Tuesday, July 17, 2007

GameFAQs Review - Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (Xbox)

Since its debut in the early nineties, Mortal Kombat had become something of a long-running franchise that built its empire on the bloodied skulls and dismembered torsos of controversy, spawning a new string of violent video games. It's probably because of this violence that it became a household name, enough to get a movie, a cartoon, a live-action television show, and even some action figures and card games. But then, it happened; Mortal Kombat got repetitive, the novelty of performing ridiculous finishing moves went stale, and people moved on. Years later, the crew behind MK remade the series into a deeper 3D fighting game (well, deeper than the older games) and people noticed.

And now, with the new consoles taking over the reigns, Midway decided to release the last MK game for the PS2/X-Box generation of consoles. It can easily be considered the 3D equivalent of Mortal Kombat Trilogy, which was the last 2D game before the shift to 3D. How does this game fare in comparison to that release? Let's find out.

STORY: After years of konstant Mortal Kombats, the Elder Gods have had enough. Fearful that the konstant fighting may lead to the destruction of the realms, the Elders placed a safeguard and... more kombat ensures. Or something like that. Anyway, a last tournament is held to see who can fight the elemental Blaze. Winner gets godlike power. You know something? MK games may not have had the deepest or most refined of gameplay, but they always had some semblance of good storytelling even if it didn't make sense. For this game, it seems no effort was made to concoct a good story and it was just thrown together just for the sake of getting 60+ fighters together to beat the crap out of each other. In other words, the story is now nothing more than an afterthought just like any other fighting game out there. 3/10

GRAPHICS: If you've played the previous two Mortal Kombat releases, you'll find that not much has changed in the graphics. Other than some graphical displays and stages (some of which are recreated 3D versions of old 2D MK stages), you could easily assume you're playing the same game. Some people say the game looks antiquated, but my view is that the graphics were just fine. A little stiff-moving, sure, but it's not there are a ton of other games that don't act as awkwardly if not more so. This is really a very minor complaint. 8/10

SOUND: Mortal Kombat's strong point has been its soundtrack and this game is no exception. The music is consistent in quality with the last two games, so if you didn't like or didn't care for the music in the previous games, this isn't going to change your mind. The sound effects are also serviceable and sound like what they should. Even the voiceovers in the Konquest mode are pretty good. No major complaints here. 7/10

GAMEPLAY: Anyone who has played any of the recent Mortal Kombat games will find that not much has changed, but the game still plays as solid as it ever did. I had no problem pulling special moves or short combos. The reduced number of styles is a bit of a downer, but considering the amount of fighters included in the game it's understandable. Kould have been worse... everyone could have had one universal style and play exactly the same way save for the special moves; a throwback to the old 2D Mortal Kombat games when the only difference between fighters were the special moves (and in some cases, the colors of their clothes). So yeah, two styles is still good in my book. The air kombat is fairly good and the parries are a nice feature, but feel more tacked on as extra abilities rather than play an intricate part of gameplay... although this may not be the case when it comes to multiplayer games, but whatever. Still, if you can get the hang of it, it can be a useful feature. 8/10

FEATURES: Konquest mode is more action-oriented that in the previous versions and that alone is an improvement. While it's not as expansive, it's no longer as dull. They also revamped the Krypt system by allowing you to buy stuff with a single type of koin instead of twenty different koin types, but the end result is that there isn't as many goodies to unlock. The ability to create a fighter is a rather good feature and you certainly have a lot of choices at your disposal in terms of looks and basic movesets go, but your choice in special moves is restricted. To put it more clearly, you're only allowed one projectile move, one stun move, one charge move, a teleport move, and a taunt. The special moves are keyed in - you can't make up your button sequence. It's a frustrating limitation if you want to recreate certain fighters from other games. To make matters worse, you're allowed only one created fighter per profile, meaning if you want to create new fighters, you need to create new profiles or ditch the one you already have. But if you can look past these, the feature is still a good one. Then there's Motor Kombat, the mini-game of the day. It's a cute little racing game with decent controls and well-crafted tracks, but definitely no substitute for Chess Kombat or Puzzle Kombat, which I found to be much more satisfying. 7/10

CHALLENGE: Mortal Kombat games tend to have very cheap AI. While the recent titles are somewhat balanced, they still retain a brief level of cheapness. In Armageddon, playing against a CPU opponent is manageable and even the final bosses of the game are somewhat balanced and can be defeated with proper tactics. Of course, cheapness is in here too, but it's not as prevalent as it was in previous entries. The Konquest mode is pretty straightforward and you shouldn't too much of a problem beating it. 7/10

REPLAY VALUE: There's plenty to do in this game. In addition to the multitude of fighters, you have secrets abound, Konquest mode, the Motor Kombat game (which will last a few tries), and the whole multiplayer component. It all depends on whether your thirst for Kombat will be satisfied. 8/10

OVERALL: Armageddon has arrived and it never played this good. This final chapter to the current generation of Mortal Kombat games on the current consoles is a deserving nod to its rich legacy and a fitting conclusion to this era of MK games. While there are better, more refined fighting games out there, this game doesn't try to outperform those games. It's just a different style and different is good. In any case, if you didn't like the previous MK games, this won't change your mind as it's more of the same. However, MK fans and fighting fans should give this game a whirl. It's a great game with a huge roster, a great story mode, and a good number of secrets to unlock. Go for it. 8/10

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