Mortal Kombat

After a slight detour from both traditional quality and the universe as a whole, Mortal Kombat is returning to its roots with the newest installation.

Platform: PS3*/Xbox 360
Genre: Fighting
Players: 1-4 (Online: 1-4)
ESRB: Mature (Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Strong Language)

In elementary school, I was best friends with a kid who was obsessed with Mortal Kombat. He talked about it every day while we were using the swing set, and I wasn’t really feeling it.

Working at Gamestop, I once had a guy come in to buy the Tournament Edition of this game. I said “You must really like Mortal Kombat, huh?” He replied “I’ve been playing — how old are you?”
“I’ve been playing Mortal Kombat longer than you’ve been alive!”

That being said, this was my first delve into a true Mortal Kombat title, and let me say that it was a great experience. This game looks great, plays great, and is a must-have title for your collection.

First off – perhaps I was just in a rut with the DC Universe title, but I found myself struggling a lot with combos and didn’t dig into them much. Here they seem to be coming off a lot smoother and each is more satisfying than the last. To anyone watching, it looks like a real button-masher, but when you get down to it, there is a certain finesse required to really master any character in this game. My personal favorite is Jade, for the record.

The plot is pretty solid, especially considering it’s not exactly a feature point of the game. The only qualms I have about it is something that I believe all Mortal Kombat games have suffered from. When facing Shao Kahn, you can’t fight him like you’d fight any other person. He’s not just stronger and heartier. About half of your hits will not interrupt any move he might be executing, and his is so much more powerful than you, that it really isn’t in your benefit to run the risk. I would bet that most players do not fight him head-on, and instead find a long-range move or other strategy (teleport, uppercut, teleport, repeat) and beat him down slowly, which goes against everything you’ve been trying to master over the course of the story and really upends the core gameplay.

Fortunately, Shao Kahn isn’t the real challenge. Once you’ve beaten the story, take the actual skills you’ve gained against your friends and online. The multiplayer is really the big draw here. Hosting a Mortal Kombat party ranks right up next to the Halo parties I remember so fondly. It starts to get lame when you’re friend who likes WWE shows up and start identifying moves he recognizes, but if you hand him a controller, he might shut up. It offers a ton of replay and really challenges you to perfect a character. Unfortunately, heading online will pit you against some uneasy servers PSN-side (assuming you have a Kombat Pass to get online, which actually is printed on your receipt even if you buy used at Gamestop) and players who stand far away and throw Kung Lao’s hat or Kabal’s giant ninja blade, so best you take an even temper out there, as you’re sure to get smashed both fairly and not.

If that doesn’t offer enough replay, the challenge tower offers 300 (300) challenges to complete, and if you’re a real achievement hunter, you can attempt to master all characters, which takes a couple weeks of solid game time at minimum to accomplish.

Anything else in this title is really a moot point. The controls are pretty much flawless and it looks on par with today’s titles. The important parts are there, with a few old school references tossed in for good measure that veteran Mortal Kombat players (like my friend I haven’t seen since like third grade) will surely appreciate.

Bottom Line: 9.5/10

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