Review by Sour

Reviewed: 03/30/10

The Game...Has begun!

Mortal Kombat 4 would prove to be highly successful as the series' first fully 3D game. This begun a new trend visually as actors were no longer motion captured, the developers instead opting for fully 3D computer generated models. However the game was just as good as the first set of games during the 2D era. It brought the series back to it's roots with a new story that was still linked to the original plot line. This would be the second Mortal Kombat released on the Sony Playstation, the first being Mortal Kombat Trilogy. The Playstation version has a few advantages over the Nintendo 64 versions, and we'll talk about those in this review.

Story: 10/10: With Shao Kahn gone, a former Elder God known as Shinnok who was banished from the order for his evil ways, invades and takes over Outworld for himself. Shinnok seeks to destroy the Elder Gods with this seemingly loyal sorcerer Quan Chi. Raiden is alerted of this threat and once again rallies the warriors of Earthrealm to do battle against the forces of Outworld. All of the major characters return to help Raiden in his quest to defeat Shinnok. Even the Elder God of Wind, Fujin joins the tournament in hope of foiling Shinnok's disastrous plan. Instead of Kano, a new character from the Black Dragon clan emerges, Jarek. He joins Sonya and Jax to spare himself, and fights alongside the Earthrealm warriors.

Gameplay: 10/10: The controls are a little better on the Playstation because of easier controls and it doesn't feel as clunky since you don't have to rely on the joystick. You of course have the traditional punches and kicks alongside blocking and running. Characters can also execute brutal combos to devastate their foes. Each character has a set of special moves that are specific to that character and generally tend to be fitting. Sub-Zero, for instance can freeze enemies with an ice projectile. And Fujin and lift enemies up in the air by summoning a small tornado. One new element this addition to the franchise added was using the environment to your advantage, other than knocking your opponent into the next scripted stage. Characters can now pick up large rocks or skulls that are lying about the ground and beating them with it or throwing it at them. Each character has their own weapon as well. Scorpion has a sword, whereas Fujin has a crossbow that fires green, explosive energy shells. This helps make the characters feel more unique and only adds to the chaotic fun.

Since the game is in 3D, the camera will rotate accordingly as you can now strafe left and right, making it much easier to dodge opponents attacks. But remember, they can do this too! So you'll be forced to think a bit more than the previous games when it comes to doing battle. And if you're new to the franchise or have yet to hear of it, this fighting game series features a special move that can be executed by the winning player in the final round called a Fatality. These attacks, as the name implies are deadly. Instead of just knocking out a character, you can dispose of them in a gory, bloody fashion. Sub-Zero returns with his trademark fatalities, the head rip and the Deep Freeze. The former is exactly what it sounds like, and the latter freezes an enemy more so than the usual projectile, and Sub-Zero will slide to the opponent and uppercut them in an explosive fashion. Scorpion will once again rip off his face and mask revealing his skull, and breathe fire to burn enemies to a crisp. However, there is a nerfed version of this fatality that lets him breathe some fire mid-battle. Each character has two fatalities, and gone are the humorous, satirical fatalities such as the Friendship and Babality. They were removed because the fans wanted the series to back to the darker, foreboding feel of the first game. Also, this game provides character bios, which the Nintendo 64 version doesn't have.

Graphics: 10/10: This game took a new approach with the character animations. Instead of actors being motion captured and then digitally inserted into the game, the developers opted for character models generated by computers. However the combatants Look nearly identical to their 2D, old school counterparts. Midway did a great job with the character design even without needing the actors, very impressive. The backgrounds and environments look excellent for it's time and is another game who's looks have aged well overall. Snow looks like snow and fire looks like fire, and of course, blood looks like blood. In fact, blood is oozing all over this game, obviously more so than it's predecessors. Goro's Lair returns as well, appearing fore foreboding than the last time. All in all Midway did a great job here. It looks a little crisper on the Playstation and this version provides full motion videos, in comparison with the Nintendo 64 version which has none.

Sound: 10/10: The music is very fitting the game. Dark and dreary, which happens to be the norm for Mortal Kombat titles. The music often takes an Eastern, Oriental stance as well for certain stages. And once again Dan Forden contributes his voice and likeness for the game, screaming out his signature, high-pitched "TOASTY!" when the player does something impressive. However more has been added to this, as he will sometimes say "TOASTY! 3D!". And when using Sub-Zero he'll occasionally interject with "FROSTY!". So at least the developers tried to keep some of their weird, and at times seemingly random humor. The "TOASTY!" line is actually an inside joke between Forden and the other staff members, but at the time most of us didn't know that, and it was just plain funny. In addition to the music and voices, there are ambient noises in the background depending on the arena, such as fire crackling on a torch.

Overall: 10/10: Mortal Kombat 4 for the Playstation is just a bit more superior. This game brings better controls, character bios, and full motion videos. Every Mortal Kombat entry in the series has been a strong one and this one certainly delivers, bringing the world of Mortal Kombat into 3D for the first time where it would come to stay for many years. If you don't have this game yet and are a fan of the series, you've gotta buy this one.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Product Release: Mortal Kombat 4 (US, 06/24/98)

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