Thursday, August 10, 2017

Review #450: Mortal Kombat Trilogy

 Now I remember why I didn't like classic Mortal Kombat.
 While Mortal Kombat was free of Street Fighter II-style upgrades, it all changed with Mortal Kombat 3. And then Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. And finally, Mortal Kombat Trilogy, a 'dream' game of sorts, compiling every single character from previous games, for a total of 32(Plus 4 bonus 'retro' characters) playable characters. And it sounds like a dream come true.... for Mortal Kombat fans exclusively.

 You boot up the game and... there're only three modes: Arcade Ladder, 2 on 2 and 8 man battle. Don't be tempted to go into anything but Arcade Ladder unless you've got another joystick, else you'll be stuck in the character select screen for all eternity, or until you reset the console, since those two other modes require another player, no ifs or buts. It's a pretty silly design flaw, if you ask me. Even for a fighting game of its time, the mode selection is pretty lacking. The Arcade Mode is an absolute nightmare, since the game becomes unbearably hard pretty early on, with the CPU reading your inputs and reacting with uncanny reflexes to your moves. Which kinda sucks, since unless you've got another joystick lying around, there's no way for you to try to figure out your character since the CPU will pound on you over and over and over and over and over and over again. And there's no moveset anywhere, not even on the instruction booklet, so you're on your own.
 ....but let's assume that you persevered, thanks to unlimited continues, so that not even the cheap Endurance round(2-round battles in which you have to defeat two opponents on a single life bar) could stop you, and you defeat Shao Kahn and... the game freezes. Unless you're playing on an original Playstation 1, this game will have issues. On the PS2 the game will freeze after beating the final boss, it will freeze if you let the timer run out on the Continue screen and the music will stop if you pause the game. It kinda sucks. While the PS1 version has more character than the N64, you also get loading times, which are mercifully short, unless you battle as or against Shang Tsung, but the game lets you pre-pick a couple of transformations, if you so wish, so as not to have the game load mid-match. As for the exclusive retro characters... they suck. They have a few new moves, but performed with pre-existing frames, so they look awful, and their Run animation is just a sped up walk. Lame.

 As for how the game plays, it's your classic Mortal Kombat, two punches and two kicks as well as a block button. Mortal Kombat 3 introduced the run button and dial-up combos. Every character has a few special moves as well as a few unique dial-up combos, which are pre-scripted combos performed by tapping a specific string of buttons. Most MK fans hated those, I'm alright with them, since they help add variety to the characters beside their special moves. The problem with Dial-up combos is that they are way more convenient than most combos a player could come up to, so the name of the game is to learn a couple of those and perform them ad-nauseam. Trilogy introduced a new 'Aggressor' meter, which increases as you deal damage, fill it and you'll temporarily deal extra damage.
 What I will grant the game is that, as much as I hated and still hate, to this very day, digitalized graphics, Trilogy looks pretty baddass. I mean, Liu Kang, Shang Tsung and Johnny Cage actually look cool in the game, everything looks serious, dark, slim and trimmed. Mortal Kombat had never looked this cool, and while the new post-apocalyptic setting might not be to everyone's liking, the stages had never been this intricate or appealing before. I also love having like 7 palette-swapped Ninjas, and them too are the coolest and badassest they've ever been.

 Mortal Kombat Trilogy reminded me of why I didn't like classic Mortal Kombat. Say what you will, but if you remove the violence factor, the game becomes a subpar fighting game. I've no doubt that the game could potentially be fun against another player, but if you're on your own there's no way for you to enjoy the game. The CPU will kick your butt, and will do so so quickly that you won't have time to learn how to play your character or how to experiment with his moveset, and there's no training mode to facilitate that either. Still, for Mortal Kombat fans, this game will re-ignite nostalgia, and the large character roster, encompassing the entire series up to that point, is a huge selling point.
 4.5 out of 10

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