Review by gatewalker

"Total Konquest"

Wow. This game blew me away. Something I totally did not expect.

Except for a round or two of Mortal Kombat Gold on the Dreamcast that I would rather forget, I had not played a Mortal Kombat (MK) game since the days of MK2 on the Super Nintendo. Mortal Kombat 2 was a great game day in its day and I would argue that it is still a great representative of its genre today. My brief encounter with Mortal Kombat Gold caused me to avoid any of the titles that came after it. I didn't pay Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance one iota of attention. I'm guessing that there were a lot more players like me. I'm also guessing that the boys at Midway noticed this situation and decided to do something about it.

And do something they did. In the pre-release promotional campaign they promised MK: Deception would have elements of all kinds of game genres added, and that these elements would actually add substantial value to the game. In addition to the primary fighting game, they promised a puzzle game, a full blown adventure game, and even a Mortal Kombat take on chess. Not to sound cliqued, but with all that Midway was promising I'm surprised they didn't offer the proverbial kitchen sink too. It sure sounded like a lot to deliver on, but I got caught up in the marketing hype and actually preordered the game. As a rule, I generally never preorder sequels of anything. For some reason or another, I have almost always been disappointed in nearly game sequel I preordered. It's almost like I jinx the game by doing so. For once though, the jinx didn't hold. Mortal Kombat: Deception delivered on everything that was promised. I found it to be a wonderful title, and would strongly recommend it to any lover of the fighting game genre. Now, let me tell you why:

Graphics: Stunning, across the board. Simply some of the best I have ever seen on the Xbox platform. All of the character models are well designed with each having its own unique look. No more Mortal Kombat 2 tricks of changing character outfit colors to get a new character. The motions of the models are fluid and always well executed. They seem quite alive to be a bunch of animated polygons.

The stage and environment design are spectacular in particular. You have brightly lit outside stages, dim and dark interior scenes, stormy tower top arenas, and even a beach battleground that keeps slipping between different worlds as you fight. The stages often offer a high level of interactivity. The there many inventive traps you can knock your opponent into, many of the stages have multiple levels or areas you can explore, and there are several stages that have a stage specific weapon you can pick up and fight with. Some of the stages have additional attributes to help set them apart. You have one stage that crumbles around the edges as you fight, with an automatic fatality waiting for any player that goes over the stage edge. You have another stage that takes place in a ship of some sort, and has bodies hanging down from the ceiling swinging about the fight area. You can even knock these swinging bodies into your opponent as an attack. Truly, a lot of thought went into the design of these different playfields and the effort put forth in their design really shows.

Sound: The sound and music in this game are right on. Not a single music score seems out of place. The music lends much to the atmosphere of the stages. Some stages benefit greatly from the music being played. That previously mentioned beach battleground is one such example. As you start play, you are on a sandy beach island that has palm trees on a calm sunny day with a beach tune reminiscent of Jimmy Buffet playing in the background. Then, all of a sudden, it switches to night. You hear wind blowing, the palm trees turn into giant snakes, and the music changes to some dark metal riff. Then it switches back to the day scene…

The sound effects are fantastic too. Every grunt, groan, and scream is perfectly delivered. A job very well done. The effort put into the sound effects greatly helps to immerse you into the game.

Gameplay and Game modes:

There are four distinct modes of play in this game: Kombat, Chess Kombat, Puzzle Kombat, and Konquest.

First, let me explain the two modes I didn't play much of:

Chess Kombat is ‘sorta' like Battle Chess. You build a chess army drawn from your roster of MK characters. You then move them out on the stage, and the ‘pieces' fight normal MK arcade matches when they meet. Before gameplay begins, you can set up booby traps for your enemies. You also have access to a list of spells you can cast on the different chess pieces. I found this mode interesting, but didn't play it much.

Puzzle Kombat is basically a mutant form of Dr. Mario. Kinda what you would get if Dr. Mario was selling crack on the side. I found it interesting too, but a little drawn out. I did play it more than I played Chess Kombat though.

Kombat mode is your standard fighting game, and usually the primary focus of a Mortal Kombat game. You have the option to play the arcade mode against the computer, or you can play a ‘versus' game against a local friend or go online and challenge someone on Xbox live (actually, you can play the Puzzle and Chess games online too). There is also a training mode where you can hone your fighting skills.

I found the controls to be easy to grasp, and I quickly found out a lot of things had changed since Mortal Kombat 2. Each character has three fighting styles. Two martial arts along with a weapon based style. The main action buttons handle your basic attacks, handing out kicks and punches when pressed. The auxiliary buttons are used to grab weapons off of the stages and to also throw or grab your opponent. The triggers block attacks and change your combat style. There is also a special move you can perform called a ‘breaker' that will stop a combo attack against you. At anytime during game play a move list can be brought up to show you your characters various moves. The moves are generally a simple combination of button presses and directional movements. For the most part I never had any problems performing the character moves. I found all of the Kombat modes to be very enjoyable.

My favorite part of Mortal Kombat: Deception is the Konquest mode.

In it the primary story of MK: Deception unfolds, and you also learn a lot about the history of the MK universe. You play as Shujinko. You are chosen to be the ‘Champion of the Elder Gods' and set forth on a quest to save all of the realms. The quest spans Shujinko's entire life. As you play Konquest, he grows from being a young boy to an old man. All the while he is trying to complete the quest handed to him by the Elder Gods.

I believe they could have made an independent game just out of that mode. To a degree, one might say they did with Shaolin Monks. Shaolin Monks is similar to MK: Deception's Konquest mode in concept, but very different in execution.

Konquest mode is best described as an adventure\action\rpg type game. Most combat encounters are solved by fighting a Kombat match, but not all are. There several large worlds for you to run around in and explore, along with many missions for you to accept and fulfill. Throughout these worlds are many hidden items for you to find that unlock all sorts of extras in the game such additional characters, art, and other things.

I found the Konquest mode to be very entertaining. I spent more time playing it than any other aspect of this game. Heck, I think, after considering all of the time I spent trying to find all of the hidden items and quests in the game, I'm pretty certain I spent more time playing Konquest mode than several other full fledge roleplaying games.

Mortal Kombat: Deception – a truly great game. It is violent, graphic, gory and damn fun.

For once, the marketing department didn't lie.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/16/07


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