Mortal Kombat – Review (PS VITA)

When Mortal Kombat was released early in 2011 for consoles, it was a definite return to form for a series that had seen nothing but lacklustre sequels and spin-offs for years. Moving the gameplay back to a 2D platform and upping the blood and gore factor, a signature staple the series had been known for for 20 years, Mortal Kombat was a truly great fighting game.

Mortal Kombat on Playstation Vita brings that same fantastic game over to Sony’s shiny new handheld, complete with all the DLC characters, as well as Playstation exclusive Kratos, additional costumes not released in the console version and all balance tweaks released for the game so far, as well as additional content exclusive to the Playstation Vita.

There is a lot of content to be found within Mortal Kombat that is sure to keep you coming back.

First of all there is the Story Mode, which is sort of a re-imagining of the tales told in the first three Mortal Kombat games released all them years ago. It’s not the best written story ever told in a videogame, however I like the fact that it presents an opportunity to play with multiple characters from the Mortal Kombat roster, giving you some well needed practice before taking the game online.
One of the biggest drawbacks about Story Mode is that you cannot seem to skip cut scenes. Having already played through the campaign on the Xbox 360 version of the game, I had no desire to watch those cut scenes again, alas I couldn’t skip them which then took my play through on Vita considerable longer.

Mortal Kombat also boasts a Ladder and Tag Ladder Mode, Training Modes and the brilliant Challenge Tower. The Playstation Vita version also includes the Bonus Challenge Tower which makes use of the Vita’s touch screen and motion controls.

Netherrealm also decided to throw in a little Augmented Reality into the mix. Hidden with the Practice Arena, the user can play Mortal Kombat whilst playing against real world backdrops using the rear camera on the back of the Vita.

So has the transition to Vita worked? For the most part, it’s a resounding yes. Mortal Kombat feels great to play. The Vita’s Dpad is brilliant and I had no problems pulling off links and combos with my favourite characters. Not once have I yearned to be using an Arcade Stick whilst playing the Vita version. Throw in Touchscreen fatalities and X-Ray Moves and the game is even more accessible than it was on consoles which is great for newcomers.

Other areas fare less well though. The game still runs at 60fps and the dynamic environments remain intact. However, this has come at the cost of the actual quality of the character models and textures. Characters especially look less detailed and low-res than their console counterparts, in some cases even early PS2-ish. No where is this more apparent than Story Mode, where the games original cut scenes remain intact but then there is a horrible transition to the actual gameplay. It’s very jarring and takes away from the experience. However there had to be some sort of trade off to keep the gameplay, which is the most important aspect of a fighting game, running as smooth as possible. This is not a deal breaker in anyway, and when you are in the midst of battle you completely forget about Character texture models when they animate so well. The quality of the screenshots do not do justice to how the game looks in motion however.

Online also takes a hit. Although the games I have played so far have suffered from little to no lag, which plagued the console versions upon their initial release, options have had to be omitted.

King of the Hill mode is no longer present, so sitting in a packed lobby with friends and spectating on other matches is not an option this time around. The Online presents you with your basic Ranked and Player matches for both 1vs1 and Tag over Wi-Fi and Ad-Hoc. As well as your own Statistics menu and worldwide leader boards, which unfortunately you cannot filter to show only people on your friends list.

It’s disappointing in some respects, but this is Mortal Kombat running on a hand held. If you are a hardcore Mortal Kombat fan, then chances are you already own one of the console versions of the game and can enjoy lobbies there.
There is also online voice chat too. However I have not found a way to disable this option before a match begins. It’s quite annoying that I might be having a conversation with a family member whilst playing, and the person on the other end of the Vita can hear everything I’m saying.

Make no mistakes, Mortal Kombat on Playstation Vita is a fantastic game and arguably the definitive version. It may not look as good as BlazBlue, but it plays just as good and has even more content than it’s console brethen to keep you coming back for more. The positives far outweigh the negatives. It’s quite possible that had Netherrealm had more time to work on the game we might have seen better quality textures, and maybe we will see that in a future game, but what is here works, and works extremely well.

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