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Developer: Eurocom Entertainment Software OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: GT Interactive 1-2 Player
Game Type: Beat-em-up Memory Card
Review Date: September1998 Dual Shock Compatible

Setting the Scene

The Mortal Kombat franchise is like a friggin' just
keeps on moving along with no end in sight and seemingly not a damn
thing that can stop it.  The first MK broke all the rules for a fighting
game.  It featured original character designs, smooth movement and
control (for its time), awesome finishing moves and the
kicker...bucket-loads of blood!  The game was so graphic for its time
that when it was released on the Super NES system, Nintendo insisted
that the blood be colored green (!) and that some of the ending
fatalities be altered a bit.  It was one of biggest "wussy" moves of all
time and only served to give the game even more publicity.  Hell, the MK
series is probably one of the major reasons games now carry a rating
system in the US.  Unfreakingbelievable. 

Unfortunately as the series progressed, there was very little new value
added as far as innovative new features...mostly just new characters and
background storylines...yawn...   

Well, MK4 has now arrived and looks to try and breathe a bit of life
into the somewhat stale series.  The look is certainly new, an
innovative Z-axis (side-step) move has been implemented and a few other
new features have been added to try and spice the old boy up a bit.

Does the new game succeed in reviving a tired old broken down, albeit
still very popular series?  You actually think I'm gonna tell you right
here?  No way champ, you're just going to have to read the review to
find out!


Mortal Kombat 4 is a blood soaked, wonderfully violent 3D fighting game.
It is the first time the series attempts to step out into the bold world
of quasi 3D fighters.


The Mortal Kombat series has finally made the long awaited jump to
polygons.  The 3 previous versions as you may already know had
characters that were sprite based with motion captured animation.  MK4
uses lush texture mapped polygons for the fighters now.

I was pleasantly surprised when I popped the title into my Playstation
and took my first glimpse at the game. The use of polys improves the
game in a number of ways.  Graphically speaking, the characters are now
quite a bit larger.  They are also much more detailed, crisp and

The backgrounds are also made up of polygons and use a good deal of
animation, real time lighting and transparencies.  In addition you get
to experience the sights of falling rain, animated trees, fires,
lightning snow, etc.   The scenes are much more alive now than in
previous MK games.

The fighters special attack effects are also nicely executed with
glowing fireballs, illuminated greens skulls, transparencies, lots of
splattering blood, you know...good stuff like that.

Oh, the FMV opening video is just super.  It's definitely worth a look
or two and sets the pace of things to come quite appropriately. 

All in all the graphics are a BIG improvement over the previous games in
this series and compare favorably with some of the newer fighter out
there today.  It's about time!

Sounds and Effects

Ah, the one thing that has changed very little in the MK series is the
music and sound effects.  MK4 retains that familiar style that most
people have become familiar with.  Searing synthesized melodies that
deliver that wonderful MK signature are still there in all its glory.

The sound effects keep that same old "if it ain't broke don't fix it"
attitude as well.  Punches and kicks can almost be felt as they connect,
characters make their own unique sounds during the battle and thunderous
effects are generated when special moves are executed.

I would maybe like to have had a bit more change in the sound and music,
but what the heck it still kicks.


The one thing that has been pretty much a staple in the MK series is the
fast gameplay.  Button mashing used to get you pretty far in the
previous games and this one is not much different.  The good news is
that once you do actually get used to all the unique subtleties of each
character and their movements, you stand a much better chance of winning
on a consistent basis instead of just by luck. 

It looks like the designers really tried to revive the series with this
title.  Instead of just throwing out another rehashed MK game, they have
taken a lot of the things that really make this a great series and
improved on them.  In addition, new stuff has been added to perk things
up a bit.  

Starting up the game you have a choice of Arcade, Team, Endurance,
Tournament and Practice modes.  From the main menu screen you can also
access the options menu which I recommend you do before beginning a game
if you have the dual shock controller, since the game defaults to dual
shock off.  

From the options menu you can adjust the difficulty (from easy to the
brutally hard master), number of rounds, sound, music, dual shock on or
off, blood (on of course), Theater mode and the controller config.

