Review by RoxasANobody
"Just another typical 2D fighter."
NetherRealm Studios produces another Mortal Kombat game after their previous game, DC Universe, was a substantial flop; both in the ESRB rating and overall gaming. After ditching the 3D design and taking their inspiration from old 2D fighting games; they have conformed and created their newest installment - Mortal Kombat. Whatever was happening before this installment doesn't matter as this is a complete reboot as far as gameplay and storyline goes. What NetherRealm Studios has done was improve the graphics and nothing else.
Storyline - 3/10
The storyline was quite unique at the time. A few of Earth's warriors are going to protect "Earthrealm" against the might of Shao Kahn's "Outworld" army. Earth's warriors [Liu Kang, Sonya Blade, Jax, and Johnny Cage] are the sole protectors of Earthrealm and they'll do anything to fight off Shao Kahn. Liu Kang enters a tournament held by Shang Tsung that determines the faith of both Earthrealm and Outworld. If Earth's protectors win, then Earthrealm will remain safe from harm; if they lose, then Earthrealm will merge with Outworld.
In the beginning of the game, however, we see Raiden being beat to a pulp by Shao Kahn. There is no more hope for Earthrealm, so, in hopes of saving Earthrealm, he tries to change the present by sending a message to himself in the past. The Raiden in the past attempts to change the future when flashes of the future appear in his head.
It has even been stated by NetherRealms Studio that Mortal Kombat is just a retelling of the original three games. The focus of a "new game" should be to produce something new; something straight out of a creative mind that is fresh. What NetherRealms has done though was to retell a story. Since it was a new and an impressive story the first time around, the original creators deserve a rating above zero. But, since it was just told to be a recap of the first three games, there's no originality, there's no new flavor to it, and everything is expected.
Gameplay - 1/10
There is nothing unique or new about the gameplay in Mortal Kombat. What NetherRealm Studios have done is create a carbon copy of fighting games that have been improving off of the old formula. The old 3D style of fighting was heavily criticized and it obviously wasn't working out for this genre. However, instead of refining the system and making it better, they decided to conform and change the series to reflect other popular fighting games.
A concept that may seem new to casual gamers is the "X-Ray" feature. There is nothing new about this feature at all; this is something that has remained non-existent in the Mortal Kombat series until now, but just because it was non-existent doesn't make it new. The player must fill up a "Special Bar" in order to use the X-Ray attack. The "Special Bar" [which is new to the series as well] allows the player to unleash their X-Ray attack, interrupt a combo, and/or unleash a super version of one of their special attacks. The reason why the X-Ray feature shouldn't be considered "new" is because it has existed in other games for quite some time; maybe not in the same graphical design, but the X-Ray feature is a fancy way of saying, "the Special attack". Special attacks have always been within fighting games, whether it be Ryu unleashing a Shoryuken or Naruto Uzumaki releasing his Rasengan, they exist everywhere.
Additionally, in the storyline battles, NetherRealm decides that it's a great idea to make you play as many characters as possible within the story. People who are casual gamers and are new to the Mortal Kombat series are probably going to be turned away due to this. Even when the difficult is on "Normal", the enemies hit hard, the combos take off 1/3 health, and, if the player can't get suited to one character; they are stuck as that character because it's apart of the storyline. NetherRealm also decided that it was a great idea to make the player fight a duo occasionally.
The duo fights are, hands-down, the most frustrating thing within the game. The player does not get a handicap; their health remains the way it would if it were a one versus one fight. The two the player is fighting against can tag in and out, so if the player doesn't kill one before they tag out, then they can do temporary tag-ins and cause damage to the player while they're trying to fight the other partner. On "Normal" mode, the difficulty is just unbearable, even for those who regularly play fighting games; this game will challenge the player. On the hardest difficulty, it's nearly impossible to pass any sort of stage, especially the duo stages.
We also see the return of the "Fatality" system. The best thing about the Fatality system is that it's there; the worst part is that it's there and there's nothing new about it. Just as the other features in the game, it's entirely expected of the producers to do this. Limbs being chopped off, innards being torn apart, and classical other-worldly attacks are nothing new to the series. There is nothing new about the system other than the way it looks.
Online combat is the same as any online combat game. Games like Modern Warfare and Black Ops are destined to have amazing servers since the games would not be so popular without the multiplayer followers. Online fighters, even Super Street Fighter, have terrible servers. In a fighting game, input commands and timing is everything and if either the host or the player's connection is bad, then the online experience will be incredibly terrible. In addition to that, the server for the Mortal Kombat game isn't that spectacular to start off with, so lag is to be expected anyways.
Audio - 0/10
Nothing is refined and nothing sounds new. However, the sounds during the X-Rays is quite nice, but that is the only substantial upgrade that the audio has. Everything else [e.g. Liu Kang when he does his bicycle kicks; when Sub-Zero freezes someone; or even Scorpion's trademarked "GET OVER HERE!"] just sounds like it was stripped and reused. There is nothing new about the audio-bytes. To top it all off, the voice-acting was completely forgettable. All of the voice-actors sounded stiff and any sort of emotion wasn't evident either.
The saving grace for the audio was the X-Rays because it was something new so they had to produce a sound for it. Any sort of instrumental work done for battles, the menus, and any thing else that the player had to navigate through was also forgettable. There was nothing special about the music and the entirety of it was forgettable. The only memorable piece of music that Mortal Kombat has had was the "Mortal Kombat" theme song; there has yet to be a battle theme or a character's theme that has stood out from the crowd.
Graphics - 9/10
This is something that NetherRealm studios did right. Even though they may have done a bit of a revamp on some old costumes, the backgrounds behind the fighters are just spectacular. They are the best and the most up to date as far as modern day fighters go. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Super Street Fighter don't have great backgrounds such as this game does. It seems that all the detail that was lost on the gameplay, the audio, and the storyline all went towards the graphics.
The graphics also bring out the ferocious warriors as well. Beforehand [when Mortal Kombat was still being made on the Nintendo 64], the difference between Scorpion's costume and Sub-Zero's costume wasn't evident. As time progressed, it still remained the same. However, in this new installment, Death can be seen in Scorpion's eyes, the chilly sensation can be felt from Sub Zero, Raiden remains a God, Ermac is now a deadly ghost, Shinnok looks fierce rather than sad, and Shao Kahn has muscles the size of babies. I hope NetherRealm studios keeps their graphics updated as this is a great example of pushing the 360 to the limits.
Overall - 3.25/10
Realistically speaking, the gamer would just be paying for improved graphics. The player can experience the same exact game play in Super Street Fighter or Marvel vs. Capcom 3. NetherRealm Studios could have kept the older formula; the 3D fighter with trace elements of originality. Although older players were about skeptic about the idea, it's what separated Mortal Kombat from the other fighting games. I hope that the next Mortal Kombat game maintains the graphics, comes back with new audio-bytes, and tells us a new story rather than a rehashed story with improved graphics.
Recommendation: I highly recommend that you rent this game. Buying this game is a complete waste of $60 as it'll probably end up being shelved in a month. If you can rent it at Gamestop, I highly recommend that as well since you can return it back to them and get a refund with your receipt. If you can find it online for anything cheaper than twenty dollars [including shipping and handling], then I'd recommend that you'd buy it and see how it works out for it. If you're a devoted fan to the series, then you probably want to have this game since it's leagues better than DC Universe.
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 06/20/11
Game Release: Mortal Kombat (US, 04/19/11)
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