Mortal Kombat Review

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Title: Mortal Kombat
Developer: Warner Bros. Interactive
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 3.0 GB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download | Retail

EU Availability: Digital Download | Retail
PSTV Support: No

Ever since trying a few of the fighting games on the system, I’ve become really attached to the genre.  Starting with Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, it has become my goal to play and review every fighting game that comes to Sony’s handheld console as well as the PlayStation TV (though there aren’t many compatible).  Although that list is limited, I am still finding games I’ve not played before to go through and review for this site’s following.

I’ve already reviewed a lot of fighters on the Vita.  From Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 and PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale to Injustice: Gods Among and Dead or Alive 5 Plus, there are a lot of reviews on the site for fighting fans to enjoy.  Injustice, however, leads one to remember another 2D fighter on the Vita in much of the same style.  While Scorpion from Mortal Kombat made a cameo within Injustice, he was in the franchise’s own game on the Vita beforehand.  I am, of course, talking about Mortal Kombat 9, just called Mortal Kombat.

As we take a look into what is considered the most violent fighting franchise known to man, we take a look back to the earlier PS Vita titles.  A port of the Komplete Edition from the console release and an official reboot of the series, here is our official review of Mortal Kombat!

Story

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The story of Mortal Kombat is hard to define.  In some ways, it’s a sequel to the series.  In another way, it’s a completely new series in the making.  The game begins just as Mortal Kombat: Armageddon ended, where Raiden and Shao Kahn are fighting atop Blaze’s Pyramid.  As Shao Kahn is about to be victorious over him, Raiden makes a last ditch effort to preserve the future and creates a time look, where he send visions of the future to his past self, hoping to prevent his defeat at the hands of Shao Kahn.

Mortal Kombat 2011 is to the Mortal Kombat series as the J. J. Abrams’ Star Trek movies are to the Star Trek franchise.  The game creates an alternate timeline with Raiden receiving visions of the future, showcasing the end results of many of the Mortal Kombat games’ stories.  As the game progresses, it shows a re-imagined alteration of the stories of the first three Mortal Kombat games, with Raiden hoping to change the future and prevent Shao Kahn’s victory and save Earthrealm.

The game’s story will be nostalgic for fans of the series as it essentially revisits the first three games of the franchise and re-tells their story with twists and turns that weren’t there before.   Gamers will have a fun time revisiting those old games with new visuals and combat mechanics, as well as seeing where they plan to take this new timeline in the next game, Mortal Kombat X.

Gameplay

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Like most of this series is known for, Mortal Kombat is a 2D fighting game with 3D visuals.  You will be spending most of the time playing through 2D fights to defeat an opponent or set of opponents.  While there are scenes to watch and other game modes and menus to cycle through, you will spend most of the game in these 2D fights, duking it out with an opponent.

Mortal Kombat has several game modes to choose from:  Fight, Story Mode, Challenge Tower, Bonus Challenge Tower, Training, Versus, and Extras.  The first game mode you can choose in the list is called Fight.  You can set up a Ladder or Arcade Mode where you fight through a string of opponents or through various other “Test” game modes to do mini-games with the characters.

Story Mode is a very robust mode to access the game’s plot.  Since Mortal Kombat 9 covers an altered version of the events of Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat II, and Mortal Kombat III, it’s pretty lengthy.  The game also transitions between characters, offering a chapter for many of the playable characters, offering different experiences and challenges as you play through the plot.  The story mode is very cinematic and nearly seamlessly transitions from scenes into fights.

The Challenge Tower lets you choose a character and go through fights of various conditions and difficulty as you complete these tasks and challenges.  The Bonus Challenge Tower is similar, but this is a mode that is exclusive to the PlayStation Vita version of the game, offering 150 challenges you cannot find on any other console.  Training Mode lets you access a robust tutorial section to teach you how the game works.

