I was ten years old when Mortal Kombat 3 seemed like the coolest game ever made. I’d play it on my cousin’s computer whenever I got the chance, always as Sub-Zero. Later, I got a dodgy cartridge labelled “Mortal Kombat 4” for Game Boy. It took me a few months to realised it was actually Mortal Kombat 2. I loved it anyway.
The series had enough nostalgic value for me that I purchased Mortal Kombat 3 on Xbox Live a few years ago, but unfortunately time had not been kind. My 10 year old self could forgive stiff controls and awkward graphics, but my current self could not.
Thankfully, the reboot of Mortal Kombat plays like I remembered the old games playing, not necessarily how they actually did. It’s a smooth, modern fighter with good graphics. It sheds all the ridiculous fluff that’s been added to this franchise over the years and reverts to what made it great in the first place. It’s still not quite Street Fighter in terms of its control and responsiveness, but it’s the best Mortal Kombat by miles nonetheless.
Where it really shines is in it’s content. Or should that be Kontent?
Mortal Kombat is the most content-packed fighting game ever. There’s the typical arcade ladder and online play, of course. But there’s more. Much more.
To start with, there is a 300 stage challenge tower, where you do everything from armless fighting to killing zombies with Stryker’s pistol.
Then there’s the single player, again surely the best ever in a fighting game. Rather than being rewarded with a simple cut scene when you’ve beat 10 fighters, here the story is robust and long. It covers the first three games with some key differences, and lengthy cut scenes merge seamlessly into fights over the course of about 8 hours. You’ll get to play as most of the characters too, each with their own dedicated chapter. The only downside is the inability to skip cut scenes.
If this weren’t enough story, each of the 30 plus fighters has their own ending cut scene on finishing arcade mode, where you get to see an interesting and occasionally hilarious “alternate reality” take on what would have happened had they won the tournament.
And then there’s the Krypt. Doing almost anything in Mortal Kombat nets you “koins” and these can be spent in the Kyrpt to unlock hundred of hidden items. Concept art, hidden fatalities, music and more of available here.
There truly has never been a fighting game with so much to do in single player mode. It’s a new benchmark and entirely admirable.
Sure, a great fighting game is never going to have the same masterpiece status as a great adventure game, but that’s just down to the limits of the genre.
As far as it goes though, Mortal Kombat is the perfect fighting game: with oodles of content to unlock, fun and brutal gameplay and a meaty story… and all of that is before you take it online.