Visually, MK4 is good (on the arcade anyway) but home parts had choppy models and some disappointing textures. For some stupid reason the PC port was just as crappy as the PS version. There was no reason the computer version of MK4 couldn't support the graphics (or at least close to the graphic detail) of the arcades. It did not have to be chopped down to the Playstation version.
Thankfully, they got rid of stupid finishers and stuck with two fatalities per character and cool new stage fatalities that are a definite improvement to MK3's dust ball. Even though all the blood looked very unrealistic and there were no bones to characters when being chopped in half, they were still great. At the time, all that detail didn't seem feasible in a convenient manner.
The music went back to the good ol' MK roots and fit the fighting stages well. Not as disappointing as MK3/UMK3. The sound effects are a bit questionable, but not too shabby.
This game definitely had an interesting character roster, brought in some new fan favorites like Quan Chi, Shinnok, Reiko. And of course returning classics like Sub-Zero, Goro, Sonya, Cage, Scorpion. There are a whole bunch of other characters, take your time to view the screen shots.
The fighting mechanics are pretty basic, as usual. No real unique style for each character. The animations were not distinct at all, which was present in MK3 to make each character have their own martial arts style. But MK4 everyone fights the same with the exception to special moves. This is a very big drawback to MK4 – a stupid mistake to be honest. It takes away from potential eye candy that could make the game more interesting to play especially when it comes to replay value. If you master one player you can master the entire roster. That is not fun at all. But the pace of the fighting is very fast and enjoyable.
The weapon system kind of sucks, but it was their first attempt, so I suppose they did a good job considering the game came out a while ago. You can pick up and throw weapons as well as objects laying around in the stage. The only crappy part is the that it's very easy to disarm your opponent which makes it a bit frustrating to have cool weapon to weapon battles. In a way its good, considering weapons take off so much life – but that could have been balance by just toning down the amount of damage a weapon does.
One thing I have to point out is the terrible AI when on harder difficulty (which has been a problem and seems to be a problem that never gets fixed with MK games). Just like before, if you're trying to throw an opponent they immediately do a throw before you, the same thing goes with bone breaker moves. It is so frustrating to use the arsenal of attacks the game developers provide you when the poorly programmed AI overrides your every attack like it can read your damn mind.
Overall I was pleased with the games despite a few flaws which can be easily overlooked. By now, you won't want to play it unless you're an old fan who loves to go back to the roots of MK and play some of the classics that helped bring about the evolution of current MK titles. Appreciate this game.