PS3 Reviews: Mortal Kombat Review

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Mortal Kombat Review

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Graphics:

 

8.2

Gameplay:

 

8.3

Sound:

 

8.7

Control:

 

8.4

Replay Value:

 

8.5

Online Gameplay:

 

8.9

Overall Rating:       8.5

Mortal Kombat is back. I say that with a nostalgic smile because after more than a few ill-advised installments that abandoned the very essence of this iconic franchise, NetherRealm Studios has provided a return to glory. There are still a few annoying eccentricities that keep it from being an elite fighter in my eyes but then again, it’s those very eccentricities that define MK. It’s bloody, brutal, gory, and plenty lame (in regards to the storyline), and that’s exactly what we expect from this series. Featuring great control, a return to the 2D combat plane, an intriguing new mechanic, and modes-a-plenty, Mortal Kombat is great for the hardcore fans. Just don’t play it in front of the significant other or your parents.

Graphically, the game excels when involved in gameplay, which is a big bonus. The cut-scenes aren’t anywhere near as impressive, as the character design and animations aren’t exactly refined. However, the instant we start the fight, we’re met with a fantastic background and beautifully drawn combatants; the special effects are awesome and the frame rate never stutters. I’ve always liked the evil darkness associated with the MK backdrops and that atmosphere is more than evident. The Story Mode stumbles in the visual category due to the aforementioned issues, but we’ve got it where it counts: when in the midst of an engaging, challenging fight, we can easily appreciate the best this graphical production has to offer.

The sound is a mixed bag for me, as the audio effects are top-notch, but the music needed to play a larger role and the voice acting is definitely hit or miss. Some characters are actually quite good while others are downright painful, and in terms of the soundtrack, it’s definitely fitting, but nowhere near as emphatic as I would’ve hoped. At the same time, I appreciate the relative variety and the crisp, clear effects put the combat in the limelight. It’s as if every aspect of the technical presentation is designed to let the fighting shine, which means our gameplay experience always receives a huge cosmetic boost. And you just gotta love the ghastly sounds that emanate from the speakers during some of the more…intense moments.

If you couldn’t guess, “intense” is an understatement when we consider the brutality quotient in Mortal Kombat. But before we dive into the game’s aptitude for visceral grossness, let’s address the solid, stable control: thanks to this 2D plane, the control functions exactly as it should, and we never have to deal with a sluggish camera or any such visibility issues. The view will change slightly during certain moves and skills but we never lose track of the action, and the accessibility of the combos is a refreshing surprise. I often remember trying to tackle the hardest combos in MK in the old days, and the good news here is that you can be successful if you memorize a few effective, three or four-button combination attacks.

Now, for whatever reason, I did sense a slight lack of responsiveness when it came to certain characters and abilities; there were times when I was downright convinced I had executed a combo correctly, and nothing happened. I’m also thinking that some of the basic attacks didn’t snap and crackle, so-to-speak. It almost felt as if there was a split-second delay between the command input and the executed action, but perhaps that’s all in my head. I do know that the battle remained entertaining throughout, and I always wanted to learn more moves for my favorite characters. I also know that this game rewards the skilled and patient, and also never lets up. Not even for a second.

But here’s my biggest issue, and there’s no delaying it- the balance is just plain spotty and can be infuriating. Too many characters seem to harbor a certain amount of cheapness, and there were times in the Story Mode where I very nearly stopped entirely. The problem is that some enemies don’t seem to abide by the same rules you do, and that’s the type of thing that gets under my skin. Now, I will concede that MK is MK and some will say this is bound to happen. I mentioned the eccentricities above, and this is a common eccentricity in the world of Mortal Kombat, and any honest fan will admit to this drawback. I just find it super annoying at times.

