Despite the fact that the PSP is nearly two years old, fans of 3D fighting games have only had a few titles to choose from. So far your selection has been limited to the likes of Tekken: Dark Resurrection and Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai, a couple of solid games that show off what the PlayStation Portable is capable of pulling off. If you’ve grown sick of the paltry selection of 3D fighters on the system then you’re in luck, because Midway is ready to reintroduce you to one of the longest running fighting franchises on the planet. I give you Mortal Kombat: Unchained.
Mortal Kombat: Unchained may have a brand new name but it’s actually a slightly updated port of Mortal Kombat: Deception, the 2004 console game released on the PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube. This version may be on a smaller disc, but Mortal Kombat: Unchained manages to fit all of the extra characters and modes onto the PSP, along with a few exclusives that are certainly worth checking out.
For those unfamiliar with the original game, Mortal Kombat: Deception was the follow up to Deadly Alliance, the first 3D Mortal Kombat game that managed to get the fighting system right. Deception took everything that was good about Dark Alliance and built on it, ultimately creating a solid fighting game that combined a unique fighting system with all kinds of blood and gore. Mortal Kombat: Unchained manages to recreate that console experience surprisingly well, and although it feels somewhat dated it still makes for a fun time that is just different enough from the rest of the 3D fighting games on the PSP.
Unchained allows you to choose from a sizable roster of interesting characters, including Baraka, Jade, Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Raiden, Liu Kang and Nightwolf. Unchained also comes with a few exclusive characters that weren’t available in the console versions of the game. Now you can fight as Kitana, Jax, Blaze, Frost, Shao Kahn, and a personal favorite of mine, Goro. In all there are 30 different characters, each with their own unique styles, special moves and cool fatalities.
What sets Mortal Kombat: Unchained apart from all the other 3D fighting games is that each of the 30 characters have three distinct fighting styles, including one that gives your character a weapon they can use for maximum damage. Whenever you need to change up your moves all you need to do is push the left trigger button, this cycles you through the three unique styles. With three different fighting styles it can sometimes be a bit much to remember; thankfully you can pause the game and get a quick refresher on what does what and how to perform the various special attacks and combos.
Despite the fact that there are three different fighting styles, Mortal Kombat: Unchained tends to feel a bit dated. If you’re used to games like Tekken: Dark Resurrection then you’ll definitely noticed that the combat does not feel very fluid. The moves, especially punches and kicks, look clumsy at best, the animation lacks any kind of smoothness or finesse, and I’ve never been a fan of the whole dial-a-combo system Midway insists on including in their games. But even with better playing fighters on the market, Unchained manages to feel different; for better or for worse, this plays exactly like a Mortal Kombat game should.
Where Unchained really takes hold is in its amazing level designs. Not only are the stages dark and eerie, but they are also large and full of surprises. Like the Dead or Alive series, many of the levels extend further than just one room. You can break through walls, fall off roofs, and much more. Using the environment to your advantage is a major part in this Mortal Kombat, and is easily one of the most rewarding aspects of the game.
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