Mortal Kombat: Deception

February 19, 2006

[i]Mortal Kombat[/i] is back with a vengeance. Any fighting junkie from the early days of the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis remembers the first two iterations of [i]Mortal Kombat[/i] as two of the best fighting titles ever. However, after the second outing, the [i]Mortal Kombat[/i] series stumbled over itself and took a toll on the entire series. [i]Deadly Alliance[/i], released in 2002, brought the game back to the top though. Now, Midway has released [i]Mortal Kombat: Deception[/i], the follow up to the 2002 revival of the series. Gory and blood-soaked as ever, [i]Deception[/i] does a good job of capturing [i]Mortal Kombat[/i] nostalgia, fixing what needs fixed, improving on the good stuff, and overall, presents a very formidable fighting game.

In reality, you may find very few differences between [i]Deadly Alliance[/i] and [i]Deception[/i] as far the fighting mechanics go. Many of the things that [i]Deadly Alliance[/i] brought to the table returns, such as the three different fighting styles. And of course, the infamous fatalities return. The real differences in [i]Deception[/i] lie in the new game modes added in, as well as a few minor changes to the fighting system. Of course, one of the other huge factors is the amount of [i]Mortal Kombat[/i] nostalgia, bringing back old favorites from the classic titles.

The main differing factors that set [i]Deadly Alliance[/i] apart from most other fighters were the three fighting styles each character possessed, which again, returns in [i]Deception[/i]. Little has changed from the system. Each character has two different fighting stances (such as judo or moi fah) and one weapon stance. Aside from the combos though, most of the fighting will feel the same. Although there is a new breaker option, where you can counter an opponents attack at any time, although you are limited to three in one match. The characters make up a bundle of new and old faces, although for the most part, you will see many old faces from the earlier incarnations of [i]Mortal Kombat[/i]. The sword-arm freak Baraka returns, as well as crowd favorites like Mileena and Ermac. And of course, the trademarks return as well, including the rival mascots Scorpion and Sub-Zero and the electric Raiden.

A new feature to hit the arenas in [i]Deception[/i] are traps, which, if you or your opponent gets caught in one, ends you life in an incredibly gruesome fashion. Some traps include a dragonhead that chomps down on the pathetic bait. Another is the smelter, which throws the person onto a bed of red-hot plates just before sandwiching him. And of course, like the copious amounts of blood spewing from the fighters, these are just as gruesome, if not worse than the infamous fatalities.

The fatalities have made a change as well this time around. This time, each character has two different fatalities that end the life of their opponent in a horrible, but admittedly devilish way. Ermac uses his psychic powers to tear his opponent in two, while Scorpion, in an almost too-gruesome-for-television kind of way, literally rips the head off of his opponent, spinal cord and all (and parades it like a trophy to boot). The fatalities clearly state that this game isn’t for the faint of heart, if those people didn’t know better already. Another new twist on the fatalities are the Hara Kiris, which is basically a suicidal way of killing yourself, robbing your opposing victor the satisfaction of killing you himself.

The Krypt returns as well. Many who played [i]Deadly Alliance[/i] will remember the nearly overwhelming graveyard full of secrets, and [i]Deception[/i] continues with another round of graves. However, like [i]Deadly Alliance[/i], while The Krypt does have an overwhelming amount of “kontent,” most of it probably will not interest many people. Most of what you’ll find will be still pictures of developers, concept art, and rendered models of characters and arenas, and almost makes collecting the large amount of koins futile. Very few of The Krypt’s tombs contain anything worthwhile actually, and most of the good stuff (such as hidden characters, alternate costumes, and puzzle fighters) remain under locked tombstones, which require you to play though the game’s konquest mode in order to unlock.

