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Mortal Kombat Review

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Overall Rating:       8.8




Warner Bros. Interactive


NetherRealm Studios

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Last year’s Mortal Kombat reboot delivered the brutal fighting goods in spades, and old-school fans of the iconic franchise were – for the most part – satisfied. Now, enter the handheld iteration for Sony’s new PlayStation Vita, which not only boasts all the content from the console version, but also a huge Challenge Tower that greatly enhances the game’s already-significant longevity, and a silky smooth 60 frames per second presentation. In short, this is a damn fine portable experience.

When you face off against an opponent in the Vita installment of MK, you’re going to be impressed at the level of detail and that aforementioned rock solid frame rate. This looks and feels more like a console production than most any Vita game launched thus far (exceptions being Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Wipeout 2048). The only issue involves the “jagginess” that can be spotted; the character modeling isn’t quite as refined as I would’ve hoped, but the good news is that you only notice this during periods of inactivity. …and when it comes to MK, those periods are very few and far between.

The audio isn’t quite as impressive as it was in the console version, as it unsurprisingly sounds tinnier and not as robust. That being said, the soundtrack is as good as ever and the sound effects are top-notch. There’s not much else to say, besides the fact that the technical elements capture the vicious insanity of this fabled franchise. Although the sound doesn’t smack you upside the head as it did last year, the music and effects remain prominent and fitting, and when you combine this with fantastic animations and engaging gameplay, you get a well-rounded product.

Mortal Kombat is all about shameless, unabashed violence, doled out via the rapid, precise presses of well-trained fingers. One might think the relatively complex combinations would be difficult to execute with the Vita’s smaller buttons, but this really isn’t the case. Everything seems to work extremely well, from front to back. The controls are responsive and accurate, you never feel as if the port is simply too much for the handheld world, and you’re always riveted. I don’t even like fighting games and I couldn’t stop playing. That tends to happen with MK, though.

Remember, we get all the content from the console version plus four new DLC characters that are available from the outset. Kratos is also included (he was in the PS3 version), and that Challenge Tower will give you hour after hour of satisfying – albeit somewhat frustrating – entertainment. The touchscreen and motion controls aren’t exactly necessary but they’re still completely functional and even fun to use, which I can’t always say about such features. Tough fatalities are a lot easier with the touchscreen, for example (although you can still use standard buttons).

The roster is gigantic and although I still say the AI can freakin’ cheat, victory is almost always sweet. Those ridiculous X-Ray moves are back and they’re almost as grotesque as they were last year. As for that Tower, these are separate challenges that will toss any number of objectives at you; if you’ve got the patience and skill, you can survive and conquer. There are two fresh modes, too: Test Your Slice and Test Your Balance. The former has you slashing at the screen with your finger, severing body parts as fast as possible. It's just grisly fun.

As for Test Your Balance, you won’t be surprised to learn that this requires the use of the Vita’s tilt functionality. It’s a little finicky, though, and I just found these particular challenges to be mostly boring. Test Your Slice never seemed to lose its appeal, though. Furthermore, the Tower will task you with using each of the four new characters – Skarlet, Rain, Kenshi, and Freddy Krueger – so you can become familiar with their abilities as well. All in all, there is always plenty to do, and don’t forget about the ad-hoc multiplayer options. Your friends are just begging for a beating, right?

Usually, when a console game is ported over to a portable device, you have to expect a few sacrifices. But this time, the handheld version is actually bigger and packed with more content, so there’s virtually no reason to complain. Plus, it’s essentially the same game, despite the very minor alterations made to the technical aspects. If you want to bring your brutal bashing on the go, NetherRealm Studios has given you a gem, so take advantage. I still say some combos should be more accessible and that AI can piss you right off, but even so…

From a portable standpoint and comparing Mortal Kombat to the rest of the handheld competition, this one is a clear-cut winner. The control is just about right, the graphical presentation is loaded with beautiful animations, the roster is huge, and there’s a ton of content. The story is still totally lame, the Challenge Tower can sometimes feel unfairly tough, and the AI is…well, MK AI, but those aren’t deal-breakers. If you were wondering how Mortal Kombat would look and play on the Vita, I’ve got only one thing to say— Buy it and find out.

