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Mortal Kombat review

AT A GLANCE
  • Brutal, bloody fighting
  • Good roster, lots of extra features
  • Lengthy story mode is surprisingly fun
  • Still not as balanced or tight as SF
  • Hard to punish whiffed moves, projectile spam
  • Coin reward system is both stingy and needless

Multiplayer just barely began working in time for this review, but what I played worked well. I was able to quickly hop into matches, find opponents, create lobbies and so on without issue, though something akin to SFIV’s fight request feature would have been a nice idea to copy as well. Perhaps the most interesting mode is “King of the Hill,” which takes SFIV’s Endless Match concept (two players fight, the rest spectate and chat and the winner stays on top) and adds Xbox Avatars (on 360) or chibi-MK fighter avatars (on PS3) along the bottom of the screen to act as you “watching” the match.


Above: What no Home support, PS3?

The true state of multiplayer won’t be known until thousands of people are all online, pushing the servers to their limit. But the time I spent suggested basic, functional ideas with the usual leaderboards and tracking info. And if you were wondering, no, online matches do not award combat coins. Excuse me, kombat koins.

On top of all this is the Tag mode, which most other games save for a whole other $60 sequel. In Tag matches, you select two fighters and, as you imagine, swap them in and out at will. While it’s not as robust as MvC, Tag mode does contain all the basics of a fun team experience. You can tag in a fighter mid-combo, call your friend in for an assist or quick-tag with an attack move/tag combo. It’s a great freebie that extends the combo and strategy opportunities well beyond what the single player game could offer, so the fact it’s here at all is noteworthy. Furthermore, up to four people can play tag mode, which assigns each player their own character. A cool idea, for sure, and a great way to further the "team" mindset.


Above: Picking a team isn’t as important a choice as in MvC, but hey, they didn’t have to include the mode at all

It all boils down to a great fighter that’s held back by a handful of serious issues. While I commend NetherRealm for making this one so easy to get into (you can even pause after “Finish Him!” and look up the fatality), the fight mechanics fall shy of contemporary fighters. I already mentioned the handful of oddities with hitboxes and priorities, but there’s also a problem with projectile attacks – there’s next to no cooldown between moves, so you can spam them all day. Some characters, like Mileena and Cyrax, can fill the screen with crap you can barely get around, and not in a challenging “I can figure this out” kind of way. It all feels unbalanced, in that half the characters can spam moves that are hard to react to, let alone punish when whiffed.

But again, most of us won't judge the game like that. It's still a blast to play for fun, and the story mode fully entertained me; hell, that thing’s 5-6 hours by itself, which is what most $60 games charge for anyway these days. And perhaps the biggest compliment I can give the new MK is that the violence actually garnered multiple "whoa!" and "ooooh shit!" remarks from everyone in the office, years after the series (and violent games in general) stopped impressing anyone. That's the true spirit of MK, and in that regard, this game completely lives up to its pedigree.

Is it better than...

Super SFIV? No. I’ve made comparisons to this throughout the review, and the bottom line is that SSFIV is a more thought-out fighter with finely balanced gameplay, useful training modes and special moves that change the flow of a match on a second-by-second basis. It lacks the story and theatrics of MK, but the gameplay is second to none. And if you're wondering why I keep bringing SF up, it's because these two series are the most widely recognized fighting games in the world, and they've been connected since their '90s arcade roots. Yin and yang, always.

 

Marvel vs Capcom 3? We’ll say no, but the experiences are so vastly different it’s hardly worth making the comparison. Sure MK has a tag mode, but it’s comparatively bare bones when compared to the nuanced team mechanics of any MvC, let alone part three. Then again, if you don’t want to deal with head-spinning 80-hit combos, MK could be more up your alley.

 

 

MK vs DC Universe? Yes. This was the last entry for MK, and while it’s a perfectly OK game in its own right, it is not a great MK game and does neither license justice. Once you get past the “oh hey, Batman is punching Sub-Zero in the face” aspect, you’re left with a fighter that came and went in the span of a month or two. MK 2011 stands a much better chance at a long life.

 

 

 

Just for you, Metacritic!

A successful sequel that both reboots and redeems the wayward series, though it’s not a flawless victory. Character balance, inconsistent detection and a stingy coin reward system drag down an otherwise bloody good time.

More Info

Release date: Apr 19 2011 - Xbox 360, PS3 (US)
Apr 21 2011 - Xbox 360, PS3 (UK)
Available Platforms: PS Vita, Xbox 360, PS3
Genre: Fighting
Published by: WB Interactive
Developed by: NetherRealm
Franchise: Mortal Kombat
ESRB Rating:
Rating Pending

84 comments

  • MightyMorphinPoltergeist - August 17, 2011 12:52 a.m.

    I demand this be re-reviewed by a non Capcom employee/fanyboy. : P
  • Alucard918 - May 21, 2011 10:10 p.m.

    This game is insane! In my opinion it also is way better than SFIV... jus sayin.
  • jok3rxfear - May 11, 2011 1:02 p.m.

