While hardcore fans of the series may have bemoaned the supposed downhill trek of recent versions, UMK3 dips into some 1995 mojo and brings back the glory days of the fatality.
UMK3 has some of the best visuals of any "classic" coin-ops that have been brought to XBLA. Part of that has to due with more advanced graphics in the mid-90's, but Digital Eclipse has done an excellent job with the re-make so that the backdrops for each fight stand out. The audio is also very good, mixed into surround with both background music and sound effects.
Unfortunately, one thing that made it in was the original AI. You remember, the counter moves out of this air and attacks to come back from the brink of death to win being the norm. It makes you wish for a special move allowing your fighter to whip an Xbox 360 Wireless Controller at the CPU's character to slice it's head off for an instant fatality. If you are going to overcome the "cheating", you will have to earn it. Although playing through single player can be tedious at times due to the AI and continuations, I much prefer the game be re-created with its original game play with any flaws intact.
I found it difficult to find matches using the "Quick Match" feature, as I was only able to conenct to an actual match one out of every five times. I finally decided to just host a match, and quickly decided this was my best course of action. I was matched up almost immediately in every instance I hosted. My favorite online mode is the "Versus Challenger" which is a four-player option with alternating turns. The winner stays, and the other two challengers can sit back and watch the match unfold, scouting the moves and tendencies of the fighters.
The 12 achievements are attained through a combination of single player and online play. For a game that is best online, but still entertaining (and frustrating!) in single player, the balance is welcomed. For single player, the achievements for combos, Flawless and Match level can be reached by playing smart and using the proper character (Smoke is one of my favorites). The online ones will be a little more difficult, as they actually require some time and a little skill to win 100 matches on Live.
Overall, the game was enjoyable to play both in single player and online multiplayer. With so many fighters, finishing moves and secrets to choose from, the replay value is very high. The few negatives I did find were typical of most classic XBLA titles (no Joystick, lag and matchmaking issues online) and do not take away much from the overall experience. The real gem though, is the online play.
While lagging occasionally, the ability to challenge players with different fighting styles and skill levels from around the world takes the replay value through the roof. The addition of a move list and someone (Microsoft..cough...cough) creating an industrial grade wireless Joystick would make this game almost perfect.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
I spent the greater part of my informative years glued to the front of a Commodore 64 after we wore out our Intellivision. If you were in the Toledo area surfing C-64 bulletin boards in the mid 80's, we probably have already met. When not running the BBS, I spent countless hours wandering around the streets of Skara Brae, as my life was immersed in The Bard's Tale series on the C-64. After taking the early 90's off from gaming (college years) minus the occasional Bill Walsh College Football on Sega, I was re-introduced to PC games in the mid 1990's with a couple of little games called DOOM II and Diablo. I went all-in with the current generation of consoles, getting an Xbox 360 on launch weekend as well as adding a PS3 and Wii in subsequent years. I now am into the next-gneration (latest?) of consoles with the WiiU and Xbox One. Although I haven't taken the plunge on the PS4 yet, it has my interest peaked, especially as my kids continue to grow and their gaming tastes evolve.
While my byline is on many reviews, articles and countless news stories, I have a passion for and spent the last several years at GamingNexus focusing on audio & video and accessories as they relate to gaming. Having over 20 years of Home Theater consulting and sales under my belt, it is quite enjoyable to spend some of my time viewing gaming through the A/V perspective. While I haven't yet made it to one of the major gaming conventions (PAX or E3), I have represented GamingNexus at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in nine of the last ten years.
I have been a staff member at GamingNexus since 2006 and feel lucky to have the opportunity to put to use my B.A. in Journalism from The Ohio State University.