Since Loot Ninja is no longer operating, I’ve had a chance to go back and play games that eluded me for quite some time. I finally finished Uncharted 2, and while I still want to play Red Dead Redemption and go through Mass Effect 2 on PS3 to get my game save how I’d like going in to Mass Effect 3, I’ve shelved those for a bit and have spent most of my gaming time with Mortal Kombat. I reviewed the game for Loot Ninja (link will only be active through July 31, 2011), but being as I needed to move forward with other titles, I didn’t have as much chance as I would have liked at the time to dig deep into the game. Over the long July 4th weekend, I put in quite a few hours with the game. I’m hooked.
Mortal Kombat Gameplay, Story Mode and Online Play
While I did cover everything in my review at Loot Ninja, I didn’t go extremely in depth in each area of the game. We had a short-form review system at the site, which works perfectly for reviews (who really wants to sit and read an overly long multi-page review and not just get to the point?), so writing on my own blog gives me the chance to go a bit more in-depth into each of my favorite areas. The gameplay itself in Mortal Kombat is some of the most balanced, intuitive and deep fighting gameplay I’ve ever experienced. Many fighting games excel in one of those areas, but Mortal Kombat nails the whole spectrum. Beginners can hop in and enjoy themselves while seasoned vets can perfect their combo juggling forever. It’s setup perfectly to cater to everyone while still being insanely fun – enough credit cannot be given to Ed Boon and his team at NetherRealm Studios.
Story Mode in Mortal Kombat is one of the areas where I spent the most amount of time initially. While being the best Story mode in any fighting game, it serves an even greater purpose – you are forced to use and get used to almost every character. While some my scoff at the idea, being handed each character to try is something many people just don’t do in a fighting game (or at least use more than once). Having four or more fights each gives you a chance to hone your skills and find out which Kombatants are your cream of the crop. Had I not played through the Story mode, I don’t think I would have been nearly as proficient with some of the characters as I am now (more on that later). There isn’t a whole lot of replay value to Story Mode, even at higher difficulties, but it did give me reason to use some new Kombatants in the Arcade Ladders.
Online play has always been odd in fighting games on consoles – multiplayer is where fighting games shine, but lag and disconnects kill it right from the start. Mortal Kombat has its fair share of both (even moreso right now as we’re awaiting a patch to fix a DLC-related issue), but overall I’ve had a better time online with this game than others recently. Super Street Fighter IV is good, but Mortal Kombat is better – aside from not having a Spectator mode, which annoys the crap out of me. King of the Hill does the best job I’ve seen of replicating the arcade experience of earlier days in the online realm and excels when you have a private room with all your friends. Just keep taunting each other while you perform Fatalities left and right. It’s a blast.
I’m usually not a completionist in games, but The Krypt has taken hold of me and won’t let go. I initially started with going section by section unlocking things in order, but decided after spending 40,000 Coins to cherry-pick my way through the disturbing unlockables. Watching birds peck open a distended undead corpse stomach to let loose a green ball of whatnot is both blood-curdling and yet addicting. Anyway, I went online and found a terrific guide to The Krypt from Ripten that highlights all the areas of major importance, particularly the Fatalities and costumes. I’m 95% done with unlocking everything and will be playing through more of the Challenge Tower (another amazing fighting game mode) to get enough Coins to finish.
My Favorite Kombatants
I quickly found that some of my old favorites just didn’t do the trick in the new Mortal Kombat. Mainstays of my Mortal Kombat 2 days included Lui Kang, Baraka and Sub Zero. However, their move sets, timings and combos just didn’t jive with how my fighting style has evolved. I’m not saying they’re bad, because I’ve seen some amazing fights with those characters, but they just don’t work for me right now. Thanks to the Story mode throwing me in the shoes of other Kombatants, I was able to fall in love with Kitana, Cyrax and Smoke. I’ve become pretty deadly with chaining together some massive combos with Kitana, so watch out if we play online. A few others I’m dabbling in of late include Kung Lao, Ermac, Noob Saibot, and Scorpion. I like to keep a stable of 4-5 characters to rotate and keep things fresh, along with making sure I have the best weapons at my disposal given each opponent’s character choice.
DLC – Bring it On
Some may poo-poo DLC on all fronts, but I’ve always been a fan… if priced right. Warner Bros. announced the Mortal Kombat Season Pass, but made it an Xbox 360 exclusive, which was rather disappointing. Being someone who plays all fighting games on PS3 due to the superior D-pad on the controller, I would have loved to save some cash to get all four characters. Oh well, we got Kratos, who is much better than every other outsider I’ve played in a fighting game.
As of now, I haven’t purchased any DLC. I plan to buy Kenshi when he’s released on the PlayStation Store tonight – I was always a fan of him in the previous generation’s Mortal Kombat titles. His sword-play and move-set look to be fairly unique and should be a nice addition to the fighters I already use. While I haven’t purchase Skarlet yet, I do plan to buy her DLC as well tonight as I’ve seen more and more that indicates she’s not just a skin-swap of Kitana (where she originated as glitch). With a vast move list and ability to create massive combos, she might be good to have around. I’m hoping Rain turns out to the same and not just a skin-swap of Smoke and other ninjas, but we’ll have to wait and see. Who knows who the fourth character will be, but I’ll most likely buy him or her too. Keep bringing it on and I’ll keep buying it. Costumes on the other hand, I won’t buy.
With the plethora of gameplay modes to keep me busy along with the fun online play, I can see myself dumping countless hours into Mortal Kombat over the Summer and Fall. There are quite a few other games in the wings waiting to be played – inFAMOUS, inFAMOUS 2, Mass Effect 2 and Red Dead Redemption are all currently waiting at home, while I’ve already preordered Uncharted 3, Gears of War 3 and Battlefield 3 – but I have a feeling even when I move on to those games, I’ll still keep coming back to Mortal Kombat. Not having to keep pressing forward in gaming can be good thing sometimes, it seems. In this case, I’m happy I can devote a metric ton of time into a single game. If you want to show your skills online on the PS3, drop me a line and we’ll throw down.