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Metareview + Our Take: Mortal Kombat II

Today gives us the opportunity to look at the reviews given to the PS Store's downloadable Mortal Kombat II. Before we get into our impressions, we'll do as we always do and cite the big-name review sites. Their scores for this game were surprising. There aren't too many reviews on the game, though. Without further ado, here are some of the scores given to MKII.

  • IGN: 7.3 / 10
  • GameSpot: 7.9 / 10

What we noticed in these reviews is that the reviewers didn't actually review the title as what it is, rather, as what it was. "Oh, this game was great in 1993!" were slapped over both reviews, listing what the game offered back then and how it still does all those things. What our impressions were entailed how that doesn't matter two kicks of the donkey -- the game as it is now really sucks. Read on to listen to our reasoning, or just flame away for no reason now.
I've played the Mortal Kombat series since its inception -- not loyally, not primarily, not taking it as fighting-game canon. With that in mind, know I say this game sucks not because I "don't know the moves" or "suck at playing it", but because some games age and others don't. This one aged.

The controls are slow, sloppy, and there's no run. The absence of the double-tap standard really threw me off for a few minutes. I'm very used to that feature that not having it all of a sudden really took me back many years -- and not in a good way. Sure, all the character's moves are still there, but when the moves have arbitrary, often ridiculous, damage counts, you can only get off about three or four before whee! the battle is over.

Yes, MKII marked a few new characters to the mix, minus some old (Kano and Sonya, if memory serves). However, any fighting game that uses a palatte swap to turn two characters into five really does not deserve any respect. That sucks. The fact they have unique moves doesn't matter -- the same characters with different colors make the same motions.

What is nice about this game is the online play. Sure, trying to play against people who do nothing but master every character in the game takes some of the fun out of it (not to mention the arcade mode difficulty was ostensibly kicked up a notch), but there's just something nice about playing a "classic" with someone else who's just so much better than you. If you can find someone to play with. It's mostly empty.

Finally, we're going to stop reviewing MKII and think about what made this game great. After discussing it with a panel of friends, we came up with one word: controversy. At a time where video game violence was new and a big deal (not that it's slowed down or anything), the Mortal Kombat titles were singled out for being insanely violent and accessible to children. Thanks to this franchise and some other games, the ESRB took off and we have our game ratings. Does controversy really create a good game, though? No. That's why the first few titles thrived -- they were being whispered about as the must-have just to see those violent fatalities (which are pathetic nowadays). Another example of a violent game made popular by controversy is Grand Theft Auto. Before the third title, the games were pixelated and subpar. Then they took it seriously, made a series of great games and have rocketed to the forefront of the "violent videogames" movement. Why don't we see Mortal Kombat still in the sights of every activist? Because the games aren't very good -- they never tried to take it too seriously, so they've made a few decent titles and fallen into obscurity.

Don't get us wrong -- the MK series has gotten better over the years, but it's just nothing special. Nothing at all. And neither was this downloadable game.

PS3 Fanboy rates Mortal Kombat II:
  • 3 Friendships out of 10.

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Reader Comments

(Page 1)

1. Hmm, I actually sort of agree.

I downloaded the game, and it didn't seem to give me the satisfaction that once came with the game. Maybe the bloodiness wasn't even close to what's offered now? Haha in any case, my thumbs got the sixaxis blisters and I turned back to tekken.

What's worse is... that arcade mode is so hard =/.
AND I can't seem to pull off any fatalities... I don't understand lol. I guess I just suck much more since the old days.

Posted at 6:16PM on May 6th 2007 by Dahk

2. I havent touched it since the first day i downloaded it. Wish i could get my money back.

Posted at 6:20PM on May 6th 2007 by humpty

3. I actually play this game a lot, although thats not to say I hold it very high regard. 5$ for a decently fun game I can pick up and play for like 5 minutes before heading to my next class is a good buy to me. The game is broken though, with tons of unfair spammable moves and what is probably the sorriest excuse for AI I have ever seen. I mean a lot of fighting games a bull**** with AI opponents that manage to break out of 95% of the grapples and block everything, but its pretty rare you see a game where the AI does things that arent possible for the player, like grappling out of range while being attacked. I can beat this game easily on Sega Genesis, but I havent gotten past fight 6 in the PS3 version and Ive come to the conclusion it just isnt possible unless you know some cheap trick that the computer is too stupid to do anything about. Also choosing your difficulty is a joke. Note to developers: if you arent really going to program varrying degrees of difficulty then just leave out the goddamn option altogether.

