It is just shy of two decades since Mortal Kombat first made its bloody appearance in the grimy arcade halls of the world, flaunting animation and levels of violence that shocked parents and set Mortal Kombat apart from its genre rivals with charismatic distinction.
Has Mortal Kombat finally made the comeback that we have all been wanting for years? Our comprehensive review, after the jump.
While the franchise has had its ups and downs since the mystical tournament was first introduced, I am pleased to report that NetherRealm has created a game that not only plays like a solid competitive fighter but also pays homage to Mortal Kombat’s gore encrusted legacy. Capturing the essence of what made this franchise great in the nineties.
Events set in motion centuries before Liu Kang emerged victorious at the tenth Mortal Kombat tournament (MK1) culminate in a catastrophic battle known as “Armageddon”. During this conflict, Raiden the protector of Earth realm is left to face Shao Kahn alone, after the intense conflict left a blood soaked wasteland littered with the corpses of fallen warriors from multiple realms. Raiden is eventually defeated, but in a last desperate effort to save the realm, he is able to send visions to his past self in an attempt to undo the pivotal events which will ultimately bring about the onset of “Armageddon”.
Standing beside Liu Kang at the opening ceremony of Mortal Kombat 1, Raiden is suddenly hit with visions from his future self. Whilst the Thunder God is not entirely sure what needs to change in order to prevent the inevitable demise of all things, he counsels the combatants through the storylines of Mortal Kombat 1, 2 and 3 based on the revelations. Thus giving rise to an alternate timeline which justifies the nature of this “reboot”.
Over the years it has become somewhat customary for Mortal Kombat titles to include a “story mode” which not only gives you the opportunity to explore the nature of the characters and the many realms, but also exposes players to the rich mythology behind the series. This, the ninth addition to the series (not counting non-canon titles), is no exception. Players are taken on a violent six to seven hour long journey through the plot lines established in the first three games, giving new comers to the franchise a good grasp of what has happened so far, whereas old fans are treated to subtle changes to the original tale and an opportunity to relive the storyline with the addition of cut scenes that flesh out the plot.
Playing through the story campaign establishes a good foundation, as each chapter requires participants to take control of a new character relative to the storyline, thus players are forced to discover how to fight and win with the various combatants on the fly, while simultaneously discovering the back-story and motivation behind why most of the characters are at the tournament. Unfortunately the narrative cut scenes that punctuate the games chapters cannot be skipped, which can become somewhat annoying when returning to a save point or when playing through the mode for a second time. Furthermore there is no option of returning to a specific chapter once you have completed the story campaign, although considering the amount of other modes and goodies crammed into this game, I find it hard to imagine why you would want to.
Beside the story campaign, players also have the option of participating in the traditional ladder styled mode, which basically involves fighting your way through a tower of opponents with one of the twenty-eight available characters, or as a tag-team. Once at the summit, you will face Shao Kahn, who will punish you with a series of unblock-able attacks until you finally begin to pick up the patterns required to defeat him. Be warned, Shao Kahn is as cheap as a yard sale in a trailer park, and you will almost certainly be belting out strings of creative swear words until you figure out how to take him down.
Mortal Kombat also includes a “Challenge Tower” comprised of three-hundred various tasks, some of which are simple throw backs to the “test your might” mini challenge introduced in MK1, or variations of this challenge like “test your sight” and “test your strike”. Additionally, when you are not breaking an assortment of materials or searching under shuffled heads for an eyeball, you will be required to overcome such tasks as defeating an opponent by hurling your limbs at them, or conquering multiple adversaries with one life bar.