completely drains 1/3 of the enemy's health. Whoever is getting beaten up more harshly will probably see his meter raising faster. This super move is similar to what Street Fighter 4 has.
This new Mortal Kombat takes players back to olden days by bringing back fighters and stages from previous games, the depth of gameplay is much steeper now, but looking upon it nothing really strikes as new when it comes to the face of this title. It constantly remind the gamer of good old times made anew, and that's pretty awesome. Anyone who has played Mortal Kombat in the past should be delighted with this release. I just want to see where this all will lead, they can't rely on nostalgia indefinitely, but this one is pretty well made and saw the light of day in the right moment.