Re-releases normally piss me off, since developers often use them as a mechanism to bypass discounting by retailers. Publishing at a lower RRP on a label like “Essentials” or “Ultimate Edition” can be a great tool to milk an extra $10 from gamers. Mortal Kombat is the exception to the rule though, after the Classification Board banned the reboot of the franchise. So to coincide with the game’s exit from the Australian Outworld, NetherRealm have released the original game with the four DLC characters (Rain, Freddy Krueger, Kenshi and Skarlet), 15 skins and three old-school fatalities for Scorpion, Sub-Zero and Reptile.
As a pure value proposition, the Komplete Edition is less enticing than it could have been. Street Fighter and Marvel vs Capcom’s annual refresh, in comparison, added far more characters, content and applied some well-needed balance patches. MK9 received a huge balance patch two years ago, but has seen little activity since. Since most of the added content is the four new characters, it helps that they pack a punch. Freddy is the hardest hitting, with a strong suite of projectiles, mix-ups and teleports. Some of his more advanced combos can do 40% damage or more, including one that hits low. Besides his ground projectile, most of his options are always useful against any character. (He’s no Cyrax, mind you, and if you ever want to know why MK9 doesn’t have a bigger scene, watch a pro play with Cyrax and you’ll understand very quickly.)
Skarlet, like most of the female fighters, is relatively quick, has a relatively safe teleport and good basic combos. Her all-round game is not as strong as Kenshi’s, who’s probably best described as a fairer version of Cyrax. Rain is the weakest of the DLC characters — largely due to the sheer strength of Freddy and Kenshi – but still decent compared to the entire MK9 roster. It helps that Rain’s specials are a little more interesting, although his combos are trickier to land.
As a reboot, MK9’s an incredibly solid fighter. The campaign is completely tongue-in-cheek, but it’s a good six to eight hours of gameplay depending on difficulty and your skill. It’s highly reminiscent of the 1995 film and covers a lot of the story from Mortal Kombat 1, 2 and 3, which will please fans who enjoyed the originals in the arcades or ancient systems, like the Amiga (like yours truly). It’s also remarkably brutal. The X-Ray moves give a clear, visceral depiction of a fighter’s skull being crushed or their rib-cages being cracked on impact. Standard punches and kicks land with a meaty, satisfying sound, and weapons interact with their enemies in the most gruesome of ways. There’s no comparison to Mortal Kombat in the industry, evidenced by Skarlet, a character who gains strength from the blood of her enemies. One of her fatalities literally involves standing under her opponent, showering in their blood.
But for all the fun the single-player provides, online play is far more tumultuous. Matches against fellow Australians were peppered with heavy delays and stuttering, making it impossible to react or execute intricate combos. If you’re buying the Komplete Edition, it’ll be largely for the campaign or as a party game, and while it’s well suited for the latter, it’s disappointing that the netcode is so poorly optimised. The competitive scene has largely died off as well. In Australia, for instance, Battle Arena Melbourne 5 prioritised Super Smash Bros Melee (and Brawl), Dead or Alive 5, Street Fighter x Tekken, Street Fighter III: Third Strike and the newly released Injustice above MK9. The Evo fighting game championships still supports MK9, along with every other fighter – but events outside of that have dropped off, with only the gargantuan Final Round tournament in March and the recent Texas Showdown Championships to speak of.
That scene is unlikely to grow any time soon either, especially considering the release of Injustice almost a month ago. Gamers have more disposable income than ever, and games are cheaper too, but NetherRealm is effectively competing with themselves by targeting the same market in the space of a month.
What was the logic in releasing both games so close to each other? One argument could be that gamers disaffected with Injustice’s fighting style might feel more at home with MK9, but it’s still a risky move. Considering the low cost of the Komplete Edition though, it’s a gamble NetherRealm might get away with. And it helps that Mortal Kombat is the reboot that the franchise has been crying out for ages; it’s just a shame it took this long before Australians were allowed to fully appreciate it.
- Reviewed On