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Mortal Kombat Review

As BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and even Reality Fighters have demonstrated, the PS Vita is an proficient platform for the pugilistic genre. With a directional pad adept at handling the quick taps and quarter-circles required for fighters, as well as an OLED screen that is ideal for flaunting high-poly character models, the system has occasionally blurred the distinction between portable and console gaming experience. Although the recent release of Mortal Kombat for the Vita can’t quite capture the lavish visuals of last year’s console release, the title does offer an exemplary experience for players seeking some engaging fisticuffs during their morning kommute.

After inserting the game card or downloading the three gigabyte download, players are quickly ushered toward the main menu, which flaunts the game’s cornucopia of content. The title’s Story Mode is still the reigning highlight, as players take control of each character from the game’s robust roster. Merging franchise lore with campy interplay between the Kombatants, the plotline does an admirable job of explaining the world’s alliances and rivalries, while giving players a taste of each character’s fighting style.

Nearly as compelling is the title’s Challenge Tower, which presents a succession of 300 trials, each gradually escalating in difficulty. From rounds which task Sub-Zero with subduing a horde of undead opponents in half a minute to matches where only a certain type of attack can inflict damage, each encounter throws a variable into Kombat’s typical bouts. More interesting is the Vita version’s Bonus Challenge Tower, which offers an addition of 150 events- most built around a specific function of the portable unit. From the Fruit Ninja-inspired Test Your Slice, which dares players to slice through flung zombie part and share the Vita to detonate bombs to matches which require players to wipe splashes of blood from their screens, events range from the inspired to the insipid. Fortunately, the ratio of fun to filler is high, and many mini-games feel radically different from Mortal Kombat’s usual fights. The six best Vita-specific challenges even have their own mini-ladders buried within the main menu.

Rounding out the game’s list of modes is a multiplayer component which supports Wi-Fi matches and ad-hoc competitions for both one-on-one and tag-team battles. While this iteration forgoes the eight-player King of the Hill tournament of the console version, rivalries are still intense thanks to the game’s competent net-code, which demonstrated quick matchmaking and a stable performance, although the sporadic bit of slowdown could be seen. Enjoyably, online matches even include voice-chat via the Vita’s built-in microphone, allowing for players to gloat about every gruesome fatality. For gamers worried about getting torn apart online, Mortal Kombat’s single-player fight ladders and training options offer an ample number of opportunities for players to perfect their skills.

The game’s engine allows for Mortal Kombat’s furious fights to be exhibited at a sixty frame-per second refresh rate, save for a transitory moment of slowdown when the action gets exceptionally intense. Regretfully, the fluidity came at a cost with character models appearing unsightly when the game abandons the customary framing of the fighting action. Although models show accumulated damage, texture quality and polygon counts have been sacrificed, making familiars like Johnny Cage resemble Will Farrell. The quality of characters is especially jarring when jumping from the Story Mode’s pre-rendered cinematics into the game’s main engine. Sonically, Mortal Kombat begs to be played with a set of quality headphones, as each strike, bone crush, and tendon tear is articulated with the franchise’s unrivaled bass. While load times aren’t as speedy as consoles, the additional delay of a few seconds before each match won’t trouble most gamers.

From the inclusion of the four fighters which were offered as DLC to the console versions (Skarlet, Kenshi, Rain, and Freddy Krueger), supplemental costumes, the bonus challenge tower, touch-screen fatalities, and even an AR-background mode, Mortal Kombat’s kitchen sink approach is commendable.  Even those who have already conquered the console version will find the ability to rip spines while riding the subway justifies the forty-dollar expense. Although not a pixel-perfect translation, Mortal Kombat’s barbarous battles lose only a bit of detail in their adaption to Sony’s new system.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert ‘DesertEagle’ Allen is Tech-Gaming’s resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

38 comments

  1. Legendary Lance

    Didn’t know it was a 3 gig game. Now, I’m going to have a find a cartridge, otherwise my 8 gig memory card will become a “Fatality”.

  2. Is it me or does the top screen look a lot better than the other ones?

    • All are the game’s official assets, but none of them really look like “Mortal Kombat” in motion.

  3. Let’s hear a cheer if you were old enough to remember playing Mortal Kombat on your Sega Genesis.

    • I played with sweat, not blood. (The SNES version)

      • You were doing it wrong.

        The sega version was so much better. It just felt more like MK. The Nintendo version was way too slow.

        BTW- Good review. Lot’s of fact and nice writing.

    • I’m going to cheer three times.

      Once for playing MK on the Genesis.
      twice for remembering “Mortal Monday”
      and a third time for seeing the movie on opening night!

  4. Good review, but one suggestion: The borders on your site are pretty big. You should put some ads on there and make some money.

  5. With graphics like that, you can’t really call the game a Flawless Victory, can you?

  6. Here’s an interesting rant on the graphics:

    http://www.1up.com/do/blogEntry?bId=9099175

    “So far this really just looks like a good looking last gen title to me. It really explains why NR showed off the game the way they did leading up to release, nearly zero screenshots, and all video was either quick (non full screen) cuts in trailers, or cam footage of people playing it. Checking back on one of the trailers after playing the game, I can clearly point out how they purposefully misrepresented the graphics of the port in various ways.”

  7. You forgot to even mention Kratos, who is in the game.

  8. Is that your hand in the photo?

  9. How are the controls. I’d worry that the Vita’s teeny tiny buttons round make fighting hard.

  10. I always lost in this game, I wonder if I can win a match this time. Great Review!

  11. I like everything about a MK but the fighting. Its better than the 3D crap they used to do, but still not nearly as good at Street Fighter.

  12. Reviews needs moar cat pics.

  13. Thanks, Deagle.

  14. Who did a fatality on the graphics?

  15. How are the controls on the PS Vita?

    • I was surprised that the analog stick was really response and was easier for pulling off complex throws.

      Touching the screen for fatalities eliminates the final button press and inadvertent jump or strike.

      Tagging is accomplished with the right stick, which makes tag strikes pretty awkward.

  16. The graphics really look a turn for the worse. Well, at least it plays ok, right?

  17. I saw that Giant Bomb gave this a 5/5, and I usually trust them. Now, I know that no game is perfect, I don’t see how that could score it that high.

    Bought it last night and the graphics are rough. Faces look bad, bodies kind of look like PS1 games as other have said. It doesn’t hurt the fighting, but it does make it look pretty ugly. I think a 4 or B is closer to the truth.

  18. I just read a few reviews on this site.

    Do you try to sound like a bad imitation of Eurogamer or Edge? If that’s your goal, you’re doing a smashing good job.

  19. So just a jealous Brit (“smashing”) or an American posing as one?

    Either way, nice try at trolling.

  20. CrocodileSmile

    So is there any DLC at all for the game? I want to buy it and not have to pay anything more out of pocket.

    • All the DLC from the console game is included. No need to reach into those pockets for any additional expenses.

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