Mortal Kombat gets an awesome reboot packed with ‘kontent'

Like all fighting games, the Mortal Kombat series had its roots in the gaming arcade. Released in 1992, MK was Midway's violent answer to Street Fighter. It would go on to become hugely controversial due to the fact that its characters would bleed digitised blood, lose limbs and die horrific deaths. Controversy, fortunately, was coupled with popularity and Mortal Kombat would transform into a hugely successful franchise that would make its way from dimly-lit gaming arcades to gaming consoles and personal computers all over the world. The series would then lose its way. After Mortal Kombat 4 of 1997, there haven't been any memorable MK titles — not a single game in the last two console generations has been worthy of acknowledgement. The latest MK, however, sees the series return to its glorious days of gore.

Developed by NetherRealm Studios (previously Midway Chicago) and published by Warner Bros. Interactive, Mortal Kombat assaults its fans with everything that made the series famous in the first place: violence and er... violence. But that's not all. This time around, the game oozes content. There's a dedicated ‘story mode' (and it's surprisingly good), a ‘challenge tower', a fatality training mode, a tutorial, and a versus mode that sports tag team play and online play (which in itself contains an insane number of features). Tonnes of stuff such as ‘Kombat Kodes' and concept art can be unlocked using points earned from playing the game solo. There's a lot going on here and Mortal Kombat certainly needs it because the fighting system isn't necessarily deep. But having said that, there's definitely more depth to the combat than ever before in the series thanks to some, shall we say ‘borrowed' ideas?

‘X-ray' attacks can be executed once a ‘super meter' (sounds familiar?) is filled. These look immensely cool and deal heavy damage to opponents, often draining over a third of their health bar. These attacks can be executed with the simple press of two buttons — you'll just need a little bit of skill in waiting for the opportune moment to unleash them. ‘Dashing' (and dash-cancels) have been introduced — no doubt in an effort to woo Street Fighter fans. Luckily, everything works pretty well together and no particular addition feels incongruous. The developers' intent was to give the fighting system in Mortal Kombat a sort of ‘universal' appeal. There isn't much of a learning curve, so newer players are sure not to be put off by its complexity, but, on the other hand, there is just enough depth in the combat to keep fighting game enthusiasts interested. Only time will tell if there is enough balance and complexity in Mortal Kombat's fighting system to make it a serious competitive fighter, however.

It's the characters that form the core of the series and Mortal Kombat does not disappoint. The game's healthy roster of thirty characters in the PS3 version (including two that will be available shortly as DLC) is sure to please fans, with the return of favourites such as Skorpion, Sub-Zero(s), Raiden and Liu Kang. The PS3 version also features Kratos from the God of War series. Each character returns with his/her trademark special moves (plus some new ones), tag moves, finishing moves and a whole range of combo attacks. If you're not put off by the game's absurdly high volumes of violent content, Mortal Kombat is a game that you most definitely should be playing this year — even if it means bruised fingers from all that mashing.

Mortal Kombat is available on the PS3 and X360 for Rs. 2,499.

Keywords: Video games