Thursday, March 24, 2011

Demo Review: Mortal Kombat 9



I played the demo for Mortal Kombat 9, and I was really not hyped up to play the game. There are several reasons for this, one of which isn’t the game’s fault. Most people have seen the Mortal Kombat Rebirth trailer by now, which really does portray the Mortal Kombat series as a movie, in a very serious light. Compared to that the new game is very silly by comparism.  

Don’t get me wrong-Mortal Kombat has always been silly throughout the years, but lately it is getting even more ridiculous, and it was really noticable in Armageddon (too many people fighting at once will destroy the world-seriously?) but I’m sure the storyline in this game will be very gritty and realistic *cough Raiden goes travelling back in time cough revisting the first tournament has already been done before cough cough*.

Still, part of me really likes Mortal Kombat. If I was a game designer, I could see so much potential for the games and the characters. In Mortal Kombat 3, for example, Earth had been taken over by Shao Kahn and most of human population had lost thier souls-now that would be a great story to expand upon. However whatever development gained from the characters is usually lost or reset by the next game. Lui Kang was a zombie, now he's not. Raiden was evil, now he's not. Johnny Cage dies and comes back to life so many times it might as well be his signature move.

So we’re going back in time for this one, and back to basics. Is it any better?

The good: Of course the game has a graphical upgrade and the fighting style is grittier and gorier. But at the same time, I feel like they are trying to overcompensate for something. Maybe they are running out of ideas?

The mediocre: They switched from a 3-D environment back to a 2-D background, but in all honesty, it doesn’t seem to have much impact on me either way. The 2-D environment is long enough that the players won’t feel too enclosed.

The bad:
Oh boy, where do I start?

First of all, Johnny and Milenna are my two favourite characters in mortal kombat. At first I loved how in the opening fight they have a cheesy line they give to their opponent. However, when they have the same cheesy line every single match, it starts to grate against the nerves. And worse, when you fight a clone of yourself...yeah, it gets annoying really fast.

And speaking of Milenna, I swear they are trying to remove as many articles of clothing from her as possible. I’m all for making her character sexy, but when I get distracted in the fight because I am watching certain body parts um...jiggle, it starts to cross a line.

One of the new features of mortal kombat is the internal damage you are able to inflict upon the player. Interesting in concept, laughable in execution. I mean, if someone stomps on your chest and literally breaks all of your ribs, are you really going to stand up and win the match?
  
You can inflict this move by a ‘special move’ meter, which requires you to...uh, do absolutely nothing. I’m serious, this fills up when you do special moves and combos, but it doesn’t seem to like basic punches or anything else. Honestly, I think this meter has a mind of its own. I simply waited out the match without doing any moves at all, getting my character literally beaten to death, and the special-move meter filled up twice. 

I obviously have a lot of bad points for this demo, but I did read they are emphasizing story more so than actual gameplay. Will it be worth it? Hopefully. I would make a joke about Raiden going out into space next time, but they actually already did that in the last game.
And when are they going to bring back the best part of Mortal Kombat-the friendships?

19 comments:

Scakko said...

What do you think about the new command scheme? I just can't stand it. I was so used with the UMK3 that I played the demo for 30 seconds and erased it from the hd...

Anonymous said...

Bad review. The problems are simply down to your personal views and opinions, not the games. Having the meter fill up in the way it does makes it more accessible to new players and doesn't require you to be some kind of virtuoso at the game.

You could also argue that a character should forever be dead when you pull off a fatality on them, but nobody does. Why? Because it's a game, nothing more. You think of the game too literally.

All of the problems you have with the game are aesthetic. You could have complained about the controls or something, but no. You also make these bad points sound diabolical as well, but they're really not.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, I think you lost me with your lead-in to how much you dislike the MK franchise...that bias doesn't lend itself to getting a fair review.

If you think lack of clothing is crossing the line, just wait until you see Noob Saibots first fatality...this is MK...it's suppose to cross the line!

You don't like the gameplay and super meter most likely because you don't understand how to use it, combos, etc. Please learn how the system works, put the time in, and then let us know what you think.

And finally, the argument on the xrays not being realistic...you're absolutely right...but having ice balls, shadow kicks, teleport kicks, etc. is cool, right? If you'd like a realistic fighting game, go play Virtual Fighter. MK is what it is...a fantasy fighter.

