Title: Mortal Kombat
Format: PS Vita
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Developer: NetherRealm Studios
ESRB Rating: M
"Good, guess somebody else needs their ass whooped!" -Jax
Panda Express is the western approximation of asian cuisine. Mortal Kombat is the western approximation of an asian fighting game. Give either a couple of decades and we come to accept the inaccuracies. Sometimes, the post-racial politics are moot, because it's just a silly fighting game after all. A silly, bloody fighting game with a continuity that's slightly more coherent than the Tekken saga. Here again, as on the PS3, we have the Komplete Edition of the game where the warriors of the six realms do battle. The Vita port of this game with it's specific additions may make it "Komplete" but it's far from definitive.
I'm thinking most of our readers' first experience with Mortal Kombat is actually Deadly Alliance. What Mortal Kombat (2011) does is completely reboot the timeline ending in Armageddon. We get a retelling of the story from the first (or rather historically tenth) Mortal Kombat tournament. This takes us back in a number of ways to the 2D gameplay that ended in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. We go back to the time of pixellated digitized actors set in a cartoonish Hell.
Back when Sega was still kicking out home and portable consoles, we had the Sega Genesis and the Nomad. The Genesis was largely hyped as the leader in the 16-bit revolution. In terms of Mortal Kombat, the Genesis offered actual blood when ever the Super Nintendo rendered it as "sweat." The Nomad, released in 1995, offered gamers the chance for the first time to take their home versions of games with them on the go. The system was a beast to carry with poor battery life, but it had a gorgeous color screen and a port for a second controller. In 1995, you could play Mortal Kombat 3 on the Genesis and then take the cart out of the system and challenge friends on the go with the same game.
Mortal Kombat's story as a throwback and Sony's marketing of the Vita as a seamless experience both take me back to that time. The problem in this situation is that playing Mortal Kombat on the Vita is not seamless as grabbing the game and playing on the go. Graphically, this game is an inferior product. The colors and textures are dull in-game. The cinematics are ported from the home version of the game and the compression is good.
As a port, Mortal Kombat is something that looks like it can run on the Wii and 3DS. Unfortunately, that falls on one factor: the availability of Unreal Engine 3. It's possible we could see Mortal Kombat on iOS, Android or Wii U down the road, but no port is in sight for the Wii or 3DS. Still, one contention of Netherrealm is the advantage of the move from 3D to 2D is that the processors of the PS3 and 360 are freed up to allow for more detailed graphics and speedier gameplay. If that's true, the questions then become: is the size of the game card a factor in delivering the full-res version of the content? and is the Vita just not as powerful as Sony would want you to believe it is?
Gameplay-wise, this is Mortal Kombat 9. All of the moves, X-Rays, and Insert-something-alities are in tact. The different modes return and a new Vita-centric challenge tower is added. Some of these challenges are clones or parodies of smartphone games (Fruit Ninja in particular, obviously). Some of the system mechanics could be added back in as versus options. In one match, you tilt the system to gain high ground advantage. In another, you tap the screen to deflate a swollen head a la NBA Jam before it over-inflates and explodes.
This is a game you should play, if you haven't yet. Though, it's not a game that will sell Vita systems. If you have the system and are a fan of fighters, then this is a must-buy. If you don't have the system, then a superior version is already out for the PS3 and 360.
On a more positive note, how cool would it be to have a Freddy vs. Mortal Kombat movie? Just the concept of Freddy fighting Ermac and Shang Tsung, two soul collectors and an entity that's a collection of souls. The dumb Shao Kahn fight at the end is obligatory, but we've already seen how that fight ends in Freddy vs. Jason.
Final Score = 8.0/10
PSN ID: neshoba78