Review: Mortal Kombat [PS3]

I was a young girl when the Mortal Kombat series first debuted in 1992. Through the years, I’ve played MK1, MK2, MK3, UMK3, and MK4, in arcades or consoles (I skipped MK5 – 8 because it headed towards 3D gameplay). Almost 2 decades later, comes the 9th release of the franchise. Mortal Kombat 9 packs a massive punch to its rivals with what is one of the best fighters on the market today. MK9 goes back to its roots of extremely violent, 2D fighting, and ridiculous fatalities. The developers have (finally!) stripped out 3D fighting movements, weapons and stances that had been used in previous MK titles, bringing back the fighting system similar to that of the first three Mortal Kombat titles we all loved.

Each character has a set of basic moves as well as special attacks. The combos and special attacks are easy to execute, but stringing together attacks will take some time to get used to. I’ve been playing with my Street Fighter IV fight stick, as opposed to the PS3 dualshock controller. The fight stick works wonderfully.

Playing MK9 with the SFIV fight stick

Mortal Kombat 9 is not for the squeamish. Each attack delivered to your opponent causes lots of blood and gore to appear on your screen and you can’t forget about the fatality moves and the x-ray moves. The x-ray moves bring a whole new meaning to violence and is a new addition to the series. With each x-ray attack, we see the violence happening beneath the skin, bones breaking, internal organs exploding, huge amounts of internal damage and eyes being gouged out. Each character has their own unique x-ray attack which is rewarded to you during a fight once you fill the fighting meter.

Scorpion's bone-crunching punch to Johnny's face

That brings us to the fighting meter. The meter is made up of 3 stages. After you fill up to stage 1, you can pull off an advanced version of one of the fighters special moves. After you fill it to stage 2 you can pull off combo breaking attacks. When it reaches max capacity, you can unleash a wicked awesome x-ray attack which can take nearly 50% of your enemy’s health, if it lands, of course. While they’re cool and all, I think they take away from the pace. Sub-Zero spends about 6 seconds to perform his x-ray attack. That may not seem like a very long time at all, but if you’re in a heated match offline or online, your heart is pumping, the last thing you want to do is to wait for a move to be finished in order to continue the fight. If it was the finishing move, it wouldn’t really matter. Regardless, it’s an awesome new thing that the developers brought to the game!

The challenge tower is awesome.  It is a ladder of 300 missions in which players must master many of the game’s mechanics. It may take a while, since each level increases in difficulty. The tower includes fights involving environmental dangers or fighting without arms. A couple more interesting challenges require the player to switch between Sub-Zero and Scorpion to match the color of Shao Kahn’s shifting outfit in order to damage him or fighting with the screen upside down.

2/300 wicked fun Challenge Tower challenges
Upside down fight

In order to play online, you must have a Kombat Pass – if you bought the game new, then you’re all set (you can redeem the code that’s in the game box). If you bought it used, then you need to buy a Kombat Pass in order to play online. Ed Boon (director of MK) feels like this is the way to go, in order to make up for development costs of the game. If you purchased the game used, that profit only goes to the store you bought it from. The developers do not get a share of that.

Check out this video of fatalities:

All in all, Mortal Kombat 9 is one of the best fighting games out there now. Personally, I think there is greater re-playability here than in Street Fighter IV.

Pros:

  • Great graphics
  • Back to 2D fighting
  • Challenge Tower
  • Great story mode play
  • X-ray attacks
  • Wicked gruesome fatalities

Cons:

  • Lame boss (same as any fighting game really)
  • Characters are missing (Rain, Motaro)
  • Music is a bit subtle

Rating: 9/10

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