reviews\ Dec 10, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance - XB - Review

Anyone who has grown up frequenting their local arcade will recall the first time they witnessed the bloody carnage of a fatality--that one moment in Mortal Kombat where a fighter rips out another fighter’s spinal cord and waves it around victoriously as drops of blood splatter the ground.  And if you have played it, you knew then that this was not your ordinary fighting game.  So it was something of a nostalgic joy when Midway announced Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, a revamping of a true gaming classic. 


Putting aside the fact that the game has been criticized for its depiction of intense violence in the past . . . since many of today’s games have definitely crossed the line even further, Mortal Kombat has always been about the fight between good and evil or Gods and mortals.  In the case of Deadly Alliance, two of the game’s deadliest foes, Shang Tsung and Quan Chi, join forces to revive the lost army of the Dragon King and rule both the Outworld and the mortal realm.  Once again the thunder god Raiden has assembled those fighters willing to stop the pair from succeeding in their evil and murderous plot.


While not big on lineups (you can unlock or purchase new characters, but more on that later), you can choose from twelve characters from the good, evil or neutral side.  Each character has his or her own special moves, powers and--new to the series--the ability to switch fighting styles.   The left trigger quickly switches you from one fighting style (hapkido, for example) to another (shotokan).  And, once again, powers play a big role.  Sub-Zero, for instance, has the ability to freeze a player with ice while Li Mei shoots a sparkling blast right into a foe’s face.  Cycling through the fighting styles you will also notice that each character also specializes in different weapons.  Scorpion carries a sword while Bo’ Rai Cho uses a long staff.


There are three modes of playing the game: Arcade, Versus and Konquest.  Versus mode is the game’s two-player mode (although you can also play against a friend in Arcade mode).  Konquest is the game’s tutorial (and the first mode gamers should really visit) where you learn moves for mostly every character while earning Koins for the successful completion of each challenge.  The game’s Arcade mode takes games through a string of fights that lead up to the final show down with Shang Tsung and Quan Chi (as well as a really tough demon).  While Arcade is mostly about the fights, there are some mini games thrown in to earn you extra Koins (used to purchase items such as new backgrounds, characters and artwork in The Krypt) such as tests of sight and strength.


Control-wise, the game moves smoothly and unleashing high and low attacks couldn’t be easier.  Combos, on the other hand, require multiple buttons that aren’t very easy to memorize so most of the time gamers will be guessing their way through a fight.  Special moves, though, are a simple press of the black button.  Each character has a nice assortment of moves plus plenty more when they change fighting styles so you won’t find yourself repeating a particular move often.


Visually, Dark Alliance is not as gorgeous as DOA 3 but its highly detailed characters are something of a treat to watch and now specific damage is noticeable.  For example, if you keep delivering blows to your opponent’s face, dark bruises start showing up across their faces and stay that way until the end of the bout.  The blood effects are also spectacular and extremely gruesome.  Sub-Zero, for example, can sink his giant sword into an opponents and leave his impaled foe to bleed to death (you won‘t believe how much blood can pool on the ground).  The special power each character has also looks amazing in action.


The game’s soundtrack is quite possible one of the best heard in a fighting game and is especially dramatic during the opening cinema as the story unfolds before us.  The rest of the sound is comprised of grunts, howls of pain and the impact of the blows on a body.  There are, though, background noises such as the arena with the creepy sounds of souls being sucked into a mass of souls or the spitting acid pools in another arena.


While true to its humble beginnings, Deadly Alliance is by far the best Mortal Kombat game that fans of the series will really enjoy.  While extremely ultra-violent, it is, at heart, a true fighting game with plenty of moves and all your favorite characters to keep the combat fresh.   If you like your fighting games fast, furious and bloody, then this game has everything you could ever ask for. 


#Reviewer's Scoring Details


Gameplay: 8.5
The inclusion of multiple fighting styles not only present all-new moves for each character but are also easy to switch on the fly.  It’s highly recommended that gamers begin the game by going through the tutorial-like challenges of Konquest mode to learn a character’s powers, style and individual combo moves. 


The game’s Arcade mode offers plenty of challenging fights as well as mini games such as Test Your Sight, a game where you basically follow the cup with the Mortal Kombat symbol as the cups magically shuffle around.  There’s also a test that tests your strength, which pretty much has you repeatedly pressing a button to build up enough strength for your fighter to break a log in half.


Graphics: 8.7
Highly detailed characters and great looking backgrounds make up the game’s graphics.   Each character is nicely rendered and filled with little details such as Bo’ Rai Cho’s belly jiggle or Sub-Zero’s icy breath, while the real visual treat is the damage effects to the body.  Meanwhile, the backdrops are nicely done, although it’s nothing really in the same caliber as DOA 3 or Virtua Fighter 4 for the PS2.  The blood also flies in this game and even more so if you sink a blade into a character.


Sound: 8.4
The sound effects are somewhat average at times, especially when it comes to the fights that are filled with grunts and sharp cries of pain.  Still the fists and feet connecting with an opponent’s body are much more authentic this time around.  Soundtrack-wise, the game’s score is marvelously dramatic and intense that it shines throughout the game brilliantly.  There’s also a song by the band Adema that was made specifically for the game.


Difficulty: Medium
Playing a single player match, as you will see, won’t be a walk in the park thanks to the computer-controlled opponents that really show you no mercy once the fight begins.  The opponents are also quite intelligent, becoming wise to your fighting style and adapt to it quickly (which is why it’s always wise to keep changing fighting styles).  As brutal as the opponents are, the game doesn’t get so difficult that you’ll be extremely aggravated by it.


Concept: 9.0
It’s good to see many classic favorites in this game such as Sonya, Sub-Zero, Scorpion and even the underused Johnny Cage.   Setting up the story for each character in the Konquest is also an innovative way of teaching you a character’s moves while being highly entertaining at the same time.  And to top it all off, you earn koins to purchase up to 676 different hidden items such as sketches, production photos, new arenas and extra characters (that are original and not just your favorites with different color outfits).


Multiplayer: 8.5
What fighting game wouldn’t be complete without a multiplayer mode?  Mortal Kombat has always been a game that allowed gamers to challenge other players to a fight to the death and here you can play against a friend in the Versus mode or even Arcade mode. 


Overall: 8.7
Savage and wildly entertaining, Deadly Alliance is a high impact fighting game that packs quite a punch.  Like an unexpected kick to the stomach, the game will most likely take gamers by complete surprise and restore the faith of those who have given up on the series or who have not given the game a chance in the first place.  Pick this one up if you love a good fighting game.


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