3rd May 2011 - Mortal Kombat – a game infamous for being highly controversial, and at the same time, one of its genre’s top contenders. The popular fighting series returns with its 9th instalment, simply titled Mortal Kombat. Looking at reviving the series which has failed to shine as brightly since its 90’s-era originals, Mortal Kombat is back and better than ever.
Mortal Kombat is straying from its modernization of recent times and returning to its roots to deliver a simple 2 dimensional fighter experience worthy of the name. Not to mention bringing back the gore which gave it series its reputation. We all know what happened when Mortal Kombat vs. DC decided to lift the blood from the industries goriest game, and the result is on par with trying to take the cars out of Need for Speed; you don’t need me to tell you it simply doesn’t work.
Most importantly, the fighting in Mortal Kombat is fast, fluent and highly enjoyable. I should tell you, I used to be a huge fighting fan but it’s been years, since Mortal Kombat: Deception in fact, that I have actually enjoyed a fighting game. Reluctant to try this game because of my recent fall from the fighting grace, I can happily report my worries were put to rest when I was instantly hooked with the gameplay.
Present are some of the best fighting mechanics around, that echo individuality and classic genre-defining gameplay that other games fail to match. Some fighters rely on utterly insane special moves and more epileptic-worrying screen flashes and effect than a Japanese game show (Marvel vs. Capcom 3, I'm looking at you), but Mortal Kombat simply delivers top-quality fighting with minimal effects and relies more on the enjoyment of watching and playing 2 guys beating each other to death. Needles to say, Mortal Kombat is the goriest title in the series, with all manners of completely brutal Fatalities and special moves, which of course the Classification Board down here in Australia wasn’t too happy with.
It’s a pretty big deal that Mortal Kombat is bringing back high levels of the gore, and the game displays it wonderfully. Mixing it into the action to complement the fighting fun, and then excelling in displaying pure brutality, Mortal Kombat won’t disappoint those wanting to see some innards.
All of the classic MK characters return in this game, with essentially every character originating from the original trilogy, rather than including some of the rather ridiculous characters from later titles. I’ve always stood by saying that Mortal Kombat features some of the greatest characters ever created, and the new looks continue the trend of lovable and downright cool characters. A lot of the characters still look as you’d remember them, just with subtle changes. And apart from a questionable look for Smoke, I would say this features the best looking fighting game characters I've ever played as. Let’s be blunt; everyone has more fun when their character looks bad ass.
Visually, the game is top-tier. The animation is all smooth and fast, and complements the gameplay mechanics. Some may question the smaller things like physics the first time you see Sub-Zero freeze a jumping enemy mid-air, only to have him freeze into place right then and there, but I took from it NetherRealm really took going back to their roots with the series very seriously, even including such minimalist things like that from the old-school titles.
“Get over here!” – One of the most iconic video game lines of all time, Scorpions signature trademark is needless to say, present. Along with it, everything you expect from a MK game. Some of it more memorable than others, Mortal Kombat’s sound is a hit and miss, but it’s a hard feat to hit home with a game that fails to allow much room for innovation like a fighting game. You still get all of the signature catchphrases and one lines, and in the story mode, you get some witty dialogue and cheesy moments – most of which feature Johnny Cage I'm sure you could have guessed.
There isn’t much in the way of a Soundtrack, but the score fits well with the action oriented theme of the title and doesn’t disappoint. It’s just a shame NetherRealm Studios couldn’t do more with the classic Mortal Kombat theme that made my childhood all that much better. MOOORRTALLL KOOOMBAAAT!! Yeah, you know the one.
As I mentioned earlier, I haven’t enjoyed a fighting game in quite some time. I find them lacking in value and especially no fun in single player. Mortal Kombat is different, though. With so many different modes and content here, I absolutely loved the games single-player offerings. Of course, nothing beats smacking around a friend in Multiplayer, but it’s rare to get much out of fighting game alone.
With modes supporting up to 4 players, Mortal Kombat has plenty of things to try. Along with the series trademark Ladder Mode - which has players fighting their way up a ‘Ladder’ to the games scarily difficult bosses, which can be played with 1 or 2 players co-operatively (via a Tag-team system) – the title also has its very own Story mode, which literally tells the story of Mortal Kombat and gives players the opportunity to play as many different fighters throughout, even introducing one which to my knowledge is completely new. This keeps things, and the storyline itself is actually surprisingly good. Then there is Tower Mode, which will spawn a few copy-cats in the future I think. Tower Mode has you climbing a tower of 300 different challenges. These range from everything to normal fights with even playing grounds, to very odd and strange ways of screwing with the base mechanics. Defiantly a challenge to complete, this will have you playing for weeks.
My only concern here is the lack of a simple 1 vs. 1 Single-player match. To play alone, you have to either enter a Ladder, or take on the story or the Tower challenges. It’s no trouble to simply start a Ladder, but this fails to allow you to choose your competitor or have just a quick romp when you can find the time. It’s a travesty to take such a basic feature out of a fighting game, and one with no reasonable explanation in my opinion.
Mortal Kombat is a triumphant return for the famed series. Everything you know and love about the Mortal Kombat games returns here packing some extra padding and some new bags to boot. Bathing you in blood, kicking you in the face with awesome and generally giving you the beating of your life, this game is brutal, fast, action packed and above all, highly enjoyable...
This is Mortal Kombat.
AAG SCORE: 9/10
+ Great roster of classic characters
+ Blood, gore, guts and body pieces galore
+ Brilliant 2 Dimensional fighting mechanics
+ Lots of content and modes
- Lack of a basic Fight mode
- Undistinguished audio
Reviewed and Written By John Elliott