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5 areas where Mortal Kombat lost its way (and how MK9 fixes them)

No more lame fatalities and filler characters, please

We look at some of the things the Mortal Kombat series has got wrong over the years, and how Mortal Kombat 2011 sorts them out.

4. Too many filler characters, or not enough of the key ones

Things have been steadily bloating for years in the MK world, but things got truly ridiculous in Armageddon. I think 62 is an absurd number of playable characters.

I suppose you could argue that you don't need to play as them all, and of course you don't. But having so many makes it incredibly difficult to get attached to any of the newer characters. They all just blend into one. Who needs that many identikit large-chested ninja brunettes? And how is the game supposed to be a genuine test of skill when half the time your opponent is picking a character you've never played as, and maybe never even fought?

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And this leads on to other problems mentioned above. Having 62 characters was presumably why they went for the Kreate-A-Fatality system instead of having individual fatalities. And clearly it would have been impossible for Shang Tsung players to memorise 61 morph button sequences.

Mortal Kombat: Armageddon character select screen

62 characters: ridiculous (the slots directly above Scorpion and Sektor's heads are for home-made characters, maths fans, so I've not included them in the count)

Conversely, the following game, Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe, trimmed things down in some areas - it missed out Cage and all the robot ninjas, for instance - while still feeling the need to pander to comic-book completists with relatively dispensible also-rans Deathstroke and Darkseid.

(Apologies to comic-book completists if those two are massively significant, by the way. But if you need to be a comic-book nut to know who the characters are, they shouldn't be in a Mortal Kombat title at the expense of Cyrax.)

Does MK9 fix it? There are far fewer characters in MK9 than in Armageddon, but more than in MK vs DC. And I think they've balanced it well - this time you get all the biggies, and very little filler. There will probably be a fair few filler characters added later as DLC, mind, but you'll only buy them if you like, say, Kenshi. You weirdo.

Mortal Kombat 9

Scorpion and Johnny Cage: two characters that should be in every Mortal Kombat game

Mortal Kombat: Armageddon

Fujin and... Taven? Or is it Daegon? Anyway, two characters we can live without

5. Going 3D to keep up with the times

Perhaps rather controversially, I've never been a huge fan of 3D in fighting games. I like my fighting games dumb and old-fashioned. But even if you could get me to admit its appeal in games that know how to use 3D - Virtua Fighter and Tekken are both distinguished fighting franchises - surely it's undeniable that Mortal Kombat never got the hang of it.

3D works best, in my mind, when the action is close and grapply. Mortal Kombat has always been more of an arms-length sort of a game, with a lot of emphasis on projectiles and leaping in from distance with flying kicks; and the boring old sidestep move is poison in that environment.

Does MK9 fix it? Mortal Kombat 9 is two-dimensional (in action terms; the character models have been rendered three-dimensionally). And I'm pleased about that. But I suspect not everyone will agree that this was something that needed fixing. I'd be interested to hear readers' views on this one.

Mortal Kombat 9

Cyrax and Kitana, showing why two dimensions are best

Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think in the comments box below. And don't forget to read our comprehensive review of MK9.

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