Publisher: NetherRealm Studios / Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Platform: PS Vita
Growing up I was always a fan of Mortal Kombat over Street Fighter 2, which is pretty much the gaming equivalent of liking Lost in Space over Star Trek. The franchise has had its highs and (more commonly) its lows, but considering it started off as a proposed Jean Claude Van Damme game, we should probably be grateful that such a superb fighting game for the PS Vita has come from it. A reboot of sorts (resetting the plot but keeping the later characters) this port of last year’s PS3 and 360 release focuses on the fantasy fighting tournament that will decide the faith of Earth, and offers the many playable characters the opportunity to achieve their goals (whether it be for revenge, power or whatever).
The Vita version offers all the fighters available from the Komplete edition and the developers were smart to have all the characters available from the start - and boy are there a lot of characters to choose from (including God of War’s Kratos and, bizarrely, Freddie Kruger). True, a number of them have very similar designs, but it probably wouldn’t feel like an authentic version of a Kombat game without that. With standard single fights, story mode, challenge tower and online matches, Mortal Kombat succeeds as both a pick up and play in short bursts, and as a longer challenge for the player.
Any fighting game succeeds or fails based on the responsiveness of its controls and I was thoroughly impressed here. With only a few minutes of playing, I had a good feel of the controls, but not to the point that I did not have to put in effort to master them. I judge fighting games by playing as long as I can on normal mode by button mashing without looking at any move list. There are, unfortunately, too many fighting games that allow you to pass through the game with this strategy. Here it can get you so far but I soon found myself abandoning this tactic early in the story mode. Yes there would be some nit-picks with the controls, such as my big hands would sometimes hit the right analog stick when pressing X (causing my partner to tag in) but the minor faults didn’t negatively affect me. Indeed, I think this was my fastest attempt at succeeding at a Fatality in a Mortal Kombat game, so I really can’t complain about the responsiveness of the controls.
Of course, with Mortal Kombat it is hard not to talk about the violence. Yes, it is somewhat immature, but the desperate struggle to ensure you successfully humiliate your opponent (i.e viciously kill a stunned person) is a trademark of the series that never really gets old (at least when playing a real live person). Unfortunately, the other violent addition to the series (i.e. the X-Ray takedown) is not so welcome. While impressive the first time it hits (in some cases much more so than the fatality move), it is long and repetitive. As it is such a powerful move, it is one every player must attempt when given the opportunity but it really is quite dull visually after the first time.
The quality of the graphics are varied at best but doesn’t take from the experience. Regardless of the slight visual issues and some tiny problems here and there, this is one of the best fighting games on any console and probably the most impressive handheld version to date. If you own a Vita, you should own this game (so long as you are old enough).
Rent or Buy: Buy
Reviewed by: JP Gallagher