The reinvention of Mortal Kombat is a beautiful and well crafted game suitable for new players and veterans alike.
Remakes are popular these days. A lot of times they are just cashing in on the franchises popularity and brand name. The new incarnation of Mortal Kombat is different. While it successfully retains elements of the first three games, retelling the story that most people never knew, it also adds a whole lot more.
The fighting of this Mortal Kombat is on the 2D plane with 3D characters. Returning to its roots, MK borrows elements from the second and third games with the approach to combos. While you have your standard button mashing combos, you also have the juggles that the second game made famous. This makes combos more free form and easier to approach for new players. One doesn't have to know how to deal 10 hit combos to take down your opponent.
Overall, the new system for combos is simple and effective, but probably the newest and funnest addition to the series is the X-ray and Super move bar. As your character takes damage or does special moves, the bar fills up. At one bar and beyond, the character can execute a more powerful version of your regular special move. At two or more levels, you can execute a counter which can crucial when facing a superior opponent.
At full strength, however, you can execute an X-Ray move. These extremely cinematic moves slow down the camera, zooming in as your character does bone breaking maneuvers. These moves do typically anywhere from 26% to 42% damage and they have been known to turn the tide of the battle in your favor if you're losing.
Fighting isn't everything though. Much like previous Mortal Kombat games, MK9 includes some of the trademark mini games like Test Your Might. MK9 includes even more unique things like Test Your Luck which has slot machine system that gives various effects before fighting.
Visually, the game is beautiful. Using the Unreal Engine, this Mortal Kombat has some of the most lifelike characters ever seen. Their appearances are modified versions of them from the first three games. As the characters fight, they take battle damage like the previous games in the series, although the damage is much more pronounced this time around. Backgrounds are animated with all manner of characters fighting, working, cheering, and the like. The game runs wonderfully smooth and there is no hint of slowdown at all.
The sound design for the game is a real treat too. Every character has their own voice. There are no recycled voices like other games and they never come off as wooden or ridiculous. The music for the game is re-envisioned versions of the originals. As such, they are familiar to veteran players while sounding fresh at the same time.
There's a tremendous amount of value in this game. First off, there's an excellent story mode clocking in at around 5 hours for the first play through. This is where you'll learn about what happened and how things have changed. It's also where you're going to hear the most dialog. This also where you'll earn the most money to be spent in the graveyard unlocking artwork, costumes, and fatalities for the characters.
After you've completed that, you can push through the 300 levels of the challenge tower to unlock an excellent secret. These challenge tower levels can vary from the Test Your Might modes to fighting under specific conditions to silly things like tossing grenades in a bucket. These challenges can be fun and extremely frustrating at the same time so play with a cool head.
When you're done with that, there's the online element as well. MK9's online has been refined considerably from earlier versions. You have more options to choose from such as King of the Hill. I've never been one for online combat, and as such there's also an excellent offline tag mode for you and a few friends to all play together.
MK9 is a nearly perfect game if it weren't for a few quirks. The most obvious and frequently mentioned one is Shao Khan. He is indeed cheap. Known for spamming moves constantly, engaging him up close is suicide and I usually just spammed projectiles in response to win. Also, some of the challenge tower mission can be extremely hard. I also felt the 3D effect was weak compared to other games I have played with 3D.
It should also be mentioned that MK9 has some great DLC characters to obtain. Unlike most games, these aren't palette swaps or incomplete characters missing key things like fatalities, they have everything including their own endings. Two of the DLC characters are returning favorites that exist outside of the first three games, one is an entirely new one, and the other is a guest character. It should also be noted that the PS3 version comes with Kratos.
The new Mortal Kombat is definitely worth it. I suggest anyone interested purchase it, preferably the Komplete Edition to save time and money getting the DLC characters. There are a couple of annoying quirks to the game, but they are worth the price of admission.
The Good: Completely reworked combat system, Story mode is excellent, great graphics and sound, Kratos included for free, lots of value, X-Ray moves are awesome, great DLC characters.
The Bad: Shao Khan is cheap, some challenge tower missions are extremely hard, 3D effect is weak for 3D TVs.