That being said, the core of the gameplay is spectacular. It really is. Each character feels accessible and distinct; each has a basic set of moves that are easily performed, along with a set of more complex combos that, with practice, can turn that fighter into a formidable opponent. As is often the case with fighting games, we spend the first few hours mastering many of the moves and combos of our favorite character; all the while taking some time to experiment here and there. And besides, we get one hot new mechanic that sets this battler apart: the super gauge, which fills as you administer and receive pain. There are three segments on this gauge and that acquired energy can be used in different ways:

Filling the first part will enhance your fighter’s special moves; filling the second allows you to break out of an opponent’s combo (crazy useful, especially later in the Story Mode), and when the gauge is maxed, you can unleash a bad-ass X-Ray attack, which deals a huge amount of damage in gut-wrenching fashion. The camera zooms in and you watch bones crunch beneath the skin of the victim; it’s just a terrible, disgusting viewpoint that fits MK beautifully. All by itself, this gauge gives the game a whole new level of strategy as the player becomes an instant tactician. It also greatly depends on your character of choice and your opponent; you won’t always want to wait for the gauge to fill, as the enhancement of your special abilities or the opportunity to break free of a deadly combo might be more valuable. You gotta think a little, you know.

Then there are the modes: we’ve got the classic arcade ladder, the Story Mode, which is uber-cheesy but still lets us play with multiple characters and acts as a nice change from the standard format, Tag Team, and both local and online multiplayer. Like I said, parts of the Story Mode can be immensely frustrating due to that balance issue, but it’s still fun, and the very crux of fighting entertainment centers on playing against others. Therefore, the multiplayer should get plenty of attention, and this is one game that might actually be better played offline with a friend. After all, it’s always more fun to trash-talk when your fuming opponent is sitting right next to you.

Mortal Kombat, sans a few irritating slip-ups, is exactly what the fans desire. Good control, the 2D winning formula, the great backdrops and settings, the huge roster (Kratos rules, by the way), the new strategy awarded by the super gauge, the many various modes; it all comes together in a very appealing package. The balance is definitely off (cheaters, cheaters, I say!), you can’t skip the cut-scenes in Story Mode (and I really wanted to at times), and the voice acting is spotty, but that doesn’t really tarnish the overall experience. If you’re an MK fan, this is likely what you’ve been waiting for, and you’ll get a ton of entertainment out of this one.

The Good: Great effects and awesome stages. Solid control among a huge roster of fighters. A lot of different modes. Brutality takes center-stage. Gameplay is both accessible and challenging. Multiplayer is a blast.

The Bad: A definite dash of cheapness; i.e., balance issue. Voice acting is iffy. Story is lame. Responsiveness a potential issue…?

The Ugly: “Who says you can do that? I can’t do that. …bi***.

4/20/2011 Ben Dutka

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Comments (52 posts)

CrusaderForever
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 @ 9:46:34 PM
Reply

Nice review Ben! I will be getting this from Amazon tomorrow! Cannot wait to do my first XRay! Thanks again.

Last edited by CrusaderForever on 4/20/2011 9:46:55 PM

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Deleted User
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 @ 9:53:47 PM
Reply

Mortal Kombat has always been a multi-player first series in my opinion. The game is way better when you're playing against another human. The CPU has always been cheap, doing moves you can't do.

It's just not my kind of fighter. I'd rather play Street Fighter IV. Maybe I'll rent it or buy it when it becomes a GH game. I'd rather buy SSFIV and then download the Arcade add-on.

It's a good game. The demo was fun. It's just not my bag.

Last edited by n/a on 4/20/2011 9:54:29 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 @ 10:00:18 PM

Street Fighter isn't any less cheap in that department.

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ace_boon_coon
Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 1:48:50 PM

Yeah, SF is pretty cheap also. Seth is one of the cheapest bosses ever.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 @ 9:59:26 PM
Reply

Sounds about right on all accounts, or at least consistent. I thought the music needed a much bigger part too. For some reason there has always been an issue with MK recognizing correct inputs that might be one one-millionth of a second apart in execution so I'm used to that. I'll pick it up on the cheap.

