Mortal Kombat (2011)

Mortal Kombat is a pleasant return to what made the series a true great.

By fishdalf, Posted 11 Aug 2011

In 1992, when Ed Boon and John Tobias designed a fighting game by the name of Mortal Kombat, they never could have imagined the fame and indeed the fortune it would bring. It is widely regarded as the greatest fighting series of all time and the one that’s had the biggest impact on the genre since its conception. Characters such as Scorpion and Sub-Zero are now household names and some of the most recognisable characters throughout video game history.

Nineteen years on, this latest title is filled with an air of nostalgia, right down to the use of its original name. No taglines, no gimmicks, just Mortal Kombat. The character selection is centred around the original trilogy, with Baraka, Cyrax, Ermac, Jade, Jax, Johnny Cage, Kabal, Kano, Kitana, Kung Lao, Liu Kang, Mileena, Nightwolf, Noob Saibot, Quan Chi, Raiden, Reptile, Scorpion, Sektor, Shang Tsung, Sheeva, Sindel, Smoke, Sonya, Stryker, Sub-Zero and Cyber Sub-Zero (an alternate character form) all in attendance.

"If you have a favourite character from those games, you're probably going to see him or her in the game,” says co-creator Ed Boon, who now takes up the role of director. In addition to the base set, PlayStation 3 users are treated to an exclusive bonus character in Kratos, from the action-adventure powerhouse that is God of War. He fits in to the selection perfectly, but isn’t featured in the story mode as including him would have meant fundamentally changing the plot for two different platforms.

Mortal Kombat, 2011, Review

Each character comes equipped with his or her own stance, moveset, fatalities and victory poses, with no animations being shared amongst them. Most characters also have their own part to play in the story mode, with the focus moving from one fighter to the next after a few bouts with each. This means you get a good run out with the cast, to learn their strengths and weaknesses before moving on to the next.

The storyline itself is actually half-decent, far better than those horrendous movie attempts they brought out over a decade ago, and is quite meaty in length. The whole thing plays out as a retelling of the original events, with Raiden seeing a vision of his future self and his colleagues being savagely murdered. It then cuts back to present day and goes on to span the original trilogy, with the aid of an informed Raiden, who tries to change history and the course of events that led up to their demise.

The game is displayed in full 3D graphics but you are limited to 2D movement, which works really well in this instance and not only relays that retro feel but makes it more accessible to the casual gamer. It also makes the characters and projectiles pop from the screen, with the blurred green of Johnny Cage’s snotball attacks especially pleasing on the eyes. The blood is in full flow here too, with squirts emanating from every orifice as you beat your opponent to a bloody pulp, and once it’s out it stays out, splattering the fighters and the arena in a gloriously gory manner.

Speaking of gore, there are some sickeningly barbaric Fatalities on display, and it’s clear they didn’t have any intentions of keeping the ESRB happy when they were thought up. Limbs are torn from torsos and then used to slap their own face. Hearts are wrenched out and then fused back on with electricity. There are also X-ray moves that can be triggered during fights, by filling up a special meter at the base of the screen, and if time correctly sees your character violently stab guts, snap legs and sever skulls, with every bone, muscle and vital organ shown close-up and personal. It’s enough to make even the most hardened of gamers cringe.

Mortal Kombat, 2011, Review

Unlike previous games the training mode now includes Fatality training, were you are invited to learn each and every gruesome finishing move to unleash on your opponent. This is a welcome addition, as while previous games used to only reward those who would experiment with hundreds of different button combinations, the sharing of this information on the internet renders that useless, and implementing a way to learn and execute them correctly seemed like the only logical choice.

Another first for the series is the introduction of up to four player tag battles, which make for some pretty interesting fights. The system works well and it’s relatively easy to pull off tag attacks and tag combinations with a few simple button pushes. The switches are also quick, so you never feel like your fighter is exposed, and despite there not being many link-up attacks to utilise, the feature overall is one that can definitely be expanded upon for the future.

The arcade ladder from previous games makes a return of sorts, being renamed Challenge Tower but with a bit more variety added to proceedings. There are over 300 challenges placed in front of you, all with varying difficulties, from defeating an opponent without blocking, to the more unconventional task of figuring out which bloodied skull a ball is hidden under. How that helps improve your game is beyond me, but I guess it makes for a nice break from the senseless violence.

Mortal Kombat, 2011, Review

The only downside to an otherwise rewarding fighting experience, with a solid control scheme, is the tendency for the computer to use cheap tactics, which can frustrate. This somewhat forces you to retaliate with equally cheap tactics to achieve victory. The multiplayer portions are a different story, as these can quickly be countered by a well-versed player, but if you’re looking to get in some solid practise time against the AI then it may see you fall into bad habits.

Venturing online provides a good match and there always seems to be someone available to fight, with very little waiting between matches, and very little lag during. A new King of the Hill mode is one of the more interesting offerings that allows eight players to watch a fight, and once it ends others are able to jump in, in a winner stays on scenario. It’s worth noting though, that if you intend on buying the game second-hand, a pass is required to access any online features, which comes at an additional cost. The code that comes with the booklet is a single use code registered to one console only.

All-in-all Mortal Kombat is a pleasant return to what made the series a true great, with superb gameplay, a fun and compelling multiplayer, and enough single player content, in its story mode, Challenge Tower, Krypt and online features, to warrant a full price tag. They’ve also treated fans to regular downloadable content since release, with classic skins, fatalities and some extra characters, including Kenshi, the blind warrior from Deadly Alliance, and Freddy Krueger, who will be a dream inclusion, as oppose to a nightmare for many.

Craig Bryan, NoobFeed
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  • A few years ago there were no fighting games, no there are fighters being released every month. Guess the craze is back.

    Posted Aug 12, 2011


General Information

Platform(s): PC, Xbox 360, Vita
Publisher(s): Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer(s): NetherRealm Studios
Genres: Fighting
Themes: Action, Adventure
Release Date: 2011-04-19

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