Review by scodavis

"A Worthy Reboot of an Outstanding Series"

After many years, Mortal Kombat has returned to the 2-D gaming platform. While this game is extremely well-done, it is not perfect. To begin, however, it is very much clear that Netherrealm Studios spend a lot of time giving this game the polish it needed. It is definitely a return to the original series of fast gameplay, combos, blood, special moves, and fatalities that churn the stomach. It was a reboot that the series sorely needed - especially with the dismal showing of Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. Indeed, this title is proudly stamped with a "M for Mature" rating, a rating which is earns in many ways. In addition to the standard Arcade Ladder mode that we all know and love, the game packs a lot of extra modes and content.

A training mode exists, as it has in some fashion in previous games, but this time it includes Fatality Training. As the title suggests, this allows players to test out their fatalities in an training arena, without having to fight, and it even gives you unlimited time in which to key in the proper command sequence. Even better, almost every mode includes a move list in the pause menu, giving players instant access to moves, combos, and finishing moves.

Tag Team mode, including a complete Tag Team ladder mode, allows one person to control two characters in tag team fashion. This mode opens up even further, with the allowance of two, three, and even four players on a single console.

The challenge tower is the highlight of these events: a massive 300-level tower with a variety of challenges. Beating the final level of the tower earns an achievement and something secret - we'll just have to find out! Returning from some of the previous games is the Krypt, a beautifully-designed area of unlockable content such as music, concept art, costumes, and secret fatality moves, all of which can be viewed in the Necropolis. Test Your Might returns, accompanied by Test Your Strike, Test Your Sight, and Test Your Luck. Test Your Strike is similar to test your might, but requires you to keep your energy level in a certain range before striking. Test Your Sight is the Mortal Kombat version of the spinning cup game. Test Your Luck is a slot machine that determines random elements of a fight and adds a new dimension to the game play.

Let us also not forget the all-new X-Ray moves, which give us a bone-crunching look at internal damage caused by blows that deal 30-35% damage when they hit. These moves are, in many ways, similar to the super and ultra combos from the Street Fighter series. Your X-Ray meter, however, can also be used for enhanced moves (similar to Street Fighter EX Moves) and combo breakers. Babalities have also returned, and are absolutely adorable.

Fighting games have rarely, if ever, had a compelling storyline. Mortal Kombat breaks this pattern, including not only a storyline that brings the series back to its roots, but creating a Story Mode which leads us through this new story from the eyes of most of the characters. It also include voice acting which, with few exceptions, is extremely well-done. The story is compelling and I found it difficult to stop and turn off the game on several occasions. Mortal Kombat can be played locally with 1 or 2 players or, when in tag team mode, up to 4 players, and it works beautifully.

Where it falls apart, however, is the online play - this is my reason for this game earning only 9/10. While the King of the Hill mode is a wonderful re-creation of the arcade experience of waiting your turn to beat up the current champion, all of the online modes are riddled with lag. Considering the importance of online play in today's gaming world, having lag of any kind is completely inexcusable, especially since the rest of the game is so polished. Hopefully this will be fixed with a title update. Until then, several of the online-only achievements will remain locked for me, as the lag of the online mode is bad enough to make the entire experience unenjoyable.

As shipped, Mortal Kombat includes 24 fighters available from the start as well as two unlockable fighters. Of course, this is likely only the beginning, as future DLC promises extra fighters, fatalities, and other content (kontent?).

Mortal Kombat is an amazing game. For anyone who has played Mortal Kombat 1, 2, or 3, this game brings us all back to the days of inserting far too many quarters into arcade machines in an attempt to show the other kids who was best. The graphics are beautiful, the fatalities are gory, and the music and sound design are top-notch. Only the online experience is preventing this game from getting a perfect 10. Nevertheless, any fighting game fan, especially Mortal Kombat fans, need to make sure that a copy of this game resides on their shelves. It's worth it.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 04/27/11

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

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