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Mortal Kombat 3 (Genesis) artwork

Mortal Kombat 3 (Genesis) review


"Even though Shao Kahn is a sadistic overlord from another dimension, you’ve got to feel sorry for the guy. He’s granted his minions the power to invade the Earth Realm on two occasions, only to suffer defeat in return. It’s not like Shao Kahn, his shape-shifting subordinate Shang Tsung, and the rest of his cronies are a bunch of wimps; they just can’t keep up with their superior human foes mano-a-mano. However, such ego-deflating defeats have led him to try a different angle to his devious schem..."



Even though Shao Kahn is a sadistic overlord from another dimension, you’ve got to feel sorry for the guy. He’s granted his minions the power to invade the Earth Realm on two occasions, only to suffer defeat in return. It’s not like Shao Kahn, his shape-shifting subordinate Shang Tsung, and the rest of his cronies are a bunch of wimps; they just can’t keep up with their superior human foes mano-a-mano. However, such ego-deflating defeats have led him to try a different angle to his devious schemes. Instead of taking on the Earth Realm’s fighters to destroy humanity, he decides to take a more direct approach: reaching through the realm of Outworld and making the Earth part of his dimension. Upon Shao Kahn setting up shop on Earth (in the middle of New York City, of all places), billions of people are wiped out. But before the evil ruler can enjoy his new dominion over the planet, the Earth Realm’s remaining defenders show up and start kicking ass. With the fate of the post-apocalyptic Earth hanging in the balance, Mortal Kombat 3 begins.

Did you get all that? No? Don’t worry about it. The only thing you need to know is that a bunch of demonic goons have invaded Earth, and you’ve got to fight against them. You’ll get to choose among a wide variety of characters, both warriors of previous Mortal Kombats and fresh meat alike. Fans of the series will be glad to see the return of the Sub Zero (who has ditched his ninja garb and mask for a new haircut and vest to show off his manly physique.), metal-armed Jax, and the triumphant return of Sonya, Kung Lao, and few other battle-scarred veterans. Sadly, the game lacks Raiden, Johnny Cage, and Scorpion, three of the classic characters that made the fighting rosters of the previous installments decent. In their place, a slew of new warriors have arisen, including the Rapunzel-esque Sindel, a couple of ninja robots, a four-armed feminine monstrosity, an even one of New York City’s finest. With fifteen fighters brawling for the future/destruction of humanity, you’ll have plenty of characters to choose from.

That doesn’t mean that they play any differently, though. Maintaining the traditional style of its predecessors, Mortal Kombat 3 features fighters with nearly identical movesets. It doesn’t matter you’re choosing a muscle-bound assassin, a hulking beast, or a spandex-clad femme fatale. They’ll do the same barrage of weak punches, awkward kicks, and blood-spattering uppercuts with similar range and attack power. Since the regular combat (excuse me, kombat) doesn’t feature much in the way of variation, the game designers fell back upon their usual strategy: burdening each character with a wide variety of special moves. Before, Sub Zero could either make an icy patch on the floor or freeze his opponents with a frosty projectile; now he can send a wall of ice cascading down the screen and make a frozen decoy. You’ll find that other characters will be able to ensnare their foes in living hair, toss grenades, sling fireballs, and use blades to rip through even the toughest opponent. That’s on top of all the Fatalities (aka overly gruesome finishing moves) at your disposal; rip a foe’s skeleton out of his skin, leave a charred carcass in the wake of your flamethrower, and even turn someone into a baby.

Ooh, nasty.

While such acts may be weirder than anything even seen in a Mortal Kombat game, that doesn’t mean the gameplay is any better. In an attempt to improve upon what its predecessors established, Mortal Kombat 3 introduces a combo attack system. Instead of annihilating your foes with a few well-timed powerful hits, you can button mash to your heart’s content and watch your character go nuts. A normal attack can be converted into an elbow smash, followed up by a more powerful punch, a kick, a projectile, or whatever you’d like. The trick is learning how to time the button inputs correctly; you’ll find that several (but thankfully not all) of the attacks don’t flow smoothly enough to be truly effective. But hey, at least the game is a bit more balanced in terms of difficulty. While Mortal Kombat II featured an obscenely annoying AI that could read your every move and react with superhuman speed, this game allows for a more gradual rise in challenge. The game even gives you three levels of difficulty that feature a steady learning curve, but with more challengers depending on the level chosen. Aside from a certain ridiculously tough sub-boss, nothing in Mortal Kombat 3 will make you break your controller in frustration.

But if there’s one thing that has remained in this installment, it’s the gore. While even the most pathetic of punches can send gouts of blood spilling onto the asphalt, many of the projectiles will cause fountains of reddish gore to spout from their respective targets. There’s something morbidly fascinating about watching Shao Kahn swing his giant hammer into the face of his unsuspecting foe. With each flesh-mutilating attack, you’ll get to hear the scratchy voices of people screaming in agony. Gruesome death animations aside, all of the characters maintain their digitized character models, right down to Liu Kang’s heavily pixilated pectorals, Jax’s gleaming steel arms, and the shadows obscuring the face under the Kung Lao’s signature hat. The game also boasts some remarkably well-crafted stages; while previous titles offered Oriental and fantasy-themed battlegrounds, Mortal Kombat 3 takes place in the sprawl of a deserted New York City. As you fight your foes down a freeway lane, you’ll notice the howling wind kicking up debris and a sunset casting a warm glow across the land. Other areas have interactive aspects; doing an uppercut in the dimly lit subway level will send him careening through the ceiling and onto the street above. With so many bloodthirsty warriors fighting through a desolate city, Mortal Kombat 3 has far more atmospheric settings than its predecessors.

That doesn’t make the game great, though. While Mortal Kombat 3 is certainly a step in the right direction for the series, it’s still plagued by some of the problems of the previous installments. The basic gameplay remains as shallow as ever, opting to place more emphasis on special attacks and gory fatalities instead of things like range, height, and speed. The game tries to make up for such shortcomings by including a combo system, but its button masher-friendly controls and unwieldy attacks can make mastering this game tedious. The roster has been expanded to introduce several new fighters, but at the expense of three of the series’ long-time characters. At least the character designs and detailed graphics are varied enough to make the experience seem fresh and interesting. While none of these features are particularly outstanding, they at least make Mortal Kombat 3 a step up from its other Genesis brethren.

Rating: 6/10

disco's avatar
Community review by disco (May 13, 2007)

Disco is a San Francisco Bay Area native, whose gaming repertoire spans nearly three decades and hundreds of titles. He loves fighting games, traveling the world, learning new things, writing, photography, and tea. Not necessarily in that order.

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