The last modes are Versus and Extra.  Versus Mode allows you to play against other players, be it locally or over the PlayStation Network (Unfortunately online multiplayer was removed last year for the Vita release).  This features one-on-one as well as two-on-two battles.  Finally, Extras allows you to use currency you gain in other modes to unlock new game content, like Secrets as well as Character Biographies to learn more about the world of Mortal Kombat.

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Gameplay is slightly different than past games, mostly because they’ve made some additions to it.  You can fight by using various buttons for attacks as well as directional buttons to be able to use different abilities.  All of the attacks vary depending on which of the game’s 32 characters you’re playing as.  That is the first addition that was made.  The Vita version is mostly the same as the Komplete Edition on consoles, including all of the DLC characters, from Kratos from God of War to Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street.

The biggest addition to actual Kombat is the X-Ray Attacks.  These are attacks you can do once a damage gauge is filled up.  It is nearly set up as an Ultimate Attack, next to the Fatality Finishing Moves.  If you hit, you will enter a lengthy cinematic where you perform gruesome attacks on the enemy.  During these, the game will go close up on the enemy and show an X-Ray version of their bones snapping and breaking, adding to the gruesome and violent nature these games already have.  These moves also do a lot of damage and are very useful when you’re in a bind.

One thing to note is this game’s difficulty.  If you’re not a veteran of the series, expect to be in for a huge set of difficulty spikes.  The game’s Story Mode starts out pretty easy, but gains its own traction and difficulty very quickly.  Within an hour’s time, you may find yourself struggling and cursing at the game even on the easiest difficulty setting.  Getting through the Story Mode is a struggle for anyone, but it’s the kind of frustration that keeps you coming back, even with certain Boss’ cheap nature in a few choice fights.  But it’s one of the hardest fighters I’ve ever played.

All in all, the game has a lot of content for you to play through, even just to try everything once.  The Story Mode should take you about 6-8 hours to finish and at least a few hours afterwards to try out all of the different game modes.  Needless to say, this is a fighting game that you will be spending a good deal of time with, even if you don’t want to continue afterwards to do online multiplayer.

Controls

The controls for Mortal Kombat aren’t going to be exactly like any other fighter on the Vita, but they’re not hard to get accustomed to once you start playing the game.  First of all, there aren’t any forced touch controls.  There are options that let you unleash X-Ray attacks instead of using a button prompt, but you can use buttons for these, if you’d like.

Moving your character around in battle is done with either the D-Pad or Left Analog Stick.  This is also used for dashing and jumping.  The triggers are used as well, but for more interactive animations.  The L trigger is pressed to perform a grab or throw move, and the R trigger is used to guard against incoming attacks.  The rest of the controls are dealt with the face buttons, which each performs a different type of attack.

The game isn’t incredibly simple for gamers to learn, but isn’t extraordinarily difficult either.  The tutorial does a fine job of explaining the game to you.  As long as you go into that, you shouldn’t have any issues playing the game.

Presentation

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The presentation is, by far, the biggest thing that people criticize this version of Mortal Kombat for.  The visual presentation of the game isn’t as high-quality as the PS3 version of the game.  While the story scenes were taken straight from the PS3 version, the in-game visuals will switch to a less-detailed graphical engine.  It still doesn’t look bad for a Vita game, but the transition can show just how much better the PS3 engine looks.  If you’ve played Injustice on the Vita, the transitions are similar to those of that game.

Otherwise, the presentation runs well.  The load times are pretty short and there aren’t any sections of the game where any excessive amount of lag comes into play.  It’s pretty impressive compared to other fighters since a story scene will go into the beginning of a fight less than a single second after the scene finishes.

Summary

Mortal Kombat is: Good
Mortal Kombat’s Reboot Game hit the PS Vita and did a nice job at retaining the console content in a handheld package.  On the downside, the game is excruciatingly hard at times, the online has been removed, and the presentation isn’t nearly as detailed as many other Vita fighters.  Past this, though, is a game filled with enough gruesome Kombat and content to keep any series fan busy for a long time. 

7/10

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