Speaking of konquest mode, it has been revamped in [i]Deception[/i]. Unfortunately, it is for the worse. The developers decided to package the usual fighting konquest mode into an all out third person adventure. I won’t go into huge detail about the story, although it is fairly mystical and at times, a little bland. The main character goes by Shujinko, who starts out as a young man who is granted power by a mystical force, which allows him to copy other fighters attack styles. In return, he is to set out and retrieve relics for the force that granted him power. The majority of konquest mode has Shujinko traveling to different realms to retrieve these relics, as well as copy the various techniques of fights like Scorpion and Sindel.

The majority of konquest mode is incredibly flawed though. It is really more of a chore to work through the story, which comprises of very badly voiced characters and a plot that is inane to say the least. Most of the time, you will be forced to walk from point A to point B in the third person adventure perspective, and most of the fighting involved is actually training in the different character workings, which gets old after the first couple training sessions. The worst part about konquest mode though is that in order to unlock most of the things in the krypt, it is absolutely necessary to play through it. Most of the koins you receive will be from konquest mode, and to top things off, most of the secret characters and other goodies are hidden throughout the konquest world, most of the time in very obscure places.

So far, this may sound like [i]Deception[/i] is a fairly bland rehash of [i]Deadly Alliance[/i]. This is not so, as there are other significant additions to [i]Deception[/i] that make it a worthy update. The most notable of the upgrades is the ability to play against other people over Xbox Live, which is actually very enjoyable. The game plays very smoothly over the network. There are very few complaints to be had with the online mode, except that it could have had a couple more options to what you can do. Overall though, the online play in [i]Deception[/i] is a great new feature.

[i]Mortal Kombat: Deception[/i] also adds the game of chess into itself, with a quirky and gory twist. The same rules of chess apply as always, with pawns guarding the major pieces and the king acting as the backbone of your army. You select your army of chess pieces from the roster of characters, and each piece has a specific advantages, such as the knight’s ability to cast spells. The biggest point of chess though is that when two pieces meet on the board, they go into kombat, usually receiving bonuses depending on the situation. Chess kombat is a great and inventive mode of play, although it can feel sluggish in the beginning and can actually take a long while to pick up in any real action.

The other mode of play, puzzle kombat, shares this setback as well. Puzzle kombat is essentially the game Tetris Attack we all played years ago, only with a [i]Mortal Kombat[/i] twist. There are no real changes in core gameplay mechanics from the original Tetris Attack, although as you stack up the blocks, your bobble-head character will battle it out with the opposing character, and at times, each character will build up enough power to execute a special attack. Other than that, it is a fairly simple game, but interesting nonetheless. Like mentioned though, puzzle kombat can take a while to really heat up, and the first few matches will actually feel a little dull.

[i]Deception[/i] looks and sounds pretty good, although there seems to be little difference between [i]Deception[/i]’s graphic quality and those seen in [i]Deadly Alliance[/i]. The music is set in a fairly dark tone, but to tell the truth, you’ll usually be too busy fighting to really even take notice of the music. Characters spew out blood by the buckets as per usual, and the gore factor is out of control. In fact, sometimes it may seem a little too bloody, making [i]Deception[/i] seem a little laughable really. Even so, the blood graphics are done fairly well, and even if you are skittish around the red stuff, you can turn it down or completely off, although I question why you purchased [i]Mortal Kombat[/i] in the first place if that’s the case.

In the end, while much of it seems rehashed, [i]Mortal Kombat: Deception[/i] is a worthy follow-up to [i]Deadly Alliance[/i] and a formidable part of the series whole. [i]Deception[/i] does have its flat moments, such as in the cases of konquest mode and the unbearable amount of useless “kontent” that fills the krypt. Even so, the new additions like puzzle and chess kombat somewhat make up for the poor decision of konquest mode, and online play with Xbox Live makes konquest seem forgettable off the bat. And even if the fighting is what we all saw in 2002’s [i]Deadly Alliance[/i], the magic and gruesome qualities of [i]Mortal Kombat[/i] just cannot be overlooked.

Score: 5/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.