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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

  • JayBeat - April 19, 2011 7:19 a.m.

    Thuper excited! great review.
  • Rizzo - April 19, 2011 7:21 a.m.

    Mortalllll k-k-k-k-fighting game!
  • SerpentineZERO - April 19, 2011 7:23 a.m.

    Yeah, i'll check this one out.
  • GhostofTaft - April 19, 2011 7:29 a.m.

    GO TO BED
  • NathanXplosion - April 19, 2011 7:31 a.m.

    KOMBAT TIME!!! Can't wait to pick this up in the morning.
  • kingsmikefan - April 19, 2011 7:33 a.m.

    I was thinking it would garner mostly 7s and 8s. Let's see if this holds true. Great review; lots of detail.
  • Person5 - April 19, 2011 7:34 a.m.

    I wasn't thinking about this game until I started reading all the MK stuff here on GR, next thing I know I preorder from Amazon to get Reptile's Klassic Skin, I'm really happy this lived up to what it looked like (being all the nosolgia I remember) I'm glad they went back to the roots of the series and glad its scored well
  • Xtapolapopotamus - April 19, 2011 7:38 a.m.

    Shit damn, Mr. Elston! That was a terrific review! I'd say your purdy words made up for the lack of delicious dinner tonight!
  • hagg309 - April 19, 2011 7:39 a.m.

    Worst review ever, not as balanced as "street fighter" I bought that game and was so bored with it within 2 days. I actually think the coin reward system is fun in this, it's fun unlocking things.. if anything I would have put the negative as its still too cartoony/commercialized this time around. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 better than this? I bought it, it's ok, but definitely not as good.. I dunno this is why I won't listen to anyone's review's online anymore.
  • MyNameIsMyName - April 19, 2011 7:53 a.m.

    I'm glad you can buy alt costumes with in game rewards as opposed to having to pay $4-5 dollars a pack for them. I'm mean seriously why is that okay Capcom?
  • Japanjack - April 19, 2011 8:04 a.m.

    Hagg, the reason you will not listen to peoples' reviews is because your taste is contradictory. I would definitely deny your statements about SSIV, I'm just guessing you're more of a Mortal Kombat fan.
  • Sinosaur - April 19, 2011 8:24 a.m.

    @hagg309 The way reviews work, online or off, is that somebody takes an objective look at a game and scores it based on certain things like genre. Mortal Kombat is a fighting game, so it gets scored based on the mechanics of fighting games, where it is clearly not the ultimate best in that regard. Does having the best mechanics mean it's the most fun? Nope, fun is completely independent, and unfortunately people are not yet able to score things based on how much you will enjoy them. Mortal Kombat has always been more about fun than pristine mechanics.
  • guillotinedream - April 19, 2011 8:27 a.m.

    I've been thinking about getting this since I tried the demo. It really brought me back to the MK I/II/III days. I also completely understand and respect the score given by the reviewer. Its a fighting game so its obviously going to be compared to todays standards, and its a Mortal Kombat game so its not going to be completely ripped apart for having some technical inaccuracies. This game seems to be just what the developers were going for; ultra voilence/MK humor, fun 1 on 1 play, nostalgia. All together it seems very promising and I am really excited to kick my Brothers ass like i used to in MK I/II/III. TOASTYYYY
  • Zeb364 - April 19, 2011 8:29 a.m.

    Dying to pick this up tomorrow. Getting it for my PS3 (for many different reasons) but I am going to miss my achievements lol.
  • AmbassadorBlanka - April 19, 2011 8:40 a.m.

    Just asking. Is it as good as Haro Leach?
  • guillotinedream - April 19, 2011 8:50 a.m.

    @ AmbassadorBranka cue inception trairer music
  • AmbassadorBlanka - April 19, 2011 9:16 a.m.

    speAkiNg of terriblY dONE incePtion knockoffs, did anyone eLse hate the most recent fringe episode? Because You I kNow i did. God faP it is obviOsly what i stated as the dooRs opened To show An animated LeonArd nimoy. whaT cheap, unintelligible, aiMless drivel that was. I Couldnt feel for ANy of iT. AND I jusT SerioUsly Could not f**King believe it had to get that off my cheSt.
  • jackthemenace - April 19, 2011 9:30 a.m.

    I've never been one for Arcade style fighting games, but I WAS excited for MK. But, reading that it's only really an average game, I think I'll keep saving for Brink and/or Portal 2
  • BigDannyH - April 19, 2011 9:35 a.m.

    Portal sucks? Say it ain't so! Hopefully I misread the cryptic comment. Good review, I wonder if the projectile spamming issues can be patched, otherwise it'll be viewed as broken in the fighting game community. I suppose it doesn't have to be a competitive game, but could get boring pretty fast if it's as sloppy as it sounds. SP sounds good though. Maybe they'll tweak the coin system by patch?
  • AmbassadorBlanka - April 19, 2011 10:03 a.m.

    @BigDanny No, Portal doesn't suck at all from what I have been able to play, but the game misreads my controller in a gamebreaking way and I am unable to use multiple keys and my touchpad on my laptop. God, I wish that there was an option to turn off controller input ingame and use an external emulator instead. Had I known, I probably would have gone out and gotten a compatible alternative.

Showing 1-20 of 84 comments

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