Mortal Kombat: Armageddon Review

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Publisher: Midway
Developer: Midway

Platform: Xbox, PlayStation 2 and Wii
Reviewed on Wii

"The Fury of Mortal Kombat has brought the realms to the brink of total destruction. Every warrior has been summoned to this last epic battle, where survival depends on their ability to... Fight!"

Kyle Ackerman

Kombatants have been punching, kicking, throwing and hacking one another for more than a decade, and the Mortal Kombat games have come a long way from the original, limited selection of fights that culminated in a face-off against Goro. Unfortunately, while Mortal Kombat has come a long way since the first epic tournament, it hasn't come a long way in recent years. Past games have added weapons and 3D depth to arenas, as well as more kombatants, traps and vicious moves. But the latest Mortal Kombat games have focused on adding gimmicky extras, like the Tetris-style game that appeared in Mortal Kombat: Deception. Mortal Kombat: Armageddon is true to that pattern, using a kart-racing game and "Konquest" mode to augment the much-more-of-the same, one-on-one fights.

Both Xbox and PlayStation 2 versions of the game have been out for months, and now Midway has added a Wii version to the mix. This is essentially the same game, but it now supports the Wii remote. The disappointment is that the Wii remote isn't used to simulate fighting techniques – rather, it works more like a magic wand, with players waving the remote back and forth to invoke special moves. I felt more like Harry Potter, casting spells in the background, than a vicious fighter battling to the death. Fortunately, Wii owners can also use a GameCube controller or Wii classic controller for more conventional play.

To its credit, while Armageddon doesn't further the state-of-the-art in Kombat, it does let fighting fans revisit nearly every Mortal Kombat character ever introduced, in the same familiar "well-seasoned" battles. It also continues the tradition of brutally bloody combat in which dozens of martial styles clash with mystical special moves to leave cluttered corpses at the end of every tournament. Familiar favorites like Sub-Zero and Scorpion are augmented by obscure characters and former boss characters. The problem is that with so many characters, despite the different weapons and fighting styles, they all begin to blend together, differentiated more by costume than by combat techniques. It feels like the various fighters were balanced by making them all similar, rather than through careful counterbalancing.

There is a system that lets you create your own fatality, by combining a series of actions to brutalize defeated foes however you wish. Sadly, this removes the attachment I had to certain characters in past games – characters I remember fondly because of their specific personal finishing moves.

While the fatality customization isn't necessarily a big deal, it is nice to be able to create your own fighter. Many of the options have to be unlocked, but once unlocked, you can create the fighter and fighting style of your dreams. Frankly, the custom "kombatant" doesn't fight significantly differently from other fighters, no matter the options you choose. But it's nice to be able to customize appearance so that your avatar, favorite superhero or vicious vixen can battle the existing Mortal Kombat characters.

One-on-one fights ("Kombat") are much the same as ever, but the Konquest mode is vastly improved from previous action/adventure incarnations of the Mortal Kombat series. Konquest is a brief romp through a linear 3D path interrupted by dodging a few traps, watching the occasional cut-scene, fighting groups of lesser foes, and even Kombat among equals. Konquest isn't, itself, exciting. The main reason for playing through Konquest is to unlock alternate costumes, characters and extras while also earning the Koins that can be used to purchase other unlockables and customization options.

There is also a new, Motor Kombat mode. This is a kart-racing mini-game, replete with tiny cars and big-headed Kombatants as drivers. While decently implemented, it doesn't hold a candle to kart-racing from dedicated kart-racing games. And that's really the problem with Mortal Kombat: Armageddon. Players into action games or kart-racing should purchase other titles. Fans of fighting, unless dedicated to the Mortal Kombat franchise, can probably get something more engrossing elsewhere. Mortal Kombat devotees, those who actually come for the Kombat, not for the mini-game dressing, can get everything they want from past installments of the game. While perfectly decent, Armageddon is really for those who don't own a recent Mortal Kombat game, or those who desperately want to match up fighters (including custom fighters) that aren't available in earlier games. It's a little different for the Wii, simply because there aren't a lot of fighting alternatives for Wii owners, but unless you've been a staunch Nintendo loyalist, you've probably already got a similar Mortal Kombat game for another platform.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on June 13, 2007 9:09 PM.

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