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Qwarktast1c
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 @ 11:34:07 PM

the inputs of some combos are a bit sketchy as you and Ben have pointed out. for instance raiden's combo (Square, Triangle, Square, Triangle) didn't seem to respond at first. it really only works when you input it at crazy speeds, thus making it harder to string together more complex juggle combos

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DirtySkillzHD
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 @ 10:12:55 PM
Reply

Boght this day1 happy, I love baraka

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WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 @ 10:35:57 PM

Baraka was the best character the series ever produced.

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Shams
Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 12:07:19 AM

I'm no MK fan, but Baraka from MK2 was my favorite, as well. His sleek animations, speedy blades, vicious fatalities and hellish appearance made him my favorite. I wish they kept his form, because in later MK's (which I didn't play), they bulked him up, and slowed him down.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 12:11:32 AM

I agree, he was better as a skinny monster. The women had some chub on them too, now they sport creepy six-packs.

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Shams
Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 12:33:48 AM

Lol. I know, right? Freakin' trannies from hell. At least they were endowed with hips. I remember earlier female characters, with the exception of Sonia, looked like they were made from male figures.

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PharaohJR
Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 4:10:31 AM

WTF hell naw bredren...baraka man u kno its bout sub or raiden. naw im fooling baraka lethal in the right hands.

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sha4dowknight05
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 @ 10:13:27 PM
Reply

KRATOS!

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Ultimate_Balla
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 @ 10:21:19 PM
Reply

Nah, the CPU in SF are actually mad easy, SSF did a pretty good job in balancing out the 'ridicolous' amounts of health some characters dealt(put it that way because I never realized some peeps were overpowered).

Thanx for the review, Ben. I'll pick this up today if it's in store. Is your Kung Lao combo registering this time around? ;)

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Temjin001
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 @ 10:40:25 PM

SF4 is decently balanced. Though, it's been pretty well established that there are unbalanced character match-ups. Like 'Gief will always work harder against the shokens and Sagat.

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Alienange
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 @ 10:42:54 PM
Reply

Something tells me an 8.5 is rather generous. You're too kind to these throw away games.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 @ 11:53:56 PM

...whatever you say.

It's averaging an 8.8 at GameRankings and 8.5 at Metacritic.

So maybe your definition of "throwaway" doesn't jive with other people's definition.

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 4/20/2011 11:54:27 PM

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bigrailer19
Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 1:08:00 AM

Man I don't know whats got into you. I used to see eye to eye with you on a lot of subjects. Now most the things you say, really make me wonder if _________ stole your acct. No really though, I understand people have preferences but this surely is am excellent reboot for the series. The review here that Ben gave is a good example of why it's such a great reboot.

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gumbi
Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 10:59:42 AM

"throw away game" !?!?

Ben... FINISH HIM!!!

I kid I kid, to each his own. It's all a matter of opinion.

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ace_boon_coon
Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 1:51:19 PM

Throw away? Have you played MK? It's really good. 8.5 is about the perfect score.

Last edited by ace_boon_coon on 4/21/2011 1:51:59 PM

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Alienange
Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 2:44:20 PM

What does Gameranking and Metacritic really have to do with your score though? Those same sources are showing Shift 2 at 81%. Didn't stop you from telling us the game was a turd.

A fighter like MK needs to be slick and responsive because that's all it has besides some flashy graphics. When you tell me a fighter, a FIGHTER, has a "slight lack of responsiveness" with "split-second delays" and "infuriating" balancing issues, sorry, that doesn't scream 8.5 for a simple fighter. If a fighting game fails in the controls, it just plain fails. And I believe that should be reflected in a critics score.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 3:19:41 PM

I think you need to re-read the review and look up the definition of "slight."

That's all I can say.

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Temjin001
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 @ 11:02:01 PM
Reply

I checked out the PS3 version last night, and then swapped it for the 360 to do comparisons (I have a Blockbuster Pass with infinite game swapping).
Kratos is very kool. He comes complete with his own arcade mode ending and multiple fatalities. Though, the modded UE3 engine doesn't reproduce him as nice as we saw him in GoW3.
Right now he's sort of upset the hardcore gaming community as he's extremely powerful (admitted by Ed Boon himself) and he's looking at possibly being banned from Evo play this year. While the CPU can always be cheap in single player mode, it's hard to say, at this point, if there are serious balancing issues in dedicated competitive play.



