Review: ‘Mortal Kombat’ for PlayStation Vita

By Jordan Zolan

May 8, 2012 11:38am
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Mortal Kombat for PS Vita (Credit: NetherRealms Studios)

To say that I am a fan of the “Mortal Kombat” series is an extreme understatement. From the first second I laid eyes on the game back in the early ’90s, I knew then and there I’d be spending a lot of time and money in the arcades. The game was innovative, bloody, fast-paced, pure fun. But as the series went on and countless sequels and reboots were put out on the market, the game lost its way. It started to lose everything that made it so great in the first place.

Last year, NetherRealm Studios did what I thought impossible; they brought back “Mortal Kombat” from the brink of obscurity and rebooted the franchise successfully. Sony’s PlayStation Vita has finally been graced with this excellent reboot, adding something new into the mix, making it a truly worthy port.

Everything players love about the console versions has been packed into the Vita. When I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING. Every single DLC (downloadable content) character has been unlocked and is at the player’s disposal. From Kratos to Freddy Krueger, this game has more fighters then a Bruce Lee movie.

The same fast and brutal moves found on previous versions are all here, including the eye-pleasing X-Ray moves. While the Vita’s graphics do hold their own against its console counterparts, there are times I noticed a slightly lower resolution in the character models or a washed-out color palette. Don’t get me wrong, the game looks beautiful on the Vita’s 5-inch OLED touch screen, but you can’t expect it to always hold up to the PS3 or Xbox 360.

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That'll Leave a Mark! (Credit: NetherRealm Studios)

The A.I. in the game is pretty standard for any fighter. The opponents you face in the early rounds are laughably easy, but by the time you get up the ladder, you’ll find the computer can often get in cheap shots and frustratingly good combos. This is the way fighting games have always been, and I don’t see it changing anytime soon.

Controls on the Vita are flawless. I can’t remember a fighting game that had such easy-to-use and, in some cases, innovative controls. The development team has managed to incorporate Vita’s touch screen into the controls, adding to the ease and fluidity of it all. Everything from the new X-Ray moves to fatalities are easily pulled off.

The original challenge tower is back with some remixes to the old challenges, as well as an all-new second challenge tower, exclusive to the Vita port.  The new tower not only offers fun challenges like wiping blood off the screen and juggling fighters, it also adds two new mini-games to the mix. There is a “Fruit Ninja” clone called “Test Your Slice,” where you get to dismember various body parts with a flick of your finger (sadistic, but satisfying). The other mini-game is “Test Your Balance,” which requires tilting the Vita to keep your fighter from falling to his or her death.

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Kenshi Gets Even (Credit: NetherRealms Studios)

Even if players own the console version, I highly recommend getting this title for the Vita as well. The game looks beautiful, sounds great and is easy to control. The game supports Wi-Fi and ad-hoc play, both of which work extremely well. If you’ve been turned off in the past by one failed “Mortal Kombat” reboot or another, this is truly the iteration that will win you back.

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