    TBH. Bad comparison of Games, I own both SSFIV and MK. And they play very differently. 9/10 for both the games. 5/10 for the review.
  • helmanruiz - May 2, 2011 12:37 p.m.

    I have had more fun with MK than i ever did with both SFIV and MvC3 combined.
  • kingsmikefan - April 26, 2011 5:37 a.m.

    You fucking retards. "It's a capcom advertisement." He thinks SS1V is a better game, and he went into detail saying that it's not really a fair comparison, but he had to make them because people will bring that up. If you fucking read that shit, you would know that, but you want to bitch so you ignore it.
  • yagirlfriendsfavoriterapper - April 23, 2011 3:54 p.m.

    The 3 MK games on PS2 had a combo breaker aimrite?
  • hanktherapper - April 23, 2011 2:47 a.m.

    I finally decided to buy this game. It'll be the first fighting game I've played in 10 years.
  • Headie - April 22, 2011 6:14 p.m.

    Great review and from a reviewer that knows what he's talking about. One i'll be picking up in the bargain bin in a few week. Most interested to hear about the hitbox issue. I play fighting games purely for multiplayer (same console/online) and the hitbox thing would be a pretty key point for me. I have absolutely no interest in the 1player side of the game. I'd just like to know that when i hit it connects. I play my fighters seriously and i found your review honest and informative. Most of the people whining are just whining for the sake of it. Give MK a bit of time and see how it holds up in 3-6 months thru Tournies (not official MK 1's, but Multi game lans etc. Maybe it will have some hidden depths. I'm pretty convince SSF4 will still be getting played at the big events. Whereas this may sit in a corner somewhere with ppl pleading to have some1 to play against. I shall get it when the price comes down, but i doubt it's got the legs of the others Nope i aint a SSF4 fanboy, but i play it and watch enough tournies to see the depth in the game. Nope, I don't like MvC3 (Too much for my eyes to handle lol) Yep i love VF5 (PS3 & Xbox 360 & Arcade). Have since VF2 in Arcade and Saturn. Probably not a more hardcore beater out there So VF > All OFC this is just my opinion, like the reviewer had his. Nothing devides faneboy gamers more than the old MK vs SF debate Just ban SSF4 and MK and bring out VF6 already and lets put this 1 to bed :P
  • GayforGilbert - April 22, 2011 2:16 a.m.

    This sure read more like a seven.
  • AntistasMetroid - April 21, 2011 1:45 p.m.

    Im glad you reviewed this mr. brelston. your fighting game chops are second to none when it comes the fine details of these games. ive actually been playin this for a couple of days and you hit the nail on the head in every point you made. good review. fair score.
  • happydude007 - April 21, 2011 2:13 a.m.

    Well said Sinosaur
  • Imthedoctor - April 21, 2011 1:44 a.m.

    I just played this today, and i gotta say it's amazing, i'm definitely buying it. Online was annoying though, i'd beat the guy for one round pretty handlily..then he'd just jump to spamming to win the match..pretty low
  • bread_or_decide - April 20, 2011 8:52 p.m.

    This game had me at "barf that stays there for the match."
  • trenen - April 20, 2011 8:34 p.m.

    The Babalities in this one are hilarious. Makes me want the Friendships too!
  • gatorfan122394 - April 20, 2011 7:53 p.m.

    Lets put it this way, game informer gave it the 2nd lowest review and as an average of an 8.6. just because gamesradar is biased doesn't mean this game isnt better than 8
  • TriforcePlayer - April 20, 2011 6:39 p.m.

    I'll get this either early May or whenever Noire comes out
  • bron1417 - April 20, 2011 6:24 p.m.

    great review Elston! as a huge MK fan i loved the review. and people really do need to stop complaining. it's not a big deal at all. also....KOMBAT TIME!!
  • Heyexclamationpoint - April 20, 2011 5:52 p.m.

    I actually found Shao Kahn and Goro/Kintaro pretty easy, as long as you spam projectiles (Shao Kahn) or constantly jump kick/uppercut (Goro/Kintaro, though Goro is much easier to beat, Kintaro has those annoying counters). Some of the fatalities made me gag. And most would consider me to be a serial killer in the making!
  • WtfInternetguy87 - April 20, 2011 1:20 p.m.

    Mortal Kombat is a pretty awesome game. I am in agreement though that someone who holds a strong opinion of street fighter being a better fighter needs to take off the rose colored sunglasses. Street Fighter has some issues that haven't been addressed since the day it came out. For starters turtling is a major issue in SF games. Down back champions be damned. Also they keep adding shoto variants instead of just balancing the roster. I enjoy street fighter just as much as the next guy but I'm not in love with it enough to say its a better fighter after all this time.
  • Romination - April 20, 2011 5:45 a.m.

    I've heard that playing through story mode and the challenge tower give pretty good training for most of the characters. Besides, for how much you complain about the training in SF4 and MvC3, is it really a problem they don't have one?

Showing 1-20 of 84 comments

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