GDC 2012: Mortal Kombat Vita (Hands On)

by: Chuck -
I had some trepidations going into the GDC demo of the Vita version of Mortal Kombat. Why? Well I spent most of my flight from Columbus to San Fran playing Uncharted: Golden Abyss. What was a solid shooting, climbing, and puzzle game was marred by a constant barrage of Vita specific mini games which included cleaning artifacts of dirt and doing charcoal rubbings. The thought of a great fighting game with forced mini-games made my heart sink.

The bad news is that there are a few Vita specific features in the Mortal Kombat port but the good news is that they are outside the core game and are actually a lot of fun. Actually the best way to think about the Vita version of the game is that it's kind of the Master or Ultimate Edition of the game that was released on the console last year.

The Vita version will ship with all of the characters from the first game along with the 4 downloadable characters as well as all 16 of the costumes that were available as DLC. In addition to that there are another 150 new missions, a completely new challenge tower (that will allow you to play as Shao Khan and Kintaro) as well as two new Vita modes.

The first mode is Test Your Balance which has you using the accelerometer in the Vita to keep a character balanced on a board over a pit. As you progress through the challenges you will have to deal with having body parts thrown at you (this is Mortal Kombat) as well as challenges that require you to keep the balance meter in a certain range. It's a simple concept and it works well as failing results in one of many gruesome endings for your character.

The second new mode is the Test your Slice mode which plays just a bit like Fruit Ninja. Like the Test your Balance mode there is a Mortal Kombat twist in that you're slicing the heads over various creatures and not fruit. There are a few other differences in that bombs are randomly thrown up and you have to shake the Vita to blow them up. There are also random pieces of toast that are thrown up that when sliced throw up a cavalcade of parts to be sliced. The biggest changes however is that there are red clocks and green clocks thrown into the mix. When you slice a red clock time is pulled off the clock while slicing a green clock will add time to the clock. By carefully slicing you can extend the game and up your score.

Of course all of these new additions would be meaningless if the actual combat portion of the game sucked and thankfully that experience is a perfect replication of the console experience as far as I can tell (I played the demo of the game as Cyril reviewed the console version of the game). I did have some trouble pulling off the combos with the analog stick on the Vita but I attribute that mostly to my memory forgetting most of the combinations rather than anything wrong with the game. The character animations are fluid and the NetherRealm representative told me they aimed to keep the game running at 60fps . The only Vita specific feature in the combat portion of the game is that you can pull the X-ray attacks off by tapping the screen if you want or you can use the standard control scheme.

The game also looks fantastic on the Vita's screen and should join Uncharted Abyss and Rayman Origins as reference games for the quality of graphics on the system.

I have to say that I was really impressed with what I saw of the game at GDC and I think fighting fans are in for a treat when the game comes out this Spring. 

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