Friday, 18 May 2012

Mortal Kombat (PS Vita) - Review

Due to the violent nature of this game. This review is for Grown Up gamers only.

Sacrifice! It must be the bane of any game developer when it comes to developing a portable version of their home console title. Many portable versions end up not even resembling their home console counterparts.

Mortal Kombat on the Vita is one of the few exceptions where the developer has taken the bravest of decisions, to give content over style. The graphics have been toned down in the handheld version of 2011's best fighting game. This isn't to say that the game doesn't look stunning, because it does. The character models have lost their richness and close up look more last generation than current generation.

So why the sacrifice on the visual eye candy? Simple, really, the game plays at a blistering 60 fps. On top of that all of the home versions content and DLC characters are included here, as well as PlayStation exclusive, the God of War himself - Kratos. Then also throw in the 150 stage Challenge tower from the original as well. The one thing that Mortal Kombat excelled at was single player offline content!

Netherrealm have then raised the stakes and added a new bonus challenge tower. Focusing on Vita exclusive features like touch screen and six axis motion control to add more variety of side games. The bonus tower also allows for the four DLC characters to be included and have specific challenges tailored to them. The main additions are the new "test your slice", which is Mortal Kombat's version of Fruit Ninja, except with body parts. Test your balance sees a character balancing above a pit and the player has to tilt the console to balance for the required time.

The challenge towers and numerous mini games fit into the Vita package rather than with the console versions. With the home versions they were more of a gimmick, but on the Vita it provides the kind of quick casual gameplay that is so popular on Apple devices. Each of the Test mini games are also playable separately via the main Fight menu.

Then there is the immense story mode, which is complete from the home console version, even with the two hours of cut-scenes. Rather than focus on the story of a single player chosen character, the story mode sees the player go through the events of the first three Mortal Kombat tournaments, playing as different series characters in chapters. The storyline and dialogue is gloriously cheesy and filled with action movie cliché.

The only real negative of the story mode is that it is the mode that shows the graphical changes the most. The rendered cut scenes use the console characters and lighting and when the story snaps from cutscene to in game the change can be quite jarring. All in all though this mode gives the player a chance to get to grips with game's systems, whilst subtly raising the bar in the difficulty stakes. The actual story is better than the Mortal Kombat movies, so there's another feather in its bloodied cap.

Once you have conquered the story and both challenge towers (good luck with that!) you still have to master the multi-player. The game offers battles via WiFi or Adhoc and once again a number of game modes and options. Ranked and unranked battles with an easily accessible statistics system and leader-board. From the matches I have played online the response was very good and there was no lag during the match at all, even with the microphones enabled for voice chats.

Even after all of this, there is still more. The whole extras system of earning Kombat Koins (I know!) in battles to then purchase extras and unlockables in the Krypt is in place and is still as huge as ever. The extras availiable cover everything from concept renders, location design, animation sketches to Extra Fatalities, extra costumes and modifier codes. It's all in there and still presented in all of its haunting environment.

The actual gameplay is still superb, although people used to the furious action of Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 may find change of pace and fight rhythm quite slow and clunky. Once you get used to the system though, its all good. This is the best control implementation in any of the Mortal Kombat games. The Vita version even goes as far as touch screen enabled X-Ray moves and touch screen Fatalities. Being able to swipe the screen for the inevitable body eviscerating finish move means that even the worst fighters should be able to pull off the ultimate humiliation.

Basically, this is the best fighting game on the Vita so far. Yes, there are more technical and visually better examples (Blazblue and UMvC3) but nothing comes close on the sheer amount of content and enjoyment to be had with this game. I would even go as far to say that this is best Vita title to be released so far.

Verdict: 9 out of 10

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