Impressions: Mortal Kombat

After a slew of less-than-great releases, Mortal Kombat is back on its game with a fighter that can bring in people of all skill levels. Mortal Kombat is easy to learn, but proves difficult to master. Characters have similar moves at their disposal, but the ways those attacks can be strung together and the distinctive way each character controls can separate the pros from the newcomers. A character like Scorpion has shown to be easily accessible for people who may have never picked up a fighting game before and may allow them to complete the at times brutally difficult story mode, but when taken online that same person will still be dominated by more skilled combatants. With 25 characters initially available and two more to be unlocked, it is easy to find a fighter that suits your play style.

The game offers a breadth of content, including a story mode, challenge tower, arcade ladder (both single and tag), various training modes, and online play. The story mode is delightfully corny and proves relatively long, especially for a fighting game. The ways in which fights are initiated is generally absurd, with one of the first fights the player encounters starting because Sonya Blade doesn't appreciate Johnny Cage's advances. These ridiculous situations prove entertaining and help move this mode along at a reasonable pace. There is not much downtime in the game, as the fights load during cut scenes, a smart implementation on NetherRealm's part. One of my only gripes about the story mode would be that the cut scenes are unable to be skipped or paused, which can leave the player in a difficult situation if they do indeed find themselves needing to pause the game during a cut scene.

The challenge tower is enormous and the degree of difficulty ramps up steadily, allowing players to hone their skills without being dumped into what might seem like an unfeasible task. There is a large variety of challenges, ranging from a standard "kill this guy" to the sometimes hilarious Test Your Luck, in which the player spins a slot machine and random elements are added to the fight, which can results in the fighters having no arms, a steadily depleting health bar, or even the screen being flipped upside down. The challenge tower is a daunting task that will require quite a bit of skill to complete, but it looks like there is enough variety for the 300 challenges to not feel too similar to one another.

For the more traditional arcade players, there is the arcade ladder, which includes 10 opponents, a rapid difficulty spike, and a unique ending for each character. There is no exposition in this mode, just fighting...and glorious fatalities, which as far as I have seen to not appear in the story mode. These three main modes are all great fun to play, and they offer enough content to make the game hard to put down.

Visually, Mortal Kombat is gorgeous. The stages have depth and the characters look as cool as ever, taking persistent damage to reflect the horrors they have had to endure throughout their fight. X-ray moves slow down time and take a closer look at the abuse dealt out by showing organs being ruptured and bones being broken, and each fatality is uniquely bloody and brutal. There are also unlockable costumes for each character, some of which are unfortunately retailer specific. While the character design is good, it's too bad that the female characters seem to have forgotten that they are in a fight to the death and not a lingerie show. The lack of clothing for the female characters can make the game a little uncomfortable to play around a spouse who may already be put off by the abundant violence the game offers.

All negatives (of which there are few) aside, Mortal Kombat appeals to what most people are looking for in a game, it is FUN. I've gotten flawless victories and had my ass handed to me on multiple occasions. It's not fun to lose, but it's great when a game can make you have fun while you are losing, and that's just what Mortal Kombat does. Mortal Kombat is too impressive a game to pass on, even for someone who has never picked up a fighting game before.

A Look Back: B2G1 Blowout

A little less than a month ago I gave some snap judgements of three PS3 games I had just purchased. Now, with a little more playtime under my belt I'll look back and see if my initial feelings were accurate. 
UFC Undisputed 2010: I'll confess right now that I haven't actually finished any of these games, but UFC Undisputed still has the least playtime of the three. I just can't get into it. I'm not particularly good at fighting games, nor do I particularly understand the sport, so I doubt this game will leave the shelf anytime soon. I'll chalk this up as a purchase I regret.
Demon's Souls: This is still a game that I really, really want to like. It is also a game that really, really pisses me off. I may not ever finish Demon's Souls, and I've come to terms with that, just as I've come to terms with losing all my souls every five minutes because I made a silly mistake. Demon's Souls is not designed for the easily frustrated, so I would do well to stay away from it, but it keeps pulling me back in. I've sunk enough time into the game to know that I really enjoy playing it, but I can't be sure I will ever finish it or, for that matter, get any good at it.
InFamous: InFamous is a lot of fun. It really is. I enjoy running, jumping, and climbing around the city, killing mutants and collecting shards. However, I can't really find it in myself to care about the story. It's been a little bit since I've played the game as I've been working my way through Arkham Asylum (good game, who knew?), but I don't immediately remember what's going on in the story, and I'm not sure if I really care what's going on in the story. The missions, really the whole game, just feel like excuses to make the player character more powerful so the player can have more fun free roaming. That's okay with me. 
I would say that I might do a review of some of these games after I finish them, but considering how I play games, I doubt I will remember the first half of them by the time they're finished.

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Snap Judgement Time: PS3 Edition

This week, Best Buy is running a "Buy 2 Get 1 Free" promotion for PS3 Greatest Hits. Considering the only time I really visit brick-and-mortar stores is during sales, I figure this was right up my alley. Leaving the house armed with $20 in gift certificates, I was ready to buy inFamous, Demon's Souls, and Modnation Racers. Much to my chagrin, Modnation Racers was sold out. Considering it was on backorder on Best Buy's website and I'm wholly impatient, I looked around and decided on UFC 2010. I'm not much of an MMA/Wresting guy, but it seemed like it might be fun. Without further ado, here are my uninformative, uninformed snap judgements: 
UFC Undisputed 2010: Remember how I said I wasn't much of an MMA guy? Well... This is not going to be the game to change my mind. I'll admit, I know literally nothing about the sport, so I was at a disadvantage, but it would be reasonable to assume the tutorial for the game would set me up for some semblance of success. This was not the case. I won my first fight by tapping x, triangle, circle, and square randomly while intermittently holding down L1 or L2, and after that I had my fill. I probably spent a half hour with the game and I really didn't enjoy any of it. When buying the game, I thought that below the tough guy exterior would be a game that I could find fun, but it unfortunately does not look that way. I'll definitely give this game another shot and try to enjoy it, but I'm unsure of how successful I will be. 
Demon's Souls: I bought Demon's Souls because I really want to like the game. I played about fifteen minutes of it a couple weeks ago and couldn't get into it, but I so badly wanted to. So now I own it. Will I play it? Probably, eventually. Will I finish it? Possibly, someday. Should I have bothered to include it here? No, not really. Moving on. 
inFamous: Wow. I've only put about an hour into inFamous, but what a game. As of right now I only have two powers, Lightning Bolt and Shockwave, but if the beginning of the game is indicative to how fun the rest of the game will be and how powerful it can make you feel, then we're off to a good start. From climbing to the top of large buildings only to jump off immediately to shooting mutated drug addicts in the head with lightning bolts, this game has me hooked. The story is like that of a comic book's, it's hard to take serious because of how unbelievable the circumstances are, but at the same time it's hard to care because it is genuinely interesting. 
That's all for this first installment of snap judgements. I'm off to ignore UFC 2010, hide from Demon's Souls, and play the hell out of inFamous.