Mortal Kombat (more accurately Mortal Kombat 9) is the first fighting game I’ve bought in quite a long time. I do not hate fighting games but generally the hardcore emphasis on playing with people I’ve never met leaves a bad taste in my mouth. As much as I like to think my fighting skills in games aren’t terrible I’m reminded that no amount of practice will beat the free time of a teenager.
That’s not to say that’s a bad thing. I’m glad folks find things they are good at. But I digress. I bought this game initially because it came with book ends. Which I think immediately has caused a few folks reading to think “This guy is an idiot.” Fair enough!
What’s good? This question is fairly beefy. Mortal Kombat is probably one of my favorite purchases in the last year. The amount of content is staggering. There is a movie length story mode you can play through. It’s good enough that I’m tempted to play through it again. After you’ve finished this many hour long story you will find yourself still having the standard fighting game ladder mode in 5 flavors. This ladder mode has multiple options consisting of 1v1 and 2v2 which are both fairly self explanatory. You then have 3 “test your X” modes. Test your Might allows you to play the classic “I can brake something impossibly hard with my pinky” mode from older MK’s, then you have “Test your Sight” which is a great coconut game “find the ball” mode (authentically tuned to to use skulls and dismembered heads instead of coconuts), and finally you have “Test your Luck” which is a mode where the game randomizes bonuses, penalties, and enemies. I found all of them pretty fun and none of them felt ham handed.
Speaking of content let us not forget the massive amount of characters in this game. Just off of memory I’ve played Smoke, Noob Saibot, Liu Kang, Kung Lao, Sonya, Jax, Cyrax, Sektor, Scorpion, Shiva, Raiden, Sub-Zero, Reptile, Cyber Sub Zero, Johnny Cage, Shang Tsung, Striker, Kano, Katana, Mileena, and Sindel. I know I missed a few so I did a quick search: Quan Chi, Kabal, Baraka, Nightwolf, Jade, and Ermac. There are 27 characters not including the God of War: Kratos. Each of these characters has 2-3 unique costumes that add a ton of extra flavor.
Cyrax and Sektor (as well as Sub Zero) are all met in the story prior to the Cyber initiative. This is a small touch but I was giddy as a school girl to see so many characters before their iconic changes. Jax without cyber arms, Kabal without melted flesh, The ninjas as mentioned. The new character Ermac was wonderfully designed and his presence in the story reminds me in no small way of the Borg.
I believe at one point Ermac even says “We are many and you are but one.” which seems like play off of “The one who is many. I am the Borg” from Star Trek: TNG. I have no complaints about this and the subtle touch helped me enjoy Ermac even further.
The balance appears to be quite solid as well. Again I’ve only played PVE as the PSN has been down for over a week. The only major complaint about character imbalances comes up with the non-playable boss characters and will be mentioned further down.
Not only does the game have a solid single player ladder, a solid story, and a roster larger than almost any other modern fighting game, it’s still packing some extras up its sleeves. There is a couple hundred level long challenges tower, some of the challenges are funny, some are clever, and some still will anger you to the point of killing a hummingbird.
While playing the game you will also collect “Koins” which I presume have a better name than that but my coffee has not set in quite yet. The currency can be used to buy things from the most creative “bonus store” I’ve ever seen. It’s 4 parts big, a graveyard, a forest of hanging distended corpses, a bog of equally nasty bodies and ghouls, and a field of living people attached to diabolical (and worryingly still actually real in history) torture and execution devices. You spend your money here to “activate” the various things and can either watch a gruesome animation or simply skip to the goodies.
There is honestly so much to this game that I imagine even now I’ve forgotten something it has to offer. Of the many titles I’ve bought spanning many genres over the last year this game has undoubtedly the largest day 1 collection of things to do.
What’s Bad? This part will be substantially easier for me to write. There is after at least 24 hours of play only a single complaint I have to make about this game. Perhaps with time I’ll find more but for now it is thus: The Boss Mechanics. Dear god, I understand that Mortal Kombat has a fabled history of creating very imbalanced boss fights to help drum up the drama but I feel they missed the mark here.
Shao Kahn in Mortal Kombat 2 had a very simple mechanic, if he hit you you would fly across the screen like a missile. Had they done that in this game I would have been happy as a clam. But they did not. What was done is Shao Kahn hits you like a freight train and he ignores most hits. Did you just punch him in the groin? Shao Kahn don’t care, he’s going to drop a 200 lb hammer on your skull. Did you just jump kick him to the face? Shao Kahn don’t care, he’s going to stick a spear in your ass and laugh (usually in that order).
Goro and Kintaro are fairly straight forward, you jump at them and uppercut them. That’s what I did over 10 years ago and its nice that they feel the same and are just as fun to beat up. But Shao Kahn definitely was a dropped ball. Fighting him is not fun, it is endlessly aggravating. The only 2 points in the story that I wasn’t having fun were involving him. Everything else was a challenge, he was merely a bore. You beat him by abusing game mechanics and frankly that shouldn’t be how a boss is handled. This is hardly enough to kill the entire game for me, but if he were to get patched out tomorrow I don’t feel I would be missing him.
What’s left? If you enjoy fighting games you should grab this today. Rent it, Borrow it, or Buy it. The X-Ray combat mechanics I felt would be trashy but they really do add a fun way to pummel the ever loving hell out of your foe. The character art is over the top, the men are powerhouses, the women are bombshells, and the entire thing just exudes campiness. But it’s that kind of campiness that is desperately missing from modern gaming. If Duke Nukem is the…*ahem*…Duke Nukem of FPS’s, this is certainly the Duke Nukem of Fighting Games. A completely over the top fun fest that feels oddly believable.
I still haven’t collected everything and I’m thinking that this might be the title I actually go for a platinum in (once the PSN is back). If Netherrealm and WB can pull of DLC as high quality as the base game I think there is much money to be lost in my future.
I will also add here since I don’t look at graphics when judging a game that they are equally gorgeous. The quality in this game is spot on. Again I wouldn’t want you to pick it up merely because of that but if that’s what gets you in the door the rest of the package is sure to titillate.
Just remember when playing the story. Once you reach the Shao Kahn Fights. Two things to remember. First time? Low Fireball. Second Time? Down Up, Sweep. These will get you passed those fights in a jiffy and back to the fantastic (given the topic) story.
Without a doubt this is a great game and perhaps the best fighting game of the year.
“Also these are pretty awesome.”
(I found 2 more extra content slips pulling these out for the picture too).