GAME NAME: Mortal Kombat Vita
DEVELOPER(S): NetherRealm Stuidos
PUBLISHER(S): Warner Bros
PLATFORM(S): PS Vita, PS3, XBOX 360
RELEASE DATE(S): May 1st 2012 / May 4th 2012
Blood, Guts, Gore. It’s the stuff Mortal Kombat is most famed for, the general slicing up of bodies and decapitating, stabbing, freezing burning… it’s all here. Mortal Kombat on Vita is no exception, but also proves that Mortal Kombat has a lot more to it than just violence. The Vita release is packed with content, a lengthy story mode, battle mode, battle tower, extensive online multiplayer; and not to mention the mountains of DLC available for the PS3 release last year that come pre-installed on the cartridge!
The heart of Mortal Kombat’s content comes from the Story Mode, in which you can play through a short cinematic with all of Mortal Kombat’s 32 characters, revealing a story of surprising depth for each. These are presented (terrifically) beautifully, with stunning cut-scenes linking the narrative together, and developing upon the characters’ personalities.
Next up is the Challenge Tower. Surprisingly enough, you are set a number of varying challenges to complete and if you succeed, you will progress further up the tower. There’s great variety here; sometimes you have to perform Special Attacks, other times you will have a set time limit to defeat an enemy. There are tag-battles too, among numerous other twists to keep the battling interesting.
One of the best additions to the Vita version of the game however is the Special Challenge Tower, which offers challenges related to Vita specific features such as the touch screen and gyro controls. Whilst some of these tasks are brilliant fun, some are extremely gimmicky. One of these such games is Test Your Balance, where you simply have to hold the Vita still to prevent your character from falling of the edge. It’s as dull as it sounds. Luckily, the other mini games – Test Your Luck, Might, Sight & Strike – are all relatively good. Might & Strike are variations on the same formula, where you must mash the X button to fill a strength gauge, and then press R to attack. It may not sound like much, but they’re decent time wasters. Test Your Luck is where a dial spins to determine the rules of your fight, and Test Your Sight is a variation of the Cup & Ball game, except now you have to guess which decapitated head the ball is under. There is one exceptional mini game named Test Your Slice, in which you must use the touch screen to slice decapitated heads which fly on-screen, and shake the Vita to detonate incoming bombs. The game is perfectly suited to the Vita’s 5” OLED Screen, and definitely stands out from the pack.
Of course, all the great modes from the original are present here too. In Versus mode, you can face off against opponents online, both on your own and in Tag Battles. There are also online leaderboards and rankings, but it can be a struggle to get online at all. The load times are often excruciatingly long, so although when battling everything is slick and works wonderfully, the chances of you experiencing the brilliant Online mode is fairly slim.
If the Online mode does fail you, there is always the Training Mode where you can hone your skills against AI. Complete newbies to the series can visit the Tutorial mode to learn the bare basics of kombat, and those looking to learn how to string large combos together are welcomed at the Practise & Tag Team Practise modes, where you can customize the opponent you are facing off against. The main attraction of the Tutorial Mode is the Fatality Tutorial, where you can discover how to execute the gruesome finishing moves.
After completing all these challenges you will earn koins, after which you will surely want to spend your kurrency in the Krypt. The Krypt is host to all the unlockables you could possibly desire, with other 500 costumes, artwork pieces, stages, fatalities, and compositions on offer.
Mortal Kombat is consistently slick, even online. There are 32 characters, X Ray Moves, Fatalities and it all runs at a joyful 60 Frames Per Second. Where Mortal Kombat falls short however, is in the audio and at times the graphics. Music is consistently varied, and is always atmospheric – not to mention the amazing voice acting! – but the volume level is disappointingly low. Even when adjusting the slider to full in the Options, the sound is barely audible. What this unfortunately means is that combat is never immersive, measly groans and screams scuttle through the speakers, barely making any impression.
It isn’t just the sound which fails to impress. Graphics, although astounding in the story mode cinematics, fail to impress during kombat. In order to run at 60 Frames Per Second, it’s clear NetherRealm Studios made huge sacrifices in other areas, meaning that character models drop below PSP quality. This means the gruesome details of the Home Console version are absent, and also that backgrounds are not as vibrant and often have jagged edges. Despite the gaping flaws present in the game, the amount of content makes up for most of the flaws, and many of the Vita specific features means Mortal Kombat Vita is worth a purchase even if you own other versions of the game.