My experience with the demo was much different than yours. We all have opinions, good or bad, but I just don't like the examples you gave as to why you didn't like the demo.

Thanks for the review though. Pay no attention to the rude people that commented about your gender...we're all gamers, regardless of gender/creed/race, etc. Peace!

Anonymous said...

This review is just bullshit
f***ing bullshit !

Natasha Bennett said...

Hey guys,

Just a friendly reminder-I'm pretty relaxed on this blog, but I draw the line at being racist/sexist and other moronic comments like that. I also don't tolerate name-calling other posters either. Don't be a Noob, and don't force me to turn off the 'Anonymous' comments option. They are people too. :)

Swearing at my comments is okay though. :D

Natasha Bennett said...

Regarding the other comments:

Scakko-eh, so far I'm pretty indifferent, but we'll see if it actually bugs me when I start playing the game in more detail.

Anonymous player 1#: 'Having the meter fill up in the way it does makes it more accessible to new players and doesn't require you to be some kind of virtuoso at the game.'

So you're saying that new players should be rewarded for doing absolutely nothing? :)

'You could have complained about the controls or something, but no.'

Actually, I've personally hated the controls in the earlier Mortal Kombat games compared to the later ones, so they've actually improved over time. Nothing exceptional, but more responsive.

There. You have now gotten my in-detailed review of how the controls work :)

Anonymous Player 2:

'You don't like the gameplay and super meter most likely because you don't understand how to use it, combos, etc. Please learn how the system works, put the time in, and then let us know what you think.'

The gameplay is exactly the same as any other in a recent fighting game (and arguable several games involving melee combat)so...thumbs up for being normal!

'If you think lack of clothing is crossing the line, just wait until you see Noob Saibots first fatality...this is MK...it's suppose to cross the line!'

This is actually the most unrealistic part of the MK demo for me-how does Mileena's underwear stay on after the strap is broken? Seriously-this really bugs me!

'And finally, the argument on the xrays not being realistic...you're absolutely right...but having ice balls, shadow kicks, teleport kicks, etc. is cool, right?'

I think there is a difference between things magical (which does allow for a suspension of disbelief) and things which are physically impossible.

'Pay no attention to the rude people that commented about your gender...we're all gamers, regardless of gender/creed/race, etc. Peace!'

Thanks-honestly, but it's already forgotten. That's not the way to get under my thick skin. :)

Guys, just a reminder-I am reviewing the demo only. I haven't seen any elements of the story yet, and from what I heard, it might be actually pretty good. I am withholding my final judgment for when I play the actual game.

Cheers,
Natasha

Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like a girl's point of view.

Mortal Kombat isn't about reality (stomp on chest), it's about fight & gore, nothing else.

And those points are well made. Game is fluid, combos look like combos etc.

But I agree on the super bar. It's to easy to pull EX-moves off. But hey, we can use the bar for improved specials.

Anonymous said...

bad review. i played this game and it's F'ing awesome. I used to play tons of MK 1, 2 and 3 and stopped after 3 due to the changes from sidescrolling.
it's great it's back to its roots, apparently everyone can't appreciate a great game for what it is tho.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the with the other anonymous posters here, this review is just poor quality.

You mention the Mortal Kombat Rebirth Trailer saying it ties into your perception of Mortal Kombat 9.

You don't tell the reader that this was a separate project undertaken completely on its own and actually has nothing to do with the game as it is just set in the mortal kombat universe.

Subsequently the director who made that short clip got picked up by Warner Brothers to create more to promote the game, primarily to quickly fill in people unfamiliar with the MK characters and to give them a bit of a backstory. Although this happened after the demo, of course.

You also just namedrop Armageddon, Rather than telling the reader that Mortal Kombat 1 - up until ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 where fan and tournament favourites, the subsequent games after Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 had a distinctly different feel to them as they where 3D fighting games with slower chunky controls exploring different features and implementing new ideas for a fighting game.

You base your review nearly fully on single player only, implying that the only premise to get a good review of the game is for it to be easily accessible and has a good single player story.

One thing that troubles me is that you really do home in on the story aspect even though its a demo, you should be reviewing what you can establish from the demo - not from what you feel the demo lacks. which is shown in the comments, as you didn't explain anything about the actual fighting mechanic of the game, just all visual aspects.

