Review by ThePatrick

"Yep, still bad! ...but very fun!"

Disclaimer: I know there are literally thousands of you with your flames already half-written. I hope you don't expect me to read them, let alone respond!

In the past couple of years, we've had such quality 3D fighters come out. The debate over which game is better is really a subject best avoided, because on either side of the line there seem to be religious fanatics literally getting red in the face screaming and yelling over minor gameplay issues such as how liberal a reversal's timing is.

But there's one thing almost all veteran fighting game nuts know: Mortal Kombat is not a real fighting game. Mere mention of the series will usually bring out a smirk or a giggle, or a roll of the eyes from the fighting game wizards. Still, however, it will soon be followed by remarks like, ''Man, I remember playing that game,'' or ''Still, Scorpion was pretty cool.''

Then, suddenly, for all of us nostalgically craving the cheesy, silly fighting game lampoon series, from out of nowhere came a new Mortal Kombat. People wondered, ''I wonder if it'll be good this time?''

Well, no. Not quite good. If you play fighting games at all, you realize a game needs a certain depth in order to be really and truly worthwhile. That's why people fuss with insane set-up routines and how many frames a punch takes. Does Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance still lack this depth of gameplay? Heck, it almost lacks a structure to its gameplay!

It does look a lot better. The new character designs are great, actually--even the revamped ones like Kung Lao. Silly graphics display characters looking more beat-up as the round progresses, and dripping oodles of blood all about themselves. A lot of the moves actually look more like real fighting moves--such as Kung Lao's weapon stance moves. Yet a lot of the new moves look weird, and have no purpose whatsoever.

There is indeed a new fighting system. Gone are the old ''basic'' moves standard to every character, such as the uppercut and sweep. In their place are two stances per character--usually one for quickness and another for rough heavy-hitting. Too bad they forgot to have function with the form, though. Also, characters can now pull out a weapon a' la Mortal Kombat 4, but now it brings out a third set of attacks instead of just one or two altered moves.

Oh don't worry, they still have their over-the-top special moves. What would Scorpion be without his ''Get Over Here!'' spear? You can do your special moves in any stance, although sometimes to prevent infinite combos you don't seem to be able to do them in a juggle.

Oh did I mention infinite combos? Yes, and guess what, they didn't do a good enough job avoiding them. The game is literally riddled with them. At least they start doing almost no damage after a while as in Killer Instinct, so it'd take a long, long time usually to deplete someone's health with it. But it's not like you're going to be playing against a human anyway, so who cares how fair it is right?

The basic moves are a lot more powerful than special moves, actually. There are more and stranger stun reactions to the punches and kicks of Mortal Kombat than any other 3D game I've played. This makes for at least one good aspect of the gameplay: there is not one completely useless character.

The movement has been improved a lot, and you can now freely move in 3D. So they've caught up to the rest of the gaming world there. Too bad they didn't seem to grasp the idea of mid-hitting attacks. But I digress. A good thing they borrowed from Virtua Fighter is that if you sidestep right when being attacked, you'll take a big sidestep. Pretty neat.

Now, on to the bad stuff. Things are still super deep-cover secret. Unlocking new fighters takes a while and is a pain. There are other things to unlock such as production notes or whatever, but who really cares about that.

Each character only has one finishing move. It's like going all the way back to MK1. Oh yeah, but you can't even knock them into vats of acid or whatever, either--even when you're on a stage with that stuff. Man. It makes it kind of annoying when the character you're playing has a pretty weak fatality--or even one so embarassing you can hardly tell what's happening. Oh yeah, and the fatalities are of course super-secret and not listed anywhere in the moves lists.

The gameplay gets dull fast. It's all just doing a dial-a-combo, then a quick low poke, maybe sidestepping, and then starting all over again. Again and again. Especially because some people just don't have very damaging combos, so beating an opponent just takes poking at them forever. Oh, did I mention that all strings are combos? As in, you can never block, reverse, duck, or sidestep if you're getting hit by them? Not very deep at all....

Still, all gripes aside, if you're looking for a fighting game that's not really serious and you don't have to think about what you're doing at all, it might not be a bad idea to pick this game up. I know, I'm only giving it a 6. But I'm recommending it! Heck I bought it, and I still would knowing how it is. I pretty much knew how it was before I bought it, just because it's Mortal Kombat. A 6 isn't really that bad, considering I would've probably given MK4 a 2.

Plus, as I said, some of the characters are pretty nifty. If there's a character to buy this game for, it's probably Kenshi.

So, from Midway, more fun, cheesy, mindless gameplay that pretty much amounts to a bunch of goofy guys ripping each other's body parts out. Oh, and did I mention they kept the fake ''asian speak?'' At least they found someone who can write hanzi ( kanji to you Japanese students).

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 11/22/02, Updated 11/22/02

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