The Mortal Kombat series is showing its mortality.
Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, as the title would suggest, is not the end of the world, but it may signal the death knell for the series. This game has the looks but it just doesn’t have the moves.
There are tons of characters in Armageddon, as well as some new modes and combat elements, but all of these new additions can’t disguise the fact that this is the same old Mortal Kombat at the core. This is a dated fighting game that has run its course. Unless you’re a huge fan of the Mortal Kombat franchise, there is little here that can compete with the glut of new fighters that figuratively kick this one’s ass.
Everything about MK: Armageddon is old and tired. You would think this game would play as smooth as a Rolls Royce by now but I find it quite unresponsive – and pardon the pun – sluggish. The characters’ movements are stiff and many of the stock animations appear at strange times making the entire combat process look awkward and even broken at times.
The stable of fighters is impressive. You name them and they shall appear. Characters such as Scorpion, Stryker, Sub Zero, Jax and Goro (the boss) are all included. There are more than 60 different characters from all the MK series. And if you can’t find one that you like, then you can make your own with the Kreate-a-Fighter system. The customizing options are more aesthetic than anything else. You’ll have full control over the shape of their heads, hairstyles and outfits but the moves that you select are mostly generic. The same can be said for the standard-issue fighters. Aside from a couple of special moves there is little to set them apart from each other. The kicks, punches and combos are all the same and are even mapped to the same buttons, which is fine if you don’t want to memorize an entire new move set for each character. Each character will have one special hand-to-hand move as well as a special weapon move. That’s it. Fortunately each character will utter unique lines during their finishing moves but the dialog is so terse and cliché that it makes the Terminator seem almost Shakespearean. Thankfully Mortal Kombat has a good sense of humor and doesn’t always take itself too seriously.
Limbs are torn from torsos, hearts are ripped – still beating – from the chests of the defeated, heads are caved in and the blood flows like wine at a Bacchanalian festival. Yes, the gore that you’ve been weaned on through the Mortal Kombat series has not diminished. The shock value has worn a little thin but it’s still a nice feeling to finish off your opponent permanently, after all the crap you’ve been through. All of these finishing moves are up for grabs with the Kreate-a-Fatality feature which allows any character to access any of these finishing move animations at the end of a match by pressing the various buttons before time runs out. It’s great for those that crave instant gratification and want to see a lot of violence all at once but it comes at the price of making the individual fighters more and more generic since it restricts relegating these moves to specific characters.
In the single-player mode known as Konquest Mode, you will do as you have always done – fight your way up the ladder by taking on more powerful opponents in a tier structured competition. There are more action adventure elements in this mode than ever which breaks up the monotony of the constant combat. You will do some exploring, avoid booby traps, amass some cash, find or purchase plenty of unlockables items and characters and try to make some sense out of the storyline – not that it matters if you understand what’s going on or not. There’s so much detail to the story that I just stopped pretending to be interested. I’m no dummy, I just have a short attention span. I’m sure you can relate. Hey did you watch Breaking Bonaduce last night?
There is an online kart racer called Motor Kombat which features all of the characters in a zany, mini-game style mode in which you race against your opponents using your unique skills such as shooting electricity or puking. These moves are necessary to hinder your opponents causing them to slow down or crash into a deadly trap. Up to eight players can take part online or locally. A one-on-one mode is also featured for online play. You can battle against stock characters or ones that have been created in the Kreate-a-Character mode. As in the single-player mode you’ll find the controls are a little sloppy and the animation stiff.
The sound effects are solid. The punches and kicks rival that of a well-recorded drum kit. You’ll find yourself getting into a groove. The music is moody and well suited to the action. Graphically the game could use an entire makeover. It’s dated. The engine needs more than an oil change and an air freshener on the rearview. While I appreciate some of the new additions to this version, it’s not enough to make me forget how much this game reminds me of Deception, Shaolin Monk and Deadly Alliance.
Introducing Mortal Kombat: Armageddon – The latest chapter in Midway’s award-winning, best-selling video game fighting franchise. With the most complete Mortal Kombat roster ever, including nearly every character from the Mortal Kombat universe (past, present and future), a revolutionary Create-A-Fighter mode and Create-A-Fatality mode, plus a brand new Konquest mode, Mortal Kombat: Armageddon promises to be the most complete, intensely lethal, fighting experience ever!
It’s a sign of the times when a series as violent as Mortal Kombat has consistently slipped under the radar of politicians and other concerned parties for the last few years. It’s not that MK isn’t violent anymore. In fact, the last few have been as violent as ever, it’s just that the series has become an old comfortable shoe. I’m sure even those who were horrified by the spine-ripping shenanigans of the first arcade version would even recall it fondly. Maybe not. For better or worse, the series continues and fans have recently embraced the franchise again for bringing something new to the table over the last couple of years. Armageddon promises to continue that tradition.
We’ll have more info at E3. Stay tuned!
- Select Any Character From The Entire MK Library (Past, Present & Future): From Liu Kang to Shang Tsung to Shao Kahn, Mortal Kombat:Armageddon will feature more playable fighters than any other Mortal Kombat game to date.
- All-New Customized Create-A-Fighter Mode: For the first time ever in a Mortal Kombat game, players will be able to use an extremely robust create-a-fighter feature to create and define their fi ghter’s look, abilities and personality.
- Unique Create-A-Fatality System: Fans now have the ability to create their own custom fatalities by stringing together a series of attacks via a series of button combos; those that prove worthy can take their very own death moves online to showcase to the world.
- Entirely Revamped & Improved Konquest Mode: What originally served as a basic training mechanism has been upgraded to a full-blown adventure with a deep story and a variety of gameplay.
- Expanded Online Features: Improved Responsiveness, Deeper Customizing, Expanded Lobby Options and Much More.