Review: Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance
Posted 27 Feb 2003 at 21:30 by Franklin
Even people who don't play games will have surely heard of Mortal Kombat, a game that caused a bit of controversy when first released due to the amount of violence it contained and the insane amounts of blood. But as the years went on and sequels emerged little change was seen in terms of gameplay, just new characters, new moves and strange finishers to accompany the Fatalities such as Animalities and Friendships. And let's not mention the awful Mythologies game… woops.
With the release of Mortal Kombat 4 taking the series into the 3D world MK started to show some small signs of "growth" with the additions of weapons, but other than that it was basically the same game but in 3D. So here we are now in the 128-bit era and a new Mortal Kombat has begun in Earthrealm as a Deadly Alliance is formed that will threaten all life as we know it. Can Earth's mightiest warriors rise to the challenge of Mortal Kombat once more?
Let's see, graphics, where to start? With the characters I suppose. All the characters are designed very well with highly detailed outfits to give each one their own unique personality almost. The animation is superb and you can distinctly recognise and differentiate between all the different fighting styles on offer (more on those later). The fighting arenas are mostly impressive there are some that aren't all that great such as the "Drum Arena" and "Moloch's Lair" which I just found to be bland, boring and empty almost. Others however are just stunning like the "Wu Shi Academy" and "Shang Tsung's Palace, which are both imaginative and beautiful to look at.. In some arenas such as the Frozen Lake there are pillar like objects or statues (in the Frozen Lake it's giant icicles) that can be smashed if you hit them or better yet smash your opponent into them. Also on the Frozen Lake level as you fight you notice cracks form in the ice when a fighter falls hard onto it which is a great little detailed feature. Snow and rain effects are nice are help to give the arenas some atmosphere and ambiance. One nice little feature is that characters do actually pick up damage. This can't be seen too well while fighting however but when the fight is over and the camera does a close-up you can see scars and cuts on the faces which comes in different levels depending on the amount of damage taken.
And now we come to the blood. Now if you thought previous MK games had loads of blood you ain't seen nothing yet. Just one punch spills enough blood to start a small blood bank, it just gushes all over. You can however adjust the amount of the blood split in the options if you want (the default setting is maximum). But not only will the blood splatter everywhere when you hit an opponent it all remains on the ground for the rest of the fight and have your character walk into a pool of the red stuff and watch as they leave bloody foot prints everywhere they walk.
The opening FMV for the game is amazing to watch and begins the story of the game well and really sets the stage. In fact if you don't know what happens in the story like I did you'll be very surprised by what happens in the opening FMV. And if you just want to watch something to admire it's beauty you could be watching that one quite a few times. Also on the "Press Start" screen don't press anything and after a while a demo will begin of some characters performing a "kanta" which are all animated wonderfully.
Another feature in the graphics I see as the developers taking some inspiration from Dead or Alive, just watch when you play as or fight a female character and you can see their…erm…well "goods" jiggle and bounce and a bit over the top at some points too. Even characters such as Sonja who wears what looks like a tight fitting shirt but her "goods" still jiggle like mad. Nice attention to detail there, if somewhat unnecessary.
Not the most impressive part of the game. As ever the same male voice is used for all male characters and the same female voice for all the ladies when they get hit which can and will give you a very repetitive feel. But if they have to speak for a move such as Scorpion and his trademark "Get over here" they have their own, seemingly unique voice. The music is nothing special but I'll be honest I never really paid much attention to it while fighting all your concentration goes to the fight that the music seems to get blocked out somehow.
The sounds of punches and kicks connecting don't seem to have improved much over MK4 but the sound of weapons clashing is great, it sounds solid and very real. The voice acting for Raiden as he tells the story in the opening FMV and for the endings is done brilliantly. You really do get the impression of a powerful god like person speaking with a rugged deep toned voiced.
