I've been a fan of the Mortal Kombat series since the original game was released in the Arcades. While the past few entries of this beloved classic franchise have been a letdown, NetherRealm Studios has made sure that the latest installment lives up to the originals and surpasses them in every way.
NetherRealm Studios created a top-notch story mode, especially for a fighting game. The game opens up at the end of Armageddon; all of the kombatants lay slain across the battlefield, with Shao Kahn and Raiden battling it out for the control of Earthrealm. Raiden, completely exhausted, is about to be finished off by Shao Kahn. However, before the deceive blow and the destruction of Earthrealm, Raiden sends visions back through time to himself before the events of the first Mortal Kombat. Raiden, knowing that he needs to alter the course of history, somehow tries to make sure that Armageddon does not come to fruition this time.
You can find all of the unlockables within the Krypt. The unlockables range from kostumes, to alternate fatalities, to artwork. Sadly, the klassic kostumes are only pieces of artwork. Pre-order kodes (see what I did there?) is the only way for now (hint, hint) to unlock actually klassic kostumes. It truly is a shame as some of them also contain klassic fatalities. Speaking of downloadable content, we already know the first two kombatants that will be released, Skarlet and Kenshi. Kenshi is the fan-favorite blind psychic warrior that debuted in Deadly Alliance. At the same time, Skarlet was originally a glitch that would change the color palette of the female warriors to red.
The Challenge Tower is another mode well worth spending countless hours in. It consists of quick matches with set parameters. For example, one has the requirement of a fatality to be performed, and another has the only way to attack is by lobbing body parts. These challenges come out of left field and make no sense, making the challenge tower enjoyable. There are 300 different challenges to complete. If you have koins to spare, you can skip challenges that give you too much trouble. If all you care about is getting to the 300th challenge, this is an effective method, but why rush through? The classic Test Your Might makes a triumphant return here in the challenge tower. Test your Luck is new to the series and sets options to the chosen match from a spinning wheel. I've had some ultimately work in my favor, but sometimes I've been completely screwed over.
The game does include a pretty standard tutorial to help familiarize players of all skill levels with the gameplay of Mortal Kombat. Still, Nether Realm did not stop there, as they included a fatality tutorial. Using this allows fatalities to be practiced using any chosen character.
These new additions don't mean anything if the gameplay isn't up to snuff. Without a shadow of a doubt, I can say this game has the best gameplay of the series. Mortal Kombat has finally returned to its roots and plays on a 2D plane, and not a moment too soon. New to the series is the inclusion of a super meter with three different levels or tiers. Performing kombos or taking a pounding will quickly charge the meter. Enhanced special attacks, which are beefed-up versions of the standard special attacks, can be used once the first level is filled. Breakers can be activated when two levels are filled. These are used to stop a combo immediately. Once all three levels are full, you can utilize devastating x-ray attacks. These are one of the best new additions to the series as they aren't just robust and deadly but showcase all the latest details that were put into the visuals. The camera zooms, showing an inside view of the attacked character, bones cracking, and organs rupturing.
What is a Mortal Kombat game without fatalities? NetherRealm does not disappoint in this game. The fatalities have the same amount as creatively as the series are accustomed to. As a revamp to the series, there are a bunch of fatalities that pay homage to the klassic games. For example, instead of Kano ripping his opponent's heart out, he rips it out from the back and then crushes it in his massive paw. Another has him ripping the heart out and ripping his opponent's head off, shoving the head into the chest cavity. Sadly, Friendships and Brutalities do not make a return, but my personal favorite Babalities have been included.
For the first time, Mortal Kombat has included a Tag Team mode. The partner can be called in to perform a special attack.
Online consists of a few different game modes this time around. King of the Hill mode joins the standard public/private rooms that can be created. King of the Hill lobbies consists of up to 8 players. In this mode, the winner keeps playing while the loser gets swapped out with the next person in line. After a match, players can vote on the match by giving respect points to the winner. This is a great concept, but I could see it get abused by sore losers. On the PS3 version, players pick miniature Mortal Kombat characters to represent them on the King of the Hill screen, while 360 users get to use the avatars.
Mortal Kombat is undoubtedly the best Mortal Kombat game to date, and it argues for the best fighter of all time. NetherRealm is already planning a bunch of new kharacters and has hinted at possible new kostumes. As long as we don't see a Super Mortal Kombat edition, I think Mortal Kombat is a sure-fire must by for any fan of the series.Note: Mortal Kombat was reviewed on PlayStation 3. A physical copy of the game was purchased by SelectButton.