More Kontent Than You Could Imagine
The character models in the basic Arcade mode are incredible. Whether you're far away or zooming in close at the end fo a round, all of them are polished. The blood flows as freely as ever, the animations are definitely more fluid than before, fighters faces show damage with bruises, and the levels are amazing. The lighting effects in some of the levels is truly gorgeous, but my personal favorite is probably the Yin Yang island which is constantly changing from a luxurious paradise island into a dark, rainy, demonic island of horror and isolation. The Konquest graphics are a step above piss-poor but I can't let that hurt the overall score that much The puzzle combatants are funny in that caracature style. In everything except Konquest, Deception is a highly polished game with a crisp framerate.
The combat system has been refined slightly, but for the most part it's the same as Deadly Alliance. Each character has 2 martial arts styles and 1 weapon style that you can switch between on the fly and mid-combo. The attention to detail in the different martial arts styles is should be noted. They took away the impale moves from DA but added a bunch of school style uppercuts and shoves that pop your opponent up for juggles. The big addition is not only the ability to knock your opponent through walls, rails, and ceiling into new areas of each level, but you can also knock them into death traps located in virtually every arena. These death traps are like the old stage fatalities like The Pit and The Dead Pool, but they can be done at any point in a round. So if you're down to 1% health and getting your ass kicked, you still have a chance to win. It may not be the best combat system of any fighting game ever, but it's solid and fun to play. The other modes (Puzzle, Konquest, Chess) don't really apply here since they are fairly straight forward.
The soundtrack is pretty good and worth leaving the volume up. The sound effects are what you would expect and that's good. The problem comes when you leave the Arcade mode and venture into Konquest mode. The voiceovers are horrible, but I wonder if that's intentional given the kung-fu film story style of the adventure. Either way, it's bad. The rest of the sound in the game is great though and successfully sets the mood for every arena and increases the level of presentation throughout the games various modes and menus.
The game is overflowing with stuff to do. Any long-time MK fan, such as myself, is going to love all of the extras that you unlock in the Krypt. Not only are there hundreds of photos, storyboards, sketches, and movies, but they all have a paragraph or two by the artist who drew them telling you about what they were thinking. It's an insane amount of lore and information about the creation of the MK universe. Aside from the fanboy stuff, the game itself features FOUR separate games. Arcade mode, which is the classic MK fighting game; Puzzle Kombat, which is a blatant rip-off of Super Puzzle Fighter II but addictively fun none-the-less; Chess Kombat, which is a combination of Archon and Chess with a MK twist; and finally Konquest, which is a full 3D adventure game featuring the life of Shujinko (one of the new characters). Each game is separate from the others. Unlocking a secret character in Arcade doesn't mean that he will be availble in Puzzle Kombat.
The Chess Kombat is surprisingly good. You pick 5 fighters you like and assign them to the 5 class-types on the board (Grunts, Sorcerors, Champions, etc). Movement is limited according to class type, like chess, but there are other factors on the board like magic spells cast by sorcerors that can hinder your opponent or boost your team. Also, before each match, each team gets to select one square in the grid that is trapped. Two different squares on the board emit a green fountain of health and those are the two squares most of your battles will be over because not only do the squares boost the owner's health, but the entire team as well. The final twist is the obvious one. When you attack an occupied square, a round of Mortal Kombat takes place. So, just because you're the attacker doesn't mean you will take the square. This also means that you're favorite fighter should be assigned to your Grunts (pawns). The strategy involved makes it a great game.
Last, and certainly least, is Konquest mode. Shujinko is like the new Liu Kang in a sense. Konquest follows Shujinko from a young age through his entire life and ends with him being an old man, which is how he appears in Arcade mode. The journey will take you through all of the realms in the MK universe, some of which have never been seen before, and you will meet or hear about every single person who's ever been in a MK game. Along the way you will fill in the gaps of the storyline from Deadly Alliance and reveal the more important reasons why this game is called Deception. This all sounds great except that the actual gameplay is all but shitty. You will basically be running back and forth on fetch quests until you are told to move on. It's a rather lengthy story and it is the main route for unlocking most of the game's secrets. It's just a shame that it's not more enjoyable, especially for those like me who have enjoyed the lore and storylines of the MK universe over the years. Most fighting games ignore things like plot and story, but the MK team has always embraced it.
As if all of this wasn't enough for one box, Deception is Online on Xbox Live and PS2. And they don't stop there, because not only is the Arcade mode online, but so are Puzzle Kombat and Chess Kombat. Honestly this is the most complete fighting game ever made. The sheer size of the endeavor is staggering and I can't wait to see what becomes of MK7.
This game is any MK fan's dream especially if you pick up the Kollector's Edition which includes an "arcade perfect" (and it definitely is) version of the original Mortal Kombat, as well as 15 extra character bio videos, and a history of the game. The character bios are great. They not only give you backstory on each character from the creators of the games, but they've also brought in some of the people who portrayed the characters in earlier games. Ten years later, Kerri Hoskins is still hot. Anyway...this game offers more than anyone could have ever imagined in a fighting game and all but one of them is a blast to play. And even Konquest has its redeeming qualities, although they may be few.
*** This review was written for Flamevault.com shortly after the release of the game. ***