in Review

Real Men Kill Each Other

Mortal Kombat

Midway went out of business last year, leaving the future of many of that company’s legendary series in question. The Mortal Kombat property, along with many of its developers, including series creator Ed Boon, ended up with WB Interactive, creating a new studio called NetherRealm. Their first game is a reboot of sorts, returning Mortal Kombat to its roots in more ways than one. Consequently, this ninth game is another stellar entry in one of gaming’s most prolific franchises.

Mortal Kombat is a retelling of the first three games in the series, featuring the entire cast of those three games. Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Johnny Cage, Nightwolf, everyone you actually care about is here. What’s more, they’ve included a story mode ala Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, that lets you play through the first three games in an alternate universe “let’s change the future” kind of way. It’s hands down the most entertaining story mode I’ve experienced in a fighting game, even though a lot of the story’s moments are pretty cheap. There are way too many 2-on-1 fights for my taste, and Shao Kahn is annoyingly difficult to defeat.

Just as the story has gone back in time, so has the gameplay. Mortal Kombat returns the series to flat 2D combat, abandoning the various fighting styles and 3D fighting of recent entries in the series. NetherRealm did keep the power meter from MK vs. DCU, which can now be used to power up moves, break combos and unleash devastating x-ray attacks and various levels. What this means is the game is extremely playable for veterans of the series and fairly welcoming to newcomers. The game is easy to pick up, compared to something like Street Fighter IV, and for my money, more fun too.

This is probably the most gruesome game I’ve ever seen. The x-ray attacks are pretty painful to watch, as you see characters have valuable bones broken and eyes stabbed. But the fatalities raise the bar. Probably the most famous one is Noob’s, in which he literally pulls his opponent in half, their innards pouring on the ground as he does so. This is an extremely graphic game, a hard M, if you will. It’s not for kids. Don’t give this game to kids. I’m being serious. It’s gross and you’ll feel bad about it if you do.

This is a game with plenty to keep you busy. There are ladders to climb, hundreds of unlockbables and a great online multiplayer feature set. NetherRealm has shown that it will continue to add DLC characters from the latter games in the series as long as gamers are interested. I think that will be a while. Mortal Kombat is back and better than ever.