Review by Gamehead

"A great fighter with very few shortcomings."

Midway's trademark, over the top fighter is back, and better than ever. After trying their hand at a 3D MK game with Mortal Kombat 4, they've worked over the flaws to produce a great all around fighter, with all the blood and guts that have become the game's trademark.
(NOTE: All words spelt using K, that are supposed to be spelt with C, are spelt with K in the game, and are spelt that way to reflect the game's terminology)

Graphics:
The graphics in the game have been done surprisingly well. The textures in the levels look great, and while the characters look very good for the most part, there are flaws. (Kano's body hair looks like it was painted on). An interesting new feature is having battle damage visible on the characters face as they take damage, in the form of cuts and bruises. Unfortunately, the same effects are absent from other parts of the body. Instead, they have blood that drips off your character as damage as taken. It does not look very realistic, however. The blood is plentiful and exaggerated, as it has been in all of the games. The blood effects look a lot better, though. The blood spilt actually stays on the ground, and turns a darker red as the battle goes on. Very impressive. While not perfect, the graphics are very well done, and do the job nicely.
Score: 9/10

Sound:
This is mostly where the game falters. The grunts, smacks, screams of pain, and such are well done, but sometimes it feels as if they give different characters the same set of voices (With the exception of their taunts, Johnny Cage sounds surprisingly like Scorpion). The music, on its own, is good. However, in a game like this, it doesn't seem to suit it. The music is slow, brooding, and does not really add much of an element of intensity to the fights. The music that plays during the fatalities is very good, however. It has that sort of chilling sound that lets you know that something nasty is coming. They also have the music video for ''Immortal'' by Adema as en extra in the game. I liked it, but whether or not you will like it is a matter of personal taste. The sound is okay, but disappointing fight music, and the fact that they seem to use the same set of grunts for different characters occasionally takes it down quite a bit.
Score: 6/10

Gameplay:
This game is a seemingly endless stream of fun. Whether you're picking up the controller for the first time, and button mashing against your friends, or just finished perfecting an incredibly complicated problem, you'll have a blast. The movement is based purely on the digital pad, which can take a while to get used to. The general movement is fairly easy to get used to. It has the standard movement backward and forward complete with dashes. Rather than a separate sidestep button, the game uses upwards or downwards on the digital pad for sidestepping into the background or foreground respectively. A direction left or right combined with up will make the character jump, while a direction left or right with down will make the character crouch. The block button, used by the right trigger truly is a blessing in 3D fighters like this. Z, A, B, X, and Y are all attack buttons, though Z is sometimes used to taunt. The left trigger switches fighting styles, which is where the gameplay takes on a new dimension.

Each character has 2 fighting styles, and a weapon. Using the left trigger will cycle through these. Each style has a different set of moves and combos, and a different function for the Z button (some styles will do a taunt, some styles will power up, when using a weapon it will doe another attack). When using a weapon, you can do insane amounts of damage, especially if you know the combos. However, to balance this out, your character also takes more damage when using weapons out. Also, after the ''Finish Him/Her'' message appears, your character is able to access a fatality fighting styles. This lets you enter in the right combination of buttons needed to do a fatality without having your character jumping around the screen, as they remain stationary. They also give you more time to do a fatality, so you aren't trying to push 5 different buttons in 3 seconds.

For play modes, the game has Arcade, Versus, and Konquest. Versus is exactly how it sounds, and lets you play against a friend. Konquest is a mode that introduces players to the basics of the game. After the first eight missions, done with a preset character to learn the basics, players are able to choose a character and are able to take training missions as that character to learn their combos and various attacks. Through doing these missions players also earn koins, which can be used in the Krypt, which will be explained later. The Arcade mode is the main way players will earn koins, as they progress through increasingly harder opponents until they reach the end, where they are treated to the characters ending. The arcade mode is well done, but the AI can be quite frustrating. Rather than a gradual climb to the more difficult fights, the fights start of fairly easy, then make a big jump to the more difficult. Another frustration is that while you could be faring well in round 1, the CPU will absolutely destroy you in round 2, and block every single attack you do. While this can be overcome, the third last character you fight, Moloch, is simply a nightmare. You can't grab him, projectiles like Scorpion's spear, or Sub Zero's freeze have no effect, and his attacks do insane amounts of damage. A hit and run/block technique is the only thing that seems to work against him, which can result in a rather unpleasant battle. Occasionally between battles, players will have a chance at earning more coins in a mini game. The games are Test your Strength and Test your Sight. The sight game is a version of the shell game, while the strength game requires hitting A, B, X, and Y as fast and as much as possible, then hitting the R button to attack the thing you are trying to break. Simple, yet fun.

There are 6 different kinds of koins: Ruby, Sapphire, Jade, Onyx, Platinum, and Gold. The koins are used in the krypt, which is filled with koffins. The koffins show which type of koin is needed to open it, and how many of that type of koin is needed. The koffins contain all sorts of things for players to unlock. They have everything from more koins, new characters, alternate costumes, character profiles, special pictures and movies, and even a few empty koffins. There are over 600 koffins for players to open, so the game should supply lots of replay value.
Score: 10/10

Overall:
This game is a lot of fun, with a massive amount of replay value. It still has all the gimmicks like the blood and fatalities, but it includes a solid fighting system to back it up. The sound is a little weak, but the fun you'll have with the game more than makes up for it. This game is a must-buy, and one of the best 3D fighters on the market. However, as all Mortal Kombat games, it is NOT a game for the younger gamers. But for more mature gamers who even remotely consider themselves fans of the fighting genre, go out, and buy it as soon as possible. You won't regret it.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 12/02/02, Updated 12/02/02


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