First Impressions: Giving us yet another chance to overuse the letter ?K?
Although Street Fighter 2 unquestionably ushered in the fighting game craze, Mortal Kombat built upon that formula by adding mindless violence and gore alongside photo-realistic characters. In those long gone days of arcade dominance, you either belonged to the Street Fighter camp or the Mortal Kombat camp. Both franchises have seen their share of changes and evolutions in the years since they debuted, and while Street Fighter is utilizing nostalgia with their recent Street Fighter Compilation, Mortal Kombat is charging boldly forward with what will more than likely be the best MK yet.
Mortal Kombat: Deception picks up where last year's Deadly Alliance left off. DA took the stagnant Mortal Kombat that many fans were losing faith in and revitalized it, giving it a new graphics engine, new characters, different styles of combat (Oh excuse me, kombat) and an insanely large number of unlockables. This iteration of the series quickly became many fans' favorite because it both freshened up the Mortal Kombat universe and still stayed true to everything that made the series a hit in the first place.
Deception is building upon the successful formula that DA started, both by staying true to the Mortal Kombat mythos and by giving the players many features far beyond the story and versus mode that most fighting games offer. In an unprecendented move, Deception is going to offer three different gaming modes, each of which could almost stand alone as a seperate title. The first is chess kombat mode, which allows players to face off against each other on a chess board where the pieces are all Kombatants. When one chess piece attempts to take another, the conflict is solved through an actual Mortal Kombat one-on-one fight. Power levels are also determined by the role of the piece, so whichever character you choose as your queen will be more powerful than your opponent's rook or pawn. Another mode is a puzzle fighter, similar to Capcom's Super Puzzle Fighter. Super-deformed representations of your chosen character appear at the bottom of the screen, and attack each other based on your Tetris-like block placement. The final mode is Konquest, which allows the player to take a warrior on a quest to become a greater fighter. Konquest is a cross between an RPG and a training mode, as it both teaches your character to fight and evolve. Your character, Shujinko, begins his quest as a child hoping to become a great fighter. He actually ages and grows, learning new moves as he meets certain conditions and trains under MK's famous fighters. This mode alone promises 20 hours of play. Konquest mode also promises to allow players to unlock super-secret characters for use in the actual game.
Speaking of the actual game, players who loved Deadly Alliance will not be disappointed. Deception boasts at least 24 total playable characters, offering classic players like Scorpion and Sub-Zero, as well as older characters making their comeback, like fan favorite Baraka and the enigmatic Noob Saibot. Deception also adds multi-tiered battle fields, a la Dead or Alive, which allows players to knock their opponents from one level to another. Also adding interactivity to the environments is the ability to find weapons on the playing field and to use the background as a weapon. One example of this is the opportunity to force foes into a grinding machine, which results in an instant kill. Deception promises a number of environmental hazards to enhance the kombat and keep players on their toes.
Of course, Mortal Kombat wouldn't be Mortal Kombat without fatalities, and each character will have two. New to the series, however, is the ability to perform suicide, hara-kiri moves after being defeated. This basically allows a player to save face by taking his own life, which in turn prevents the winner from being able to perform a fatality. This gives the loser an option besides watching his character humiliated, and the first to finish their particular series of inputs gets to perform their finisher/suicide move.
Although the Xbox and Playstation 2 versions will have online compatibility with the chess and puzzle combat modes, Gamecube owners will assuredly miss out on this feature, although we will undoubtedly have multiplayer ability nonetheless. Also, while other platforms get their versions in October, Nintendo gamers must wait until January to join in the Deception. Hopefully we'll get some bonus features because of the delay.