Review by Bentley2005

"The best MK ever? Very well could be..."

That's right... this very well could be the best Mortal Kombat. Funny, I thought the days of saying a Mortal Kombat game is "the best in the series" passed us in the early 90s, with the likes of Mortal Kombat II and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3.

Truth is, a LOT of hype surrounded this game for nearly a year before it finally was released April 2011. Needless to say, expectations hadn't been so high for an MK since the "glory days". After several lackluster sequels over the last decade, some wondered if MK was setting itself up for a major fall... or if it was the resurgence the franchise desperately needed. Which was it?

Without a doubt, the latter. As someone who played all of the arcade MKs whenever he had the chance (not so much MK4), I missed the "arcade feel" in later games such as Deadly Alliance, Deception, and Armageddon. While Mortal Kombat VS DC Universe was a step in the right direction gameplay-wise, thanks to less about side-stepping and more about linear point to point Kombat, the game was aesthetically neutered. This brought about the most watered down Mortal Kombat since the Super Nintendo release of the original MK. Not to mention there wasn't much outside of a 2-3 hour story mode, a bland arcade ladder, and a painfully dated look for the arcade endings (one image and three lines of voiceover? Really?).

This brings us to the new MK. This thankfully takes everything that was right about the best and worst of the games and compiles it into one glorious package. Up to date graphics? Check. A return to a fast paced 2-D fighting? Check. High impact bass-pounding sound and music? Check. A lot of people have bashed the franchise for not being as "deep" as Street Fighter, but I think this is the deepest MK has ever been. The problem with MK is that it will always be compared to SF... if it's not as good as SF, it gets bashed. If it's too much like SF and could even surpass it, people will bash it. MK wasn't first, but it doesn't mean it doesn't deserve the respect of gamers.

Sure, people could shout "nostalgia goggles", but you can't deny the fast paced gameplay of this MK. As someone lucky enough to play this in a GameStop tournament for a midnight launch, I witnessed, first hand, the intensity of a fighting game that I hadn't felt since the arcade days. The crowd roared, the players squirmed in kombat, and the atmosphere was electric. Basically what a fighting game is supposed to do.

Aside from the glorious return of a fast paced Mortal Kombat, MK once again shows that it's the king of extra features. The Challenge Tower brings about a wonderful slew of variety in single-player gameplay, in which the player needs to be prepared to expand their knowledge of offense and defense, as well as working in tag-team kombat, and going through various side-games.

Most importantly is the expansive Story Mode, which plays out like an interactive film. If all fighting games had this feature, and just as detailed, the fighting genre could have a massive return in general. In most fighting games, it's hard to feel invested in the story... even if it is a simple or convoluted one. Tekken has tried this, but hasn't quite nailed it yet. Tekken 5 had a repetitive single player story mode with Jin Kazama that didn't really go anywhere, and Tekken 6 forced players to play as a new character no one really knew anything about. While both games had great 1-on-1 gameplay, their story modes were lacking. The story mode in this MK gives the player 16 characters across 16 chapters to play as, connecting the story from player to player seamlessly.

Overall, I know I'm pretty much rambling at this point... but simply put, this is the return to Mortal Kombat I've wanted, as many others have wanted, for over a decade. It'll be hard to top this one, but with WB Games giving Netherrealm Studios the time and money they needed (that Midway couldn't/wouldn't supply), this is the best MK yet. Here's hoping the next one can live up to this one as well!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 04/20/11

Game Release: Mortal Kombat (US, 04/19/11)

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