Mortal Kombat: Unchained Review / Preview for the PlayStation Portable (PSP)

Mortal Kombat: Unchained Review / Preview for the PlayStation Portable (PSP)

Mortal Kombat: Unchained is not only “not” unchained, it’s tethered directly to the PS2 version of Deception.

For many fighting fans, only the Mortal Kombat series will suffice. It’s tough, deadly, strategic, violent and bloody. The fatality moves are exceptionally disturbing as they graphically depict everything from disembowelings to decaps. Mortal Kombat offers depth with a fairly complex control system that offers lots of different moves. It’s not an easy game to pick up and play. If you want to do get comfortable with this game it’s going to take hours and hours of practice. Fortunately there are plenty of tutorials that you are forced into in the single-player mode. Things can be slow going in this mode which is good for beginners but it can really make a hardcore frustrated and impatient.

Mortal Kombat: Unchained screenshot

Do you want the good news or the bad news first? Okay, the good news is that if you’re already familiar with the PS2 version of Mortal Kombat: Deception, you’ll be totally at home with Unchained. The bad news is that Unchained is virtually identical to Deception. Other than a few new modes and some new characters, Unchained is a ported version of Deception. It seems to me that this game should have been titled “Deception,” for two reasons.

Favorite characters such as Scorpion and Sub-Zero are here in addition to some new guys such as Blaze, Jax, Shao Kahn, Frost and Goro. Some of these new guys can’t pull off fatality moves but then they haven’t been around as long. There’s some seniority involved in this series. There are more than 25 characters to choose from and they are available right from the get-go. You don’t have to waste time unlocking them. There is no Kreate-a-Fighter mode but since there are so many fighters to choose from, and considering they all have similar move sets, you won’t miss being able to make your own character.

Mortal Kombat: Unchained screenshot

Konquest mode is the main story mode where you’ll find out everything you’ve always wanted to know about the history of Mortal Kombat but were afraid to ask. This mode isn’t very well paced as I found myself itching for a fight and not some drawn-out soliloquies. The voiceacting is so bad that it’s distracting and I found myself paying more attention to how bad the acting was than actually listening to what they were saying. If the developers don’t think that information is important enough than why should I? I just want to get on with the fight but between the boring speeches, the long load times and the inescapable tutorials, the wind was quickly being taken out of my sails. The payoff comes with the fast-paced, action packed matches.

The control system is something that you have to get used to. If you liked the freedom of Armageddon, then you’ll probably hate having to go back to the old way where you have different stances that access different move sets and combos. There’s also a different stance for each weapon. It’s one way to give you more control by letting the buttons perform multiple duties but it takes a lot of practice to memorize this system and incorporate it into smooth fighting. The nub works better than the D-pad which seems to have some trouble getting your characters to move diagonally. The special moves are still intact for each character but not all of them can perform the gory fatality finishing moves.

Mortal Kombat: Unchained screenshot

Chess Kombat is played similarly to a game of chess but in true Mortal Kombat fashion, if you want a particular square, you’ll have to fight for it. There’s even a falling-block puzzle game called Puzzle Kombat which is reminiscent of Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. The two-player mode is the best of the bunch. As long as you have a relatively evenly-matched adversary you’ll get most of your replay value from this mode. Another disk is required as this mode is only available offline via the ad-hock wireless system.

Some of the levels appear quite dark and this can make it hard to see the interactive traps within some of these environments. The level of detail is not as refined as the PS2 version but it still looks pretty darn good. The characters are large enough to see and almost always stand out from the background, when it’s bright enough. There are no major technical issues with slowdown, clipping or latency. The voiceovers in the main mode are lacking but the announcer is good and the ambient screams, grunts and groans really add to the spectacle. The music is perfect for such a grim event with plenty of discordant harmonic content.

Mortal Kombat: Unchained screenshot

If you already played Deception to death, the few new modes and characters aren’t going to do it for you. The single-player mode is aimed at less-experienced gamers as it will bring them up to speed. It’s the two-player mode that really makes this one tick but if you’ve already got the PS2 version with the online modes, you’re way ahead of this game.


  • Exclusive PSP (PlayStationPortable) system Characters: Mortal Kombat: Unchained features six new fi ghters including Kitana, Jax, Frost, Blaze, Goro and Shao Kahn
  • All-New Gameplay Mode: Battle your way to the top in the exclusive Endurance Mode
  • Fatalities, Hara Kiris & More: Multiple death-dealing combinations and interactive, multi-tiered backgrounds including brutal death traps
  • Konquest Mode Returns: A single player mission provides an entirely fresh and exciting gameplay experience by adding the likes of Direct Player Control, worlds populated by NPC (Non-Player-Controlled) characters, and unique hidden features.
  • Mini Games Galore: Engage in Chess and Puzzle Kombat…MK style.
  • Wi-Fi Compatible: Fight head-to-head against a friend with Wi-Fi wireless support.

    Rating out of 5 Rating Description


    Some of the arenas are needlessly dark but underneath the 3D graphics are great.


    We’re back to the old Mortal Kombat Style of control. One step forward, two steps back.


    Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
    The ambient sound effects are great as is the announcing. The music is perfect for the mood, but the voiceovers in the main mode are awful.


    Play Value
    If you can find evenly matched opponents, you’ll kick butt for weeks to come.


    Overall Rating Fair
    Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
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