Mortal Kombat is back on the scene! As most gamers and especially fighting game aficionados know, the ninth iteration dropped roughly two weeks ago on April 19th. As a long time fan of Mortal Kombat, I was amped for this game. I have been playing the series since it debuted in arcades way back in August of 1992. I bought this game on day one, after seeing so many promising previews. I can attest that this game is not a disappointment. I had to tear myself away from the game, to write this review.
While you would be hard pressed to find a gamer unfamiliar with Mortal Kombat, not all of that recognition has been positive. To be frank, the series has had its fair share of missteps over the years. In the recent memory of many players are the 3D versions of Mortal Kombat. First there was Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, then Mortal Kombat: Deception, and finally Mortal Kombat Armageddon. Let’s not forget the crossover game Mortal Kombat vs. DC (much as I’d like to) Though all four were loved by the faithful fans, the influence of the game reached no further than this group. While these games were an attempt by the game designers to keep up with the other popular 3D fighting game series like Tekken and Soul Calibur, it felt as though Mortal Kombat was going through an identity crisis.
The big deal about this game is that it is truly a return to form for the MK series. Following the lead of Street Fighter 4, Mortal Kombat 9 returns to its 2D roots after what some call a questionable foray into the 3D realm for the last couple of games. This may sound like a regression, but it actually turned out to be a good thing. In returning to 2D, Mortal Kombat 9 gets back to itself and is able to make some good additions onto the core fighting engine. You can stop laughing now, I’m serious.
The first thing you will need to do when you play this game is throw out most of your notions of timing of the 3D Mortal Kombats. I noticed about this game is the controls play much tighter than the past 4 games. Everything feels much more deliberate, and now you are less likely to pull off moves by accident. The pacing of the fights are much faster, with the element of 3D movement no longer acting as a hindrance upon the brawl itself. Also, new elements have been added. There is now a way to escape throws for all characters, and MK now has a wake-up game. Fan favorite Liu Kang even has a parry, which makes him that much more dangerous.
An also highly notable difference is that there are no longer any long drawn out dial a combos in the game. Or even those clumsy, style switch combos that went on for years. And of course I have to mention the X-rays Attacks. They are the equivalent of Super moves for Mortal Kombat, and are reminiscent of the movie Romeo Must Die. When someone gets caught in one of these moves, You see an image of the recipient characters skeleton being shattered by punches and/or kicks. Teeth and bone fragments fly everywhere, and internal organs are shifted as well. It’s quite gruesome, yet fun to watch. The aforementioned X-ray moves can be worked into combos for devastating effect. These enhanced play elements make matches just that more interesting.
This game also has a tag mode, where you can team up with one other Kombatant for double the damage. The story mode, which is another one of the best features in this game, will acclimate you with every character. Not to mention that it will really pull you into the story, which has always been one of MK’s strong points. All in all, there is a lot in this new Mortal Kombat, and it will be satisfying for the long time fans. I especially notice that this game has renewed interest in many who have abandoned the game over the last couple of years.
The only thing that brings the game down a little bit is that there are some issues when playing online. There is heavy lag, and the moves do not come out as fluidly as they do offline. I really hope this issue is addressed with a patch. With Super Street Fighter IV and Soul Calibur 4 both playing clear and crisp online, Mortal Kombat 9 has to come up to standard in that regard. Overall, I give this game a 8 out of 10.
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XBL Gamertag: Darkterran05