Seriously has ANYONE beaten the PS3 version of this game? I really am curious...

Posted at 6:33PM on May 6th 2007 by ACSeraph

4. What a worthless review. When it comes to classic game reviews, you should be rating the overall conversion and online playability. People who buy this game are fans of MK2 and certainly wouldn't want anything to change from the arcade experience they had back in the day. Obviously you do not understand the concept behind re-releasing classic games. We are talking about a $5 investment... For $5 you get an arcade perfect mk2 with online play. I have read many articles on this site that I don't agree with, but this one pushed me over the edge. Perhaps you should review super mario brothers and say how crappy the graphics are and how limited the controls feel... My point is if you are going to write a review about a classic game, don't compare it to a brand new game. No it's not 3D, no it's not in Dolby Digital surround, no it doesn't have a run button. It isn't supposed to so don't deduct points for it. This release was not marketed to be a remake ala Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD, so don't review it as such.

Posted at 7:31PM on May 6th 2007 by Todd

5. I have never paid for anything over the PSN. From the sounds of it I shouldn't start now. Until Warhawk.

Posted at 7:58PM on May 6th 2007 by massive_98

6. Idk how or why people like this game. it's terrible.

Posted at 9:00PM on May 6th 2007 by Dustin

7. Dude. Totally agree. I thought MK II aged the worst out of all of them.

And what is with kicking up the difficulty on these DL-able ports? They did that on the XBLA fighters too. I'm a lazy gamer. I want it to be easy and gratifying! Instead, I'm pulling out my hair to get past the fourth bout.

Posted at 10:53PM on May 6th 2007 by Edge of Blade

8. /i think the problem lies in the fact that its the arcade port not the Genesis port. in the arcades they had to make the comp tough so you would keep dropping quarters, on genesis they wanted you to think you were good.

Posted at 11:23PM on May 6th 2007 by Draco

9. Yes..reliving the past is great...but part of our memories are the location/time/console you played the game on in the first place.

I enjoy getting the old Atari 2600 out every once in the blue moon because it brings me back in time...but playing the same games on my PS2 sucks and wasn't worth the $20 I paid for the disc.

The same here...MK was 'awesome' back in the day but I want to know...is it work $5 right now to play on a system it wasn't meant to with a button layout it wasn't meant to have...answer, no.

Posted at 1:16PM on May 7th 2007 by Colin

10. I was a huge Mortal Kombat fan back in the day....when MKIII came out I split, it had lost something at that point.

But, I do think it's a decent game, especially at $5. You can't beat that.

I do find the game to be a little too hard. Also, I wished they had updated the graphics for 720P. It's still running at the games native 480i, which makes the game look very blocky and old school. Almost looks like an SNES port. I'm sure it looks better on an analog CRT.

Posted at 7:54PM on May 7th 2007 by FrankTheCrank

11. todd said it best. your review is garbage. its all about the conversion (how much doesnt change) and the online playability (how smooth she plays online). Saying a game plays old because it is old is retarded. I love playing this game, I play it all the time, its very nostalgic. But your right, the AI is way too dificult, I still cant beat sub-zero.

Posted at 8:07PM on May 7th 2007 by olivier

12. I wanna see true ports of games like Outrun and Space Harrier. We can finally do it, let's do it. I would pay at least $20 a piece for true translations of these games. Mmmmm, Outrun....

Posted at 10:54PM on May 7th 2007 by John

13. can you get that mortal kombat game you show on this site sent to my house for free in the mail ok if it ok

Posted at 7:04PM on May 22nd 2007 by mylon

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