Mortal Kombat: Unchained

Review

posted 12/13/2006 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: PSP
Not only has Midway added a bunch of new levels, but they have also brought back some of the best-loved stages from previous Mortal Kombat games. The acid pool level from Mortal Kombat II is reintroduced for a new generation, except this time you won’t have to wait until the end of the match to kick your opponent into the acid. Each level has a set of unique traps that can literally stop a match dead in its tracks. There is a new pit level, but this time around the stage is doing everything in its power to make you fall to your demise. These traps are especially effective when playing against unsuspecting friends, and they really add to the overall chaos found in Mortal Kombat: Unchained.

Mortal Kombat: Unchained gives you a couple of different ways to get into a fight. There’s the standard Arcade mode, where you pick a character and fight your way from one character to the next until you meet the boss and beat the game. New to Unchained is the Endurance mode. This is where you select a character and go up against as many enemies as you can without dying. This is a welcome addition, if only because it allows you to play a bunch of different characters without dealing with a lot of load time.

Being a Mortal Kombat game you probably expect a great deal of hidden items and extra games, and Unchained will not let you down. The biggest and most fleshed out extra has to be the Konquest mode, an RPG-style game where you run around a large world searching for treasure, picking up Kombat Koins and getting into fights. On paper this is a really great idea for a mini-game, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. While you will eventually get to fight a few people in this mode, the majority of the time has you training to learn new moves and combos. Even though you are technically learning different characters throughout the course of the Konquest, you’ll quickly find that most of the training situations are nearly identical to each other. For example, every time you enter the training you will have to show that you can perform basic moves, like pushing the square button or the triangle button. And then when that character switches to a different fighting style you will have to demonstrate that you can push the square and triangle buttons again. You will do this for nearly every character in the game.

This Konquest mode does show a lot of promise; it gives you a chance to explore the different worlds where each of the combatants come from. Each of the different worlds looks completely different and are populated by recognizable characters. For the most part I like the idea of the Konquest mode. I found myself having a pretty good time with it after the various tutorials were completed, but I can’t help but notice that there’s some unmet potential here. This mode could have fleshed out the various levels you fight in, or offer some depth into the history of the Mortal Kombat universe, but instead it just feels like a glorified tutorial mode. It’s also somewhat difficult to run around this world on the PSP. Your character runs at a disturbingly fast speed, often to the point where you run off camera or miss where you need to go because it’s too difficult to control. You can turn the camera around by using the left and right triggers, but those seem to go too slow and have a difficult time tracking the action.

Oddly enough, the Konquest mode in this PSP game is exactly how it was on the consoles. Midway didn’t even add new training sections for the six new characters found in Unchained. It used to be that the Konquest mode was the only way to earn extra characters, but since everybody in this PSP game is unlocked from the get-go there’s less incentive for you to actually play this mode. If you’re the type of person that likes to collect everything you may still want to go through this mode and earn all of the new costumes, bios and background music, but none of that impacts the game in quite the same way as earning a new character.
 
The good thing about Mortal Kombat: Unchained is that when you grow tired of training in the Konquest mode you can always move on to any one of the other slightly out of place extra modes. Puzzle Kombat, for example, is a perfectly good rip-off of Capcom’s Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. Like Capcom’s puzzler you choose from a limited number of Mortal Kombat characters, which fight at the bottom of the screen while you try to eliminate various blocks and colors. The result is humorous, especially when you see how they’ve adapted the levels, but Puzzle Kombat is not nearly as addictive as the puzzle games it’s playing homage to.

You can also try your hand at Chess Kombat, which combines the game play of classic games like Archon and Battle Chess with the button mashing that is Mortal Kombat Deception. Although not completely original, there’s something fun about playing Chess with Mortal Kombat pieces. There is enough new here to warrant more than a few plays, especially with friends.

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