Mortal Kombat has had a notorious history within the fighting game genre: it was responsible for the induction of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rating system due to its extraneous gore and violence. However, that was what made the original game popular. The gameplay was entertaining, the characters were memorable, and the fatalities sealed the deal.
The game series started in 1992 with the first Mortal Kombat and is now up to its ninth incarnation. Despite its success, the series has seen many disappointing sequels-especially with its movement to 3D. There were many complaints of awkward gameplay, strange art styles, and an absurd crossover with the DC Universe. The developers at Netherealms Studios and Ed Boon have finally decided to return Mortal Kombat back to its roots. The new game, also called Mortal Kombat , is the ninth game in the series. Unlike its previous few titles, this new Mortal Kombat returns to the 2D fighting style in all its glory and features the gameplay the fans have been begging for.
The story for Mortal Kombat has always been ridiculous and it is not surprising that the story is just as absurd in this game. Mortal Kombat begins after the events of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon but returns to the time when the first three games occurred. The story’s plot twist features Raiden, who gains knowledge of future events from his future self, making many of the events in this timeline slightly altered. The game tries to retell the original storyline with a twist to keep things interesting, but it just seems unnecessary since the game is essentially a reboot. It would make more sense to simply retell their original trilogy and try to fix plot holes rather than creating a whole new timeline.
Despite these problems with the storyline, the story mode is still entertaining. The story is divided into chapters and each chapter features a different character for the player to embody. Fights are separated by lengthy and well-animated cutscenes that attempt to cover all of its characters’ back-stories. The cutscenes blend flawlessly with the actual fights. The entire story mode has no loading screens; it plays like a movie. One problem is that when the story mode is completed it can only be restarted from the beginning – players cannot start at certain chapters.
The return to 2D style gameplay with the advent of rich 3D graphics caters to the fans of the original while also pleasing newcomers. The standard moves are preserved with low punch, high punch, low kick, and high kick. All characters have these basic attacks as well as their own special moves and attack combos. All special moves, attack combos, and fatalities are done by moving in certain directions and using the basic attacks. The gameplay basics are relatively easy to learn.
The game is not just a simple remake, though. There are new additions to the gameplay that enhance the fighting experience, such as the power meter, which gradually builds up as the fight progresses. For balance purposes, the power meter is charged faster for characters taking damage and slower for those dealing damage. The power meter can be charged to three levels and is used up when an enhanced special attack, a combo breaker, or an X-ray move is used. The X-ray moves are special attacks unique to each character that deal major damage. The camera becomes an X-ray to show bones being snapped and entrails being ruptured and ripped out. The X-ray moves also reveal that every character has a unique bone structure and anatomy. X-ray moves provide a lot of strategy to the fights, but they have some balance issues. Some characters can only execute X-ray moves from far distances while others have to be in close range or countering a move. This makes some X-ray moves more difficult to use than others.
The game also offers great tutorials for new players to learn the combos, fatalities, special moves, and more. If you are new to Mortal Kombat, the tutorials will provide everything you need to play the game. Another feature is the Challenge Tower, offering 300 challenges which gradually increase in difficulty. There are also a variety of mini-games and humorous situations hidden in the challenge tower. In one such occasion, Mileena offers Scorpion a teddy bear but Scorpion refuses it, so they fight. The challenge tower alone will keep players busy for a while. But some mini-games, such as Test Your Might (a timing exercise) have no relation to the actual fights and feel rather arbitrary.
Other new additions to the game are the tag team mode and online King of the Hill mode. The tag team mode allows four characters to be played in a round. Players are able to switch off between two characters at any time. Moves for the two characters can be combined to make attack combos. This makes a great addition to the game because it offers a 4-player mode, something a lot of other fighting games lack. The King of the Hill mode is an online mode where players watch matches together until it is their turn to fight. This makes the game feel more like a tournament, as it is meant to be. Although these new additions are excellent for the game, the matches would be better if there was replay system so players could learn from their mistakes.
The game has almost 30 playable characters and 30 different stages. All characters have extra fatalities and outfits that must be unlocked from the Krypt. The Krypt is where the player can unlock extras in exchange for Koins. Koins are earned from playing challenges, the story mode, or ladders. The system works but it is very tedious. The items are only designated with numbers, making it impossible to tell what the unlockable item is. Most of the time, the items bought are just concept art and sketches. The actual fatalities and outfits are hard to come by since the Krypt has around 300 unlockable items to purchase. Additionally, navigating through the Krypt is slow and it can be very annoying to move through all the items to find ones that are not unlocked. Thankfully, it does not take very long to unlock the items, as playing the entire Story Mode can earn enough Koins to unlock half of it. Overall, it would have been preferable if the game’s development time were not spent on something so arbitrary and cosmetic.
Mortal Kombat is back! The classic gameplay returns with a new twist. The fatalities are the most brutal moves the series has ever seen. The story mode, though bizarre, is highly entertaining. Tag teaming makes four-player combat possible. The challenge modes, tutorials, online mode make for a better fighting game, but the tedium of the Krypt detracts from the experience. There is a lot of content, but some of it does seem unnecessary. Despite these flaws, there are many grisly fatalities and X-ray moves to please the fans. If there was ever a time to play Mortal Kombat, it is now.