Wii Review: Mortal Kombat Armageddon
ESRB: Mature [Blood and Gore, Intense Violence]
The beginning CG movie in Mortal Kombat Armageddon says something to the effect that so many Mortal Kombat fighters have come about in the recent years that they’ve begun to tear apart the fabric of the universes existence. At least this shows that they know what they’ve been doing to the world with their past few releases. This most recent incarnation of the Mortal Kombat series sings much the same tune as the last few games in the series; It’s chock full of goodies, but all of them are tragically underdeveloped.
It’s all pretty much business as usual for MK this time around. As expected you’ll beat the snot out of other fighters with your choice of 60 different fighters. The problems with the fighting portion of the game begins here. There are 60 different fighters, a fantastically large roster of combatants by any standards, but they’re all way too similar. Everybody has a different style of martial arts to work with, but the differences aren’t showcased in the fighting engine. The fact is, fighting with Scorpian, Motaro, or Sonya doesn’t actually require you to change your tactics. It’s all pretty much a contest of who is the best at running up to the other person and uncontrollably flailing the Wii-mote, at best. The Wii-mote controls, as you may have already inferred, aren’t terribly useful. They help give each character a common thread which makes it easy to jump in and play, but they are often unresponsive and they take the joy out of accomplishing a special move.
The other returning mode is Konquest; a beat-em-up styled game which looks and plays like it belongs on the Playstation 2’s launch line-up. The primary function of this game is to reward you with alternate costumes and money for the character creation system (more on that later). It functions fine as a quick little diversion, but as its own being, it’s a terrifyingly underdeveloped piece of game code. You’ll take control of MK newcomer Taven who is apparently on the hunt to earn the right to succeed his father as king of Edenia. I say “apparently” because the story is shockingly nonsensical. Every event in the game functions as a medium for completely out of place characters to play a part. For instance, at one point Taven is praying next to an altar when Sektor comes out of nowhere, kidnaps him, and takes him into outer space. Why? Because they had no other reason for Sektor to make an appearance, and because they wanted an excuse to change the level scenery.
The last new mode is called Motor Kombat. Yes. Motor Kombat. Think Mario Kart with MK characters and much less fun. The entertainment value of Motor Kombat can be summed up rather well by my own experience with it. Shortly after I started playing, the-old-ball-and-chain called to tell me she’d be over in fifteen minutes with a pan of baked mostaccioli. Motor Kombat kept me playing for those fifteen minutes, but my attention was swiftly and irrevocably averted upon the arrival of mostacioli. There you have it, not terrible for a few minutes at a time, unless it’s in competition with melted cheese and pasta. (Editor's Note: Yes folks, mostacioli is more powerful than video games.)
The only truly solid aspect of the game to speak of is the character creation system. Virtually every piece of clothing or armor worn in the game (including dozens of other assets) can be mixed and matched to adorn your fighter. There are so many fighters in the game and all of them with a couple alternate costumes, that you can actually create some awesome looking characters. I myself actually managed to make a fine looking Sephiroth, a picture perfect Nightcrawler and rock solid Venom. Creating characters is a good time, but the catch is that you then have nothing else to do with them than play in the boring, poorly designed fighting mode.
From a technical standpoint, MK also underwhelms. The graphics are tolerable in the fighting modes, but in Konquest mode they look terribly bad. They’re not quite as bad as say, Spiderman 3 on Wii, but they’re pretty bad nonetheless. Level design is equally as uninspired, as Konquest basically forces you down one narrow pathway. You do what they tell you to do and take what they give you. It’s really pretty boring. There’s no need to waste your time on a substandard beat-em-up like this when Streets of Rage 2 is available on the Virtual Console.
All in all, if you’re a fan of MK you’re still going to get a kick out of all the gore and over-the-top fatalities as you always have. If you’re considering checking out Mortal Kombat for the first time though, I have to advise you to stay away. This is a substandard entry, even considering MK’s past 5 years. If you’re really itching for some gory action, go check out Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance on the Xbox. It’s older, but it’ll serve you a lot better than this.
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