Mortal Kombat II Review

Mortal Kombat II arcade box art

Ninjas, demons, kung fu fighters, shaolin monks and assassins in the most brutal fighting tournament around.

Story

After his failure in the first Mortal Kombat tournament, Shang Tsung has plotted a new plan on how to bring the Earthrealm warriors to the Outworld to face impending doom. The new Mortal Kombat tournament is thus held in the Outworld, and since an invitation to the Mortal Kombat tournament can not be turned down, the warriors have no choice but to go there. If Shao Kahn, the emperor of the Outworld is victorious the unbalance of the furies will allow his influence to flow into the Earthrealm. No mortal has this far been able to defy Shao Kahn’s powers in his own dimension.

Will the mortal warriors be able to stop Shang Tsung’s evil plans and put an end to Shao Kahn’s madness?

The Game

Mortal Kombat II is the sequel to the brutal fighting game Mortal Kombat and builds on the same fundamentals. Various fighters are to fight in an enclosed area to the death in a macabre no-rules tournament. The game offers new ways to die and many outright weird things. The combatants all have their personal goals and story twists in the tournament, but ultimately they all fight to put an end to Shao Kahn’s evil plans to take over the world.

mortalkombat2-3The game itself hasn’t changed much from the first Mortal Kombat game. The fighting feels somewhat stale and most attack moves (kicks and punches) have very sparse animations. All characters have the same basic attacks – roundhouses, sweeping legs, upper-cuts etc – they all execute and look the same. It’s the special attacks that sets the characters apart rather than their fighting styles or their looks. The Mortal Kombat series seem to have a thing for characters that look the same but have different colors.

Controls

The controls do feel stiff. There is a dedicated button for blocking attacks, which takes some time to get used to. Most characters have some sort of ranged attack, and to avoid them you’ll need to be jumping around quite a lot. In order for you to reach with your kicks and punches, you’d generally be tempted to jump-attack your opponent – simply walking over to him or her takes too much time and is a very risky move to do since it is easy for the opponent to stop you in your tracks with either a ranged attack, jump over you or simply sweep your legs when you are within that reach. So perhaps the best strategy is to jump back and forth, making for some weird-looking fights.

Content

The game has twelve playable characters, some boss- and hidden characters. Known characters from the previous game include Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Johnny Cage, Liu Kang, Raiden, Shang Tsung and Reptile. Some of the new characters also are interesting, like the blade wielding half-demon Baraka and the shaolin monk Kung Lao. The game also features a pair of twins, two female assassin-type characters called Mileena and Kitana.

The game basically just has the tournament, and when an opponent jumps into the game you’ll battle each other. The winner stays in, and the tournament continues. The CPU opponents are devilish. They can persistently predict your every move and counter it – and they do have inhuman reflexes. Many are the times when you try to land an uppercut, only to see that the uppercut motion is halfway through when the CPU opponent just grabs you and throws you away – as if they can counter your attacks with a throw. Needless to say the CPU controlled opponents are very hard to beat and it feels as if they’re cheating in their own game. Sometimes you can find moves that can exploit the CPU – doing constant standing jump attacks seem to work to some extent. When done right, you’ll see the CPU walk into your attack and get hit over and over again.

Mortal Kombat is always associated with its high level of blood and violence. Yes, the game is violent – people die in various ways. You can fall into an acid pit and melt away or you can be launched up into a ceiling of spikes or fall down from a ledge. The fights are bloody too as blood splashes all around as you bash away at each other. The hand-painted blood (or the other special effects in the game for that matter) doesn’t always fit the graphics in general which is based on video footage.

At the end of each match the winning fighter will have the opportunity to “finish” the opponent. This is where the gory finishing moves can be executed. Those are done through various combinations of commands with the directional stick and attack buttons (sometimes even the block button). It is very hard to do these because you have a very limited time in which you must successfully pull off very obscure commands. You’ll need to play this game a lot before you’ll see or let alone pull off these moves – there is no way you can logically figure them out so you’d better look up a command list somewhere.

Graphics

The graphics are a mixed bag as mentioned above. This is however a brave attempt at trying to create a brutal fighting game. The setting is very dark albeit somewhat silly and over done (big skulls, fire pits and spiked weapons are only that cool). But the game does have a dark tone and it sets the mood of the game. Since the game takes place in the Outworld, you’ll be fed with many sick and unreal views.

Sound

The sound effects are perhaps the single most pleasurable thing about the whole game. The smacking noises from the kicks and fists are epic – the announcer voice is stentorian and comments on your moves now and then and it can really fuel your animal instincts. The fighters will scream and yell in pain so there are some neat voice acting there too. Of course the game has its fair share of annoying sounds too like the wailing Liu Kang does – and the music isn’t really good either. Some of it works quite well, but none of it really uplifts the game nor is memorable by its own.

Summary

Mortal Kombat II isn’t really a good fighting game. The CPU controlled opponents are inhuman and almost mocks the human race for being inferior to a calculating and all seeing machine. In two-player mode the game can provide some cruel and entertaining fights, but it won’t be long lasting. The various characters are too much alike and the fighting mechanisms just doesn’t cut it in the long run.

Your curiosity might fuel your need to play the game in order to see the fatality moves, but in my opinion they aren’t worth it – go watch the fatalities on the Internet if you want to see them that bad.

Developed By: Midway
Published By: Midway
Version Reviewed: Arcade
Genre: Fighting
Players: 1-2
Also Available On: Game Boy, Super Nintendo, Mega Drive, Game Gear, Master System, PlayStation, Amiga 500
Released: 1993

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