Ah, Mortal Kombat, just thinking of the name allows me to reminisce of my youth, when the two letters, MK were synonymous with controversy. A mere twelve years ago, Mortal Kombat was unleashed onto the gaming market to the disgust of politicians everywhere. Some may remember that MK pretty much vanished from the gaming scene after the disappointing MK4 and Midway’s withdrawal of working in arcades. Two years ago, the Mortal Kombat name was given new life thanks to the solid, yet somewhat lackluster Deadly Alliance. Now, Mortal Kombat: Deception is released, boasting the fact of being the first online 3D fighter and much more than just that.
Deception takes place right after Deadly Alliance, showcasing the Liu Kang killing alliance of Shang Tsung and Quan Chi fighting with Raiden, since no one was able to defeat them. The three of them fight, until they combine their attacks to fight with the newly resurrected Dragon King. The opening cutscene ends with Raiden sacrificing himself (and involuntarily doing the same for Shang and Quan) in a feeble attempt to defeat the Dragon King, but it turns out the Thunder God, Raiden’s sacrifice was in vain. Gameplay:
If you’ve played Deadly Alliance, you’ll be familiar with the overall gameplay of Deception. The core fighting engine doesn’t seem to have changed much, which is both good and bad. Good if you liked the fighting in Deadly Alliance, bad if you wanted smooth, fluent fighting. I still personally found the fighting overall to be a bit clunky, poorly animated and the moves weren’t very fluent, but it does feel as some minor improvements have been made. The lame and essentially cheap juggling is also back, unfortunately, but thankfully it doesn’t seem as abundant as it once was. Blocking has improved and isn’t slow to respond as it previously was, and breaking a combo is as simple as holding block and pressing towards your opponent once they attack. The game still uses the two fighting styles, along with a weapon for each character. The fighting styles are still quickly switched with L, yet I never found them to be very efficient, as staying with just one fighting style seems to work fine. In the future, I feel it’d be better to just have one fighting style and one weapon, it’d be much easier overall. The core gameplay is more or less the same, with only some minor improvements, which isn’t too bad, especially since so much more has been added to the game. As expected, new characters have also been introduced, but most of them are pretty generic and uninspired. Many characters have returned from the past, such as Baraka, Kabal, Ermac, Kenshi, Bo ‘Rai Cho and Nightwolf. With pretty much all of the new characters being boring, it’s a good thing that some classic favorites have returned, especially Scorpion and Sub-Zero, as I can’t imagine how pissed many people would be if those characters weren’t included. Scorpion is still pretty much the same looking, while Sub-Zero has become more powerful and changed appearance again, to now look like Shredder from the Ninja Turtles.
There are many new modes, and the Konquest mode has been extremely revamped into a full fledged adventure mode. In the previous game, Konquest was just a pseudonym for “long, boring training mode,” which has changed completely for Deception. Konquest mode is actually its own little game, where you play as a new character named Shujinko from his childhood until he reaches old age. The gameplay in Konquest is pretty rudimentary as it basically has you doing some training and many remedial tasks for other, helpless citizens, all in this huge MK world. I personally found the Konquest mode to be incredibly addictive, and it was even better how you could earn Koins in it to unlock things contained in the Krypt. If exploring a vast world in an adventure type mode isn’t your thing, Deception contains many other gameplay elements. Chess Kombat and Puzzle Kombat are new modes as well, both of them more addictive than they should rightly be. Chess Kombat is essentially a chess game, similar to Battle Chess, where you have MK characters on a 3D chessboard moving in strategic positions. Now, this chess mode isn’t only about putting your chess skills to work, because you can only take a piece if you can beat them in a one round fighting match. The other new mode, Puzzle Kombat is basically the classic Street Fighter influenced game, Super Puzzle Fighter, and it requires you to match up colored blocks in such a way that when another piece comes down, you can remove as many blocks as you can. Waiting for the removal pieces which vanquish the colored blocks from your side can be tense, especially when competing with an opponent who’s goal is the same as yours. Since it wouldn’t fit into Mortal Kombat without containing an inordinate amount of blood, Puzzle Kombat features young looking, proportionally distorted MK fighters attacking each other depending on how you perform with your puzzle.