Let's start with the main thing that sets this Mortal Kombat far apart from all the previous games, the "fighting styles". Each character has three different fighting styles, two martial arts free hand styles and one weapon style, that's 21 characters, 3 styles each, that makes 63 different fighting styles. Most styles are actual forms of martial arts such as "Hapkido", "Karate" and many fans of old school Jackie Chan films will instantly recognise such styles as "Dragon", "Snake" and the great "Drunken Fist". All the styles look great and once you learn a few combos just watch in awe as the characters movements flow with each punch and kick just as they would if a real life master of that art where doing them. And it couldn't be simpler to switch between them; just a quick bash of the L button is all you need.
The game has a few modes of play, of course there is the Arcade mode which sees you battle through a number of fighters to try and win the Mortal Kombat tournament. In previous MK games after you choose your fighter you would have to choose a "ladder" which would determine how many battles you'll have and allow you to see who you fight. That is gone now, this time you just get straight to the tournament and the number of fights is determined by the difficulty settings, and you can not see all you fights, just the fight you are about to have and the one after it. This is good though as it leaves you to ponder what could be coming next. Also on this screen you're told how long you've been playing and a percentage rating for how hard your next opponent will be. Always nice information to know.
There is also the "Konquest" mode which is a sort of mission based training mode. In this mode you'll first be taught the eight basics of kombat such as movement, defending, and dodging. Then each character had 10 missions to complete which will teach the basics of each fighting style, special moves and how to perform combos. In all there is 218 mission to complete which should take you some time. Also as you progress with each character you'll be given information on the charters past and current situations as well as information on the fighting styles they use such as where they originated and around what times.
One massive feature in Deadly Alliance is "The Krypt" which contains 676 coffins. To make use of The Krypt you must first create a "Player Profile" which will also be kept secure as you can protect your profile with a password, preventing anyone from messing things up on you. As you play modes such as Arcade and Konquest you can earn "Koins" collect enough and you can spend those koins in the Krypt to open coffins. Each coffin hides a secret, which range from new characters and costumes, but also little features such as concept art works or information on objects in Mortal Kombat giving more depth and scope into the characters associated with those objects. Also you may be find short videos, some show early renderings of arenas and characters while some such as the insanely funny "Cooking with Scorpion" (no you're not seeing things).
The gameplay if now more focused on the hand to hand combat and weapons combat to give more emphasis on the fighting styles rather than flashy special moves. Most characters now only boast as little as two special moves with a lucky few given four or five. This may disappoint some but it does show that the developers are really taking Mortal Kombat to a new level. If you want to succeed in Arcade mode you're going to have to learn at least a small bit of each styles strengths, weaknesses and how you perform combos (hence the Konquest mode), this does make it a tad bit harder for the annoying "button basher" fluking victories in versus mode. And speaking of versus mode like always it's what will keep you and your mates (or foes) coming back for more. And to make things a little more interesting if both players have profiles you can use you're profile in versus mode and bet the Koins you've collected on your fight adding that extra bit of spice to the game and a bigger reason to gloat as you take your friends hard earned koins.
Also after a number of fights in both arcade and versus (you can determine the number in the options) you can take part in one of two mini-games, Test your Might and Test your Sight. In test your might you're placed in front of an object such a plank of wood or brick and your aim is to bash the A button you raise your strength and break the object. Test you Sight is the classic coin under the cup, where you have a number of cups and a coin is placed underneath one, the cups will then be shuffled and you have to keep your eye on the one with the coin and pick it when they stop moving. Successfully complete them to earn yourself more Koins. These mini-games can be very fun and gives a good breather between fights.
But when you first play the game and go to the "Kontent" menu (where you can view things you've unlocked in the Krypt) there are three DVD-like features for you to watch. First a "Making of MK:DA" ,which apparently was recorded over the course of 15 hours of one of the many days spent on it. It's actually pretty cool to watch and see some of the people behind the game, and if you look closely you can see things like characters using a fighting style they don't have in the finished version. Also they throw in a bit of comedy when they talk to a lifeless model, asking it what its experience in motion capture technology is and stuff. There's the "MK History" video which is a small documentary on the history of the MK franchise (duh). And finally a "Music Video", watch the video to the new kick-ass "Adema" song "Immortal" which is awesome, both the song and video.
