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Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (PlayStation 2) artwork

Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (PlayStation 2) review

"Mortal Kombat had, for the most part, faded away into the pits of gaming death, garnering "

Mortal Kombat had, for the most part, faded away into the pits of gaming death, garnering
itself nothing more than a few sad shakes of the head from everyone but the loyalist
of MK loyalists. Little did most anyone anticipate the ferocity and tenacity with
which Mortal Kombat rushed back at the fighting game scene in this next generation
of games. At last, ''Fatality Friday'' came around, and Mortal Kombat fans could
once again take pride in their bloody dynasty.
Mortal Kombat, for those not so in tune with the franchise chronicles and history,
is the defense of the Earth Realm against a handful of different oppressors. This
time around, Mortal Kombat's threat has two different faces. The greedy sorcerer
Shang Tsung, who is certainly familiar to the defenders of the Earth, has made an
alliance with Quan Chi, a sorcerer who for numerous years had been banished away
from even the Outworld. However, the two have stumbled upon the remains of the long
forgotten Dragon King and his Undefeatable Army. They now only wish to revive the
army, for if they can do this, their occupation of Earth will most certainly be successful.
To ensure that Shang Tsung and Quan Chi's deadly alliance doesn't achieve its goal,
you have many of Earth's best defenders ready to go as you take control of them in
the fight for their realm. Long time favorites such as Sub-zero, Scorpion, and Raiden
are back again to spill buckets of blood across the Mortal Kombat battlefield, and
a few new faces make an uproarious debut into the Mortal Kombat tournament. Veterans
be warned, though. Many players will mourn the loss of Liu Kang, who is not selectable
in this rebirth of Mortal Kombat. Shang Tsung and Quan Chi are not alone either,
as a sprinkling of new faces and a spoonful of old MK foes have taken up the tournament
to support or assist Tsung and Chi's deadly alliance for one reason or another. In
all, this 21 character roster makes for some interesting back story, something that
Mortal Kombat has always found somewhat of a foothold in.
As I've hinted at before, Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance is a rebirth of sorts for
the MK franchise. Gone is the heavy emphasis on fatalities, replaced by a game that
has invested more time and effort into the two or three rounds of fighting itself
rather than the gory festivities that finish out a typical match. Each character
is now equipped with three different fighting styles, two being a variation of hand
to hand combat and one being a style of fighting that utilizes a character specific
weapon. Between these three fighting styles, all of MKDA'S characters has around
40 attacks at their disposal, not to mention some of the more powerful attacks that
make use of two or even three of their fighting styles. A character changes styles
by pressing the L 1 button during battle, moving from one hand to hand style to another,
and finally arriving at the weapon style to close out the cycle. It is possible to
switch fighting styles right in the middle of combos, so Sub-zero could start attacking
in his Shotokan fighting style, progress into the Dragon style to throw in an extra
hit, and without breaking stride, flash freeze surrounding water vapor to form his
''Kori Blade'', or a sword of solid ice, to slash the combo into finality with a
cold exclamation mark. It is this sort of advanced strategy that separates MKDA from
the MK'S of old, which usually were nothing more than button mashing fests to see
who can pull off more special moves at a faster rate in a contest to get to the ''FINISH
HIM'' screen to perform one of Mortal Kombat's trademark fatalities.
Unfortunately, in their efforts to face lift the MK gameplay experience, Midway may
have accidentally forsaken what has gotten their family of bloody titles the name
recognition it has used to survive throughout its drought of subpar titles. In other
words, the fatalities that make MK famous have been somewhat thrown by the wayside.
They are present, but the number of them that make an appearance is staggeringly
low, with each selectable character having one and only one gory finisher. This has
not been the case since Mortal Kombat's inauguration back in 1992 and is much too
low a number to keep the MK feeling completely there. And before you ask, all of
the specialty fatalities are gone too. Babalities, animalities, friendships, and
even stage specific fatalities have been omitted from MKDA, making you have to choose
from all one of a character's finishers when that ''Finish him!'' comes up on the
screen. The ones that are there are a nice addition though. None are too hard to
pull off, and they range from ripping out the opponent's skeleton to slashing a line
vertically across their face with a bladed cowboy hat.
Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance also differs from a lot from its predecessors by the
modes found within. The long loved arcade mode still sits at the top of the main
menu, allowing you to select a fighter and take them up through some of MK'S finest,
before taking on Moloch, an ''oni'' that seems to have nothing but bare muscles and
is bound by chains, and then finally the leaders of the deadly alliance themselves
in an effort to save Earth, or if you choose the right character, destroy it. The
newer and more innovative mode is Konquest mode. In this training mode of sorts you'll
practice all the facets of a selected character from their special attacks to their
