The Mortal Kombat franchise had a brutal opening when it released back in the 90’s, and after a good 8 games it was time for a reboot for the franchise. Mortal Kombat 9 is the first to receive this treatment—and just as the original was then—the modern version is equally as good if not better.
The gameplay itself has gone back to a simpler formula (similarly as Street Fighter IV) with a 2D style, and no longer emphasises the 3D effects which the later installments had.
You can choose from 26 fighters including unlockables that are obtained through story mode. Each fighters have their own unique moves, special moves and fatalities. The special moves consist of teleporting or projectiles and can be used in most instances.
When receiving damage, a meter at the bottom of the screen will fill. This meter is broken into three sections; the first section allows you to perform special move abilities, these are usually an enhanced version of a normal move and deliver more injury. A two bar meter allows you to perform Breakers, and finally, a full three bar X-Ray Meter gives you access to the X-Ray Attacks.
X-Ray attacks give the most damage but can be blocked so you need to know when it’s the best time to pull one off. Once the meter is filled, simply pull both triggers and watch your fighter perform devastating moves to the opponent while the game zooms in on the inflicted body part using X-ray vision to show the bones being broke.
The controls are perfect! You have two types of punches and two types of kicks. You can grapple with the right bumper and block while holding down the right trigger. Now, the main thing Mortal Kombat is known for is fatalities. They make a return and this time they are the most gruesome to this date. Each fighter has multiple fatalities and they have different inputs, requirements to achieve.
Each fighter is highly detailed, and with it being a fighting game, everyone wants blood. NetherRealm delivered on this with a fantastic damage system. Not only do people bleed, but they will become grazed and bruised over time in the duration of the fight.
Clothes tear, masks break off, flesh gets torn from bones and blood splatters all over the place. During the character select screen you have the option to choose from 2 costumes with each having 2 colours.
The stages are also very detailed. There’s a good environment variety, and they’ve also included classic levels such as The Pit and The Living Forest and certain levels allow for stage fatalities.
There are plenty of modes to play through, Story, Arcade, Challenge Tower and Online. The story takes you through the original events that unfolded in Mortal Kombat 1, 2 and 3. Since this is a reboot certain sequences have been changed but it’s been told for people who are new to the series and it’s plot.
You will take on the roll of many fighters throughout the chapters. The story will take you roughly 8 hours (or a little less) depending on the difficulty, and how well you play. Each fight is split up with cut-scenes and they are all performed well with great voice over work.
The Arcade mode allows you to fight through a dozen of fighters and square up against Shao Khan, this can be done solo or with a tag team. The final bosses can become cheap so be prepared for a throw a few curse words at the TV.
Challenge Tower puts 300 tasks in front of you, these consist of beating other fighters, performing special moves and other pieces such as fending of Zombies. Higher the levels the harder they become but with the 100% a special reward.
Each fight also rewards the player with Koins. These can be used to unlock costumes, artwork and background music through The Krypt. Another unlockable is Kombat Codes, these mix a variety up in fights such as fighting with no arms, no jumping or infinite X-Rays.
Online allows for you to play with friends or others. The game features a mode called King of the Hill, where up to 8 players can spectate and play the winner of the previous match.
Here you can rate the fighters performance from a scale of 1-10 and talk with others who are also spectating. Upon launch the game did suffer from online issues with lag and not finding other players to compete against.
Mortal Kombat 9 is a terrific reboot to the series and I can’t help but hope for future support plus sequels. I’ve had much fun with it so far, and won’t be putting it down anytime soon.