If Deception still had some of the major gameplay flaws that Deadly Alliance had, I would’ve returned it out of disgust and disappointment alone. Deadly Alliance boasted boring and just plain lame fatalities that pissed off and disappointed pretty much everyone who saw them. Well, I can happily say that MK: D has fatalities that don’t suck, and no longer will you see a neck being stretched and someone getting stomped on. Instead, you will see the creative, bloody and violent dismemberments and mutilations that made MK so unique and fun. Each character has two fatalities, and a hara kiri, which is actually committing suicide before your opponent can perform a fatality on you. Also, stage fatalities have pleasantly returned, but in a form more akin to a ring out in Soul Calibur, only much more unique. Complex button combinations and waiting until the end of a match are no longer required to knock your opponent onto some spikes. The level designs, also take something introduced in MK3, and bring it to the next-gen, similar to DOA, which are multitiered environments, which make fighting more fun and interesting. Easily the most impressive mode is the online play and Deception is indeed the world’s first online 3D fighter. For being the first online 3D fighter, the game works surprisingly well online, most matches not having much, if any lag at all. When online, you can engage in classic versus battles, Chess Kombat or Puzzle Kombat, making this one game that’s sure to stay in your Xbox for a long time to come. Graphics:
Since the series took the bold step into 3D, it’s looked great, which is why the graphics don’t stand out as they did in Deadly Alliance, because the step from MK4 to MK: DA was a huge one, while MK: DA to MK: D is really only a minor one. The character models are extremely detailed, offering many little touches that show how Midway has gone the distance to make a game that looks great. The polygon counts are very high and the backgrounds are varied and detailed as well. MK: DA’s blood has returned in this version, and it still looks weird, sometimes spewing from a body as little red balls, but always ensuring that the stage painted red. Classic stages and fighters have made the translation well into 3D, paying homage to previous MK games quite well. While the regular Kombat, puzzle and chess modes all look great, using the detailed character models and backgrounds, the Konquest mode looks downright mediocre. Sporting low-res textures and character models, it’s easily the worst looking part of the game, but that’s probably because of the massive amount of things going on at once, similar to Shenmue, as everyone has some place to go. Aside from the Konquest mode though, everything else looks superb, sporting the best looking 3D MK fighters yet. Audio:
It wouldn’t be an MK game without the classic announcer and his fantastic sayings of “Fight” and “Finish Him,” so they have thankfully stayed in this version of the game as well. The character’s voices, namely Scorpion’s classic “Get Over Here” have also remained. Background music consists of some generic rock tunes, but doesn’t stick out in a positive or negative way, it just seems like something there for the sake of being there. The grunts and groans associated with fighting games sound quite well also, making this a solid sounding title overall, except for the... you guessed it, Konquest mode. It’s almost as if they purposely found the corniest voices out there for Konquest, or they’re just paying tribute to games like House of the Dead, because these voices are horrible. Lacking all sense of emotion, Konquest mode’s voices are delivered in a stale, monotone way that is just plain bad. Like the graphics, Konquest’s sound effects overall just seem tacked on, as if the mode was included as a last ditch attempt to add depth. Controls:
Arguably one of the most important elements of a fighting game, if it doesn’t control well, then it doesn’t make for a good fighter. As expected, the saying “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” applies here, because the controls are basically the same as they were in Deadly Alliance. Probably the biggest change here is that the left thumbstick can be used to move now, as it was unusable in MK: DA. The controls are still solid overall and pretty easy to pick up and play, and I also found it easier to execute some combos, as before they providing some challenge to get them to respond. The default controls for the Kombat mode only are posted here, as controls for other modes are so basic they don’t need to be posted here.
Left thumbstick/dpad – Move
Left trigger – Switch fighting style
Right trigger – Block
A button – Attack 3
B button – Attack 4
X button – Attack 1
Y button – Attack 2
Black button – Throw
White button – Pick up weapon Replay:
Remember the Krypt with 676 (AA-ZZ) unlockable items that was one of the biggest draws in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance? Well, it’s returned, albeit in smaller form, only containing 400 (AA-TT) items this time around. This is still an unusually vast amount of things to unlock, which is sure to keep you busy for a long time to come. An unusually addictive Konquest mode is also very lengthy, and not to mention the ability to play chess and a puzzle game, because those modes are excellent as well. Since the fighting has been improved and the levels are much better, you’re likely to spend more time on that too. However, the Xbox Live play is easily the most prominent feature of this game, and will have you fighting foes from all over. Deception is easily the most replayable Mortal Kombat game out there. Summary:
Without a doubt, Deception is what Deadly Alliance should’ve been. While MK: DA did many things right and was a huge step up from MK4, it was lacking in many departments, and that’s where Deception comes in and trounces it. If you’re wondering about all the references to Deadly Alliance, it’s because the games play very similar and Deception isn’t as big of an upgrade I would’ve liked to see in this full fledged sequel. MK: D looks great, sounds pretty good and controls well, and not to mention that the replay value is insurmountable. I love how many classic stages and characters have returned, and this game seems especially geared to the fans. The stage fatalities, interactive (the yin-yang island is genius!) and multitiered environments are all awesome, and some stages even allow you to pick up weapons a la MK4. Also be sure to note on the jail stage that some characters from previous MK games are locked up, which is a very cool homage done by Midway. I do wish that the fighting engine would get revamped totally, instead of slightly improved, but so much has been done right for this game. Mortal Kombat: Deception is not only the world’s first online 3D fighter, but it’s easily the most complete MK game, and any fan of the series should pick it up.Scores:
Gameplay - 8.5
Graphics - 9.3
Audio - 8.1
Controls - 8.6
Replay - 9.5Overall