combos and concluding with a best three out of five match of Mortal Kombat against
yourself. While in this mode, you'll learn more through the small dialogue about
the character's fighting styles and a more in depth look at their rich back story,
from Sub-zero's training of the renegade Frost, to Kenshi's and Cyrax's mysterious
disappearance into the abyss of the world outside of the Earth Realm.
Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance is rounded by out by several different odds and ends
that complete its package. It comes with a practice mode that is little more than
two player Vs. mode with no one controlling the second player. As you go through
arcade mode, you'll also encounter a few minigames seeing how fast you can mash buttons
down or if you can keep track of a certain cube when its being blended and thrown
around amongst other, similar cubes. While these little trinkets certainly aren't
the meat and potatoes of Deadly Alliance, you'll find that their addition goes a
long way in making the game a freshly baked pie rather than a bowl of ingredients.
Thankfully, MKDA also implements a nifty way of rewarding you for your efforts both
in arcade and konquest modes. While training or fighting in the arcade, you'll gain
''kombat koins''. These koins come in six different variations, set apart by color.
They can then be spent in ''the krypt'' to purchase the game's hidden characters,
alternate costumes, new arenas, and other little extras for your trials and tribulations
in the tournament of Mortal Kombat. The krypt is composed of a 26 by 26 grid with
the coordinates being represented by koffins. And yes, the game does call them ''koffins''.
This means there are 676 unlockables to be uncovered with the kombat koins. The downside
to the krypt is that it's quite difficult to find almost 700 things worth unlocking
in a game, and because of this, you'll find that most of the krypt's contents are
things that appease for about five seconds before never being worth a glance again.
Considering the fascinating rate you get some of these koins at though, you shouldn't
have too difficult time unlocking the things worth bothering over at a decent enough
pace to make the whole krypt idea interesting. And then there's that whole find a
krypt guide concept that we just won't discuss.
Something that most certainly is worth discussing is the pleasing aesthetics that
Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance give off. All of the character animations have a remarkable
fluidity about them that makes them seem so real and dangerous in such a violent
world. Seeing Raiden stand over a fallen opponent with his cape calmly folding and
whirling back on itself in the unseen wind projects a real powerful presence off
him, and seeing the veins of electricity continue to serge through his body after
making this opponent another victim is done so well that it amplifies the affect
seven fold. The more action packed scenes are also done in fantastic fashion, not
hindered by frame rate issues or broken animation. The consequences of battle are
also depicted with breathtaking precision, as you can see swelling cuts and bruises
litter the fighters. This almost too real feature shows off its full capability at
the conclusion of a fight, showing a close up of the victor's face sprinkled with
the evidence of the preceding battle.
The habitats for this bloody tournament also deserve some praise, as they have been
done very nicely. Certain stages will seem familiar to MK vets, while others will
be anew to everyone. Either way, the environments are quite pleasing to the eye with
sufficient detail thrown in to make them even better. Swirling objects in the back
and the affects of weather related events such as wind blowing portray themselves
in a beautiful little presentation that can make the fight between the two opponents
either a destined war in a mystical place or an epic bloodshed in an innocent, peaceful
The variety of the visuals has a habit of not carrying over to the sound though.
The music is compiled of the same ''song and dance'' was the previous Mortal Kombats.
The music fades mostly into the background, with little of it noticeable unless one
pays direct attention to it. When you do hear it, you'll notice some dark, house
style beats with a synthesized feel to them. They are really average at best, but
their volume, or the lack thereof, make them easy to forgive.
The sounds of battle ring true though, and they are not forgettable like the music,
nor purely average. There are a handful of different voices for the characters, although
these voices are not character specific. Supremely done are the sounds of fists thudding
into faces or a dagger slashing in cold blooded music through an enemy's abdomen.
The delightful cries of pain that accompany battle are also superb, bettered only
by the horrific screams of finality that come wrapped up with almost every fatality.
A series reborn and a series rekindled. Mortal Kombat's legacy has not died, and
it has not seen its last days. However, it has not completely vaulted itself into
a godly status of fighting game. Many of Mortal Kombat's problems have been sufficiently
mended, and many new features add an ocean's worth of depth to a game engine that
had been a button masher's dream for quite some time. However, MKDA abandons some
of the qualities that got it to the big dance, namely the fatalities and other MK
trademarks. All this aside though, Deadly Alliance is an excellent addition to what
was a dying series, and at the same time, a whole new beginning of beautifully sickening

jdog's avatar
Community review by jdog (June 06, 2003)

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