I have to confess, I’ve never been into the Mortal Kombat series. The last version I played was Mortal Kombat II for the arcade, back when my parents were in a bowling league & the only games they had were that & pinball (which I admit I was a pro at). I like fighting games, but for some reason I’ve just never gotten into the Mortal Kombat franchise. But with the latest rendition, Mortal Kombat (confusing) I decided to give it a try & rent it.
I don’t think I really need to go into what the game is about. Short version: warriors from Earth fight with warriors from Outworld to prevent an evil overlord from taking over our realm. There are several gameplay modes in the reboot. Story Mode has you playing through chapters as different characters. All of the actual story is told through cutscenes, with the player only taking control during fights. What’s unique about the story is that it’s actually a retelling of the series, starting back at the beginning, but with some of the newer characters. The story actually starts with Shao Kahn having killed everyone except Raiden, & Raiden sending a message to his past self at the beginning of the tournament. There’s a classic arcade mode, which allows you to climb the tournament ladder with the character of your choice. There’s a Challenge Mode which offers a huge 300 challenges, starting with learning basic controls to more advanced challenges.
Multiplayer is at the core of MK 2011. Because I didn’t purchase an online pass (since I was just renting the game) I can’t give any opinion of the different types of multiplayer modes, but I can say there’s a tag team option.
The aspect that sets this game apart from others is the over-the-top violence. And it’s not just the Fatalities, although those are there. Characters get bloody & clothes rip during the game. MK 2011 also includes new X-Ray Attacks that show in slow motion & x-ray fashion characters getting demolished. It’s very visceral & exciting.
Visually the game looks very good. There are a wide variety of stages, each more depressing or hellish than the last. Characters are nicely animated, but I feel there’s a lack of variety in their actual design. They all come across as just reskins of the same model. And I know in the beginning most of them were (which is why Kitana, Jade & Mileena look almost identical). But there’s no reason for that now. And I’m sure there are many, many fans who would disagree with me, but for a newcomer it seems like your options are Bulky Guy A or B, or Skimpy Female A, B, or C. At least throw in some variety in the body models.
Why this game isn’t for me: I give the game credit for having interesting characters & taking chances with the gore. But compared to other fighting games I’ve played, MK 2011’s controls felt… clunky. I’ve gotten so used to games like Soul Calibur that I’m not used to sticking to a 2D plane. And I’m sure a lot of that has to do with my lack of experience with the controls. But it just felt slow & cumbersome to me. As with most fighting games, the fun comes from fighting other actual people, so since I refused to by the online pass, I know I missed out on a good chunk of content. But let’s face facts, I’d have probably gotten creamed if I went online. (For the record, I lent towards Mileena. I love that she could only be a more Freudian character if she bit men’s crotches off instead of their faces.)
Who this game is for: Obviously if you’re a fan of the series you’ve already bought, played & loved this game. But it’s also a good place for newcomers to start in the series. Since it’s a reboot, you won’t feel left out of the loop like you would if you played the previous games. If you’re willing to buy an online pass to access multiplayer & take the time to learn the combos in Training, you’ll likely find a unique & enjoyable experience. It’s not like other fighters, & for some people that’s the point.
Title: Mortal Kombat
Console: 360 & PS3
Developer: NetherRealm Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Release Date: April 19, 2011