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|A.P.I Review:||MORTAL KOMBAT 4|
|Developer:||Eurocom Entertainment Software||OPTIONS:||
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' juggernaut...it 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 colorful. 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 that...select 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! Yes!! 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 move...awesome. 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 say...no 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.
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.