Get Touchy-Feely With Mortal Kombat Vita (Review)
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation Vita.
Shao Khan, ruler of the Outworld has defeated the heroes of Earthrealm. Only Raiden, God of Thunder stands in his way. The story begins as Shao Khan prepares to deal the final blow to the deity, but Raiden has one last trick up his sleeve. Gathering the remnants of his broken amulet, Raiden uses his remaining power to send a message back in time to himself and warn of the impending defeat. His former self, standing at the opening ceremony of the 10th, and final, Mortal Kombat tournament receives the visions and tries to decipher them before it’s too late once again for the heroes of Earthrealm.
Mortal Kombat is a fighting game where 3D-rendered characters fight on a 2D plane. Like its console brethren, MK Vita features a single-player story mode that combines the storylines of the original three games into a single campaign. Story Mode is divided into different chapters with each one focusing on a particular character. All of your favorites are present: Liu Kang, Sonya Blade, Cyrax, Scorpion, Sub-Zero, and more take center stage while providing a much better story than the originals.
Most of the assets from the console version have been reused which essentially makes it no different from the single-player story on its big brothers, the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. This is a good thing considering that the story arc in this franchise reboot is absolutely superb! Between the excellent writing and stellar voice acting, today’s Mortal Kombat makes you wonder what happened with the movies. This Mortal Kombat really returns the series to its roots and makes it the best of the series in years!
However, there have been some changes in this latest iteration in regards to the challenges, multiplayer features and content. Many of these have been made to leverage the PlayStation Vita’s hardware features like the touchscreen and SixAxis functionality, the most notable of which are the Touch Fatalities. Using the Vita’s front touchscreen, you can now swipe in the directions necessary to execute a Fatality instead of using the more traditional directional pad if you so desire. This makes performing Fatalities much easier for those people (like yours truly) who just can’t manage the rapid pattern of button presses necessary to rend your foes into all sorts of gruesome states.
The Vita’s touchscreen and tilt capabilities also play into the 150 new challenges that have made their way into the portable game. Challenges such as Slice of Life (a Fruit Ninja-style challenge where you swipe to destroy incoming fruit) or I Still Hate Teddies! (After defeating your teddy bear-bearing opponent, you must use the Vita to shake the teddy to death). A personal favorite is Blood Shot, where you have to continually wipe the screen to not only see your opponent, but restore health as well! By far, Netherrealm has been the most creative studio with the use of the Vita’s controls, and playing the Bonus Challenge Tower with these features has been nothing less than a blast.
One popular feature that’s oddly missing is the ability to transfer save files from the PS3 to the Vita and back. While I don’t mind starting the Story Mode over again, some people may find this to be a bit frustrating.
The multiplayer aspect, however, is more disappointing in its selection. Gone is King of the Mountain, Mortal Kombat’s arcade-style multiplayer competition. The only modes available to you are 1v1 and tag team matches regardless if you’re playing online or ad-hoc on the network. However, connecting to my Wireless-N network, I experienced no lag or stutter while playing online.
If you’ve been suffering from a Pokémon complex and just had to catch all of the extra downloadable characters, don’t fret! All previous downloadable characters, including Kratos and Freddy Krueger, have made their way into the out-of-the-box roster, along with 16 alternate outfits to unlock. All characters are available from the get go, while outfits and alternate Fatalities are unlocked through the Krypt or by completing challenge matches. Hundreds of additional unlocks such as music, concept art, and character renders can be unlocked as well, enough to satisfy the most die-hard of completionists.
The game has ported quite well from the console to the PlayStation Vita, as they look and feel almost identical. From a gameplay perspective, it is almost as though the handheld was designed specifically for this Mortal Kombat. The smaller D-pad and buttons make rapid fire combinations smooth as silk and allow for super fast-paced action. Even I, as the button mashing aficionado, was able to find more accuracy with the Vita controls than on the PS3 or Xbox 360. Simply roll your thumbs in the direction you want to go, hit that button and your opponent is an icicle. Accomplished fighters will find that unleashing furious combos will be far easier, and button mashers won’t feel so… mashy.
But for one issue on the graphical side, Mortal Kombat Vita is a near perfect copy. The backgrounds and cutscenes are absolutely gorgeous, but the character skins look as though they suffered a bit in the porting. Jagged lines are abound on the models, and the textures look dull in comparison to the console. This is only noticeable though at the beginning or end of a match, when there is no fast and furious action to prevent you from stopping and taking notice.
At the end of the day, Mortal Kombat for the PlayStation Vita is just as solid as the console version in just about every respect. King of the Hill is a sorely missed multiplayer feature, and the character skins could have used some tuning, but that shouldn’t deter you from the fact that this game plays just as good, if not better, than its full-sized siblings. Add in the fact that you get all of the DLC to date and a new Challenge Tower to conquer along with the original, and MK Vita becomes an exceptional deal at $39.99 retail for a physical copy.
One last complaint: same price for the digital download on PSN as the retail version? Really kids!? Gamers, do yourselves a favor and save some memory card space. Paying the same price for a digi-copy is outrageous!
But do buy the game.
Mortal Kombat receives a 4.25/5.0.
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