Mortal Kombat: Armageddon PS2 Game Review
Written by Daniel Benson
Released by Midway
To make an understatement, video games aren't part of our staple output here at HorrorTalk. In fact this is the first time we've covered video games at all. The main reason for the lack of gaming information is that the majority just aren't relevant to horror fans. Sure, stuff like Silent Hill and Dead Rising are right up the average horror fan's street, but they're few and far between. So what the heck am I doing writing about Mortal Kombat: Armageddon? Well, two things make it relevant to horror fans; The blood and the violence. The blood mostly, and lots of it.
Anyone who plays video games, more precisely beat-em-ups, should be more than aware of the Mortal Kombat franchise. Famed for its bloody violence and "Fatality" finishing kills, the game has grown in popularity since its beginnings in amusement arcades, and spawned multiple sequels and spin-offs including two motion pictures.
So, the latest incarnation of the Mortal Kombat world comes to the Playstation 2, and simultaneously ends the run; Armageddon will be the last MK game released on the Playstation 2 and Xbox (in non-PAL territories only) and the first of the franchise to grace Nintendo's Wii console in 2007.
So how much bang do you get for your buck?
MK Armageddon boasts several gameplay modes and claims to include every character ever featured in the MK universe. The latter is not quite true, as some characters from the spin-off adventure games are not included, but this boils down to fanboy semantics. There is enough variety of characters to keep even the most hardened beat-em-up player happy, in fact there are probably too many to choose from and I found myself tending to stick to a small handfull of favourites.
The opening scene is a nicely rendered battle between many of the MK characters as they struggle to be the first to enter the mysterious pyramid that rises from the earth and entices the fighters inside.
Once the intro movie is out of the way, you have a number of modes to choose from. First up is Arcade mode, which is exactly as you'd expect; choose your fighter, choose an opponent and beat blood and snot out of each other in a best of three battle. The characters are nicely detailed and animated, and have the added bonus of being able to change between their chosen fighting style and a weapon (although not all characters have one). Although it doesn't seem to make a great deal of difference to how effective the attacks are, it's fun to take a swipe at your opponent with a jagged looking sword instead of your fists. The fighting environment features multiple levels, meaning that the two fighters can be knocked from their current position into an adjoining room, or onto a platform many feet below. When winning a round, the scenery also offers some interaction and in some arenas, you can knock your opponent into the background and have them die in a grisly manner, such as being impaled on a spike and sliding slowly, yet satisfyingly, to the bottom.
The controls range from fairly simple movement and button press combinations, to utterly ridiculous combinations that require the dexterity of a concert pianist to pull off. It would have been nice to see the right thumbstick utilised to control some of the attacks, but you are stuck with buttons only.
Next up we have Konquest Mode, a story driven adventure 'mini-game' about two brothers, Taven and Daegon. During this mode, certain artefacts can be collected to unlock characters and features in the rest of the game. Completing the entire Konquest will unlock Taven for arcade play.
When you get tired of kicking people's arses, then there's always Motor Kombat to turn to. Playing like the bastard son of MarioKart, it provides some welcome relief to the carnage in the rest of the game.I found myself playing this mode for quite a lot longer than I should have. This mode is simplicity itself; choose a character and race against a handful on the others on a variety of tracks, picking up power-ups and knocking your opponents off the track if they get too close. Very satisfying.
One of the new modes in Armageddon is Kreate a Fighter which, as you'd expect, allows you to kreate, sorry, create your very own custom combatant. There are potentially thousands of combinations of warrior classes, sexes, fighting styles, weapons and special moves, allowing the player to create a character to his own preferences. Team this up with Kreate a Fatality mode and you have the most individual custom fighter you could hope for.
Despite all the nice extras, a good beat-em-up comes down to one thing; Arcade mode. And while Mortal Kombat: Armageddon offers a vast variety of characters and environments, the gameplay is like many games of this genre: same-old same-old. That's not to say it's a bad game, if you are a fan of this genre, you'll dig it. It won't, however, do anything to sway those who wouldn't normally choose to play it.
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