Review by SkaerKrow

Reviewed: 10/15/04

It will Konsume...$50 that you'll never get back.

Through all of the ups and downs, twists and turns, one thing has remained clear over the years: Mortal Kombat is a classic video game franchise. Deadly Alliance, the series' first venture onto the current crop of next-generation consoles, was both very impressive and sorely lacking. Many conventions of the series, such as stage fatalities and multiple fatalities for each character were cast aside as Mortal Kombat continued down the path of the 3D fighting genre. The fans cried foul and the designers at Midway listened. Deception should have been a triumphant return to form, however comes off instead as a painful rehash of Deadly Alliance.

The Pros of Mortal Kombat: Deception
The character/level design of Mortal Kombat remains largely enjoyable in this installment. It still feels like 3/5ths Eastern Mysticism blended with 2/5ths Hong-Kong-Fooie Camp. The graphics are a mixed bag, though the high points do enough to compensate for some bland textures (Earthrealm Arena) and broken character models (Liu Kang). Several "throwbacks" have been added in this installment that pay homage to the game's roots. Revisiting the Pit, Living Forest and the Deadpool in 3D will warm the heart of any longtime MK fan, and at least one classic Fatality has returned this time around. Every character ever to appear in a previous MK game makes a cameo of some sort (though most are, oddly enough, unplayable). In the audio department, Deception provides a strong score and serviceable sound effects. The ability to unlock many of the game's music tracks in the Kontent section, along with little messages from their composers, is a nice touch.

The Krypt returns this year, though it's not quite as stocked as it was inDeadly Alliance. Deception also includes two new extras, Puzzle Kombat and Chess Kombat. Both of these mini-games are quite enjoyable. Puzzle Kombat is a dead ringer for Capcom's Puzzle Fighter games and Chess Kombat is reminiscent of Archon, Unholy War or the recently released Wrath: Unleashed. The ability to switch over to either of these offbeat games helps to break up the action after a long evening of Kombat. Finally, there's the matter of online playability. For online game enthusiasts, unable to wait two weeks for Dead or Alive Ultimate, this may seem to be the game's strongest selling point. For everyone else, it's a nice touch. Then again, online play doesn't mean much if the game itself isn't worth playing...

The Kons of Mortal Kombat: Deception
Addressing the most glaring problem first, the controls in Deception are just plain awful. In a world with games like Virtua Fighter 4, Soul Calibur 2, Dead or Alive 3 and Tekken Tag on the market, Deception's controls come up horrendously short. The control scheme of Deadly Alliance is pretty much intact, but it just isn't responsive. Combinations rarely go off, even when the button display in Practice Mode shows that you've implemented the combination properly. Sometimes said combo will be executed, sometimes your character will quit attacking after the first or second hit. Instead of a game of reacting, countering and executing the right move at the right time, Deception feels very much like a tedious exercise in precision button pressing. Combined with the character's jerky and unbelievable animations, Deception's combat comes off as very artificial. This sort of thing might have been acceptable three or four years ago, but not anymore.

Adding the tedium of Deception is Konquest Mode. In Deadly Alliance, Konquest Mode was a fancy name for the game's tutorial mode. You chose a fighter and progressed from dojo to dojo, learning about that character's individual techniques. Deception's incarnation of Konquest Mode is, at its heart, more a Scavenger Hunt and less a training mode. You'll find yourself wandering around six massive overworld maps, collecting trivial items for trivial rewards. You do spend time training with various characters from the game, eventually leading to actual Kombat. However, most battles in Konquest Mode force you to fight with a character randomly chosen from a list of those you've trained with. Instead of actual allowing you to perfect your skill with one particular character, you're forced to change on a moment's notice. What appeal this may have is completely ruined by the ridiculous handicaps that you face during the majority of the matches in Konquest. The designers at Midway apparently realized that no sane person would play this mode willingly, and for that reason decided to hide the vast majority of the game's roster (not that it's much of a roster. Apparently Ed Boon cannot fathom including all of the game's most beloved characters in a single title at this point) in Jade Chests scattered throughout the six realms of Konquest Mode. If you want to unlock all of the game's content, you must spend hours upon hours on Konquest Mode, gathering notes, ninja masks, swords and ham for various NPCs. In theory, the Konquest Mode could have been enjoyable. In practice, the Inquisition should have been so lucky as to have such a torture device.

The Verdict
I've been a fan of fighting games since I stumbled onto Street Fighter 2 at the local roller rink when I was 9. Mortal Kombat has always had a special place in my heart, and some of my fonder memories played out against the backdrop of my father and I having it out between Sub Zero and Scorpion. Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance gave me hope for the future of the franchise, but Deception is nothing but a disappointment. Though it has more frills, it fails where it really counts. No amount of Puzzles, Chess Games, "Konquests" or Online Play can save a game so fundamentally flawed.

Visuals: 6/10
Audio: 8/10
Controls: 3/10
Replay Value: 6/10
Overall: 5/10 (6/10 if you actively play, and enjoy playing, online)

Instead of Mortal Kombat: Deception, you can buy two of these Budget Titles and still have $10 left over to order you and your friends a Pizza...

Soul Calibur II (PS2, Xbox), Dead or Alive 3 (Xbox), Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution (PS2), Midway Arcade Treasures 2 featuring Mortal Kombat 2 and 3 (PS2, Xbox), Tekken Tag Tournament (PS2), Tekken 4 (PS2), Guilty Gear X2 #Reload (Xbox) or even Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (PS2, Xbox) if you really must have Mortal Kombat in 3D.

Rating:   2.5 - Playable

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