The Good: Fantastic animations. Translates very well to handheld gaming. Tons of content. Challenge Tower is great for variety and longevity. Great for hardcore Mortal Kombat fans.

The Bad: Slightly jaggy character modeling. AI can still feel cheap. Two new Tower modes aren’t all that substantial.

The Ugly: “Damnit, you always do that sh**!"

5/1/2012 Ben Dutka

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New Comment System

Legacy Comment System (12 posts)

Tuesday, May 01, 2012 @ 10:27:00 PM

Awesome. While mobile fighters and me would seem like a match made in heaven, my wrists and carpal tunnel'ishness kicks in pretty quickly when playing on a PSP with these types. Maybe the Vita would be different being larger and all.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2012 @ 10:44:24 PM

I too wonder if the vita cramps hands like the psp.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2012 @ 11:23:43 PM

it's not for the arthritically challenged, that's for sure!

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Wednesday, May 02, 2012 @ 12:10:31 AM

I ordered a hand grip for my Vita and I've had no hand cramps at all since using it. I bought it from Amazon and it's made by CTA Digital. They have other brands as well.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2012 @ 7:39:15 AM

if anything the vitas worse than the psp!
i found the go to be by far the easiest on the hands, a big improvement over the 3000 and night and day over the vita.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2012 @ 7:46:49 AM

It can cramp but if you buy a grip add-on it helps a lot. I bought the Nerf add-on from Walmart. Just saw it there one day and thought it would be cool and it's cheap. It is very nice and improved play sessions drastically. Then I saw the grips come out that make the Vita look like a DS3! I may end up getting one of them too to test it out. Even with the Nerf add-on I still get cramped when I play Mutant Blob. So far no cramping on Mortal Kombat though! :)

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Wednesday, May 02, 2012 @ 11:49:21 AM

Good to know about the hand grip things, thanks =)

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Tuesday, May 01, 2012 @ 10:43:53 PM

Still planning to get the komplete version for PS3 some day.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2012 @ 11:18:13 PM

i was going to purchase this today but ive decided to sell my vita. not because i dont love it, i do!, it just collects to much dust right now for me to feel good about the amount of money ive spent on it. plus i could use the few extra bucks to start buying all the new ps3 titles coming our way this year. maybe after theres a few more AAA titles ill pick another one up. so if anybodies interested in a vita let me know i have alot of accessories with it. and yes your hands still cramp just not quite as quickly as they did with the psp.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2012 @ 7:50:47 AM

still cant believe this got banned!
xray kills against fictional beings in MK are not appropriate for a MA rating, but xray kills of you firing a 50 calibre bullet having a close up of the bullets trajectory as the bullet pierces flesh, shatters bone and goes clean through a mans testicles in sniper elite v 2 is fine!
ill never understand the inconstancy and reasoning behind the OFLC!
honestly i just cant believe their own arrogance and inconsistency!
high detailed xray kills of fictional beings is not appropriate for a MA game, but high detailed xray kills of real characters is fine for a MA game.
what the!?

not that it matters, i was never going to get this because its so similar to the ps3 version which is exactly why i got rid of my vita no point owning 2 copies of the same game, but thats beyond the point the principle is.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2012 @ 8:00:26 AM

The game is amazing and agree with Ben's review 100%. I cannot believe they packed so much into a Vita game! Although I don't quite understand what I just said. Why can't they make a huge Vita game? Are they worried about all the 4GB MC gamers? So does every game need to be under 4GB? If so that is a little disappointing. I bought the 32GB and wouldn't mind some huge games to be released.

Best moment so far playing as Kratos against Freddy Kreuger and performing the Blade of Olympus Fatality! The Vita is going to be just fine trust me. Bring on RBS!

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Wednesday, May 02, 2012 @ 8:33:37 AM

Picked up the game because I really like it on PS3 and I'm happy that it made the transition near perfect. The graphics are downgraded but other than that, no complaints.

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