Mortal Kombat: Armageddon - PS2 Review
One of the goriest and bloodiest game franchises is back, yet again, for what is about the millionth game Iím sure. Mortal Kombat has been around for ages, and despite numerous additions, changes and differences between every version, it still feels like it has come straight out of an arcade machine. This, of course, has good and bad points to it, which I shall cover here, but to begin with letís take a look at the story, which this time doesnít follow the standard formula.
|Yes the series is still bloody.|
Given the name of the game, Armageddon, I bet you canít guess the main plot device! Thatís right Ė due to there being so many combatants and them all being so powerful, there is an inevitable Armageddon approaching. But the Armageddon wonít just kill the combatants Ė it will wipe our life as we know it, in all realms of the MK universe. Because of this, Elder god Argus and sorceress Delia have decided to try and stop this from happening, charging their two sons with a quest to stop the combatants by defeating Blaze, a fire spawn birthed just for this purpose. The son who completes the quest will not have only stopped the end of the world, but will become successor to the throne, becoming the leader of Edenia. Sound like a decent enough story? It certainly fits the game and pushes along the konquest mode after the very nice intro cut scene.
So letís start with that. The konquest mode is the main story-driven mode of play, allowing players to play as Taven to race against his brother Daegon to find Blaze and put of Armageddon. And this is great fun! The konquest mode in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon is incredibly well done (if they ever turn Streets of Rage into a 3D game and it ISNíT like this, it simply wont work!), and players will fight literally armies of enemies that have different attacks ranging from the good old punches through to poison bombs through to archery, swapping to the standard arcade style battles when fighting an actual Mortal Kombat character. The konquest mode of previous titles has been axed and replaced with one much more like Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, which has been a welcome change. There are a lot of death traps to avoid, though at times I found myself walking into them on purpose, just to see the result; Mortal Kombat: Armageddon is as bloody as ever!
|BEWARE - Falling Rocks!|
As well as the konquest mode, there is, of course, an arcade mode where players can fight one on one. These also have some quite lovely death traps ranging from rolling wheels of spikes, through to lava and slime. This extends over into the versus mode which is, obviously, a two player version of the arcade mode. One of the most impressive things about this title is the sheer number of characters available. There are all 60 characters from the Mortal Kombat games. This means you can play as Scorpion, Jax, Shao Kahn, or whoever you like! There is even a character creation mode where players can not only make their own character look, they can completely customize their characters fighting styles (both hand to hand and weapon based!). While it does take a good hour or so to create a character from scratch (without using any of the preset fighting styles), this adds an extra dimension to arcade battles, and is a great addition.
While some of the more unique mini-games from previous releases have been removed, a new one has been added in: Motor Kombat. This cart racing game allows 1 or 2 people to play as one of 8 characters racing on a track in a very Mario Kart fashion. It is obviously not as extensively made as dedicated cart racing games, with only 5 tracks, and with each character only having access to one weapon, but it is nonetheless quite fun.
|MK's graphics are adequate.|
So there is definitely a lot there to please different types of gamers, but itís not without its flaws (though there arenít many - overall this is a fairly solid release). For one, the fighting system in konquest mode is so enjoyable that it actually makes the arcade battles less than spectacular. The arcade mode fighting, while definitely managing to recreate the feeling of an arcade machine, lacks the fluidity of other big-name fighting franchises such as Tekken. Instead of mapping each button to certain type of attack, each button is one specific attack, meaning that not only does the fighting feel very stop-start, it also rewards button mashing as opposed to carefully timed combos.
Also, it seemed far too easy just to make our own character and use them over and over. While making your own fighting style from scratch is a nice feature, itís far too easy to make a character that is fast and has a lot of cheap moves. So far, no one has been able to consistently defeat my character over and over, and while thatís great for me, it does leave the game somewhat unbalanced.
|Now that's skimpy clothing.|
As far as the graphics go, there has been little improvement here since the previous few titles. Character models still look a bit bland, and with so many characters itís easy to get a few confused with each other. Both arcade and konquest mode levels could be a lot more detailed, but at least konquest mode has a nice draw distance and never drops the frame rate. It might play like God of War, but it certainly looks several years older. However, Mortal Kombat has never really been a game to push graphics to the next level, and it doesnít really change too much in the game Ė this isnít something youíre supposed to believe happened.
Similarly, audio is adequate enough, but nothing amazing. Each arcade level has its own music soundtrack and they are all fairly nicely picked, if not slightly repetitive. Sound effects arenít too bad, while, as with many fighting games, there is only so many times you can hear a cry of pain before wanting to change characters just for a bit of variation.
|Getting some air time!|
In closing, Mortal Kombat: Armageddon isnít going to appeal to everyone. Fans of the franchise are going to love it Ė itís all the good parts of previous Mortal Kombat titles mixed together with only a few of the problems. Newcomers may find the arcade mode a bit Ďclunkyí and arenít going to appreciate the massive list of characters as much (without knowing the Mortal Kombat history), but the konquest mode alone does make this a worthy release. While this mode may be fairly short (we completely it fairly casually in about 5-6 hours), there is a lot of content here and it would make a good addition to anyone who is a fan of the series or just loves the odd beat-em-up/fighting game.
Review By: Michael Hutchesson
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|GRAPHICS||Thereís little improvement here from previous titles. Looks fairly dated and cartoony. The death traps always provide a laugh with blood splatter everywhere.||72%|
|SOUND||Nothing special to report. It replicates the feeling of an older arcade machine fairly well, though character voices can get annoying at times.||71%|
|GAMEPLAY||This is a bit variable. Some modes are great, while others feel incredibly clumsy.||70%|
|VALUE||Over 60 characters, plus you can create your own. With plenty of arenas and several modes, you wonít be maxing this game out anytime soon! ||82%|
|OVERALL||By no means crap, but also not an AAA title. The controls in the arcade mode are our only real complaint.||74%|