Mortal Kombat Vita Review
Game: Mortal Kombat Vita
Developer: NetherRealm Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Available on: PlayStation Vita Only
If you walked into an arcade in the mid 90s you would have probably heard the immortal words “Mortal Kombat” echoing through the walls. You probably huddled around the arcade cabinet hoping to catch a glimpse of somebody playing the game who knew how to do the iconic fatalities. The series made the transition onto the home consoles, changing and becoming something different over the years, but things have finally started to go back to the roots. Mortal Kombat, previously for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and now available on the move thanks to the PlayStation Vita, is a true return to form for the brutal fighter. Does it work on the smaller screen or does the infamous hand cramp set in when playing for long periods of time? Will you even want to play it for long periods of time?
STORY: If you played Mortal Kombat on the PlayStation 3 or the Xbox 360 last year then you already know that it has one of the most impressive stories that’s been seen in a fighting game. It gives the player the opportunity to play through all of the game as different characters, which helps to keep things constantly fresh because as soon you figure out the move set of one of the characters and start to get comfortable, you’ll be switched into the body of another character. The story mode isn’t short either, usually clocking in at somewhere between six and eight hours, this may not sound very long for a video game but considering that you normally wouldn’t get any kind of story mode at all in this genre of game, you’re getting a great deal for your money.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to pick a single character and play through to the end as them, you’re not missing out either, you can still do that with the Ladder mode. You’re only going to see a motion comic at the end of your hard slog to the top of the ladder, not the full cinematic experience that you’d get from the Story mode, but at least you’re getting something.
There’s no doubting that – considering the genre – Mortal Kombat has something special in terms of its story, it’s something that truly needs to be experienced in order to see just how different it is from every single fighting game you’ve played before. If you didn’t get the chance to play it on the consoles when it was released last year, then you’ve got no excuse in not picking it up for the PlayStation Vita this time around.
GRAPHICS: There’s no beating around the bush, if you’re going to compare this PlayStation Vita version of Mortal Kombat to its big brother on the home consoles, then you’re going to be disappointed. This Vita version of the game looks much worse, but it does so for a reason. If you want 60 frames per second with your fighting games, and you’re wanting to take them on the road, then you’re going to have to sacrifice a little bit of graphical power. To be honest, when you’re wrist deep in another Kombatant’s (yeah, I did it, so what) abdomen, you’re not going to be caring that these models are of a less polygon count than what you may have been expecting. Another thing that needs to be remembered is that these “lesser quality” models are being displayed on a five inch OLED screen and not the huge TV you’ve got hooked up to your home console, so they don’t need to be of a high polygon count either.
Sure, when you first put the game on you may be taken aback a little, especially if you’ve played its console counterpart, but as soon as you actually start playing the game you’ll soon forget about it and start enjoying every move, every combo and every fatality, just like you’re supposed to.
SOUND: When you’re playing a fighting game, the sound isn’t usually the most important thing in the world, however, this is the Vita version of the highly acclaimed Mortal Kombat reboot, the game that revolutionised story within the confines of a beat-em-up title, so it’s pretty important here. All of the voices that were used in the console version of the game have been transferred over and you’re going to be treated to all of the auditory pleasures that you enjoyed in that version of the game. The speakers in the PlayStation Vita aren’t the best, but if you grab yourself a decent pair of headphones, stick them into the Vita and fire up Mortal Kombat, you’re going to be surprised at just how well the game sounds.
The only thing that people care about being said correctly when it comes to a Mortal Kombat game, is the word “Fatality”. I’m one of those people too and you’ll never get bored of hearing it.
GAMEPLAY: When you pick up a Mortal Kombat game, you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into, plenty of brutality, some decent moves and a bloody (pun intended) good time. That’s exactly what you’re getting with this new version for the PlayStation Vita. This first thing to note is that there isn’t a standard “Arcade” mode, instead you’ve got Ladder mode. This is the mode that you’re going to find yourself in most of the time if you’re the kind of player who enjoys selecting a single character and beating the hell out of everyone that the game feels like throwing at you. At the end of the ladder, when you’ve beaten a good group of characters and faced off against Shang Tsung and Kintaro, you’ll be pitted against the dreaded Shao Khan, who isn’t an easy battle and will take all of your skills just to damage, never mind beat.
If you’re looking for more of a story based fighting experience, something that you’re not usually treated to when it comes to this genre, then you’re in luck, Mortal Kombat has one of the best story modes ever created when it comes to a beat-em-up. Everything that we loved about the Story mode last year on the home consoles has made its way to the PlayStation Vita, the graphics have taken a pretty severe downgrade across the whole title and therefore it’s a little bit more jarring when the game switches from the cutscenes to the actual battles, but with gameplay like this you’re more than likely to just give it a pass and get back to punching people, extremely hard in the face.
That’s not all though, the Challenge Tower from the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 games have made a welcome return to this scaled down version of the title, tasking the player with performing more and more strange feats in order to get some of those elusive coins. These coins are used to purchase alternate costumes, artwork, fatalities and more in the Krypt, so you can guarantee that you’ll be wanting plenty of them. On this version of the game there’s also a Bonus Challenge Tower, which includes even more games, except this time they’re ones that utilise the different functions of the Vita itself. Test Your Slice challenges you to get as many points as you can in a mini-game that’s very reminiscent of Fruit Ninja, while Test Your Balance gives you the opportunity to use the accelerometer that’s built in to the system to maintain your position on a pole, stopping yourself from falling headfirst into the spike pit.
If you’re looking for yet more things to do within the game, you could pit yourself against other people in the multiplayer mode. This area of the game is where you’ll truly be testing yourself, against other real people around the world. If you’ve got a 3G PlayStation Vita then you could fight people while you’re out in the world. If that doesn’t sell the 3G functionality of the system then nothing will. You can test your skills in either ranked or unranked matches, either over WiFi/3G or simply with another person in the vicinity.
LONGEVITY: As with any fighting game, how long you spend playing it will depends entirely on the person playing it. There are plenty of reasons to come back to Mortal Kombat though, the Story mode will take you a good chunk of time, then there is the option to finish the Ladder mode too. All of that is before you start thinking about attempting to beat all of the Challenge Tower and Bonus Challenge Tower. If you’re looking for a game with serious value for money written all over it, you don’t have to look any further than Mortal Kombat for the PlayStation Vita.
VERDICT: When Mortal Kombat was released for the home consoles a year ago, it instantly became a fighting game classic. The story mode alone cemented its place in the pantheon along with Tekken and Street Fighter. This portable version of the game has taken everything we loved about that game and shrunk it down small enough for us to be able to take it anywhere we’re going; and it has lost nothing in the process. The game is a little difficult to play for long periods of time and your hands will start to hurt simply due to some of the positions you’ll be putting them in, but most people will battle through the pain just to get a few more matches in. There’s certainly plenty to do within the game and if you’ve got a PlayStation Vita, and even vaguely enjoy a good fighter, then you’re doing yourself a disservice by not playing Mortal Kombat on the PlayStation Vita right now.