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JOYSTICK: Mortal Kombat returns with a vengence

Published 5:00pm Saturday, April 23, 2011

Testing your might never looked so awesome.

Mortal Kombat came out Tuesday. While it’s not the original arcade fighter people remember, it’s just as bloody, just as extreme and just as fatality fueled as some of the best Mortal Kombat games. This game goes a long, long way towards erasing disappointing games like MK: Armageddon.

The biggest feature to come out of the game is its emphasis on online play, which runs well with a decent wireless connection. Aside from the standard ranked matches, there’s tournament play, tag modes and even a theater mode where you can watch other online competitors go at it, Mystery Science Theater 3000-style: cheering, booing or laughing at the contestants.

The fighting mechanics have been streamlined, taking away a lot of extras the MK franchise has added over the years. Gone are the multiple fighting styles, the weapon-based combos and the absolutely ridiculous create-your-own-fatality feature that turned so many players off Mortal Kombat in Armageddon. Combos are few, but there’s an emphasis on creating your own strings and juggling when you can. Each move does little damage, which means matches can drag sometimes when you’re playing against the AI, but the lack of powerful abilities means you always have room to breathe in player vs. player matches.

The interesting addition to the fighting itself is the super combos and X-Ray attack, the MK equivalent of Japanese fighting games’ super, hyper and ultra combos. These moves can be comboed and usually ends a streak with major damage, taking away up to a third of your life bar on their own. It’s a welcome addition to the stripped-down combat.

Netherrealm Studios kept it simple this time around, and the story mode doesn’t completely suck. It will keep players entertained as it goes through well-known MK history, trying to alter certain scenarios in order to save the future in a not-that-cheesy time warp scenario.

There are few major faults to the game, aside from its clear emphasis on online modes. Half of the achievements and trophies for the game have to do with online play, which means players without good Internet aren’t going to add much of this game to their gamerscore or trophy level.

The only other nitpicky fault is the fact that in tag team matches, players can’t perform multiple fatalities. They have to defeat one character and then the second, and can only use a fatality on the second player. While it may seem petty, a lot of the fun in MK games is the use of fatalities, and while only using one fatality keeps them from getting stale in tag-team battles, it makes the gameplay suffer a bit.

This latest Mortal Kombat isn’t exactly a flawless victory, but it will make Mortal Kombat fans tell their friends to get over here and play a classic.


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