Review by The Crow

""The fate of BILLIONS will depend upon you. HAHAHAHAHAHAh- - -Sorry.""

I'm a Mortal Maniac. Have been since that first day i walked into the sleazy italian cafe down the street from my old elementary school and watched in horror, amazement, and awe when a well-placed uppercut sprayed blood in every direction, a reaction that the series has elicited several times after that. The game was a huge part of my middle-teen years, and no matter how many Tekkens, DOAs, or Soul Caliburs come along, though i love them all, underneath it all, i'm still a Mortal Maniac. Of course, being a Mortal Maniac, Ive put up with a lot of crap from my beloved franchise....a lot. Starting from the drastic misfire that was MK Trilogy(which should've been great), moving onto misfire number two known as Mythologies, then MASSIVE FRICKIN FAILURE known as Special Forces. MK4 was a nice try, but had close to zero shelf life. Two weeks, and the game had worn out its welcome. And the less said about the dreaded movie sequel, the better. And right then, Mortal Kombat went to sleep....and so we waited for better days...and waited....and waited....

Which brings us up to date. And the question is, will this series' foray into the next generation bring things back to their former glory? While i cant quite say the nearly 3 year wait was worth it, i can say that the series has made up for a LOT of that lost time and quality.

While the character models look a little pale in comparison to what we're now accustomed to with 3d fighters(yes, DOA has spoiled us all), the game is still very easy on the eyes. The flaw is in the character models, some of them are far more outlandish than they should be (oh, Reptile, what have they done to you??), not to mention that texturing(another luxury item we've gotten sensitized to) is almost a non-point. The opening FMV, cool as it is, story-wise, looks like it came from the PS1. Strange. But, does this distract from the game? Not hardly. Everything else is glorious. Special effects, new fatalities, the absolutely wondrous backgrounds, all of it's wonderful.

The sound/voices are all top-notch, no big change for the series(remember, MK2 and Terminator 2 were both the first two games to use Digital Sound)....its great to hear the old voices and screams in top form again. And of course, now all the ::ahem:: squishiness is now a major player in the games sound....

When you first pop this baby in, more than likely, its going to be damned impossible to play. If all the old moves, old conventions are still in your head, you're in for a royal mind-eff. However, play for an hour, go through the konquest mode, and youll find that even though the physics have changed, this IS still Mortal Kombat....just with a whole new spin. The idea of the three fighting styles is an extremely welcome change, and after an hour, combos will flow like water. But its not so easy at the beginning. And, to tell the honest truth, i did kinda fall in love with the Run button from MK 3, 4, and Ultimate....and not having the ability to run in and combo, while it balances the fight immensely, does sorta supress an instinct thats grown on me...the new ''Impale'' function walks a thin line between cheesiness and great works like a more active version of being poisoned in an RPG.....whether its worthwhile or not, i leave open to you.
Now, the complaints.....this first one is more than likely just a GameCube thing.....the GC's directional pad is teensy, and while for the most part its not a problem, on more than one occasion, i've accidentally hit the wrong direction and screwed up moves or dodges....I'm relatively sure this is less of a problem for PS2 and XBox owners, but the GC version of this game could've DEFINITELY benefited from some Soul Calibur-like control retooling, with the analog stick being used for dodges, the control pad JUST for moves. Course, it would help more if the control pad wasn't so frickin tiny in the first place :p
Other complaint? The fatalities...granted, 90 percent of them are damn good, and the other ten percent are just plain....odd......but, call me greedy, i wanted more.....the acid bath stage just screamed to me ''Dead Pool Fatality''; alas, nothing of the sort.... a new 3-D Pit stage would've been great......maybe even weapon-specific fatalities would've added that little extra kick to things....Johnny Cage using his nunchaku Bruce Lee style, and breaking necks....some Ninja Scroll style slicing and dicing.....but whatever...judging by this game's success, sales-wise, they'll definitely have a chance to do something about this in the next sequel.....

Oh my God! They killed Liu Kang!! You bas--oh...wait...that's a good thing...
It's one of the ballsiest moves any game company's ever done with their centerpiece franchise, and it's definitely a show of faith on Ed Boon's part to show the nonbelievers that he means f***in' business this time, of course, no more cheap-assed speed demons to worry about....
On the other end, though, something has to be done about the cheesy ''Champion!'' screen when you beat the reminds me way too much of that shot in A Christmas Story after Ralph shoots the escaped prisoners with the BBGun, and theyre laid out in a pile.....MK games have traditionally been very cool about making the last boss' death a major blast.....sometimes this, even with the cool new storyline, Quan Chi and Shang Tsung are b oth handled like regular characters....again, could've been solved simple, with a nice little shot of the portal to the soul dimension opening, and millions of dead gropey soul hands dragging them in, but noooo.....fortunately, though, the endings are handled well.

Reply value--8
A Krypt full of over 600 secrets, some of them costing so much it might take you a day to earn just one. Trust me, there's NO way you're gonna grab all of those up in a couple of days.

Overall--Is this the triumphant return of Mortal Mania? Not quite...but its a pretty stern '' lives'' to the rest of the gaming community....and the door is open for a sequel of truly royal proportions to come into existence next. Hopefully, Noob and the gang will capitalize on it.

Rent or Buy--Buy.
Gather your rupees, kids...this one's a keeper.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 12/16/02, Updated 12/16/02

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