Review by Sour DieseL
"Far too underrated!"
Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero was actually a pretty decent game. It brought one of the fan favorites into his own game, and it was a platforming RPG at that, similar to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. People don't like change, so this game gets a lot of hate. It wasn't like it was trying to turn the series into a whole new direction, they just wanted to spice it up a bit with something different. The result was a great game that was poorly received, simply because it wasn't the tournament fighter that we all know and love. Enter the world of Sub-Zero and the prequel to Mortal Kombat 4, and even MK1 as well.
Story: 10/10: You play as Sub-Zero, the legendary Lin Kuei ice-mastering ninja. Your first mission is to invade the Shaolin temple and recover a sacred map, a mission given to you from the Grand Master of the Lin Kuei clan. A sorcerer by the name of Quan Chi had the head of the head of the Lin Kuei's rival clan to the Grand Master, in exchange for your services. Upon delivering the map to Quan Chi, the map shows a secret route through the Himalayan mountains that leads to the Temple of the Gods, where an all-powerful amulet is kept, as well as housing the four Elder Gods, the guardians of the Earth. You'll have to defeat them on your quest to retrieve the amulet. But has Sub-Zero bitten off more than he can chew? Does he really grasp the dangers of what he's doing and the resulting consequences? Not at first, but Raiden, the legendary Thunder God will deliver the gravity of the situation, sending you off on a mission for the good of the Earth and it's people.
Gameplay: 10/10: The game incorporates quite an interesting game-play system. Not only will you be fending off enemies, but you'll have to do a great deal of platforming as well, a first in the series. You'll have to duck and dodge booby traps such as swinging scythes from the ceiling, crumbling platforms, and much more. In the God of Wind's stage for instance, you'll have to allow currents of air to help boot you up onto platforms and ledges. You'll find yourself having to depend on level gimmicks quite a bit. When fighting enemies you can also pull off combos, just like all of the other Mortal Kombat games. Doing so will get you experience points. You'll level up, thus giving you more powerful abilities and attacks. You'll be making ice clones and sliding before you know it, before eventually leveling up enough to obtain the almighty Polar Blast, which freezes everything on screen and even a bit further than that.
In addition to the platforming and RPG elements, you will be doing your fair share of traditional Mortal Kombat battles. In the first level you'll have to fight and take out Scorpion. You can even perform a fatality at the end of these fights. Why this game was so poorly received, I don't understand. You get the best of both worlds here. Platforming *and* fighting. Some bosses however may be immune to your special attacks, but that's no different than say, Motaro from Mortal Kombat III and Trilogy. Overall the game-play is quite a mixed bag, and if you can keep an open mind, you should enjoy how this game plays. Platforming, a small RPG element, and one on one fights. The controls feel a bit more clunky in this version, probably more so because of the weird and sometimes clunky Nintendo 64 controller. But you'll get the hang of it.
Graphics: 9/10: The graphics are absolutely stellar for the time this game was released. Smooth, crisp, and detailed. The characters and their animations are done in motion capture like previous Mortal Kombat games, in front of a green screen where they could insert backgrounds and the levels themselves. The backgrounds are extremely detailed and atmospheric. Lightning in the background of the Himalayas, the dark brooding clouds. The rocky, very brown, earth-toned environment of the Earth God's lair. The fiery, hot, decayed regions of the Netherrealm. All of it is executed perfectly. It doesn't look quite as crisp as it's Playstation counterpart, but it's still pretty good and looks fluid unless you're an inch from the TV screen.
In addition to the great graphics in-game, the cut-scenes are live action. Which was a fantastic feat back then, and even most game developers won't try something like that these days. It really helps capture the emotions and feelings of the characters and adds a great sense of realism to it, helping you suspend disbelief just a bit more. For some reason, this aspect is almost never mentioned. The actors chosen for their parts were excellent and deserve some recognition. I'm also curious as to how they fit these cut-scenes onto the N64 cartridge, fantastic job!
Sound: 10/10: The sounds and music in this game are excellent, only serving to moisten the atmosphere even more. The music is dark and brooding, which is fairly typical of the Mortal Kombat franchise. At times it's even hectic for a fitting situation. As for voice acting, most of the talking is done in the cut-scenes. But the voices fit their characters very well and the actors did a great job. And echo-effects were added to the God characters, to give them an omnipotent sound. It doesn't sound quite as good on the Nintendo 64, but it's still not bad and the great, ominous soundtrack is still there.
The sound effects are great. Everything from the lightning in the background outside while traversing the deadly Himalayas. The platforms that crumble in this stage actually sound like real crumbling bricks. They probably just recorded it happening and inserted it into the game. Like I said, they really went whole hog on this game. It's a shame it's so underrated.
Overall: 10/10: This game is a masterpiece, all things considered. And highly underrated. If you're a Mortal Kombat purist who thinks the tournament style is the only way to go in the franchise, than I guess don't bother with this game, it's not for you. If you don't mind some diverseness, and are interested in plot as well as some great platforming, then this game is for you.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 05/19/10
Game Release: Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero (US, 12/08/97)
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