Over the past 19 years, The Mortal Kombat franchise has more or less defined the style of arcade fighters with its fast-paced action sequences and gory after-effects. Simply titled Mortal Kombat, this ninth iteration in the series seeks to take this well-defined style of gameplay and improve on the looks while adding a bit more features into the fray.
When the player first starts up the game, they are taken to an action packed menu screen which depicts a moment in the epic battle between Scorpion and Subzero. From here, the player can choose from a multitude of options to play. The most obvious ones to start with would be the classic arcade mode, named “Ladder” in this version, or the story mode.
The story mode for the newest version of Mortal Kombat starts out with a vision of the future where Shao Khan is about to kill Raiden when the game sends itself into a flash back to the start of the entire Mortal Kombat tournament where the events all began. The player will go through various chapters in the story dedicated to certain characters such as Sonya Blade or Scorpion, each of whom fight for their own reasons.
The Ladder mode is like a simple classic arcade mode. The player chooses a fighter and fights his or her way up through the various characters in a simple ladder or arcade style. There’s also a tag ladder mode where the player chooses two characters to fight in a two versus two styles.
The Challenge Tower is a place where players can go test out their skills in various unorthodox ways. The different levels of the tower require the player to use a game-selected character to complete various objectives against predetermined opponents, such as performing a fatality after the fight or not being allowed to block during the fight.
In all of these modes the player will acquire “kurrency,” which can be used in the Krypt to unlock various concept art, music or new fatalities for the various characters. The Krypt involves the player moving around an area of mass torture and murder. When the player chooses what to unlock, it will use the player’s kurrency and the item can be used in combat, listened to or viewed.
Players can also seek new challenges online playing against other players from around the world. Various game modes such as normal one-on-one or other custom game types can be played in for any challenge that a player wishes to make to anyway one who wants to accept it. The online system works pretty well and seems very responsive. The fighting style for the game is very similar to the past games in the series with a major difference: a graphics overhaul. The game is much prettier to look at than in the past. The game also runs completely smooth at a full 60 frames per second without any hiccups.
A new addition relating to the graphics in the game is the inclusion of X-Ray moves. When executed, a high damaging maneuver will be done with an X-Ray view of the person having their bones and organs crushed during the move. It’s a very interesting idea that gives a whole new aspect to viewing the pain you’re inflicting on your opponent as well as a new gory element to the game.
There are a couple of new extras added to the game as well. The first is that there will be confirmed downloadable content for two characters from the Mortal Kombat Universe. Kenshi and “The Lady in Red,” based on a glitch from Mortal Kombat II, will be available for download after release. The development team also has plans to release new arenas and fatalities through downloadable content in the future.
The newest Mortal Kombat has taken what was already a fantastic series and built upon it. The addition of various elements to the traditional fighting style make this a refreshing but not overwhelming reboot and is sure to please all gamers both familiar and new to the series.