Mortal Kombat Arcade Review (3 Games)

I finally got what I had been waiting for a long time for: the first three Mortal Kombat games in a single pack. Mortal Kombat Arcade is available on Xbox Live Arcade, so if you want yourself some serious MK action, go get it. Here’s a review of all three games in the package: Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat II and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3.

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Mortal Kombat

Gameplay: 4½/5 – I’m rather surprised at how fluid the gameplay actually is. You can easily make devastating combinations of punches, upper cuts and round-house kicks which is extremely admirable and makes the game feel very enjoyable. For some of the characters, learning their special moves can take a bit of practice but eventually you’ll master them all pretty quickly, and what’s more, there are no “unplayable” characters in this title. I’m chopping off half a point because I’ve never been a fan of the block-button (as opposed to pressing back to block), but you’ll get used to it very quickly.

Graphics: 4/5 – Of course the graphics wont look as impressive now as they did back in 1992, but the level of detail is admirable and the environments ooze of Enter the Dragon influence.

Animation: 4/5 – Really on the same level as the graphics. Midway definitely honed the motion-capture technology for the sequels but it still looks pretty good.

Music: 3/5 – I’ve always thought of the Mortal Kombat games’ soundtracks as really uninspiring. MK1 is no exception but I think the tunes have at least a little more meat to them and have some really nice Asian influences, which at least makes them sound distinct as opposed to the sequels.

Sound: 4/5 – The sound-effects are certainly colourful and though there’s a rather high repetition for grunts and groans there aren’t any sound-effects that would start to grate my ears.

Replay value: 3/5 – You can play as seven characters and unlike practically in all other MK games, you’ll want to play as them all. This pumps up the replay value up quite a bit. Also, you can try your luck at finding and fighting Reptile, but unfortunately the game doesn’t offer any extras.

Score: 75% – Mortal Kombat 1 has aged surprisingly well. It may not be the flashiest or the most expansive title in the franchise, but it’s certainly still a lot of fun.

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Mortal Kombat II

Gameplay: 3½/5 – For some reason the gameplay doesn’t feel as fluid as the first game and suffers from really complicated special-moves. No matter how much I play, I can’t seem to get into the groove of the gameplay.

Graphics: 5/5 – Much more varied and detailed than the first game. The character sprites are also much more clean.

Animation: 5/5 – The animations look much more fluid than before and there are a lot more interesting animation effects. There are also interesting animated little details in the backgrounds and the new animated fatality screen-text with the dripping blood also looks really good.

Music: 2/5 – The music is definitely a step down from the first game. I have to make the sound-effects play only at half volume just to hear the music, which is hardly worth it.

Sound: 2½/5 – Although there’s a far bigger variety of sound-effects, some of the character yells and especially Raiden’s screams started to really annoy me at times.

Replay Value: 2/5 – You have a bigger variety of characters, but some of them are an absolute pain to play as. The game also kicks your ass hard no matter what the difficulty level happens to be. If you enjoy the challenge, that’s fine, but I tend to get very frustrated with the game.

Score: 67% – Although Mortal Kombat II is much more polished than the first game with a lot more characters and special-moves, it suffers from a massive lack of fun with its gameplay and challenge. The game is simply too infuriating.

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Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3

Gameplay: 4/5 – The run controls and the combo system make the gameplay feel a bit more fluid than MKII, but not quite as good as MK1.

Graphics: 5/5 – As detailed and clean as the second game. There’s also a lot bigger variety of play-areas with many interesting milieus. Plus, going from one play area to the next with the power of an uppercut is pretty hilarious.

Animation: 5/5 – There’s still loads more animation than in the prior game thanks to the larger character cast.

Music: 1/5 – What music? The soundtrack is so bland you might as well not have anything playing in the background.

Sound: 3/5 – The characters sound a bit more distinct thanks to Cyrax and Sektor as well as Sheeva, but there is still a lot of repetition. However, the game doesn’t begin to wear on my ears the same way as the second game.

Replay Value: 4/5 – I come back to the game more readily thanks to the improved controls as opposed to MKII, but the game still kicks my ass pretty hard, even on Novice difficulty. The variety of characters and fighting stages, however, keeps the game from becoming dull. Plus, for the truly hardcore MK fighters, there’s some groovy extras to unlock.

Score: 73% – Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 is a step up from MKII on the entertainment front and is actually a fairly playable game. It has a few weaknesses, especially in the music and fairness parts, but is still an enjoyable, violent action romp.

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Review History (Mortal Kombat Games)

Mortal Kombat: Armageddon – 78%

(Gam: 4 / Gra: 4 / Ani: 4 / Mus: 3,5  / Sou: 4 / Rep.: 4)

Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance – 77%

(Gam: 4 / Gra: 4,5 / Ani: 4 / Mus: 2,5 / Sou: 3 / Rep.: 5 )

Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe – 77%

(Gam: 4 / Gra: 4 / Ani: 5 / Mus: 2,5 / Sou: 4,5 / Rep.: 3)

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