Xbox Review - 'Mortal Kombat : Deadly Alliance'

by Chris "Fozz" Breci on Dec. 27, 2002 @ 7:43 a.m. PST

Players engage in hand-to-hand and special-weapon combat, executing secret moves and combinations with new fatalities and deadly body blows. Lethal new warriors are added to the mix along with the return of Mortal Kombat classics -- Scorpion, Raiden, Sub-Zero, and Sonya. Hyper-realistic, Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance features progressive physical damage that allows players to view the inevitable demise of their opponents while utilizing three unique fighting styles for each warrior, creating nearly unlimited fighting possibilities.

Genre: Fighting
Publisher: Midway
Developer: Midway
Release Date: 18-Nov-2002

In the past, with the help of the thunder god known to mortals as Raiden, the forces of Earth realm have fought off the attempted invasions from Shao Kahn’s outworld armies through the tournaments deemed Mortal Kombat. Thrice did Liu Kang and the rest of Earth realm’s mightiest warriors shoot down Shao Kahn and his invading forces. Then came the mighty lord Shinnok, a banished God, who tried to use the powerful dragon amulet to channel the powers of the fabled Dragon King to take earth realm only to be defeated by Sub-Zero, now grandmaster of the Lin Kuei clan. Now an evil lurks that is even more powerful, and even more deadly. A shape-shifter who formerly served Shao Kahn, by the name of Shang Tsung, and Shinnok’s personal sorcerer, Quan Chi, have joined forces and are going to attempt to resurrect the lost army of the Dragon King. This Deadly Alliance has defeated the two powers they thought would stand in their way: Liu Kang and Shao Kahn. With nothing left in their path of destruction it is up to Raiden and the Earth’s forces to once more defend their home realm and defeat this Deadly Alliance.

From the get-go Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance will both shock and amaze you at the very same instant. The depth and time put into this game is the pinnacle of current technology. The developers of Mortal Kombat have always tried to out-do themselves after every MK that comes to the public, and they sure have done it this time. So many things have been added to this game that blows all of the previous MKs, not to mention most other fighting games, out of the water. All the way from the quick changing fighting styles and character models to the deep enthralling story line, Deadly Alliance has shaped into one of the best fighters to hit the console world.

Before you do anything, you should create a player profile so when you earn coins in Konquest, Arcade, and the mini-games they aren’t lost. These coins will be used to unlock items from the Krypt such as characters, costumes, levels, and concept art.

Laid before you is the task of saving the Earth, and with that being said it would probably be a good idea to jump into some training before you attempt to destroy the powers that be. The training or “Konquest” mode, as the game calls it, is rather enjoyable as it does it’s job to get you acquainted with the moves of your character, but at the same time it feeds you a background story to the warrior you are training with. Taking you from your standard punches and chops down to your 55 hit combos. Each combatant has three separate fighting styles that they have mastered and can quickly toggle through using the L trigger, one of which is always a weapon style. For instance Kano has mastered the arts of Aikido and Xing Yi, while at the same time he uses his trademark butterfly knives. The Konquest mode takes each character through ten training missions, each mission dealing with a different portion of all three of the characters fighting styles. Once you have demonstrated the necessary skills to prove you have mastered each individual art, your trainer will test your skills in the “Style Branch Combos”. Each fighter several combos that will span over multiple fighting styles before you leave your opponent lying on the ground face down. Once you have accomplished the task of defeating your mirror image as the final training mission you should give arcade mode a shot while the moves and styles of your chosen combatant are still fresh in mind. As soon as you begin the tournament in arcade mode you will notice several similarities to the previous MKs. The first is the set up of the hierarchy or how your journey is mapped out, however it has been given a next-gen touch. Instead of moving up a tower of fighters, you are going around the globe to different locations and at each spot or node you get a mini-rendering of the level, a picture of the person or thing you will be face to face with, the time its taken you to get there, and the difficulty percentage of the enemy. From this screen you will not always go straight into a battle, as the development team has put mini-games back in the MK series.

Midway has taken the opportunity to put the fan favorite “Test Your Might” back into the spectrum. Indicated by the loading screen with a broken brick drenched in blood, to test your might you are expected to break whatever object is in front of your character. To do this you must mash the A, B, X, Y, and L buttons to push your strength meter past the indicated point then pull the R trigger to execute the punch or kick, within a certain time limit. If you break the object, the next time you return to test your might the object will raise the indicator on the strength bar and make it harder to break. Aside from “Test Your Might” there is the “Test Your Sight” mini-game that challenges you to prove that the eye can, in fact, be quicker than thy hand. As the old street hustling game goes, you are challenged to pick the cup that the Mortal Kombat medallion hides under after a series of turns and switches. As you level increases so, then, does the number of cups and speed of the switching. As a matter of personal opinion “Test Your Might” is a lot more challenging to the new coming “Test Your Sight”, which can just get boring and delay your enthusiasm for the next battle.

