6309142NoneThe only thing better than a fatality is multiple fatalities.
Gruesome, a little disturbing, and so over-the-top they're downright hilarious at times, fatalities are performed at the end of fights. Depending on your chosen character, you can perform moves such as ripping the skin off opponents, slicing their bodies into quarters, or turning them into vapor with a barrage of explosive rockets. There are also stage fatalities that let you use the surrounding environment to kill opponents, such as by punching them into a pool of acid or dropping them onto a set of spikes and seeing their guts spill out. Traditionally, these moves have been difficult to perform, requiring complicated input commands and precise placement. Mortal Kombat makes things easier with simplified commands, some of which are the same for different characters. There's also a fatality training mode that shows you exactly where to stand and displays the button commands onscreen along with an input display, so you can see any mistakes you're making.
Strangely, that same input display doesn't appear in Tutorial mode, which teaches you the basics of fighting, such as how to punch, throw opponents, and dodge attacks. It's still useful, but if you're new to fighting games, an input display would make learning moves a little easier. The tutorial also gives you an introduction to another new addition to the series: tag team fighting. You can select up to two characters to fight on your team, switching between them using a single button. By holding down an action button while switching, you can unleash a range of tag team combos, which see your characters darting around the screen and taking down your opponent with a range of projectile attacks.
Ladder mode lets you try out your newfound tag team skills against a bunch of CPU opponents in a 10-fight tournament, though you can use just a single player if you prefer. Ladder is essentially an arcade mode where you must fight your way to the top and take on boss Shao Kahn in the last battle. Fighting Shao Kahn is difficult and extremely frustrating. He is one of the cheapest opponents you encounter, spamming you with a range of unblockable moves that seriously deplete your health bar. Worse still, you can't throw him, and if you don't manage to land a perfect combo when you attack, he absorbs the first hit and launches a counter of his own. If you do manage to defeat him, you're rewarded with an epilogue, which briefly tells you about what your character does after the tournament. It's little more than a simple voice-over set to 2D artwork, but it's a nice addition if you're craving a little more narrative after Story mode.
Reptile shows no mercy.
There's yet more content to play through in Challenge Tower, which acts as an extended tutorial, teaching you different strategies via a series of challenges and minigames that start off easy but become much harder as you progress. These range from standard fights where you can't block or use specials or have to perform eight-hit combos, through to minigames such as destroying a horde of zombies with Stryker's handgun or following a list of rapid-fire input commands to break a spell. The classic minigame Test Your Might also makes a return. You have to hammer a button to increase a power bar past a certain point, after which you unleash that power upon an object and hopefully break it. Test Your Strike is a variation on this, where you must fill the power bar to a certain point but not surpass it, which rewards precision rather than all-out button mashing. Another spin-off is Test Your Sight, which is a simple revolving-cup memory game. The Challenge Tower, Story, and Ladder modes are substantial and entertaining offerings, making Mortal Kombat one of the most content-rich fighting games out there.
That's before you even touch the multiplayer modes--the cornerstone of any good fighting game. As well as standard one-on-one versus modes, Mortal Kombat offers a tag team Ladder mode, where two players can join forces to take on the computer, or four people can do battle, with two players on each team. Online, there are even more options to choose from. Online players are divided up into lobbies of 10 players each. You can challenge any of the players in the lobby to a one-on-one or tag team match, or all 10 can compete in King of the Hill mode, which is essentially a mini-tournament. When you win a match you stay on until you either defeat all of your opponents or are defeated yourself, while the other members of the lobby watch. You can also jump into Ranked, Player, and Private matches without entering lobbies just by selecting the corresponding text, which throws you straight into a match. A leaderboard keeps track of your overall performance, based on the number of wins and losses you have. Matches are largely lag-free, though like in any online game, there are times when a bad connection causes the game to stutter significantly, making it tricky to compete.
Whether you fight online or offline, and in all but the offline versus mode, you're rewarded with coins for your victories. They are used to buy your way up the Challenge Tower if you're stuck on any particular challenge, or purchase new content in the Krypt, which is a virtual graveyard-cum-shopping-mall. There are hundreds of gravestones and corpses within the graveyard, each of which requires a certain number of coins to destroy and reveal the content underneath. Items such as concept art, character costumes, and music tracks can be unlocked, as well as more practical items such as new fatalities and Kombat Kodes, which unlock new game modes such as Headless Kombat and No Blood. If you complete Story mode, you can purchase most of the content in the Krypt, but doing so is a tedious process as you have to manually walk up to individual gravestones in first-person view and hit "purchase." Not all of Mortal Kombat's secrets are held within the Krypt, though, and there are hidden stage fatalities, Babalities, and fights to discover, as well as other Easter eggs that pay homage to the series' arcade roots.
Jax tests his sight in one of the Challenge Tower minigames.
With all that content, an in-depth Story mode, and a wide range of modes to play through, Mortal Kombat is one of the most complete fighting games around--not to mention one of the bloodiest. The return of fatalities and the addition of X-ray moves mean fans who have craved the return of gore after the toned-down Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe will have plenty to keep them amused. Likewise, the return to 2D fighting and a substantially tweaked control system have made the game more accessible for newcomers, seriously fast, and lots of fun. Plus, no other fighting game lets you knee your opponents in the groin and proceed to tear their bodies in half. And really, isn't that what Mortal Kombat is all about?