Mortal Kombat


By: Alan Bell    On: PlayStation 3
Published: Tuesday 19 Apr 2011 8:00 PM
 
 
 
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The fighting game series that has showcased over-the-top violence for nearly 20 years has finally made it to store shelves for its 9th iteration. However instead of simply tacking the number 9 to the end, this new Mortal Kombat is a reboot of the series, starting over with a clean slate and looking to attract a new audience.

The first thing to talk about is the sheer depth of content on offer. In addition to the fighting game standard 'ladder mode' where you tackle each combatant in order as if you were in an arcade, there's a veritable host of other things to do. Most significant is the surprisingly deep story mode, in which the presentation of the story via kutscenes blends seamlessly with the fight sequences for an experience which is quite unlike anything that's ever been before it.

There's also a multiplayer mode, assuming that a) you have the requisite kode (we assume one comes in the box, however there wasn't one in the review copy) and b) there's people to play against (you can trial the multiplayer mode for two days at no charge, however the servers weren't setup when we were testing it, so multiplayer is completely untried).

Another kompelling [Ed: help us, we kan't stop!!] feature is the rather nifty "challenge tower" - a series of 300 ever-increasingly-difficult challenges which will test you to the very limit should you try to defeat it (good luck). The challenges within this typically take the fighting system and muck around with the rules, removing the ability to block one round then removing the heads of the players for the next. It's a fun, experimental and genuinely surprising mode - just don't be surprised if you get stuck, it gets damn hard.

The kombat itself, while very familiar from the titles that came before it, has been tweaked and fine-tuned and manages to feel fresh. Characters have new moves and the timing and effectiveness of old moves have changed. There are new kombos to learn, including many secret kombos and chains that pull in your second character (if you are playing in team mode).

You can also manually pull in your second character at any time, either to do a Marvel vs. Capcom-like assist or to actually swap with them completely. This brings a good level of strategy to the mayhem, as the rock-paper-scissors nature of the various characters abilities, strengths and weaknesses mean that you can have a tangible advantage by kountering a particular character with a different one of your own.

There's a new power-bar system, which also powers the new "x-ray" special moves. You earn power by executing your special attacks and also by having your normal attacks blocked - but not by actually hitting the opponent (the argument for that being that you're already being rewarded for your attacks by their diminishing health bar).

The bar has three levels, the ultimate of which is the aforementioned x-ray special move - which is simple to execute (all characters perform the move by pressing the same buttons). If the tutorial is to be believed, the other two levels are useful too and choosing to use it (rather than save up for the grandstanding x-ray move) may often prove decisive in determining the outcome of a battle. The first level powers up a special move you use it with, while the second allows you to interrupt a kombo in mid-beatdown. This latter ability, once mastered, will no doubt be incredibly powerful and useful - particularly once the online crowd masters the lengthy kombos that are possible.

There do seem to be some balancing issues with the fighting mechanics, with certain characters having abilities that seem overly powerful (i.e. ranged attacks that are fast, unblockable and hit you at any distance) and some fights in the story mode which seem almost impossible. Like most fighting games, though, the deeper strategy behind game design decisions may not become apparent until the game has been out for some time and has been thrashed online.

The integration with the spectacularly good fighting stick is, unfortunately, not quite perfect. The L1 button, which you use to swap with your other characters (including for "tag" combos and special moves), is awkwardly placed, resulting in some moves being nigh-on impossible to execute if you don't have massive hands. To be blunt, the standard 6-button layout would have been a far superior choice here. It's still an amazing stick and comes highly recommended, but if you do use it as your main stick, there will undoubtedly be a few moves that don't make it into your regular repertoire. It's also awkward to navigate the part of the game where you unlock bonus kontent (a massive, free-roaming graveyard) without a second analogue stick, nor can you rotate character models in the special viewing area - an odd oversight.

Visually the game is a bit of a mix. The characters (in particular their facial animation) look really good, if occasionally a bit generic (they don't appear to breathe, either). The environments, on the other hand, are frequently bland with low detail textures and sparse geometry making for a decidedly dated look overall. It's certainly not bad by any stretch of the imagination but, this late in a console generation, expectations will likely be set somewhat higher than what's on display here.

What matters most with Mortal Kombat (and, indeed, any fighting game) is the fighting engine. It's good. It's fun, it's tight and it rewards skill. The balance issues we've encountered will likely either prove to be kounterable by techniques we've yet to master or they'll be tweaked in a patch, so we're not too worried about them. The difficulty of late-game story mode or challenge tower are, most certainly, a deliberate attempt to ensure there continues to be something to do as players learn the various characters (you'll need to know MK like only the designers currently do if you want to finish either).

