Review by IonBlade

"A worthy successor to MK2, and the best MK yet."

Mortal Kombat has come a long way since the debut of the original game in 1992. However, Mortal Kombat II has remained hailed as the best of the series by hardcore fans even with the releases of MK3, UMK3, and MK4.

Midway's second 3D entry of Mortal Kombat reinvents the series and redefines what fans should expect from the MK world. Veterans of the series can toss their old MK skills in the garbage can and take a trip to the dump with 'em, cause they won't be needing them this time around. Get ready to play a whole new kind of fighting game.

GAMEPLAY: We must first get one thing out of the way. This game plays COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from ALL previous MK games to date. And in my opinion, it plays better. You no longer have your standard High Punches and High Kicks, or your Low Kicks and Low Punches. Instead, you have your Attack 1-4 buttons (which can be remapped to whatever you like). Each of these, in combination with a certain direction on the D-Pad (the control stick is NOT supported in this game) will perform a different type of attack completely unique to your current fighter's Fighting Style. Each character has 2 hand-to-hand fighting styles, and a third Weapon Style which makes your fighter take out his/her weapon, or in some cases, both of their weapons. Weapons cannot be dropped in this game, like they could in MK4. You can switch your Fighting Style at any time during a fight with the L button. Pressing up or down no longer makes you jump or duck, but instead makes you walk toward/away from the screen, while still keeping you looking at your enemy. To jump or duck, you have to press up or down respectively, while also holding forward or back. The Z button will make your character do a taunt which slightly increases health, do a special weapon attack, or perform an evasion maneuver depending on who your character is and what fighting style you are using. Pressing Z while holding forward will do your character's Throw move, which can now be blocked. Blocking is used with the R button. There is no Run button in this game, just like MK2. Fights are defenitely slower-paced, which suits the deeper controls much better. You can't win a round with 4 or 5 uppercuts any more, because moves do only very little damage now. You'll have to find out what works best in which situations, and try and pull off some big juggle combos or weapon maneuvers to win quickly. You'll really have to do some learning in the Konquest and Practice modes before you'll be up to snuff with the tougher opponents in this game, even if you've completely mastered all the other MKs. However, once you have, you will know how to control your character as smoothly as the flow of water. The game allows you to be completely flexibile and has excellently responsive controls; you just gotta get good first. SCORE: 9.2

STORY: Mortal Kombat has always been known for its deeply inter-twining and epic storyline. This game picks up right where MK4 left off. Quan Chi had been imprisoned in the Netherealm, but managed to escape. He stumbled upon the ancient Runestone which described of an immortal, unbeatable army. The army could be awakened and controlled with the spirits of fallen warriors. In his quest to resurrect this immortal army and conquer the Earth, Quan Chi sought out the evil sorceror Shang Tsung and formed an alliance with him. Together they would dominate their foes, and Shang Tsung would take their souls and channel them into the lifeless immortal army, thus resurrecting it. With each soul he captured, Shang Tsung would also strive for immortality himself. With this plan, the duo start the destruction and Mortal Kombat begins.

GRAPHICS: The best looking MK yet, and also one of the prettier titles available on the next-gen systems. Real-time reflections, dynamic shadows and lighting, beautiful transparencies and particles, and highly detailed environments and fighters. Blood drips down your fighter's body and stains on the floor. Bruises and cuts appear on your fighter as you take damage. Runs at a solid 60 frames per second, and NEVER dips. The only reason i am not giving this area a 10 is because i don't believe Midway did as much Gamecube-Specific programming as they could have, which means this GC version could have easily been prettier with enough time. SCORE: 9.1

SOUND: The sound is what i believe to be the weakest point of this game. The sound quality is high enough, but the variety of sounds themselves is somewhat lacking. Player grunts and yells get extremely repetitive and annoying in some cases, especially when playing as Scorpion or a few other of the male characters. There are probably 4 or 5 voices in the game, with around 10 grunts/yells/etc for each one. Reptile has his own set of sounds, him being a lizard thing and all...and Moloch and Drahmin have their own, seeing as how they are hulking beasts with gigantic spiked wrecking balls for left hands. But I just don't get enough variety. There are over 20 characters, and many have the same exact voices/grunts. Maybe I'm nitpicking, but i just don't like that kind of thing. The music isn't very impressive, either. A few stages use the same songs, which aren't very energetic or catchy...the music takes a backseat to the repeating grunts of the characters and the onscreen action so much that you might never really hear some of the songs. I didn't expect perfection in the sound department, because in my opinion, these issues have been there since day 1 of the MK series, except for the music problem. The sound in the game just doesn't take advantage of what could have been done with these powerful next gen systems. You could probably get the same audio experience on an N64. SCORE: 7.5

LASTABILITY: With over 20 characters, tons of stages, a Konquest mode with over 200 tasks to complete, 2 player mode, 2 mini games, tons of moves and fatalities and combos, a player statistic tracking system, ''Kurrency'' to earn and buy things with at the Krypt (676 things to buy) and more extras than you can shake a stick at, this game will be around and kicking for some time. Maybe until MK6 comes out? (Let's have it midway...) SCORE: 9.5

Rent or buy? If you've never played an MK game before, rent it first. If you say ''hey, this is kind of fun...'', buy it and you will be very pleased with what the MK series has to offer. If you have played previous MK games, just buy it immediately! It's Mortal Kombat with a deep fighting system and everything you love about a new MK game.

FINAL SCORE: 9.2 (9 rounded down)

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/21/02, Updated 11/21/02

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