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Oxvial
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 @ 11:02:30 PM
Reply

After played the demo I expected a solid 8.0 but taking into account all the frigging extras, 8.5 seems about right.

Last edited by Oxvial on 4/20/2011 11:03:11 PM

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BTNwarrior
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 @ 11:06:20 PM
Reply

so how does kratos stack up compared to the other fighters?

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Qwarktast1c
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 @ 11:27:30 PM

his moves are a bit slower, but if you execute the right ones you can totally own the other fighter

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tridon
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 @ 11:22:38 PM
Reply

I can never understand why people dislike the last generation's trilogy so bad. I've LOVED Mortal Kombat right from the very beginning but I can honestly say that my favourite MK title to date is Mortal Kombat: Deception. I just loved every single thing about that game; the 3D environments and fighting, the Krypt, Konquest... it was all a blast! Looking forward to the new MK, though! It looks amazing!

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Qwarktast1c
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 @ 11:30:27 PM

i hear ya man. the last trilogy was a blast! Deception was the best 3D MK date (this new one is the best 2D). I really enjoyed konquest too

anyways, you should definitely pick this one up. worth every penny! :)

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BTNwarrior
Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 10:40:37 AM

I agree, MK chess was by far my favorite variation of MK and it was only available in deception.

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tridon
Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 12:36:56 PM

Exactly! MK Chess was awesome! Puzzle Kombat and Mortal Karbat were both super fun, too! This is the kinda of stuff that I'm going to miss. I know this title is all about bringing it back to the roots and I'm sure I'll love it but I will miss all those fun changes and additions that the second trilogy had. I honestly loved the gameplay in MK Vs. DC. Sure it wasn't bloody like MK should be but the actual gameplay was crazy-fun! The game was just too bare bones, though. No fun additives at all. Oh, well... I'm going to keep crossing my fingers for all the MKs to be re-released as HD collections. That'd be a flawless victory! ;)

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Douchebaguette
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 @ 11:43:20 PM
Reply

The voice acting is meant to be iffy. It's one of the key features that makes MK an MK game.

--------


Sony: "The Black Dragon died with Kano; you're the last one, Jarek."

Jarek: NNEVUUURRR! *Falls* "I'M-SO-GGAAAYYYYYY..."

-------------

MMHMMM HM MHM HM MH MHM HM HM....

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Scarecrow
Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 12:14:22 AM
Reply

Fighter of the year! Great review Ben, it's a solid fighter and does an amazing job with keeping you interested and trying out new things. The stages are just amazing, I dare say they're some of the best I've seen in a fighter so far.

The inputs are a bit weird but hey if it's not too off it's ok. At least the series is back to how it should be.

Time for kombat!

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Temjin001
Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 12:34:09 AM

Aside from DOA4's very large and interactive backgrounds, MK's stages are second to none in detail and overall activity and energy. Many of them are exciting to look at and it'd cool to have something like them as a XMB dynamic theme. Except for that sickening stage with the gutted women. ugh, this game has nearly made me want to not play it because of how disgusting it can be. I know MK is gory, but this game is so detailed it's almost makes me nauseous.

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kraygen
Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 1:50:06 AM
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I'm not a big fighter fan, but nostalgia makes me happy that they have finally made a modern gen MK that stacks up to the MK's of old.

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Looking Glass
Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 2:14:44 AM
Reply

Lame story you say? Well, if true it's not really surprising. With the notable exception of the Blazblue franchise the fighting game genre is often lacking in this area, especially when compared to other genres.

Even so I'll probably buy this title eventually. It's definitely going to be good to break lose with Kratos again.

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RobiinzZ
Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 2:18:59 AM
Reply

Looking forward to playing this soon, loved the classic style they have bought back with this game.

