Mortal Kombat burst into arcades in 1992. It quickly became extremely popular, and infamous, for the violence seen in the title. The original became so contentious that the United States Government had hearings about it and the Sega CD’s Night Trap. These hearings eventually lead to the formation of the ESRB. The franchise had continued into many different types of games, but the fans all agreed on one thing. Especially after MK vs DC, the series had gotten stale. In 2011, NetherRealm Studios, a rebranded WB Games studio, unleashed the ninth main entry onto the world. The game would be a complete reboot that went back to the basics of the series. It’s weird to imagine that people haven’t touched a series so big. Even people like me. The Mortal Kombat franchise has scraped under my nose for too long. Where else could I start than the new beginning?
The Elder Gods had established the Mortal Kombat tournaments to keep the balance of the realms. Earth Realm eventually loses so many tournaments that Shao Kahn of the Nether Realm is allowed to conquer it. The thunder god Raiden sends a message to himself in the past to guide all three realms into a better future. Raiden and Liu Kang end up overthrowing Shang Tsung, but they still must deal with Shao Kahn himself. Can Raiden prevent the inevitable?
The Mortal Kombat reboot is highly praised for bringing back series conventions and introducing new ideas to freshen up the experience for longtime players. Inputting attacks will be no more complicated than they were in the 90s! Inputs are pretty lenient. Unlike other fighting games, I never felt an input being missed was out of my control. I sometimes found it too lenient. Especially in frantic moments, and boss encounters, I’d find the game picking up attacks I didn’t mean to use at all. It happened too commonly when fighting Shao Kahn himself. Especially as Raiden in the final encounter of the story mode.
The big new concept introduced to Mortal Kombat is the meter system. Meters of all sorts have been in fighting games forever, but this is a pretty dynamic one. For one bar, you can use a more powerful version of a special move. For two bars, you can break out of a combo. For all three bars, you can perform a powerful X-Ray attack. WIth an X-Ray attack, you get to watch your character perform some bone-crushing super moves on your opponent.
While fights themselves are just as brutal as ever, the finishing moves are far more gruesome than the ones I’ve seen from older games. Both the staple fatalities and humiliating babalities are back in full force. It’s incredibly obvious a lot of love was put into them. Some of the animations go on for about 45 seconds. I grew tired of them at times.
The game also introduced a tag team system, but I don’t think it matters. Both characters you select have their own health bars. Each and every character has a set of tag attacks they can perform. You can switch out with just the click of a button, or at the end of a string of a damaging combo. In my opinion, it feels kind of useless. It isn’t well implemented into the game outside of the story mode.
Being a 2011 release in the age of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, the game got a bit of DLC. With only four characters in total, DLC opened a huge opportunity that I think was wasted. They could’ve brought back so many more characters! You have to save something for the sequels. Freddy Krueger from The Nightmare on Elm Street series of films was the star of the DLC. He started a trend that would continue in the series to this day. Kratos was another guest character in the PlayStation 3 version of the game. It is rumored that NetherRealm attempted to acquire Marcus Fenix from Gears of War for the Xbox 360 version, but it never ended up happening.
Mortal Kombat is not, at all, a pretty game. By today’s standards, it’s pretty ugly. Just like Injustice, I considered it ugly when I saw it back then. Every single fighter stands somewhere deep in the uncanny valley. It’s not hard to look past the graphics of a fighting game, and what’s here is some of the most fun I’ve had in a while. While the game isn’t natively available on current-gen hardware, if you’ve got a 360 or PS3 lounging around, I highly recommend picking it up and diving in today!