Mortal Kombat Reader Review
Warning: May contain spoilers.
I started playing Mortal Kombat at the beginning with MK1, back then I didn't care about combos or even learning most of the moves, as long as I could pull off the Fatalities I was a happy button masher. Back then Mortal Kombat impressed me with it's gore and adult theme, but things have changed with MK9 and I now find myself impressed with how solid the fighting engine is, the blood and gore are just a nice bonus.
A new and very important addition to the fighting engine is the "super meter", this increases when you're hit, when you do damage and when your attacks are blocked. The super meter is split into three bars, having one bar will allow you to enhance one of your fighters special moves, having two bars will allow you to perform a "breaker", this lets you break out of a deadly combo, a breaker can only be used after your opponents first hit has landed on you. Finally we have the most devastating move in MK9, the X-Ray attack. X-Ray attacks can be performed when you have three bars of meter, depending on the fighter and how you execute them an X-Ray attack can do huge damage that can easily turn a certain loss into a win.
MK9 brings a wealth of single-player content to the table, more so than any other fighting game I've ever played. The main offering is story mode, where you'll experience the Mortal Kombat lore from the beginning, during the course of story mode you'll play as 16 different fighters and you'll come across the rest as opponents, this lets you learn a little about each character and will improve your knowledge of the gameplay greatly. You will also learn things you've always wondered, "what did Kabal look like before?", "how did Jax get his arms?" and "what's the deal with Sub Zero and Scorpion?", the story is told with cut-scenes before and after each match, and while they're awesome the first time, you'll wish you could skip them on your second run through.
Overshadowed by story mode is the Challenge Tower, a gameplay mode offering 300 challenges, there's a real "mini game" feeling about most of the challenges, which range from beating your opponent without using any special moves to using Strikers pistol to take out 15 zombies before they reach (and eat) you. The Challenge Tower along with story mode allow you to accumulate "koins", koins act as the currency in MK9 and they can be spent in the "Krypt". The Krypt is made up of hundreds of graves, each containing an unlockable, these can be anything from art work to hidden Fatalities.
Making it's return is the standard arcade ladder we've all come to know and love, koins are also earned here. You can run through the ladder solo or with a friend in tag team mode, completing the arcade ladder will unlock your fighters alternative costume as well as a fighter specific ending video.
Once you've battled your way through the story mode, the Challenge Tower and spent countless hours in the practice dojo perfecting your combos you'll be ready to face other Kombatants in the online portion of the game. Sadly I haven't been able to test the game online as I received my copy late (thanks play.com) and by the time I did receive it the PSN had been taken down. Players on the Xbox 360 are reporting lag during ranked matches but especially during King of the Hill mode, a new mode where you can spectate a match and let the players know what you think of their skill by cheering, booing and rating the fight out of 10 at the end. Netherrealm Studios have announced that they will be releasing a patch to fix the lag within the next two weeks, so keep an eye out for that.
Mortal Kombat has always been about the gore but now it also has a solid fighting engine behind it, and it definitely has the potential to be a big hit with both the casual and competitive communities. Looking past the flaws, like the overly cheap bosses (it is MK after all), there's an extremely well made fighting game that will keep the social and solo player busy for a very long time.