Review by Arkrex

"Flawed Victory"

If you enjoy ripping people's heads off, or cracking your mate in the nuts before shoving a fireball up his ass, several men dressed in white lab coats will be seeing you very shortly. In the meantime, why don't you pick up a DS and a copy of Ultimate Mortal Kombat to quench your thirst for ruthless bloodletting?

If you are looking for mindless violence on the DS, look no further than Ultimate Mortal Kombat. Back in glory days when the arcade fighting game scene was dominated by Street Fighter II (and its many incarnations), there was only one other series that rivalled it in popularity - Mortal Kombat (and its many sequels). Instead of having a couple of anime-esque characters perform stylish kick-flips and corkscrew dives, Mortal Kombat veered towards realistic gore; digitised sprites that looked a lot like real people would smack each other around and with every blow landed, several pints of blood would gush out of the traumatised areas.

It was bloody awesome. But not really.

Ultimate Mortal Kombat isn't a brand-new game, but a DS package consisting of an online-enabled Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 and a downsized version of the Puzzle Kombat mini-game featured in the more recent Mortal Kombat sequels.

Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 is a spot-on emulation featuring all of the original twenty-two characters, their killer special moves, and every one of the end-match Fatalities, Babalities, Animalities and Friendships. The fighting system isn't as intuitive as in other 2D brawlers (in fact, I'd go as far as to say it's probably the worst out of the mainstream lot), and the absence of a useful training mode makes learning the ropes decidedly difficult for those who aren't familiar with old-school Mortal Kombat. It doesn't help that a psychic A.I. will counter your every move with unnatural ease in the solo mode, too. Thus, it is really only through multiplayer that Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 shines.

Anyone with a DS and their own copy of the game are potential challengers. The matches are fast and furious with minimal lag, which occurs only when multiple explosive projectiles are simultaneously being tossed out. Even with the somewhat broken fighting system (it's all about who can start a combo going first; once a keen eye for stunning projectiles has been developed, it's more or less governed by luck) it's still a lot of fun hammering away at your rival's face and watching all the pretty red haemoglobin spurt out.

If you eventually grow sick and tired of beating your mates into a bloody pulp, you can also take your game online versus the world. The use of friendcodes is highly advisable as "Toasty!" disconnectors can mar an otherwise smooth one-on-one fighting experience. Again, there is minimal lag, more so than with local games. Some frame-skipping glitches may be a bit annoying to some, but it doesn't break the game in any way. After all, the Mortal Kombat series has never been known for its precision commands apart from those few seconds at the end when you are prompted to "Finish Him!!".

On the other side of the table, we have Puzzle Kombat. This is a block-falling puzzle game whereby elimination of coloured groups of blocks will lead to super-deformed Mortal Kombat warriors (displayed on the upper screen) exchanging blows until one of them falls. The game is pretty slow paced compared to other block-fallers and just like how it was a novelty time-killer inserted into the exclusive home-console Mortal Kombat games, Puzzle Kombat is good enough to waste away a few minutes with before heading back to where the real violence is at.

I suppose it really comes down to how much you dig the original Mortal Kombat trilogy (note that Mortal Kombat Trilogy is actually most complete compilation; why it isn't the version featured in here is another story). If you enjoyed uppercutting your mates into the rooftop back in the nineties, well - some things don't change. But you may have since grown weary of the rather shallow battle mechanics that can't hold a candle to modern 2D fighters - multiplayer Wi-Fi or not - and Puzzle Kombat can only keep you occupied for so long. Newbies may want to give it a chance to see what it was that us older folk were so crazy about all those years ago, but the ridiculously spewing blood and gruesome fatalities (the two things that caught most people's attention back in the days) have since been superseded by more disturbingly horrific imagery.

What you're left with here is a great online-enabled emulation of a so-so fighting game (plus a lame puzzle game) which looks rather anaemic now that violence in video gaming is nothing to rave on about.

VERDICT - 6.5 An ultimate port, but a not-so ultimate game.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 11/16/07

Game Release: Ultimate Mortal Kombat (US, 11/12/07)


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