Growing up in the 90’s, Mortal Kombat was much of a staple of teenage life. School would break for lunch and everyone would hurry across the street to the local 7-Eleven, line up their quarters, and for the next 45 minutes take turns trying to take down the best players of the game. Now you’re able to relive that same feeling with the latest addition to the Mortal Kombat franchise.
Warner Brothers and Netherrealm Studios have decided to move away from the convoluted canon of so many sequels and have instead opted to reboot the series with the latest installment, simply titled Mortal Kombat. But will this franchise reimagining have what it takes to deliver against so many other great fighting games?
The opening to Mortal Kombat takes place with Raiden as the last standing fighter against Shao Khan in the battle for Earthrealm. As he is defeated, he grabs the shattered remains of his amulet and casts one final spell – nnot against Shao Khan, but instead to send to his past self a cryptic message memories of the conflicts that led to his final moments.
In the past, or the new present; Raiden receives this message from his future self and proceeds to try to change the events that lead to the ultimate destruction of Earthrealm.
Mortal Kombat’s Story Mode brings in the storyline elements from the first three Mortal Kombat games as the basis of this new release. The story is chapter based, with each chapter following a particular character in the game. In each chapter you’ll encounter a series of foes as part of the tournament challenges or subplot storylines with cut scenes taking place between each battle. The writing is fairly decent with (mostly) well-done voice acting, with the exception of Sheng Tsung who sounds like they used an actor from a poorly dubbed Chinese Kung-fu movie.
For those unpracticed or unfamiliar with Mortal Kombat’s fighting scheme, or for those that simply enjoy mashing buttons, the Story Mode is a good choice to jump in to. The combat AI gets progressively harder through the game, but if you start having difficulty in defeating a combatant it seems to decrease the level of aggressiveness of the AI. This allows you to continue progressing through the game and not be blocked by the wall of an all too skillful enemy AI. But while the game scales itself down for the less skilled opponents, veterans of the game will still find challenge in the enemies as they progress. This makes for an enjoyable experience for all who partake. However, if you find that Story Mode isn’t challenging enough, there is the Challenge Tower.
The Challenge Tower consists of 300 levels of challenges ascending in increasing difficulty. These challenges can range from using a specific type of attack within a set time limit, to playing with modifiers such as fighting with no arms. If you can defeat all 300 challenges, the developers have hinted that there is a major reward. However, for the more traditional player, there is also online multiplayer.
Xbox Live Multiplayer brings to you three different combat arenas. For those who want a good old-fashioned player versus player matchup, there is the 1v1 selection. You also have Tag matches which allow you to select two characters to play instead of one. This allows you to bring in a variety of skill sets to be able to best take down your opponent. And then, finally, there is King of the Hill.
King of the Hill is a special mode designed to allow a group of players assemble together to take turns fighting each other. The way it works is similar to the old days of the arcade where kids line up in turn to play a match. The winner stays to take on the next contender while the loser goes to the back of the line. The players in line get to watch the game as it’s being played in a theater with your avatars gathered together at the bottom of the screen looking on. And although the action while you’re watching as a spectator may seem a bit laggy, it’s still an excellent way to spend your afternoon playing online with friends, or even just joining the random matches.
The crew at Netherrealm Studios have done an excellent job of bringing in the full cast of classic characters into the 3D realm with updated costumes that stay true to their original look. Each character looks and feels very much like they did in the original MK games, down to their original moves with only their Fatalities really having changed, as well as the addition of the X-Ray attack. This attack is available to you when your battle gauge becomes full from using different combos, breaking combos, or blocking special attacks. Once activated, your character unleashes a devastating and unblockable combo that brings the game to slow motion when you connect with your opponent, revealing an interior view that allows you to see bones break and vital organs crushed.
The game comes with a number of unlockable features in the Krypt. These unlockable items can be purchased with MK points that are accrued by defeating opponents or completing challenges. These unlockables can range from concept art and game music tracks, to cheat codes that allow you to enable or disable certain modifiers in a match, or learn different fatalities for characters.
There is also a Training section available to allow you to practice your moves to a tee, as well as minigames such as the Test Your Might, Luck, Sight and Strike games. Test Your Might and Strike are similar in concept. You basically mash the buttons on your controller to reach a certain point on the power gauge. In the Might game the objective is to break a stack of materials be it wood, bricks, or some other material while in the Strike game you are to break a certain brick in the pile in front of you. Test Your Sight is essentially a “find the ball under the correct severed head” game, whereas Test Your Luck is a match where your opponent and other modifiers are randomly selected from a slot machine.
Mortal Kombat comes packaged with a little something for everybody. Whether you`re a seasoned pro gamer or the button masher, there is something to make this game an enjoyable experience for all. Me? I’ll be lining up my virtual quarters in King of the Hill until my thumbs go numb.