Review by Oggytheogre321
"Mixing Klassic and Modern, Mortal Kombat makes a triumphant return."
I'll admit it right now. The only Mortal Kombat games I've played are Deadly Alliance and above. With that said, I've done a lot of reading into the classic games. Forget the lacklustre fatalities of Armageddon, forget the superheroes, and forget about bad voice acting. Mortal Kombat 9 has gone back to the roots and succeeded in practically every aspect.
Let's start with Story Mode. Taking the popular concept from MK vs. DC, MK 9 has a cutscene-to-fight orientated cutscene. The cutscenes link the fights together, giving a ground to just why they are fighting. The story is actually very intriguing, in that Raiden tells his past self that Shao Kahn's going to rule Armageddon. So Raiden tries to change things for the better... key word: tries. You play as 16 different Kombatants, mostly from the good side of things.
While you play as 16 in story, out of story you can play as 25 default characters, with two secrets unlockables and (if on PS3 version) Kratos from the God of War series. The characters all look unique and really excellent. Each face has a different shape, and the costumes are all different. If the primary costumes are good, on the most part the secondary costumes are great. The human forms of Cyrax and Sektor are as you would imagine them, and Nightwolf's second costume really shows what he is about. Even the usual look-a-likes Kitana, Jade and Mileena are all different but have similarities, which is what it's meant to be. However, Shao Kahn, Goro, and Kintaro are unplayable (unless in special matches in Tower). I don't understand this. All three have move-sets, X-Ray attacks, advanced special moves, two fatalities and babalities. They have everything you need apart from the fact you can't play as them.
It's not just the character's looking good. The stages look great as well. You'll see people fighting in the background, demons lurking behind bars, and Shao Kahn taunting you from his throne. Making the arena move and thrive give a better experience to gameplay as a whole.
The damage factor also returns, which proves a great choice by the developers. You'll find skin splitting, machinery breaking and sunglasses breaking. These damages are also unique to the character, so you'll see Jax's arm sparking and Ermac's mask showing some of his real face (amidst the blood). While the damage doesn't affect the gameplay, that isn't a necessarily bad thing. It would likely hinder gameplay otherwise.
Trust me. You do not want to hinder this gameplay. You have two bars, a half bar and an energy bar. The energy bar once raised to certain points allows you to use a combo breaker, a specially advanced special move, and an X-Ray attack. Let's start with the combo breaker. This is very useful in the hard fights with combo-centric characters, allowing you to take the advantage in an instant. The special moves all look amazing and you can see they suit the characters well. Using the advanced special move usually means more power, as well as changing the look slightly. Finally, we have the X-Ray attack.
A new addition, and a definitive improvement. With all three bars, you can activate this and unleash a bone-crushing attack (Quite literally). As the name implies, you see the bones breaking and splitting. Each character has a different X-Ray attack with enough variation for it not to get old. Kano uses his dagger to stab the legs, while Stryker uses his tools of the trade. To see the damage inflicted in such a close & personal way drives the effect deep into your mind.
After the toned-down fatalities of MK vs. DC and Create-A-Fatality from Armageddon, we have the appreciated return of the old fatalities. By old I mean decapitations, incinerations, and generally limb's being either cut or ripped off. On the most part, fatalities are very well done with a few disappointing selections. Both Shang Tsung's are not as good quality as the others, while one of Sub-Zero's is disappointing. Yet, you have some brilliantly simple Lui Kang punch and Kano Heart crush, to the wince-inducing Noob wishbone and Kung Lao hat slice (groin first), to the not-so bloody yet fun dissolve ones, such as Nightwolf's and Smokes. Also returning are stage fatalities, babalities, which are generally chuckle worthy. (Noob going through portals in an infinite loop is easily the best).
It's not just Story Mode and 1-on-1 fights though. With tag-team mode, you are able to fight while changing, allowing for more complex and exciting combos. You can also call in your partner to attack the opponent. The ladder mode (also playable as a tag-team) makes you fight 7 randomly selected opponents, then Shang Tsung, Either Kintaro or Goro, and finally Shao Kahn himself. The endings of the ladder modes vary from character to character and make you want to watch all of them. You also have training mode with four different choices. Simple 1 on 1 practice, 2-on-2 practice, fatality tutorial (tom memorize those pesky inputs) and tutorial to give you the basics.
Along with these, you have Test Your: modes. Test your Sight is simply the moving cups game. Test Your Might is button-mashing to a certain point. Test Your Strike is similar to Test Your Might, though you have to get it to a certain position and keep it there. Finally you have the always entertaining Test Your Luck. You are given a random opponent, and random conditions. These conditions can be electrified floors, upside down screen, those kinds of quirks. Yet you also have handicaps such as armless and headless. Finally appearance altering conditions like zombie mode or rainbow blood.
Last but not least, the last play mode is Challenge Tower. Once again I'll admit I haven't completed the Tower, but I know the immense number of challenges involved. 300 different objectives will definitely keep you occupied. Shooting games, Test Your-??? Games, simple 1-on-1 fights, and then handicap matches vs. 2 or 3 opponents. Some are hard and some are easy. You thought defeating Shao Kahn was hard? How about three of them?
This isn't the last mode though, oh no. We have the favourite Krypt mode where you'll spend Koins on getting unlockables in four entertaining sections complete with animations. The dead lands is a mass of graveyards, The Hollow of Infestation are bodies hanging from trees, the Bloodmarsh is a swampy like area with submerged bodies, and the Meadow of Despair with old execution devices. The unlockables range from picture and story boards to alternate costumes and fatalities. You can also find hidden Koins. Oh, and also watch out for a surprise given by the developers.
Along with the Krypt is the Necropolis. This is where you view your unlockables. A freely rotatable render immerses you in the designs of characters, along with their damaged counterparts. You can also view bios and endings here. The overall Necropolis looks great and fits into the general atmosphere of Mortal Kombat.
Truthfully I don't go online, so I can't give a hands-on experience of online mode. From what I've heard though, the King of the Hill is entertaining, though lag mars the experience.
Last and not least we have DLC Content. Four characters have so far been released, as well as a lot of original costumes. The costumes are the old palette swaps in the ninja, both male and female, as well as the cyborg palette swaps. The characters that return are Kenshi and Rain. Both look amazing, and Kenshi has one of my favourite fatalities. Skarlet is an all new character who controls blood with fun fatalities as well. Lastly we have a guest character (for both consoles) in the serial killer Freddy Krueger. He is definitely an awesome character to play as considering he fits into Mortal Kombat really well.
Suffering only a few bad decisions in fatalities and characters, as well as the lag on online, Mortal Kombat is a wildly entertaining fighting game which is very different from the likes of Street Fighter and Tekken. Fun characters, bloody fatalities, and brilliant modes allow Mortal Kombat to be in the all-time top fighting games, mixing both modern and classic alike in a succesful endeavour.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 08/18/11
Game Release: Mortal Kombat (EU, 04/21/11)
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