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Mortal Kombat (PS3/Xbox 360) Review

April 26, 2011

If Street Fighter are the Beatles of the fighting genre, you can make the argument that Mortal Kombat are the Rolling Stones. MK has always been more known for upper-cuts and low-kicks rather than learning extensive combos and button-chains. But what MK lacks in technical prowess, it’s always made up for in over-the-top gore and violence, and that’s never more true than the latest edition of the series in 2011.

Mortal Kombat goes back to it’s 2D roots in 2011, and frankly it should have never left. In a sense, it owes some gratitude to Street Fighter for reigniting the 2D fighting genre. Granted, it’s not true 2D, but rather 2D in a 3D plane (or is it the other way around?). The environments are 3D but you fight in 2D. There we go.

Visually the game is fantastic. The fighter animations are top-notch, especially when dealing with special moves like the X-Ray enhancements. They never falter in making you cringe even a little bit. When you fill your power meter, an easy button combo lets you inflict a large amount of damage on your opponent all the while viewing sad damage through an X-ray. You’ll see legs snap, jaws smash and skulls crack. It’s brutal and disgusting, and so Mortal Kombat.

As always, fatalities are all still there as well.

In terms of gameplay, Mortal Kombat has never been better. You can play the game by simply mashing buttons and performing upper-cuts, but learning the combos of each fighter makes the game a lot more enjoyable. Yes, combos. The game includes a move list right in the pause screen, so no need to buy a guide or Googling them. The moves are no more than four or five button-chains long, so anyone can learn them.

What separates MK from other fighters in the genre, especially Capcom’s Marvel vs. Capcom 3 that was released earlier this year, is the game’s story. What we have is basically a mashup of the first three original MK games re-told in a sense. Raiden sees the events of the first three games and doesn’t like it. He sends a message back in time to himself to try and avoid it from happening in the first place.

The story is told in chapters, with each one being seen through the eyes of a different fighter. This is good and bad. It’s great for the narrative, but it’s often times difficult trying to learn another fighter’s moves and style after getting accustomed to the previous fighter. I found it hard getting used to Sonya Blade after having success with Johnny Cage early on. It’s good, though, because you get exposed to some fighters you would never have checked out otherwise.

Aside from the story mode, there’s the classic MK gauntlet mode where you take control of one fighter and try and stay alive throughout the duration of the contest. At the conclusion, you get a character specific ending that will surely please longtime fans.

The other mode is Challenge Tower, where you must complete 300 varied challenges, such as defeating an enemy in under a certain amount of time, or stringing together certain combos. It’s pretty addicting, but gets fairly challenging. It’s the type of mode that is hard to walk away from because you want to just do one more challenge, and one more challenge.

The PlayStation 3 version of the game includes a playable Kratos along with his own level. It also has 3D support for the nine people who own a 3D TV and glasses.

Mortal Kombat is hands down the best fighter I’ve played in a long while, and honestly blows away MvC3, a game I was also very high on. It just allows you play any way you want to, whether it’s mashing buttons and relying on kicks and punches, or focus on combos and skill. Bottom line, it’s fun to play.

Score- A

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