Ultimately, Mortal Kombat is an excellent game and, hopefully, it marks a rebirth of the franchise rather than just a one-off. It's been a long time in the making and we can't wait to see the improvements that will undoubtedly kome over time.

Note: corrected the number of missions in the challenge tower to 300, rather than 100 as originally stated.


The Score

Mortal Kombat
"The best MK yet, but..."
8.9
Great
Rating: R18   Difficulty: Hard   Learning Curve: 3+ Hours

 

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Comments (35)

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Twilight_Aurora
On Tuesday 19 Apr 2011 9:44 PM Posted by Twilight_Aurora
Great review! Loved the usage of 'k' lol =D
Agree about the graphics, ever since the first trailer and screenshots were released, I could tell straight away that it was nothing special in terms of aesthetics. Still, seems the gameplay and overall content makes up for it.
 
 
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Krakatoa
On Tuesday 19 Apr 2011 11:03 PM Posted by Krakatoa
Aren't there 300 challenges in the challenge tower?
 
 
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thicknick86
On Wednesday 20 Apr 2011 2:28 AM Posted by thicknick86
Better than SSFIV for sure!!!
 
 
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thicknick86
On Wednesday 20 Apr 2011 2:30 AM Posted by thicknick86
19 April 2011, 11:03 PM Reply to Krakatoa
Aren't there 300 challenges in the challenge tower?
And yes... there are 300 challenges, not 100. I hope the reviewer actually played the game. The review is mostly praise, which is about right, but the insanely low 8.9 is a little... contentious, to say the least.
 
 
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Twilight_Aurora
On Wednesday 20 Apr 2011 3:25 AM Posted by Twilight_Aurora
20 April 2011, 02:30 AM Reply to thicknick86
And yes... there are 300 challenges, not 100. I hope the reviewer actually played the game. The review is mostly praise, which is about right, but the insanely low 8.9 is a little... contentious, to say the least.
Since when has 8.9 been a low score? These days, people think that if a game gets lower than 9, it's not worth buying and received a 'bad score'. 8.9 is great for a fighting game, and is by all rights a nice score. The review itself tells us that the game is worth buying, regardless of the score.
 
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phantom
On Wednesday 20 Apr 2011 8:53 AM Posted by phantom NZGamer.com VIP
20 April 2011, 02:30 AM Reply to thicknick86
And yes... there are 300 challenges, not 100. I hope the reviewer actually played the game. The review is mostly praise, which is about right, but the insanely low 8.9 is a little... contentious, to say the least.
At the time of me writing this comment, NZgamer.com's review of 89% sits three points HIGHER than the metacritic score (which averages scores from many different publications), which sits at 86.
 
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ChatterboxZombie
On Wednesday 20 Apr 2011 10:24 AM Posted by ChatterboxZombie NZGamer.com VIP
20 April 2011, 03:25 AM Reply to Twilight_Aurora
Since when has 8.9 been a low score? These days, people think that if a game gets lower than 9, it's not worth buying and received a 'bad score'. 8.9 is great for a fighting game, and is by all rights a nice score. The review itself tells us that the game is worth buying, regardless of the score.
Just part of the retarded, broken *number out of ten rating system.
Where 10 is unachievable, 9 Is awesome, 8 Is good, 7 Is flawed and even if a game is absolute vomit burned onto a disk it won't get less than a 5.

Coz that totally makes sense.
 
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MounatinMan
On Wednesday 20 Apr 2011 2:52 PM Posted by MounatinMan
aghhh! i wish i didn't have to wait another week.. damn it nzgr making me want the game even more >.<, apart from that solid review, 7.5 for graphics seems kindof harsh in my opinion the demo was pretty impressive in the graphics department but thats just my two cents, don't hate :D
 
 
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Wh1teDeAth88
On Wednesday 20 Apr 2011 5:43 PM Posted by Wh1teDeAth88
20 April 2011, 02:30 AM Reply to thicknick86
And yes... there are 300 challenges, not 100. I hope the reviewer actually played the game. The review is mostly praise, which is about right, but the insanely low 8.9 is a little... contentious, to say the least.
8.9 is a low score? Did you come straight from the IGN forums? Speaking of which this review is a damn sight better than the quite frankly disgusting review of Mortal Kombat that IGNorant have put up. Great review, awesome game. Can't wait for my pre-order to arrive.
 
 
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The Host of Chaos
On Wednesday 20 Apr 2011 6:02 PM Posted by The Host of Chaos NZGamer.com VIP
20 April 2011, 05:43 PM Reply to Wh1teDeAth88
8.9 is a low score? Did you come straight from the IGN forums? Speaking of which this review is a damn sight better than the quite frankly disgusting review of Mortal Kombat that IGNorant have put up. Great review, awesome game. Can't wait for my pre-order to arrive.
Read his name, he's obviously not too bright.

