Friday, April 29, 2011

Mortal Kombat (2011)

My girlfriend and Reptile seem to share a similarity

No Guts, No Glory: Truer Than Ever

When I was 9-years-old, my friend ran up to me one morning at school and said "There's an arcade game in the mall where you can pull someone's heart out or rip their head off!" He needn't say another word. I was sold. On my next trip to the mall, I gathered around a group of people already watching two gamers going at one another with bloody intentions. Soon enough, a resounding "FINISH HIM" preceded a few flicks of a joystick and button combo that led to a head being gruesomely torn off. The crowd was excited and thirsty for more blood. This game was Mortal Kombat. Nearly twenty years and almost a dozen sequels and spin-offs later, MK returns to its 2D fighting roots with more guts (pun intended) than ever before. Eat your heart out, Street Fighter IV...or Mortal Kombat might eat it for you.

Though Mortal Kombat (like most fighting games) is known for its multiplayer blood feuds, it packs on a shit ton of weight in Single Player modes as well. Venturing into the Story Mode, you'll find a surprisingly engaging story that takes place after MK: Armageddon. A gruesome opening video shows every combatant (kombatant?) laid to waste in a desert with buzzards picking at their entrails. Only Raiden and Shao Kahn are left, and the latter is close to finishing off the electrical wizard. Just before the final blow, Raiden manages to send himself a message in the past--a warning of what's to come. The game then takes us to the original Mortal Kombat during the first tournament and Raiden receives his premonition from his future self. Determined to change the events of a bleak future, Raiden and his team of heroes try to turn the tables on Shang Tsung and Shao Kahn in a story that plays through the events of the first three games.

Johnny Cage gets all choked up

Though the story isn't the most brilliant you'll ever see, it's probably the best for any modern fighting game. Story Mode allows you to play through multiple characters (mostly good guys) with in-game cut scenes that play out immediately after each fight. This mode also allows players to become accustomed to the button layout and each fighter's respective move list, which is great for newcomers or those who haven't blasted an ice ball in a while. Story Mode also allows the player to unlock bonus characters (which is a must for any fighting fan).

Liu Kang knows the way to a woman's heart: her chest

Aside from Story Mode, there's the Challenge Tower. Containing 300 individual challenges, this allows players to collect Kombat Koins after successfully completing the task given; be it fighting with no arms, fighting upside down, killing zombies, or throwing grenades in a bucket. The Kombat Koins can then be used in the Krypt (anyone else seeing this K shit?), a massive wasteland cut into four sections where players can unlock bonus content. While there's the usual Character Render Art, Speed Paintings, and Stage Music to unlock, the real treats here are the extra character costumes as well as extra fatalities. Like Story Mode, the Challenge Tower is a great way to learn character moves and combinations (kombos). With 300 challenges, you'll find yourself enjoying playing as those shitty characters you never could bring yourself to pick before (Cyrax, anyone?). Other Single Player modes include Test Your Might, Test Your Strike, Test Your Sight, and Test Your Luck (which will unlock the more you play through the Challenge Tower).

File photo from a New York subway platform

 Aside from your standard multiplayer matches, MK has a King of the Hill mode where a group of players gather as if watching a movie MST3K style and enter one-by-one to battle the current victor. Also new to the series is the Tag Match scenario. Those familiar with fighting games like the Marvel vs. Capcom series will be pleased by this addition which allows up to four players to battle with special tag combos and partner switching at any time.

A baton sweep for your finisher? *throws popcorn at the screen*

Also a first in the MK series is the super meter. Similar to Street Fighter IV, filling up your bar allows you to add an extra punch to your already powerful moves and increase damage. If you prefer to be more visceral than skillful, you can allow your super meter to fill all the way up which allows the player to deliver an X-Ray attack. This special attack shows your opponent being brutalized in slow motion by a combo that is seen through x-ray vision, allowing the players to get a glimpse at every broken bone or internal organ that is damaged.

You don't need X-Ray vision to know that hurts like shit

With its plethora of game modes, unlockables, and upcoming downloadable content, Mortal Kombat is the aggressive-fighting gamer's dream come true for 2011. Powered by the Unreal Engine 3 and presented in 2.5D (the game style is 2D but the characters are rendered in 3D), the series has never looked better. With close to 30 playable characters (God of War's Kratos is an exclusive character in the PS3 version) newcomers and klassic fans will easily find their comfort zone. With multiple single and multiplayer challenges, hidden content and the art of mastering your moves, combinations, gory fatalities, or adorable babalities; Mortal Kombat will keep you busy, interested, (and sometimes frustrated) for a long time. Just try not to lose your head. That's Scorpion's job.

5/5 Stars

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