Review by neonreaper
"Mortal Kombat dances with the one that brought it! Online is a bit laggy though."
Back in the day, we all loved Mortal Kombat games in the arcade. They didn't necessarily have a lot of depth in the actual combat, but they had a lot of gore and little hidden secrets strewn about. The competition wasn't as fierce as it was at the Street Fighter cabinets, no, but you spent plenty of time digging around your latest EGM magazine to figure out fatalities, babalities, friendships, hidden characters, stage fatalities, and so on. The first game was terribly simple, everyone had pretty much the same moves, but at that it was pretty well done. Remove the gore, sure, it's nothing special, but the next two games got pretty good. You could tell these guys wanted to give fans a unique fighting game experience, and Mortal Kombat always used to deliver that.
Then, things changed, the series lost a step, and never seemed to recover. Sure, it still had it's peculiar flair, but we were all wise to it, and the games didn't feel like they cared about giving us something special. They just wanted our money.
Mortal Kombat returns with its ninth entry and it's a major throwback to the old days. The cast from the first three games is all here, and Kratos from God of War is in the Playstation 3 version. We're back to a solid 2D plane, and the game just feels like an older Mortal Kombat game, in a good way. There's a story mode which brings you through all the characters, it's well done even if it's the old cheeseball Mortal Kombat storyline and over the top characters. It's a B- movie with uppercuts and combos. It's not short, it'll take hours to finish it, so it adds a lot of value just by having a reasonable single player story experience.
Next up is the single player tower mode, you can ascend like it's Mortal Kombat 3, either alone or in a tag pair. This lets you simply fight a group of 10 characters, the 8th and 10th being set bosses, the 9th being a rotation. It's a good way to learn a character and accomplish something if you're a newcomer, or you can enjoy the challenge of trying to figure the game out on harder difficulties. I will say that the game feels like a bit of a challenge on single player, if you're not up to snuff with pulling off combos and avoiding attacks extremely quickly, it'll be difficult at first. There are training modes to get into the swing of things, though - put those to good use!
There's the usual 1v1 PvP modes, local and online. There are a bunch of extra modes which add a bit of excitement to the game, keeping things interesting. This might be the area where people spend the most time in the game, but needs the least amount of explanation. Two things to discuss, though. One, you need a Kombat Pass to play online. Buy the game new, and it comes with one. Buy it used or borrow it... well, you need to buy the pass. I don't think that detracts from the game at all, but keep it in mind if you're looking this review up a year from now. The other thing is the lag. Early on, it's pretty bad. It's especially difficult against teleporters.
Also, when looking up a ranked match, the screen is just the same background and little MK icon spinning. Nothing to look at, and it can take a while to find a match. There is also no real audio sound accompanying the event of finding a match - maybe a little click, but if your attention wanders elsewhere while waiting, you might not realize you have to pick your character until you hear your opponent pick theirs. Not the hugest issue, but a significant audio cue would have fixed this very easily. Also, give us something to look at while it takes forever to find a match!
There are tons of unlockables in the game, but it's almost superfluous to the enjoyment of the game. You just unlock things as you build up "Koins" for playing the game. Some of these are extra fatalities or costumes, some are game modes for Try Your Luck, and some is just art that you won't care about. If you're a trophy hunter, there are plenty to find and some seem pretty damn hard. Ladder mode on expert with no continues, for example!
Overall the game is awesome, fun, lots of little secrets and fatalities and so forth. Combos and X-Ray attacks do a good job linking this game to the feel of other fighters, though many seem broken and unfair. Mortal Kombat 9 feels like the way a Mortal Kombat game in 2011 SHOULD feel like and that's what's important. I'll probably bump up the score if the online lag can be cleared up, I don't have these issues with other fighting games and I doubt MK needs to be as precise as them.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 04/20/11
Game Release: Mortal Kombat (US, 04/19/11)
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