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Mortal Kombat Review (Xbox 360)

Posted by Jim Cook, Apr 22, 2011 06:21

Mortal Kombat has had a pretty rough history as a series, mostly notorious for a lot of gimmicks plus an apparent reliance on blood and gore. This rebirth of the series, technically ’Mortal Kombat 9’ though the number has been removed to Mortal Kombatemphasize its intent as a new start, tries to keep those same factors while also appealing to as many types of player as possible. Impressively, the developers have succeeded for the most part; while there are a few problems the overall game is easy to learn, fun for both newcomers and genre enthusiasts, and has enough content to keep you busy for quite some time.

Despite its 3D graphics, Mortal Kombat is a 2D-style fighting game; characters can move back and forth, crouch and jump, but it’s all done on a 2D plane similar to Street Fighter IV. And like other fighting games, the goal in Mortal Kombat is to trade punches, kicks, energy projectiles, throws, and more with your opponent until only one of you is still standing. Visually, the major difference between this and other fighting games is the sheer amount of gore flying around; characters get bloody and bruised, with ’Fatality’ moves used to outright kill them at the end of a fight. Then in terms of game play and controls, Mortal Kombat opts to let most characters have access to a universal set of attacks that cover the basic needs (uppercuts to stop jumping attacks, leg sweeps to knock your foe down, etc.) while giving them unique combos and special moves.

The controls are relatively simple; you have two punch buttons, two kicks, a block button, and a throw button. Most special attacks are done with basic quarter-circle motions on the joystick/analog stick/d-pad plus a button or two, so the emphasis isn’t on learning complex moves but rather on when, where, and how to use your attacks. This allows Mortal Kombat to be accessible to newer players, and places a greater emphasis on the mental aspect of the genre; it’s more important to learn how to make your opponent do an attack you have predicted and then counter it, than to learn impossibly complex motions. The tutorial will teach you all of the basics as well, though it admittedly doesn’t touch upon many advanced concepts nor offer character-specific advice; you may have to do some research online to fully learn your character of choice.

A large roster of playable characters, roughly thirty, is one of Mortal Kombat’s greatest strengths. While almost every character shares some ’universal’ moves with everyone else, the rest of their normal and special attacks make them distinct. They cover a variety of styles, ranging from those who wish to keep away while throwing projectiles at the enemy, others who teleport around the stage to get past their opponent’s defenses, close-combat specialists who use powerful grabs and short-range strikes, and more. Even characters who seem like ’color swap clones’ of one another actually play very differently, so you’ll probably find at least one that you enjoy playing.

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Our Rating for Mortal Kombat Review (Xbox 360)
9.0 Replay
Historically a strong point of the series, and this installment makes good on it. An enjoyable story mode, various challenge events, and tons of unlockable content combine with good fighting game action to make sure you’ll be busy for a long time.
9.0 Graphics
Surprisingly detailed characters and stages make fights look exciting. There are a few odd and lazy animations, but they are the exception to an otherwise beautiful game.
7.0 Sound
Great sound effects are joined by music that is hard to notice at times and voice acting ranging from good to amusingly cheesy.
8.0 Gameplay
Simple controls combine with a fighting game engine that rewards both aggression and intelligent play. There are some snags with the controls and a few design choices, but on the whole it plays very well.
8.5 Multiplayer/Online Content
The active lobby system is clearly meant to draw in lots of players and build a community, though the quality of online matches seems to vary wildly; it’s very important to find people with good connections and networking habits (e.g. no heavy downloading while playing online) for the best experience.
8.5 Overall
Mortal Kombat is already a great fighting game, and the developers have left open the possibility of tweaking it for the better through patches. Whether you’re a competitive player or enjoy fighting games at a more relaxed pace, this is a solid choice.

Rating: 4.4, votes: 18


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