epicsteve's Mortal Kombat (Xbox 360) review

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Highly recommended

Mortal Kombat will serve any fan of the series and fighting games in general. This ninth entry to the main series has plenty opportunity to fight dudes in gruesome manners in addition to a plethora of great content. Mortal Kombat is back and revisits the events of the first three games, complete with a refined combat system that supplies the best gameplay in the series so far.

The plot in Mortal Kombat has always been difficult to keep up with. I mean, Scorpion did kill Sub-Zero, right? Then why is he still around? Wait, is that Cyber Sub-Zero? As someone who grew up in the 90’s, I totally appreciate Mortal Kombat being an exaggerated time capsule for everything that was cool in entertainment such as thunder gods, dragon people, ninjas, cyborg ninjas, busty military ladies, and so on. Sometimes the awesome design of the characters can work against them. It’s kind of hard to take ridicules four-armed Mohawk women seriously.

The story mode is fairly long and breaks up the fights with well-directed cutscenes that last several minutes. By the end of the game, I felt like I was totally up to date with everything Mortal Kombat. This is the best story mode in any fighting game, ever. The story mode is broken up into over a dozen chapters in which you’ll fight as different characters along the way. This is the first time in a fighting game that I actually knew who all the characters were and their backstory. It’s a cheese fest, but the story is the right kind of silly.

Mortal Kombat has returned to the 2D playing field. Which is my preference with fighting games. In addition to the robust story mode, there’s also the standard Arcade Ladder in which you can fight through with any character. 1v1 and tag mode are offered through the Arcade Ladder and online fighting. It works just as well as Marvel vs. Capcom 3 or Tekken Tag and the ability or attack your foe through tagging in your partner adds another layer of strategy.

The crux of the game is the visceral combat. This is also where the visual and sound design shines. Every hit a character takes in followed by the sound of bones cracking and gushing blood. It’s not for the squeamish. Like most modern fighting games, Mortal Kombat has a super meter. You’re able to spend the meter on the ability to break out of an opponent’s combo or super-charge one of your moves. However, it’s better in most cases to completely fill the meter to unleash an x-ray move. These are powerful and easy to execute (just hit RT & LT) super moves that does devastating damage. When executed, the background darkens like a fatality and the camera zooms in on your opponent’s skeleton to showcase the bone breaking damage you’re committing. These moves open the door for a lot of “Oh Shit!” moments. It’s as gruesome as it is satisfying and can turn the tide in a fight.

Mortal Kombat exceeds the standards on what a fighting game can be. In addition to the Arcade Ladder and Story Mode, there are plentiful unlockables to gather and a over 300 challenges to go through. The Challenge Tower ranges from simple objectives like “defeat your opponent” to utilizing projectile attacks against zombies in a tower-defense like manner. The game contains a lot of goofy stuff like fighting with no arms or with a upside down screen. In a nutshell, Mortal Kombat is so much stuff, I’m 25 hours in and still discovering new and exciting things.

We’ve established that Mortal Kombat is more than a full package with singleplayer content. The online is stable in most cases and contains the obligatory features such as displaying a player’s win/loss ration and leaderboards. It’s easy to challenge other players and even set up a room with your friends. The game plays the same online that it does offline assuming you got a stable connection. Mortal Kombat utilizes the same lobby system as Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, allowing players to text chat in a chat room setting while looking for matches. If that’s not your thing, you can just find a ranked or player match without going into any lobby. It’s a quick way to find other fighters, but it seems to totally ignore your skill lever. I only had 20 wins under my belt, but the game was putting me up against players with over 300 wins.

Visually, Mortal Kombat drastically improves on the past games in the series. Characters animate well and throughout fights will get bloody and have their cloths torn. By the end of a good fight, each fighter is covered in blood, masks are ripping off, cuts are on their sides, and generally look like they had a bad day. Mortal Kombat is a very sharp looking game, but what is most impressive are the stages themselves. Just the sheer volume of arenas to fight in is fantastic. I never found myself saying “Really, this stage again?”. The attention to detail in every stage is astounding. All the stages are packed with scenery such as mountains or guys on stakes in hell burning. Then there’s the stage that has a dragon fighting helicopters. Yeah, it gets pretty crazy sometime.  

Mortal Kombat is a solid game. The combat, or, excuse me, “kombat” is easy to wrap your head around and offers enough opportunity for advance players to become more strategic. The game combines the novelty of extreme violence with well-realized gameplay in a satisfying way. It’s unfortunate that there isn’t a real tutorial, but the game is welcoming enough to beginners without needing a “Mortal Kombat Philophecy 101” mode. Whether you want to show off your fatalities online or want to explore the mythology, Mortal Kombat is fantastic and I couldn’t recommend it anymore to anyone that is interested in fighting games.


-Steven Beynon

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