Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance (PS2)

Review

posted 12/19/2002 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
I remember a little game called Mortal Kombat. Sure its main selling point was the blood and gore that populated the title but underneath it all, it was a pretty decent 2D fighter. While it wasn’t about to dethrone Capcom’s King of the Arcades, Street Fighter, it still managed to find a pretty decent audience, enough to spawn four sequels. Many fans will debate as to which title was the pinnacle of the series, MK2 or MK3 but one thing was for certain, MK4 was one of the weaker entries into the franchise. It tried to inject some freshness into the series by transforming the game into a truly 3D fighter but the end result was less than desirable. Can Midway rebound with this latest iteration of its vaunted franchise or is it time to put the franchise to rest? Judging by my experiences with Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance, I’d say that this old granddaddy still has some life left in it.

Storylines really have no place in a fighting game I mean, do a bunch of sweaty guys and well-endowed chicks really need to have a reason to beat the living piss out of each other? Can someone explain to me why some chick needs to enter a tournament just to avenge her father’s death? Here’s a novel idea, how about sneaking into the guy who killed your father’s house and killing him while he’s on the crapper? See it really makes no sense but oh well, I guess it gives the programmers a reason for creating some generic world tournament.

The story in Deadly Alliance is as follows, Shang Tsung and Quan Chi have combined forces to take control of the Earth Realm. In true generic fighting game fashion, Raiden has gathered the earth’s forces together to counteract the DEADLY ALLIANCE!! The game opens up with a pretty lengthy cinematic detailing the heinous acts of the DEADLY ALLIANCE!! culminating in the eventual murder of Liu Kang, the Bruce Lee look alike who just also happens to be the world’s greatest warrior. Of course his murder conveniently transpires in the exact center of the Mortal Kombat logo, thus setting up the title screen and the rest of the game. I’m going to give the Midway guys a heapload of credit here, sure I don’t care too much for storylines but when the guys are willing to take some time to develop a 10 minute cutscene, you can’t be anything but impressed.

In case you haven’t revisited the Mortal Kombat franchise in some time quite a bit has changed. Scorpion and Sub-Zero no longer look alike; Sonya became a gorgeous big-breasted woman with some major attitude among other things. The rest of the roster features mainstays Johnny Cage, Jax, Cyrax, Raiden, Katana, Kano and Reptile. There are a few new additions to the roster, most of whom feel like a familiar fit into the MK universe. You’ve got Kenshi, a blind warrior who plays very much like Ermac from Ultimate MK3, Li Mei, a sort of Chun Li martial artist female warrior, Frost, Sub-Zero’s female lackey, Bo Rai Cho, whose secret weapon is his ability to puke on command, a few other characters. The cast is pretty fleshed and well rounded, catering to all sorts of gamers.

I was very disappointed to find that the game appears to be drifting from its 2D roots and more and more into the 3D combo-heavy realm of today’s fighters. Special moves are still present but as you play the game you’ll come to realize just how ineffective they are. It’s all about stringing together those ridiculous combos that have become commonplace in today’s fighting landscape. Oh well, guess I’m just a little old school when it comes to fighting games.


By pressing L1 you can switch fighting styles on the fly, all of which have their own unique move sets. It’s a pretty sweet addition that it really does a great job of letting you keep your opponents on their toes. Further more you can use the change of fighting styles to help link together combos, thus allowing you to make even bigger chains. It’s all pretty fun and the fighting styles are all pretty different, ranging from Karate to Pi Gua (funny, I always thought that was a card game). Sadly, the often-requested Tai Bo failed to make the cut. As a carry over from MK4 each character has a unique weapon and although they’re not as powerful as they look, they’re a worthy addition to the fighter’s arsenal.

I’m not a big fan of limiting a player’s access to the game’s core material and sadly, MKDA is a huge offender to this. You’ll have to play the game and earn some tokens before you can unlock the rest of the game’s goodies. I’m not certain why Midway decided to lock up half of the playable characters, especially after the gamer just spent 50 of their hard earned dollars on the game. Oh well, at least it extends the life of the game quite a bit.

The game’s core arcade mode is pretty fun but the multiplayer is where it’s at. Like the other MK games, nothing can beat the satisfaction that comes with humiliating your best friends. This is an excellent party game as people who can’t actually play the game themselves will be entertained by the on-screen action. Fatalities are much more gorier this time around as well, providing even more humiliation for your fallen foes. Much like the olden days, this game is highly addicting for a group of friends.

From a technical standpoint this game is pretty up to snuff and while it’s quite up to par with Tekken 4, it’s still a marvelous showcase. There are plenty of nice details that you probably won’t notice at first, cool things like real-time lighting and real-time reflections on shiny floors really add some nice touches to the overall visual package. Likewise, the character models are some of the best that the genre has to offer. Every one of them are brilliantly designed and feature tons of distinguishing details. It may not be perfect, but the game looks great.

Likewise the audio is pretty excellent as well, all of the groans and grunts are pretty much what you expect from a guy who’s getting the living piss beat out of him. The voice acting, although limited, isn’t really all that bad and is much better than say the voice acting from Dead or Alive 3.

Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance isn’t for everyone but it’s definitely for anyone, especially the longtime fans of the series who have been waiting for it to return to glory. It’s a worthy entry into this vaunted franchise that does well of establishing itself in today’s fighting landscape. If you are even mildly interested in this game I suggest you pick it up, it won’t do you wrong.



Fatality skills not quite up to snuff? Need a refresher course on how to maim your opponents? Then we suggest you pick up Brady Games' official strategy guide that features everything you need to know about this brutal fighter.




B
Midway's excellent fighting game does the series some justice, washing out the bad taste that MK4 left in our mouths. While it's not perfect, it's damn fine for what it's worth.