You say that the good graphics are over compensation for something you never mention, completely ignoring the whole premise of the game. Ed Boon said he wanted to stop with the experimentation and take the game back to basics with MK9 giving the fans a modern and improved version of the classic game hence the return to the fixed 2D fighting pane, the same technique that Street Fighter 4 used to reboot the modern fighting game genre (which is also not mentioned). I feel as a journalistic review, not very much research, if any, as gone into this article.

Anonymous said...

what was interesting was instead of picking up on the new element of the characters actually receiving battle damage, you categorise it as a 'bad' feature implying you get distracted with visual assets, as a reader, it makes me wonder if you have ever played any other fighting game? Guilty Gear? Street fighter? Soul Calibre? Dead or alive? it is hard to complain about a characters visual assets when the whole fighting genre has plenty to choose from and judging it as a bad feature for a game? well - that's just a bad call in my opinion.

Again it seems like your lack of fighting game knowledge or research comes through as the special meter baffles you. No comparison is drawn between the special meter and the 'Revenge' meter from the Street Fighter 4, as they extremely similar systems which could of added technical depth to your review. You should of researched this.

It seems you're wrestling with your own opinion of the games realism, you state in the second paragraph that Mortal Kombat has anyways been a 'silly' type of game yet you constantly hammer it for not being realistic enough. It seems like you have forgotten this statement all together and wish the game to be a very serious and accurate fighter, something mortal kombat has never been. It seems like you want a realistic game rather than an over the top profound game, which just isnt the Mortal Kombat series.

It's a shame because you didn't pick up on the more interesting points of the demo. The fact the system has been changed to a more accessible system, the easy to play, hard to master approach has been taken with the game again which you failed to pick up on.

Another point missed was that unlike other fighting games such as street fighter or dead or alive, no diagonal moves are required for special moves, only directional which is an extremely key point.

It seems like not enough knowledge and a very stubborn viewpoint has constrained your review into more of a rant about what you want the game to be rather than what the demo displayed, which is a shame as your writing style is enjoyable to read.

I'm not trying to say "oh you're rubbish, this is awful" I'm literally just providing some constructive criticism.

You're also approach the comments in quite a defensive way, try to comment on comments with an open mind rather than 'oh he said something bad about me I'll prove him wrong and get the high ground' approach, even if people are being horrible.

Natasha Bennett said...

'You're also approach the comments in quite a defensive way, try to comment on comments with an open mind rather than 'oh he said something bad about me I'll prove him wrong and get the high ground' approach, even if people are being horrible.'

Not really, but I digress.

I have been playing the full game for the last couple of days (very sore thumbs) and I really think the demo left out quite a few of the features in Mortal Kombat that I personally am enjoying, so I'll be commenting on them in a full review which will probably be more positive (unless they throw a 'WTF' moment at me, which can happen sometimes).

I honestly really don't hate Mortal Kombat-but I think the demo could have been a lot better and shown a lot more.

Paul said...

I posted the two anonymous posts above, I couldn't log in at work unfortunately.

"I honestly really don't hate Mortal Kombat"

My posts weren't about you hating Mortal Kombat as a franchise, I was just trying to highlight that you only provide the reader with a negative and uninformative review, but don't actually back up any of your negative claims. Anyone who hadn't played the game would thus instantly be turned off from even trying the demo, let alone buying the full game which I personally disagree with, as a fair full bodied review would not do this, it would inform the reader of what to expect.

Reading through the review it seems more like 'This is what I expect from the franchise, this is what I did not get' which is hardly a review, now is it?

"but I think the demo could have been a lot better and shown a lot more."

Then the demo achieved exactly what it was meant to - leave you wanting more and subsequently you bought the full game. I'm not sure how you could make the demo 'better' than this as the objective of the demo was for filled completely.

I guess what my main point is, explain to the reader your situation before you outline the review.

Say if you're new to fighting games and this will be a test to see how well a casual gamer can pick up and play this game.

Say if you're a veteran player, inform the reader what your objective is.

By the sounds of it you didn't really come across with much fighting genre knowledge at all not being able to draw comparisons to either similar titles or comparing it to older versions in the franchise which is a shame as it would add depth to the review.

I think you need to think about the structure of your reviews a bit more, as it looks like you approached this one doing a full review on a simple demonstration of the game and overwhelmingly gave it a completely negative review, even your one positive for the demo ended up being a negative.

As for replying comments...

"Not really, but I digress."

that sentence completely illustrates my point.

