Mortal Kombat: Armageddon Review

In 1992, a new game hit the arcades, forever changing the landscape of gaming. That game was Mortal Kombat. Since then, Mortal Kombat has seen numerous sequels and spin-offs in the arcade, and on almost every console. The series expanded outside the realm of gaming, as well, spawning several films, an animated series, and one of the highest-selling soundtracks of all time. Mortal Kombat truly is a series which has helped define a generation of gamers, whether it be through the aforementioned products, or the controversy spawned over its violence.

As with all long-lasting franchises, though, over time Mortal Kombat began to wear out its welcome. Where once fatalities and characters such as Sub-Zero and Scorpion were enough to push products, as gamers matured Midway found itself trying to find ways to innovate the series, and keep it fresh. With Deadly Alliance and Deception, they succeeded to a degree. With the third current-gen installment of Mortal Kombat, however, gamers anxiously awaited word to find out how Midway would keep the gameplay fresh, and make the game worth buying. Thanks to the largest Mortal Kombat roster yet, a few changes to the already well-done gameplay from the previous two Mortal Kombat titles, and new features not seen yet in the Mortal Kombat universe, Midway did, in fact, keep Mortal Kombat fresh-and they also managed to recapture the feeling the original Mortal Kombat created back in 1992.

Mortal Kombat: Armageddon features all of the characters from the past Mortal Kombat titles. From Liu Kang to Shao Kahn to Shang Tsung, all of your favorites from past titles will be available to duke it out in Armageddon. Obviously, a few characters had to be toned down for balance issues-but they still have many of their original moves. At times, though, the number of characters may be overwhelming; sometimes you’ll have trouble deciding who to play as. This is one dilemma, however, I’d be glad to suffer any day.

The biggest new feature to the Mortal Kombat franchise in Armageddon is the Kreate-A-Fighter mode. In this, gamers will be able to purchase clothing, attacks, stances and more, and use these to create a fighter of their own desire. Like current wrestling titles, the creation mode in Armageddon is very in-depth. You’ll be able to adjust most aspects of your fighter’s face using sliders, and the costumes are varied (although they can be slightly limited, if you plan on trying to recreate actual people/characters from other games).

After finishing up with your character’s appearance, you’ll be allowed to completely customize their moveset, using attacks you’ve either unlocked through the course of playing the game, or by purchasing them using your coins. From high punches to projectile attacks, most of the types of attacks done by normal Mortal Kombat characters can be used for your creation. It is very easy to create a character with unbalanced moves, though, so be a little wary when you play your friend’s created fighter-he may be cheap.

To go along with the Kreate-A-Fighter mode, Midway also included the brand new Kreate-A-Fatality system. As anyone who has played the original Mortal Kombat games will testify, fatalities were the name of the game, and what helped make Mortal Kombat (in)famous. The only problem was, unless you had a strategy guide or printed off the button combinations, most fatalities were very difficult to pull off. In Armageddon, that’s no longer a worry. Now, when the trademark "Finish Him!" appears, a bar will begin to decrease in the center of the screen. Before it runs out, by pressing button combinations (forward-forward-x, for example) you’ll perform individual maneuvers. These range from rather tame actions such as punching your opponent in the face, to more ridiculous ones such as ripping his torso clean off (physics have never applied in Mortal Kombat). Not only does this mode make it so that even someone who has never touched Mortal Kombat before can pull off fatalities, but as you begin to experiment and learn what each combination does, you’ll be able to pull off some very impressive feats.

The other new feature in Armageddon which helps make it shine is the revamped Konquest Mode. In previous games, the mode was lacking, and served primarily as a training mission. In Armageddon, though, Konquest Mode is a full-blown adventure. You’ll play as a character named Taven, as you try to beat your brother in a contest of sorts set up by your father in order to inherit his powers from the elder gods. Like an old-school beat ’em up, Konquest is played in a third-person perspective. You’ll traverse landscapes varying from volcanoes to temples to snow-covered fields as you fight enemies in order to complete your journey-including the main characters from Mortal Kombat. As you progress, you’re able to learn special attacks (such as shooting a huge flaming ball at your enemies), which just further increase the carnage. You’ll also face traps along the way. Ranging from spinning blades to rotating hammers, these traps require careful timing to pass, and if you fail you die. There’s no second chance here.

When you end up meeting a Mortal Kombat character during your adventure, you’ll enter the normal fighting mode to combat them. This is a nice change of pace from the extremely easy combat in the normal Konquest fights, although it can be frustrating at times having to play all of these fights as Taven, in the event that you don’t like his moveset.

Speaking of normal Mortal Kombat fighting, the engine we’ve seen in the past few games has received several tweaks in this title. In the last few Mortal Kombat games, aerial combat took a backseat. Armageddon, however, reverses this trend. Each character now has several aerial maneuvers, and skilled gamers will be able to stay airborne for several seconds as they unleash devastating aerial combos on their opponent. It’s not a huge addition, but small things like this which cater to fans of the original games really helps show that Midway does, in fact, care about its fans-it doesn’t hurt that most of the tweaking done only improves the game, either.

In the graphics department, Armageddon looks decent, but compared to some other games out there it almost seems a few years old. The animations are done well, and the blood splatters (which stay in the environment for quite a while) really do add to the Mortal Kombat atmosphere, but overall it looks dated. On a related note, it would have been nice to get a small cutscene-or even visual montage-after completing the Arcade mode with a character, given the immense nature of the story in the game. As it is, when you win with your fighter you’ll be treated to the sight of the character performing martial arts maneuvers in the center of a platform, while text details what your fighter did with the newfound power he gained from winning the final tournament.

Fighting game fans looking for a game which will last a while can do no better than Armageddon. Featuring a system like the previous titles, there are hundreds of items to unlock, ranging from alternate costumes, to characters, to stages, to music. Not only that, but Armageddon even features a Mario Kart-like game titled Motor Kombat. It’s not nearly enough to be considered a full-fledged game, but as a mini-game it’s one of the better ones in recent years. The online system was also revamped. Now, online you’ll have better responsiveness, deeper character customization available, and much more lobby options. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as winning online, and treating your opponent to your best fatality combination.

When it’s all said and done, Mortal Kombat: Armageddon does nothing but improve upon the previous two titles. With better gameplay, the largest number of characters yet, a very deep Kreate-A-Fighter mode and the ability to create your own fatalities on the fly, fans of Mortal Kombat will be hard pressed to not pick this one up. Even gamers who typically don’t enjoy fighting games should consider giving it a try, as Armageddon keeps with the beginner-friendly concept previous Mortal Kombat titles have touted. Can a beginner beat a veteran? No-no way. But a beginner can easily have fun playing against the computer, and through that hone their skills enough to challenge even the hardiest Mortal Kombat gamer.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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