This looks as though it is the year of the fighter. Not too long ago Capcom released Marvel Vs Capcom 3 a somewhat unbalanced but still extremely fun fighter. Soon we will get Street Fighter x Tekken, a match up that I simply can’t quite fathom. Recently, WB released Mortal Kombat 9 aka Mortal Kombat 2011 aka Mortal Kombat is easily the best Mortal Kombat game since Mortal Kombat 2. It may even exceed Mortal Kombat 2.
Mortal Kombat accomplishes this by returning to the aesthetics that made it such an arcade hit. It has eschewed much of the recent mechanics of Mortal Kombat 3D games. There is no 3D arena to fight in, no separate stances, and no adventure mode. The fatalities are brutal, and the overall art direction is much more reminiscent of the earlier Mortal Kombat games.
However, instead of being satisfied with merely remaking an old product, Netherrealms enhanced the product with competition in mind. Every change, it seems, has been made for tournaments. There has been the basic addition of a tag team mode which screams “tournament.” There has been the addition of a super bar akin to Marvel Vs Capcom. However the mechanics of this super bar are interesting and are meant to enhance the combo system in some way either by enhancing your combo or preventing your opponent from finishing theirs.
The combo system is the bread and butter of the new MK. This system has been revamped in to something which requires skill, patience, and is extremely rewarding once you get the hang of it. It allows for custom combo crafting to anyone willing to put in the time and effort to learn the system. It is not like MvC3 or even earlier Mortal Kombats where you could combo simply by sneezing. Long damaging combos are rarely, if ever, caused by button mashing.
A quick sample of the system.
Basically there are basic combos which can be chained together at various points using special moves and juggles. Timing for these transitionary moves is key to success with this system.
A quick tip: you are more likely to input too late than too quickly. If you’re waiting for each attack to hit before you start the second, third, or fourth attack, then you won’t combo.
Both gameplay wise and narratively, Mortal Kombat is essentially a reboot. Narratively, it pulls a Star Trek, by using time travel interference to screw with original events thus creating a new and alternate timeline. Events are changed, but only slightly, so it isn’t a drastic reboot.
The game is brimming with content. The story mode is the most interesting story mode I’ve seen a fighting game. You don’t pick a character and fight through a selection of fighters, instead you follow a narrative which periodically enters in to fights, and you play as the protagonist of the story at that very moment.
The single player experience doesn’t stop there. There is the traditional ladder mode, what passes for “story” mode in other games
There is also the challenge tower, featuring 300 challenges.
Then there is the online features. Unfortunately, I would feel uncomfortable reviewing those as I am using a playstation 3 (I prefer the PS controller for fighters) and currently the playstation network network is down.
I can’t say what the connections are like or what the community is like, and that is really what matters about online play. There are various modes and a spectator feature with an interesting twist. I had been waiting for the network to come back up so I could try this stuff but I'm tired of waiting. I’ll update the review once PSN is back up and I can play these modes.
But I will say, the single player features alone justify a MK9 purchase.