Since Mortal Kombat first hit the consoles and arcades with its digitally-captured actors when I was a teenager it’s undergone many different forms in tonnes of sequels. Here in 2011 the game’s just called Mortal Kombat again which suggests going back to basics in terms of what made it good in the first place.
Fighting games aren’t known for having great stories but story mode here is a bit different and it works well. Revisiting the storylines of MK 1, 2 and 3, you fight in the tournament to stop Shao Kahn’s minions winning fights and eventually taking over the Earth Realm. You play as many different characters as they travel about and get into fights as they encounter other fighters along the way. There are no loading screens and the action seamlessly integrates with the cut-scenes which sort of gives it the feel of an 80s Jean-Claude Van Damme movie. Cheesy, but quite good fun at the same time.
So what’s the combat like? Well it’s 3D characters fighting on a 2D plane and it does play just like old times, which isn’t a bad thing. Kicking and punching feels weighty and the new x-ray graphics mean you see right into people’s skulls when you do a special move on them. It’s gruesome but also very funny! These special moves dish out tonnes of damage but you can activate the three-stage power bar earlier to break out of an opponent’s combo or enhance your own special moves. And of course the fatalities are back and they’re a joy to behold (if you like your gore of course).
As well as a fully-fleshed out story mode which will take around 8 hours to complete there are also loads of other modes both online and offline to take part in as well. There’s the standard versus and player matches online which vary in lag depending on who you connect to, tag team matches to play and a new online King of the Hill feature where it’s winner stays on and everyone else in the room watches with their Avatar. Takes me back to playing the original game at the fair and staying on for ages as Raiden.
If you fancy mixing things up a bit there’s also the challenge tower with 300 stages where you must fight under certain conditions or play mini-games along the way. Couple this with loads of things to unlock and some hidden secrets to find and this is a very fun fighting game.
Mortal Kombat’s never really been about true hardcore fighting and offers a fun alternative to games such as Street Fighter. Combos are easier to pull off and of course it’s great fun to watch. Story mode could have done with skippable cut-scenes and doesn’t play fair occasionally but apart from that, it’s extremely solid. It gets an excellent 8 out of 10.
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