So keen to get my hands on this, a friend offered to buy me a copy so we could play online together. Might have to take him up on that.
 
 
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Wh1teDeAth88
On Wednesday 20 Apr 2011 7:45 PM Posted by Wh1teDeAth88
A friend offered to buy you a copy? You got some good mates Chaos! No need to think about that offer...
 
 
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FVD
On Wednesday 20 Apr 2011 9:12 PM Posted by FVD
Well I've taken the risk in ordering the game hoping it'll make it past Customs in Oz. If it gets confiscated I'll buy it again when I'm in London in a couple months and smuggle it into Perth when I come back.
 
 
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mattyj1974
On Wednesday 20 Apr 2011 9:18 PM Posted by mattyj1974
So let me get this straight........ You kollect some koins by killing some ku*ts to konsume in the krypt. Klassic.
 
 
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Wh1teDeAth88
On Wednesday 20 Apr 2011 10:03 PM Posted by Wh1teDeAth88
20 April 2011, 09:12 PM Reply to FVD
Well I've taken the risk in ordering the game hoping it'll make it past Customs in Oz. If it gets confiscated I'll buy it again when I'm in London in a couple months and smuggle it into Perth when I come back.
Well done. And you're only paying what; $150,000 for the fine when you get busted? Most expensive game ever.
 
 
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Wh1teDeAth88
On Wednesday 20 Apr 2011 10:04 PM Posted by Wh1teDeAth88
20 April 2011, 09:18 PM Reply to mattyj1974
So let me get this straight........ You kollect some koins by killing some ku*ts to konsume in the krypt. Klassic.
Well said LOL
 
 
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FVD
On Wednesday 20 Apr 2011 10:34 PM Posted by FVD
20 April 2011, 10:03 PM Reply to Wh1teDeAth88
Well done. And you're only paying what; $150,000 for the fine when you get busted? Most expensive game ever.
Well from what I understand the people who get busted with say 25 copies with the intention to sell will most likely get tagged with that fine. Me, chances are it'll just get confiscated. I'll know as I ordered a Bluray with the game possibly to find only the Bluray should they inspect my package. However if the game makes it to my door I will most certainly be laughing maniacally!!!
 
 
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Wh1teDeAth88
On Thursday 21 Apr 2011 5:37 PM Posted by Wh1teDeAth88
20 April 2011, 10:34 PM Reply to FVD
Well from what I understand the people who get busted with say 25 copies with the intention to sell will most likely get tagged with that fine. Me, chances are it'll just get confiscated. I'll know as I ordered a Bluray with the game possibly to find only the Bluray should they inspect my package. However if the game makes it to my door I will most certainly be laughing maniacally!!!
Go to the customs website dude, you are in for more than just a confiscation. Theres a fine with that as well, probably not the full hammer for one copy as you said, but could at least sting you a few hundy.
 
 
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Twilight_Aurora
On Thursday 21 Apr 2011 11:42 PM Posted by Twilight_Aurora
21 April 2011, 05:37 PM Reply to Wh1teDeAth88
Go to the customs website dude, you are in for more than just a confiscation. Theres a fine with that as well, probably not the full hammer for one copy as you said, but could at least sting you a few hundy.
Yeah I'm in Aus, and I don't think it's worth taking the risk of smuggling it in somehow. I am going back to NZ in my holidays, so will probs play it at a friends house or something.
 
 
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emetic
On Friday 22 Apr 2011 12:02 AM Posted by emetic NZGamer.com VIP
20 April 2011, 10:24 AM Reply to ChatterboxZombie
Just part of the retarded, broken *number out of ten rating system.
Where 10 is unachievable, 9 Is awesome, 8 Is good, 7 Is flawed and even if a game is absolute vomit burned onto a disk it won't get less than a 5.

Coz that totally makes sense.
I've seen some NZG reviews give less than 5; Kung Fu Rider and that Wii Water SPorts ripoff one come to mind. They are using the full scale here :)
 
 
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emetic
On Friday 22 Apr 2011 12:08 AM Posted by emetic NZGamer.com VIP
Ah, here we go, you can view all reviews sorted by score. Lol at Water Sports getting a 1.0 :D
http://nzgamer.com/sort.php?type=reviews&consoleshort=all&order=extra_data1&sort=ASC&limit=50
 
 
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Syn-Ryn
On Monday 25 Apr 2011 2:49 PM Posted by Syn-Ryn NZGamer.com VIP
20 April 2011, 02:30 AM Reply to thicknick86
And yes... there are 300 challenges, not 100. I hope the reviewer actually played the game. The review is mostly praise, which is about right, but the insanely low 8.9 is a little... contentious, to say the least.
Well, atleast you set some kind of down-vote record.
 