In the Arcade mode you have the option of going one on one or two on two
against either the computer or another human player.  One on one is your
classic match-up where you select your would be champion from an initial
grid of fifteen.  From there you choose the number of opponents to face
from novice level up to master II.  They are stacked in tower formation
like MK 3.  If you are successful in winning all your matches the game
will save that character story and you can view it whenever you wish
from the Theater mode.

The two on two match-up is a lot of fun to play.  You select two
fighters from the grid instead of one, go to the contest towers and
start to fight!  The object here is to beat each of the two computer
players in a "best of" match.   Each victory shows the loser's fighter
literally exploding into a mess of guts with the head often flying right
out of the screen.

Team mode is just your team and fight it out against the
CPU or a buddy.

Endurance mode is broken into a few sub-modes.  You can select
Endurance, where your health bar is somewhat refreshed after each
victory, VS. Endurance or the brutal Ultimate Endurance where you better
brush up on your flawless victory's because your health bar stays where
it's at after each victory.  

Tournament mode is your standard fare.  Bring your fighter through the
tiers and making him or her champion.  You have the option of watching
the computer fights or turning them off...a nice touch.

Practice mode is great for fine tuning your fighting machine.  You can
take shots at an active or inactive opponent while the screen displays
your button presses, combinations and strings to where successfully
executed.  This is nice, but the clincher is the fact that you can
display each characters special attacks and multiple fatalities moves!

Jumping into the gameplay, I immediately noticed that even though the
game was now using polygons, it still managed to control and play much
the same as the previous MK games.  Control was spot on and moves can be
pulled off each and every time with a bit of up front practice.  The use
of Z-axis movement is executed very nicely.  By tapping the left or
right bottom shoulder buttons you can easily move the characters into
and out of the screen.  It works much like a sidestep move but is more
effective at dodging your opponents attacks and setting your own up as
well.  I really give credit to the designers, they managed to retain the
feel of the series while still moving the overall gameplay up a notch.

My favorite character in this game has to be Quan Chi.  He is a sort of
Uncle Fester looking dude that can really lay out some punishment.  I
particularly liked his glowing skull attack, which flies at the opponent
and starts taking chunks out of them, and his fan fatality

Like any good fighter, the more you play MK4 the more you become
impressed with the sheer number of attacks and moves that you can
execute.  The overall depth of the gameplay outshines all of the
previous titles in this series by a considerable margin.  

One word of warning...the game is hard.  Even setting the difficulty as
low as medium will yield a tough battle and provide most gamers with a
more than adequate challenge to become champion.  It seems that the
enemy AI significantly ramps up once you are up a game or are in the
final round of each battle.   

Oh, there is one other thing...I had forgotten just how much of a
workout MK always gave to my fingers.  This one is no different and is
sure to make unconditioned hands a fatigued mess after a few short
games.   Hey, like they always pain, no gain.

In conclusion, I did not get the impression that this game was just
another re-hash.  There is real depth to the gameplay and moves, the
graphics have never looked better and it just felt like the old fun was
back.  If you don't own a MK game (anyone?) and like fighters this one
is a no-brainer...get it!  Even if you already have some of the titles
in the series, this one is just different enough to possibly make it
worth you while to purchase.  It pretty much rocks!

Value for Money

Mortal Kombat 4 is actually a nice change of pace from the other MK
games.  It looks better, plays just as good, has a lot of familiar faces
that you may have grown comfortable with and contains enough innovation
and depth to give it a fresh feel again.

There is a good palette of characters to choose from and each has their
own assortment of moves that will take you a good long time to master.  

Good fighters always provide a good bang for the buck because each
battle has its share of random occurrences that provide a unique
challenge each time you step into the arena.  MK4 provides such a
challenge and has a good deal of depth to boot.
GRAPHICS: 18/20 This one is a winner folks. After falling into somewhat of the doldrums there for a while, the Mortal Kombat series can once again hold its head high...get it lopped off...and then hold it up high again.

All of the good stuff from the previous MK games is intact, tweaked and finely tuned to perfection in this MK4. The graphics have made the move to polygons and they work wonderfully and the sound effects and music, while not notably changed from previous MK's, is still solid and effective.

Even if you already have all the other MK games in your library, this one is the best in its stable and worth a look see.
SOUND: 7/10
VALUE: 17/20


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