This reboot of the classic fighting franchise released last year to critical praise and even more fan support. You can check out Koalition’s original review of the console title here, and this review will mostly echo a lot of those sentiments. This game is still very much the same game that you fell in love with a year ago, but with a few nifty additions.
[quote-left]This game is still very much the same game that you fell in love with a year ago[/quote-left]First and foremost – this version is entirely portable. Playing MK on your TV at home is great, but with the short matches and hundreds of challenge missions, it just makes sense to have this game on a portable system. And with the beautifully large Vita screen, responsive buttons, analog sticks, and touch controls; Mortal Kombat shines more than ever. For the most part.
The story mode is identical to what you remember, and is still probably the best story mode in a fighting game to date. Rather than just be a shameful reboot of the franchise, NetherRealm Studios went to great lengths to ensure that it made sense within the lore of the franchise. The game begins with Shao Kahn about to win the tournament and bring the apocalypse – but Raiden doesn’t want that to be the end.
[quote-right]Hopefully more fighting game developers see what the MK team is doing and take notes[/quote-right]Right before he is finally slain, he sends a telepathic message back in time to himself before the beginning of the very first tournament, telling the former Raiden “He must win.” This creates a lot of suspence throughout the campaign, as the player and the rest of the cast have to all figure out exactly what that means, and how to stop the inevitable. You play through various chapters and get to see a detailed backstory of every major character. Hopefully more fighting game developers see what the MK team is doing and take notes.
While the story mode is great, this is also where the game’s biggest downfall lies: the graphics. Overall the environments look beautiful, and the cutscenes are 100% amazing in the visual department. However, when the game transitions from cutscenes to fights, the character models significantly reduce in quality, and it is very noticeable. This was probably necessary in order to keep the game running at a silky smooth 60 frames-per-second (which it most definitely does, and does well,) so it is not terrible. This is a handheld, not a PS3, so some corners obviously had to be cut.
Besides the story mode transitions, you won’t even notice a single issue with the graphics. After you play a few versus modes, or complete a ladder, or even the challenge tower missions, you get used to them and it really does look great given how fast and beautiful it all moves. The backgrounds still look incredibly detailed throughout the experience, which is a major plus.
[quote-left]MK Vita is an example of how tight and responsive fighting games should be made[/quote-left]The gameplay is the true reason anyone ever plays a fighting game, and this plays identically to the console version. The Vita’s d-pad is very similar to the PS3 controller, so it is very easy to get used to, and the analog stick is nice if you are one of those people that plays fighters with an analog stick. Every character controls great, and it is an example of how tight and responsive fighting games should be made.
Unfortunately I was not able to extensively test the Wi-Fi features of the game too deeply given my unstable internet connection, but when I did have a good connection, everything worked great. With Ranked, Player, and Private matches for 1v1 and Tag game types, there is plenty to do against your online opponents. Local ad-hoc play works great as well! Hopefully it is more stable as time goes on, but most of the issues were on my end.
The music and sound effects are mostly how you remember them, with Liu Kang just as annoying as ever, and the various shouts of agony are still music to the player’s ears! One of the cool features this game supports is automatic voice chat when playing online. This way, your opponents voice comes through your speakers when fighting. This is a cool new feature that allows some great trash talking with anyone you might be playing.
Overall, this is a fantastic little package with more value than you could ever hope for out of a fighting game. It includes all of the original characters, all four DLC characters, and Kratos. It also comes with many Vita specific features, including over 100 new bonus challenge tower missions, along with new rewards. They even added a nifty option in the pause menu from the Practice Mode that lets you record, save, and playback moments you recorded! A great feature for showing off your skills to friends! If you are looking for a fighting game to play on the go, this is by far your best option.
Mortal Kombat released for the PlayStation Vita on May 1st in North America. Let us know what you think of it, and this review, in the comments below!
This review was based on a retail download copy of the game for the PlayStation Vita provided by Warner Bros.