Unlike most other fighting games, Mortal Kombat (MK) has not shied away from reinventing itself significantly, every few years or so. They did this with Mortal Kombat 3 and the introduction of combo system and later moved the game to a 3-D arena with Mortal Kombat 4. They introduced fighting styles with Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance and also released a couple of adventure titles based on the MK characters and universe.
Now, although the latest iteration in the series is technically not a pure Mortal Kombat title, Ed Boon and company have once again changed the fighting system of the franchise and this time they seem to have nailed it better than their last few attempts. The single-player ‘Story Mode’ mode kicks off with a somewhat plausible explanation of the merger of the two universes. Here the player has a choice to fight on the side of either the Mortal Kombat or the DC universe.
As you play through the story mode, the game will pit you against characters from both worlds and you’re playing characters changes as the story progresses through various levels (fighting arenas) set in both worlds. This predictably continues till your battle against the final boss of the game and true to MK style, he deals out more damage and takes less of it, compared to other characters in the game roster. For beating the game, player is rewarded with two unlocked character—one each for beating the game on the MK and DC side.
In all, the game features a roster of 20 fighters (ten on each side) and the two un-lockable characters. Apart from the story mode, the game has the customary single player arcade mode where you fight your way up the ladder to encounter the final boss. The game also supports head-to-head two player fights, both online and offline. If you have played MK games before, you’d expect plenty of extra, un-lockable ‘kontent’; however, this title has very little of that.
Coming back to the changes to the fighting style, the developers claim to have completely reworked the fighting engine. The fighting styles (or stances) from the last couple of releases has been completely eliminated from the game as the game seems to be moving closer to the original system of kick and punches (high and low) combined with special powers. The players in the game are controlled using a combination of the digital pad and the analog stick- for 2D and 3D movement respectively. Overall, the game plays a lot faster and the controls are well optimized to work with game pads on both platforms.
The most significant additions to the combat system however, are two new combat modes—namely, ‘Klose Kombat’ and ‘Aerial Kombat’. Grabbing the opponent will zoom the camera close into the action and triggers a mini-game where one player has to anticipate the other player’s next move. Similarly, certain attacks on your opponent will cause him to free fall to the lower level of the arena and you jump along to dish it out in mid-air.
Additionally, pushing the characters to the edge of certain arenas will trigger the classic ‘test your might’ mini-game, as you push your opponent (breaking through walls) from one end of the combat area to the other side.
One of the most enduring and iconic feature of the Mortal Kombat games are the finishing moves. These are however watered down mainly due to the involvement of the DC characters (read Warner Bros.) and their technique of bloodless fighting. Each MK character (and the ‘bad guys’ of DC universe) has two fatalities each, while the ‘good guys’ of the DC world have something similar called ‘Heroic Brutalities’. This is where the game will make most MK fans feel wanting, considering the fact that at one point, the developers were thinking of eliminating finishing moves all together to main a ‘Teen’ age rating for the game.
The guys at Midway have always maintained that this release is not truly a MK release and this fact becomes quite evident as you play the game. The absence of other finishing moves (apart from fatalities) and holding back on the blood and gore, does make this game feel detached. Having said that, the studio has done a reasonably good job of blending the DC world into the MK universe— as you can imagine it could have been a lot worse. The new fighting engine is not perfect, but seems to be heading in the right direction. One can hope that they take the learning from this title and use it effectively in the next true MK release
- Improved and promising fighting system
- Good blend of two worlds
- Decent collection of characters in the fighter roster
- Lack of extra content and limited single player replay value
- Watered down finishing moves
Distributor: Milestone Interactive
Platforms supported: PS3, Xbox 360