Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition review
“Who plays fighting games for the story?” As gamers, we often ask that rhetorical question when addressing the genre’s requisite narrative. Few people actually care about the story modes of fighting games because they tend to be glorified versions of the corresponding arcade modes, and most of us prefer to play with friends locally or online rather than by ourselves and against a computer. But really, why shouldn’t a story mode be important to a fighting game? When it comes to genres, conventions are king. No one expects a racing game to offer cerebral gameplay or an RPG to skimp on plot and characters. But sometimes games purposely reach beyond convention, and our expectations change as the genre does. Mortal Kombat 9 is one of those games.
The developers at NetherRealm Studios conceived the brilliant idea of combining the plots of the first three Mortal Kombat games into one cohesive retelling. The approach meant fiddling around with original events, but the average player either wouldn’t notice or wouldn’t be bothered by the modern amendments to games that were made in the early to mid-nineties. Reboots and remakes are common terms in today’s world.
The various pieces of the story mode fit together smoothly, the perspective shifting from character to character, each chapter allowing the player a few rounds with one before moving on to another. The good part is that this type of story mode forces you to familiarize yourself with everyone in the roster, not just your favorites. Even players who are weak with certain characters, such as brutish contenders or leggy women, will develop a better handle them, learning their moves in order to advance in the game. The downside is that, after diligently taking the time to assimilate to a different style, players must switch over to another character and study a whole new skill set. Plus, if you’re really, really bad with a character, you don’t have a choice in playing as them.
Fortunately, Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition offers a range of difficulty settings and options, and with the occasional exception of big bosses, players shouldn’t find themselves stuck on any match for too long—granted they openly alter their technique. That’s the real advantage of Mortal Kombat. You’ll need to control your own fighting style to survive wave after wave of opponents, especially for the challenging one-on-two matches, which break up any monotony in gameplay and make combat much more intense. The training modes (the regular tutorial, Fatality tutorial, practice, and tag team practice) are useful but not nearly as effective as simply teaching yourself to respond intuitively to your opponent’s distinct attack patterns. There’s a strategy for even the most formidable and spammy foes.
Another big bonus is how the moves list automatically adjusts the directional movements of combos based on which way your character is facing. This minor but convenient feature, along with the game’s variety of move types, makes the entire experience much more approachable for novice players. And for series veterans, the game contains a lot of depth—from breakers to enhanced moves, air and ground throws, X-ray moves, tag attacks and assists, Fatalities, Babalities, and more. The total possibilities make combat flexible and interesting.
As for content … whew, where to even begin? Even the basic form of the game has a smorgasbord of modes and options to pick from. Solo players can choose to engage in the Arcade Ladder with one character or two (Tag Ladder) or test their Luck (matches with special conditions), Might (all about timing and strength), Sight (basically a shuffle, where players determine which cup or skull contains the hidden object), or Strike (similar to Might, only players must destroy a specific block). They can also enter the Challenge Tower, a series of different challenges that award currency upon successful completion, or take the fight online. Two to four players can compete in a versus mode, Team Ladder, or online match.
Players can spend their accrued currency in the Krypt, unlocking everything from alternate costumes to concept art to new fatalities, and view their collectibles (along with character models and bios) in the Nekropolis. And if your television can handle stereoscopic 3D … well, there’s that, too.
Those who purchase the Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition will receive the DLC characters Skarlet, Kenshi, Rain, Freddy Krueger, and the PS3 exclusive Kratos free of charge, along with a download code for the 1995 Mortal Kombat live-action movie (a nice complement to the early parts of the game), so you can see how cheesy Raiden looks and how awesome the main theme song is. (After the movie, check out the hilariously bad, 54-minute animated extra, Mortal Kombat: The Journey Begins, originally released on VHS and Laserdisc.) This version comes with a code for the thirteen-song Mortal Kombat: Songs Inspired by the Warriors album, as well.
As enjoyable and loaded with content as Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition is, the game isn’t without problems. Arcade mode, particularly, is glitchy and sparse, with only one line of opening dialogue for characters and the odd effect, like vanishing blood. Although L1 is normally used for tag outs, triangle and circle also execute the same function when pressed in tandem, but anyone whose right thumb naturally rests in proximity to these two buttons will start tagging his partner in unintentionally.
The scroll on the moves list is slow, and some combos are difficult to string together. When asked to use Johnny Cage’s power combo in the tutorial, I tried in vain to perform the move before finally plugging in a more responsive controller, which allowed me to complete the combo on my first attempt.
Despite these complaints, Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition is undoubtedly the definitive game for Mortal Kombat fans and an excellent choice for fighting game enthusiasts in general. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to make someone very Toasty ...