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Even though the Mortal Kombat series has never really left the gaming world, it’s certainly had trouble finding its place since the days of the arcade. This new release takes the gameplay back to that era with a 2D fighting arena and bringing back the traditional fatalities along with what has to be the greatest Mortal Kombat roster ever. This isn’t a total throwback game though, the fighting system is completely new and encourages you to use the moves available to create your own custom combos.
This entry completely reboots the entire series; the game begins at the end of the events of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, with Raiden sending a message to his past self before the first Mortal Kombat of what would happen if he does not act. The story mode in Mortal Kombat is by far the best in any fighting game, the game constantly shifts from cut scene to fight at a break neck pace that manages to actually keep you interested. I played the entire thing from start to finish in one sitting. The difficulty of the story mode can be pretty messy though, especially when you’re faced with multiple opponents that are followed by incredibly easy 1v1 battles. That being said, the story mode does a great job of introducing you to some bread and butter moves of all the characters, which is great once you have finished it.
As with any fighting game, the player vs. player combat is where you’re likely to spend most of your time. Mortal Kombat has the usual modes you would expect for this; there's arcade along with practice and online modes. The inclusion of tag mode is pretty big for the series and using it in practice mode is an awesome way to get to grips with more than one character right off the bat. Even if you’re very familiar with fighting games, Mortal Kombat plays differently enough from the rest in order to warrant some practice time. Apart from the 2D aspect, this game plays quite different than any other entry in the series. This is mostly due to the super meter, which is split up into three segments that increase over the duration of a match. One segment will enable you to use an enhanced special attack, which further increases any one of a fighters' special move, two segments will enable you to break out of any combo that your opponent starts. Three segments will enable the X-Ray attack, the most powerful single attack in the game. Gaining mastery of these is important as they can be worked into regular combos that are devastating to your opponents.
X-Ray moves just might be the best thing in any fighting game...
While most fighting games tend to focus their effort on the competitive aspect of the game, one of the best things about Mortal Kombat is the abundance of single player content. In addition to story mode, arcade, and tag ladders, as well as the krypt which houses hundreds of unlockable items. There is also the challenge tower, which is a separate mode in which you work your way up 300 individual challenges. This mode also incorporates the three skill testing mini games, test your might, sight, and strike. Additionally, there's test your luck, this places a plethora of modifiers into a slot machine that can result in simple things such as damage or health buffs, or not so simple things, like fighting with no arms, no head and an upside down screen. The sheer amount of single player content present is easily one of the greatest things about Mortal Kombat, it’s something that just isn’t in modern fighters on this kind of scale anymore. The challenge tower would benefit from more unique challenges as opposed to just recycling them over and over with different characters. However, that’s a pretty minor complaint against this level of content.
The online portion of Mortal Kombat is what you might expect to play for the most part. There’s ranked and player matches; joining a match is straightforward. However, as of this writing, connecting to an online 1 vs. 1 match can take awhile and lag is a huge problem. King of the hill mode is perhaps the most entertaining, this follows a winner stays on structure where players waiting to fight are placed in a theatre mode where you view the current fight in progress. This works extremely well as it allows upcoming players to view the style of the people they will fight and when it’s your turn to go up, you get a rush that you simply do not while waiting to join a normal match. The major downside to king of the hill is that is very prone to lag when there’s a full room, and this is crippling to the experience.
Mortal Kombat does enough for long time fans of the series, and is accessible enough for anyone looking to get into it. This entry is definitely a return to the series’ former glory and if the 3D Mortal Kombat games never clicked with you, this just might be exactly what you’re looking for to get back into it. Be warned that the 360 d-pad is a huge problem once you get past the basic combos and you get to the point where you’re using more than two special moves for your own combos. This kind of rapid precision and reliability is far beyond what the 360 d-pad if capable of. Mortal Kombat really is a great fighting game and this brings back what made the early games great, while still successfully bringing it up to date with the competition. This is also the most single player content ever included in a fighting game for some time. Mortal Kombat does more than enough to justify you checking it out.