Once your battle begins your current fighting style is in the lower left side of the screen, or right if you are in the second player slot. Juggles and combos are some of the most important tactics to use in this game due to the fact that one slip and the enemy has just side stepped their way onto your back side and will not hesitate to unload a 45 hit combo on your helpless behind. At times this game got a little bit aggravating as the computer can drop these brutal combos without a second thought, while you are on the other side of that spectrum throwing in a one-two combo every now and then so try to remember your training. If, by some chance, you do end up forgetting your combos and tricks you can check the moves list located in the pause menu. Your combos will save you but you also need to pay attention to your opponent and learn their moves as well. It is important to know yourself but it is twice as important to know your foe. If you know the last move in your opponents large combo you will be able to drop your guard and lay on a good special move or combo just to let them know who’s boss. If you were lucky enough to defeat your opponent in battle for two out of the three rounds you are urged to finish them with a Fatality. Now, lets take a second to recollect past fatalities. Lets do a time warp back to 1992 on the first Mortal Kombat where Scorpions fatality was just tap up twice. Did you guys, and girls, ever have problems with him jumping and not being able to pull off the fatality? Your friend Mr. Ed Boon has added a little fix for the problem of movement during the fatality execution. Once you have your opponent in the “Finish Him” mode you can switch to a new fighting style appropriately deemed “Fatality” that will not let the character move wile executing the combination that will end in imminent death for your rival. Once you get to the creature they call an Oni you have hit the last three fights in the tournament, and once again Midway followed MK tradition by making the freakishly huge demon warrior harder than the final boss(es); In the past this roll has been filled by Prince Goro, Kintaro, and Motaro. Now a new demon called an Oni will be the semi final enemy. There are more than one Oni that will occupy this slot, however there will only be one of them per tournament. The Onis can either be Drahmin or Moloch, and both of them are easily harder than Shang Tsung and Quan Chi. Let me tell you, by the way, that the most satisfying fatalities will be done on Shang Tsung and Quan-Chi after many losing rounds.

If you successfully defeat Moloch or Drahmin, Quan-Chi, and Shang Tsung you are earn an ending sequence that consists of a narration and a few intricately drawn pictures about what your combatant does after becoming the grand champion in the tournament. If you had your player profile loaded while you went through the tournament you will have all of your coins earned in your account and you have just added that ending to your cache of items and content that can be recalled via the “Kontent” option on the main screen.

As soon as the game jumps from the XBOX logo to the intro video you will realize one thing; the graphics got pumped up for the XBOX. The beginning cinema actually is a bit lower quality than the game itself. As soon as that deep voice yells “Fight!” you will notice that the player models are nothing short of flawless. If you pause the game as the camera gets up close you will really begin to notice the detail of the player models and their skins. Three great examples of modern technology are the models for Scorpion, Raiden, and Sub-Zero. Each of these models demonstrates a very visually pleasing quality that modern technology has brought us. As time has past, the makers of Mortal Kombat have been able to triple the resolution of their visuals, but Scorpions costume really demonstrates this best. His mask and costume have great detail in them. If you look close enough you can actually tell that the black parts of his suit are mesh, because you can see the tiny holes and the texture of it. Raidens robe shows off how they have pushed the bar far hanging articles of clothing that dangle and move through the air. Sub-Zero is a perfect example of a more subtle way that particle effects can sneak their way into videogames. If you’ll notice he has a thin frost emitting from his nose, mouth, and hands. These three players are the ones that stood out the most, however each and every character has had the enough time put into them to have near perfect fighting animations and also the “bruised and beaten” effect. Once you lower an enemy’s life they start to develop scars and bruises on their face and body according to how much you’ve pounded them. I feel that this is a great feature when you get defeated and the character does their little victory stance because you get the chance to say “HAH! You may have won, but I KICKED YOUR BUTT!” This being the game it is, it has to have a certain level of blood to it to maintain that “Goriest Fighting Game” title that they so valiantly hold. You and I both expect a certain degree of blood from an MK game, and we have every right to. MK: Deadly Alliance will quench the thirst of all you blood thirsty gamers out there with the blood effects in this game. Not only did they throw in gallons and gallons of blood but when you hit someone the blood does not just fly off them and onto the ground, it will also roll off of the body. This is one of the many “Oooh Aaah” effects in this game.

MK: Deadly Alliance was not just some rushed game with wicked blood effects and boring repeated backgrounds. The stages that you fight in are good enough to make you stop and drool every couple of minutes, and believe in us that you will find yourself forgetting about the battle every once or twice to gawk at the beautiful backgrounds. As beautiful as the backgrounds are, they are visually deceiving. As massive as each level looks they are very confined in the area that you can fight. On top of the small stages there are only a couple of levels that include interactivity that allow you to use during the fight. Those two things combined can make for one rough multiplayer experience.

Multiplayer doesn’t consist of anything more than some one-on-one action, and occasionally a mini-game. It doesn’t really take long for a mildly skilled friend to back you into a corner and start pouncing you like a weak little mammal. The multiplayer experience is better had when you play against someone who has also played the game a lot. We say this because the fights are more technical, they last longer, and they just plain look cooler. Of course every now and then it is fun to pummel you uncle who is just visiting from out of town and has never really even held a controller.

Hearing the inexperienced player grunt and scream while taking the beating you are giving them can sometimes be a little bit more appealing than the ones made in game. The repeated screams of each character do not really hold well for 20 to 30 rounds, especially those of the females who howl and wail like banshees. The sounds that are really worth hearing lay in the menu music, and those blood gushing and bone-crunching sounds made during fatalities and the fights.

Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance will awaken that little demon in you that hungers for violent videogames with its gory fatalities and bloody fights. All in all it’s not a bad game. It has its minor set backs in the form of confined levels bothersome screams, and if your not a big fan of fighters at all you might just want to play this at a friends house, but if you are any fan at all of the MK series and have spent many fiendish hours maiming and disfiguring your opponents in the previous MKs then this is a must buy for you. As an addict to the MK series this game has not been able to leave my thoughts for the past 4 days because of its addictive game play and storyline. The minor set backs that were previously stated were not enough to pull me out of the world that Deadly Alliance will pull you into.

Score : 9.0/10

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