Review by Glycerine

"The best Mortal Kombat yet? I think so!"

First let's talk graphics, which I would like to say are very good for this version of MK. The character models are well animated and very detailed. As each match progresses, a character's appearance will change to depict how much damage he or she has taken. Cuts, scrapes, bruises, black eyes, its all there and it looks very good. The game has nice weather effects as well; I've seen pouring rain, falling snow, and gusting winds complete with flying debris. The fighting environments are very well done, and highly detailed. They aren't free moving with multiple levels, ala DOA 3, but that's not really a big deal to me. Some are large open areas where nothing gets in your way, and others are smaller with numerous obstacles you can smash your opponent into. (Rock formations, icy stalagmites, etc.) Each stage is enclosed in an invisible ''field'' that does a small amount of damage to any fighter that happens to get knocked into it. The only two things about the graphics I did not like were some of the blood effects (blood will actually slide down the characters, but it doesn't look very natural), and the animation delay when an opponent is knocked out. (Basically when you finish off an opponent to win a match, there is a slight pause where he or she just stands there before they actually fall to the ground) These two things are only minor complaints.

Next we come to the game play, which is where I think this version of MK is the absolute best. From the start, there are quite a few modes to choose from including: Arcade, Versus, Practice, and Konquest. The Konquest mode is very cool because it lets you choose any fighter and take them around the world on on a quest to master their fighting techniques. It's nice because not only does it teach you some of the more difficult combos, but you also earn Koins (more on that in a second) to spend in the Krypt. My only complaint here would be the fact that Arcade mode starts out very easy , until you get about half-way through. Once you hit that point, the CPU opponents will chew you up and spit you out. (Mercilessly I might add...) It's kind of strange when you are playing on the Easy difficulty level, yet still getting your ass handed to you. I think it just means I need quite a bit more practice.

The mini-games from some of the previous MK games make a return. Your character can earn Koins by breaking various materials or picking the correct cup that hides the MK symbol. These can range from very easy to quite challenging. So far, I haven't seen any that were too difficult.

Each character possesses three different fighting styles, all very unique. Gone are the days of 2 punches, 2 kicks, a dash, and a guard. There are now four different attack buttons, a block button, a special move button, and a button that alternates between each of the chosen character's fighting styles. Two of these styles are hand-to-hand, which could be anything from Drunken Boxing to Tai Kwon Do. The third style is a weapon style, with each character having a different instrument of pain. These can range from your basic run of the mill broadsword, to twin swords or daggers, nunchaka, staves, sai, etc. The weapons also handle as you would expect them to, which means Frost's twin ice daggers move much quicker than Kenshi's large broadsword. Each of the three fighting styles can also be linked together to perform some very long and deadly combos.

On a side note regarding the control, I strongly recommend playing this game with an S-type XBOX controller. The mammoth sized controller that comes with the system just does not work well for fighting games. Of course this is just my opinion; so if you find the larger controller works well for you, by all means use it.

There are a total of 23 different characters to choose from with 12 unlocked from the start. Most of the old MK cast return, with the exception of a few of my personal favorites. (Lui Kang, Smoke, and Baraka are disappointingly absent...) Each of the characters are very well designed and stay true to the MK spirit. A few of them very different from the last incarnation of Mortal Kombat, so it might take you a minute to find some of your old favorites. (Kano and Kung Lao come to mind...)

Which brings us to the Krypt. In my opinion, this was a fantastic idea and a good move to include it on the part of Midway. You are required to create a player profile which will keep track of your wins, losses, Konquest statistics, as well as your current amount of each of six types of Kombat Koins. Players can earn Koins by playing through the various modes. A nice feature about earning the Koins is that if you are playing Arcade or Konqeust mode and then decide to quit before you are finished, you keep all the Koins you have earned! Another interesting feature is that if two players with profiles compete against each other, they can wager Koins on the match to make it a bit more interesting.

Once you have a staple amount of each Kombat Koin, you can head off to the Krypt and start making purchases. There are 667 different Koffins to unlock, each with a different price tag. The rewards can be a new outfit, a new character, concept art, a new stage, a character biography, movies and pictures of the development team, character renders, more Kombat Koins, the list goes on and on. Some of the Koffins do contain nothing; but from what I have seen, most unlock something new.

My only nitpicks here would be I think Midway should have included more characters and definitely more fatalities.

All in all I am very pleased with MK: Dark Alliance. From large list of characters, excellent Konquest mode, and the huge amount of unlockable content; I'll be playing this Mortal Kombat for a very long time.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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

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