Great review Ben :)

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___________
Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 3:23:55 AM
Reply

sooooooooooooooooo pissed i have to wait another 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, god knows how many more weeks to play this!
australia, the land of the free!
the land where the government can tell you which games you can, and cant play!
the country where you can be fined up to 100 thousand dollars for importing a banned game!
yup, the land of the free alright!

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PharaohJR
Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 4:13:36 AM

damn... i want to visit australia always been fascinated with the culture but hearing that make me reconsider. how yal deal with tha herb?

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___________
Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 11:58:47 AM

id recommend against it, everythings so overpriced here!
for example a friend and i went out for lunch on saturday, had 2 pizzas and 2 cokes each.
cost us 80 bucks.
when i was in Hawaii we ordered entries, main and desert and it cost us roughly the same!
mind you the place we went to on sat was a cafe, the place we went to in Hawaii was a top of the line Italian restraunt!
taxis, hotels, food, even events.
on my Bday i was taken out for a helli tour for a hour.
cost us 300 per person!
a 1 hour tour in sydney choppers is closer to triple that!
very nice place to visit, but only if your a multimillionaire!

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PharaohJR
Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 4:23:51 AM
Reply

8.5 thats good i thought yal would give it a 9. waiting on my money to bounce back but this will be in my ps3.

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PAKINIPS
Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 6:56:08 AM
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Girls like this game

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slugga_status
Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 9:46:53 AM
Reply

I think this review sums it up very well. There's definitely a slight delay in doing the combos though. Especially with characters like Kung Lao. You can end up trying to do one combo..but your fingers are moving so fast that the game doesn't register it..I found that slowing myself down helped in that regard.

Only disagreement I have was with the story mode. It wasn't that bad. For fans of the series it was kind of nostalgic going back to the first tournament. The cut scenes didn't look the best but kept me into the story. The ending really had me ready for more...but that could be the fan in me...

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BeezleDrop
Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 10:46:52 AM
Reply

Ah ha! Mr. blank line is an Aussie! I knew it! As for the review, nicely done. The demo actually really surprised me especially since it's running on Unreal. I'm glad it can be fun to some degree, I thought the x-ray moves were neat.

Last edited by BeezleDrop on 4/21/2011 10:47:16 AM

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Ogibillm
Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 12:49:29 PM
Reply

i recognize that there are deficiencies in the game... but i'll be damned if it's not just a hell of a lot of fun.

there's something about doing the ladder that just takes me back and can't be beat.

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P 10 Gaming
Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 12:53:23 PM
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The story ia a lil boring. its very rinse wash and repeat lol. But its a great reboot to the MK2 and such. But im mad that Quan Chi isnt playable

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slugga_status
Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 2:24:07 PM

Quan Chi is playable...just have to unlock him

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Ultimate_Balla
Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 1:57:32 PM
Reply

How do you mention Deception and leave out the character select screen theme song?

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Minishmaru
Thursday, April 21, 2011 @ 4:58:08 PM
Reply

I remember fighting Shao Kahn the very first time in MK2, he was SUPER CHEESY! He kept doing the shoulder ram and the friggen flying knee thing repeatedly!!! Fighters are always like this, I have yet to find a fighter that doesn't have cheesy AI, thats not made to infuriate.

The one thing I was curious about was during the xray moves onto a robot you'd see bones instead of gears and such. Did they fix that in the final version or is it still the same as I saw in earlier videos?

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hadouken
Friday, April 22, 2011 @ 10:01:02 AM
Reply

For the second time in a row I 100% percent agree with. The voice acting is spotty and there is cheapness, especially in the story mode.

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Lairfan
Monday, April 25, 2011 @ 5:17:30 PM
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Fair review and good score. I knew this one would be good.

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karneli lll
Friday, April 29, 2011 @ 3:18:26 PM
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Ok why does the final version not have custom soundtracks? I feel completely cheated

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MickaeL486
Friday, April 13, 2012 @ 8:35:00 AM
Reply

BEST FIGHTING GAME EVER

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