"The gameplay is exactly the same as any other in a recent fighting game (and arguable several games involving melee combat)so...thumbs up for being normal!"

Something you should of picked up on is that MK9 is considerably slower paced than many other current fighting games no to mention its different approach to combos so to say it's just like other fighting games because it has a super meter and punch/kick buttons, I think deliberately undermines the anonymous poster you where replying to.

Paul said...

I posted the two anonymous posts above, I couldn't log in at work unfortunately.

"I honestly really don't hate Mortal Kombat"

My posts weren't about you hating Mortal Kombat as a franchise, I was just trying to highlight that you only provide the reader with a negative and uninformative review, but don't actually back up any of your negative claims. Anyone who hadn't played the game would thus instantly be turned off from even trying the demo, let alone buying the full game which I personally disagree with, as a fair full bodied review would not do this, it would inform the reader of what to expect.

Reading through the review it seems more like 'This is what I expect from the franchise, this is what I did not get' which is hardly a review, now is it?

"but I think the demo could have been a lot better and shown a lot more."

Then the demo achieved exactly what it was meant to - leave you wanting more and subsequently you bought the full game. I'm not sure how you could make the demo 'better' than this as the objective of the demo was for filled completely.

I guess what my main point is, explain to the reader your situation before you outline the review.

Say if you're new to fighting games and this will be a test to see how well a casual gamer can pick up and play this game.

Say if you're a veteran player, inform the reader what your objective is.

By the sounds of it you didn't really come across with much fighting genre knowledge at all not being able to draw comparisons to either similar titles or comparing it to older versions in the franchise which is a shame as it would add depth to the review.

I think you need to think about the structure of your reviews a bit more, as it looks like you approached this one doing a full review on a simple demonstration of the game and overwhelmingly gave it a completely negative review, even your one positive for the demo ended up being a negative.

As for replying comments...

"Not really, but I digress."

that sentence completely illustrates my point.

"The gameplay is exactly the same as any other in a recent fighting game (and arguable several games involving melee combat)so...thumbs up for being normal!"

Something you should of picked up on is that MK9 is considerably slower paced than many other current fighting games no to mention its different approach to combos so to say it's just like other fighting games because it has a super meter and punch/kick buttons, I think deliberately undermines the anonymous poster you where replying to.

Георги said...

I really don't want to sound sexist here, but the simple truth is that Mortal Kombat has always been boys' franchise. Your review and general view of fighting games proves it; and because growing a dick is out of the question, I suggest you check some of the more pro-oriented sites for gaming, see their reviews and think of the vast, vast difference between female point of view and male (speaking only in terms of gaming here)
That said, I actually enjoyed your review, read it with a big smile on my face :) But darlin'... This Mortal Kombat is the best there is and one of the best fighters eva. FaKt. :)

Paul said...

I disagree with you Георги,

I believe many of the Japanese fighting games have the edge over Mortal Kombat in quite significant way due to just market establishment and the pro-leagues.

I think MK9 is a great reboot for the series and is moving the franchise in a good direction over previous incarnations.

It isn't as responsive and as fast and technical as some Japanese counterparts but for a western made game which hasn't had its history surrounded with tournament and expert play in mind, it does a damn good job of setting the bar for an entry level fighter and the fact that it has been picked up by some tournaments and leagues echos that the game is going to go places.

Daniel Terneus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniel Terneus said...

SORRY NATASHA BUT YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT , THEY MAKE A 2D GAME AGAIN BECAUSE THEY KNOW HOW AWFULL THE 3D MORTAL KOMBAT GAMES WERE , SO THE BRING US BACK TO THE ROOTS OF MORTAL KOMBAT WITH A TASTE OF THE 21 CENTURY, THEy ACCOMPLISHED THEIR GOAL, HIT US WITH NOSTALGIA USING THE NEW TECHNOLOGY, ITS A BEAUTIFUL GAME , BESIDES THEIR ARE NOT LOOKING FOR REALISM IN THIS CASE ITS JUST A FIGHTING GAME , WTF???

Daniel Terneus said...

just for you know you are the only bad critic i found about this gama hahahaha

Natasha Bennett said...

Hi Daniel,

I strive to be uniquie :) That being said, this was a review of the Demo only. The review of the game itself is posted here: http://tashabennett.blogspot.ca/2011/04/review-of-mortal-kombat-9-game-part-1.html.