Ready for the Next Gong?

When the iconic gong goes off, and the music hits, you know it’s time to grab your controller and engage in Mortal Kombat. It has been four years since we’ve had an addition to the series (not counting Mortal Kombat vs DC that was released back in 2008), and it does its best to satisfy our blood lust. Does this nine year franchise measure up yet again or is it a fatality?

Recently, the gaming world has been up to its neck with first person shooters, with the popularity of the Call Of Duty series. If it doesn’t involve crawling on the ground with an assault rifle, it wasn’t worth the time. It was not until the revamping of older, more well known games started to occur (Street Fighter 4, for example), where the fighting game was reborn. Released by a new branch of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Nether Realm Studios’ (formerly Midway Games), Mortal Kombat or MK9, is just what they needed to cure their past economic woes.

The best thing about this game is its ability to meet the needs of everyone. The online play allows you to interact with others, using a tag team mode to defeat opponents. If wearing a headset and arguing with 13 year-olds isn’t your thing, the story mode is amazing. Instead of choosing a specific character and playing from their point of view throughout, this mode is broken up into chapters allowing you to be every main character. The plot is a altered version of the first Mortal Kombat tournament. The characters compete against each other while simultaneously resoling their own issues.

Living up to its history, there is plenty of blood and gore to go around in MK9. When in battle, your character has a vast list of special moves to defend themselves. Over time a meter fills up enhancing moves, allowing you to block combinations attacks and a full meter gives way to “X-Ray mode”.

“X-Ray mode” is awesome.

When properly timed, you can administer an attack, that not only does intense damage, but on screen you have an x-ray view of you breaking you opponents bones and shifting their organs. With that said, these graphics are amazing. It is a 2D setting with 3D elements. Characters interact with their surroundings, whether it be the depths of hell of a creepy forest. The settings also give way to special fatalities that can be used for each stage. Watching Johnny Cage be eaten by a tree is a lot more entertaining than it sounds.

Controls are easy enough to understand, although the analog sticks are a bit of a pain. It makes you do in air flips, that instead of being a part of a combination is just an overall annoyance. The directional pad is just fine. Special moves are easy enough to pull off assuming you have quick enough thumbs, but that’s what practice is for.

The only grievance with this game is the extra content that is PS3 exclusive. They get Kratos. Flipping bad ass, no mercy, God slaying Kratos. And yes, Kratos’ character (and God Of War for that matter) is only available on PS3, but throw Xbox users a bone. At least with Soul Caliber 4, PS3 got Darth Vader and Xbox had Yoda. There was a balance amongst the games, that gave everyone an even playing field. Can’t blame Sony for a good marketing plan though.

All and all, MK9 is a worthty buy. It feeds our need for nostalgia and gives new gamers a great launching point.

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