One thing I didn't really like however is some of the characters can impale their weapon in their opponent, sure it looks cool to see your sword stuck in the gut of the other guy but to see them walking, jumping, fighting as if nothing is wrong looks stupid. The move does slowly drain health from the impaled victim so the move is just like a bit of a desperate manoeuvre or a dirty cheap shot. It reminds me of the "bone breakers" in MK4 where you could break a bone of your opponent but then they'd be able to fight as normal. It's a move that could have probably been used as a form of Fatality.
Which brings me to my next point; the wonderful world of Fatalities, which is surprisingly very small this time round. Each character only has one (yes just one) Fatality. This takes a little something from the game, you no longer get to say to yourself, which gruesome way shall I finish my opponent with. They are however not so complicated to pull off this round, just 3 or 4 direction buttons with an attack button, not too much to remember like the 8 or 10 button combinations of the past. And to make things easier when the "Finish Him/Her" comes up press L to change your fighting style to "Fatality" allowing you to pull it off easier, otherwise you may have to work out distance between you and your opponent to pull it off.
Seeing the same Fatality over and over can get boring (queue newspapers and politicians claiming violent video games desensitises the worlds youth and crap like that), even if most of them are good and very bloody with the exception of one. Quan Chi has the worst fatality I've even seen, it's called the "neck stretch" which will give you an idea of what it looks like. What happened? In MK4 he had the coolest Fatality where he'd rip off someone's legs and beat them with it, now that was entertaining (another queue for the newspaper and politicians).
First and foremost I have to ask the question, why can't we use the control stick? Did the developers not notice that thing just above the d-pad? Yep that's right, you don't even get a choice, the only way to move the characters with the use of the D-pad. It's not all that bad I guess for this kind of game that requires certain combinations of direction presses to do moves it's understandable, but a choice would have been nice. It's actually mostly the controllers fault (sorry Mr. Miyamoto-san). The d-pad is just a bit small, which sometimes makes things a bit fiddly if you want to press a combination such as left, up, down for example it's very easy to press it wrong, you could end up press left and up together making he combination useless. This is especially annoying when trying to do Fatalities. Other than that the controls work great and you can easily slide your fingers across the action buttons to perform the move you want. None of the special moves are too complicated, but you may have a hard time remember combos, specifically the longer "Branch Combo's" (a combo that starts in one fighting style and changes to next to perform one long combo), thankfully there are a number of easy combos that use just a few button presses.
A: Attack 3.
B: Attack 1.
X: Attack 4.
Y: Attack 2.
L: Change Style.
Z: Throws, retreats etc.
Control Stick: None.
This game has potentially ages of last ability. With the 218 Konquest missions the regular Arcade mode and 21 characters to go through it with, and not to mention the 676 coffins to open inside the Krypt that alone will take a very long time. And even if you do manage to do all that there's still a class versus mode for you and your mates to play some old fashioned winner stays on if there's more than two of you.
Mortal Kombat is evolving at last. Some great new characters join with old favourites to bring a pretty decent story line and some great fighting action. If your one of those people who loved the original but began to think the franchise was becoming a bit shallow Deadly Alliance will give you a good surprise. A more in depth fighting system with some great modes and features that will take you ages to fully complete.
Oh yeah, one last thing. It appears that a small bug is left in the game involving controllers. If you have a Wavebird and a normal pad plug in when you turn the power on the game doesn't load. It's just a small thing all you have to do it unplug on of the pads and the game will load and then you can plug it back in and all is fine. If you have two normal pads it works fine, don't know about 3rd party pads cause I don't have one but have heard some seem to exhibit the same problem.
N-Europe Final Verdict
Deadly Alliance finally sees MK mature and grow with the times and will certainly satisfy.
Different Fighting Styles
Konquest and Krypt