 
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NaCh05
On Monday 25 Apr 2011 11:03 PM Posted by NaCh05
I'd check the back of your TV and make sure you have your HDMI cable plugged in. I've spent almost a week with the game and it's graphics leave little to be desired. The Unreal engine does makes the women's faces look manish but the backgrounds and character details are amazing and run silky smooth at 60fps. Top notch game for casual fighting fans and a must for anyone that spent time with the classic MK's either in the arcades or on early console: 9.5-10
(Shao Kahn is super super cheap, be warned!)
 
 
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NaCh05
On Monday 25 Apr 2011 11:09 PM Posted by NaCh05
Oh and the rating most definatley isn't G... it's very much R18! Careful, you'll scare people into thinking it's another MK Vs DC (ugh)
 
 
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Twilight_Aurora
On Tuesday 26 Apr 2011 12:33 AM Posted by Twilight_Aurora
25 April 2011, 11:09 PM Reply to NaCh05
Oh and the rating most definatley isn't G... it's very much R18! Careful, you'll scare people into thinking it's another MK Vs DC (ugh)
Haha loved that part of the review: "Kids, it's alright to get this game, go and ask your parents now!" xD
 
 
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Soyerz
On Wednesday 27 Apr 2011 1:11 PM Posted by Soyerz NZGamer.com VIP
20 April 2011, 05:43 PM Reply to Wh1teDeAth88
8.9 is a low score? Did you come straight from the IGN forums? Speaking of which this review is a damn sight better than the quite frankly disgusting review of Mortal Kombat that IGNorant have put up. Great review, awesome game. Can't wait for my pre-order to arrive.
IGNorant? Not one for originality, are you?
 
 
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Quogie
On Wednesday 27 Apr 2011 7:08 PM Posted by Quogie
cool should of gotten it on 360 though now, since psn has been down forever -___________-
 
 
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Wh1teDeAth88
On Wednesday 27 Apr 2011 8:25 PM Posted by Wh1teDeAth88
27 April 2011, 01:11 PM Reply to Soyerz
IGNorant? Not one for originality, are you?
Not one for commenting on something worth commenting on are you?
 
 
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FVD
On Thursday 28 Apr 2011 10:04 PM Posted by FVD
Well on the Mortal Kombat Forums I've read that numerous copies of the game have made it into people's homes in Oz. Will let you guys know when mine arrives. I'm confident it will actually.
 
 
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Wh1teDeAth88
On Sunday 1 May 2011 2:20 AM Posted by Wh1teDeAth88
Just thought I would post that Mortal Kombat is f**king awesome, got my copy on release day yesterday and spent 7 hours straight on it, amazing game. Oh yeah, and for those of you that haven't yet got a copy but are thinking about it, I highly recommend you find a clip of Noob Saibots default fatality, if you can stomach it... ;P
 
 
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Wh1teDeAth88
On Sunday 1 May 2011 2:22 AM Posted by Wh1teDeAth88
Let me correct myself, friday. Not yesterday. I've played to much Mortal Kombat and lost track of time...
 
 
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FVD
On Tuesday 3 May 2011 7:25 PM Posted by FVD
And I will officially announce that MK has made it to my door here in WA! Suck on that Censors! Obviously Customs don't seem to care unless it's more than 25 copies.

Gonna play it in a moment! :)
 
 
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djkicks
On Tuesday 3 May 2011 7:47 PM Posted by djkicks NZGamer.com VIP
3 May 2011, 07:25 PM Reply to FVD
And I will officially announce that MK has made it to my door here in WA! Suck on that Censors! Obviously Customs don't seem to care unless it's more than 25 copies.

Gonna play it in a moment! :)
Ha nice one man! I was hoping you would get it ok.
 
 
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FVD
On Wednesday 4 May 2011 12:19 AM Posted by FVD
3 May 2011, 07:47 PM Reply to djkicks
Ha nice one man! I was hoping you would get it ok.
Aww that's nice to know - thank you! :)
 
 
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kevmanNZ
On Tuesday 21 Jun 2011 7:46 PM Posted by kevmanNZ
Looks absolutely sick awesome. What sucks balls is that the very game is illegal in Australia due to a lame and draconian MA15+ rating system where us Aussie gamers ARE treated like children. We as Adult gamers in Australia WANT to be treated like adults
 
 
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Killjoy
On Tuesday 5 Jul 2011 12:19 AM Posted by Killjoy
I found the game looked amazing especially in 3D but the fighters moved a bit too clunky for me, maybe I'm just too used to SF4's character movements which flow far more easily. Also for some reason half the moves I put in didn't even work, wasn't impressed.
 
 
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