**The Xbox and GC versions of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance are very similar, so that's why the review
may look the same. There are some Xbox specific-details in this review.**
Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance is the latest in the Mortal Kombat series, and
it's the best game in the series since MK2. While MK4 did recieve some acclaim
when it came out, it still felt like the 2-D MK games, even though the series
evolved to 3-D. MKDA refines the gameplay in a 3-D world, and tries to further
deepen the experience by including 3 different fighting styles (different for
each player) that can be changed on the fly. And it works in it's favor, since
it brings a unique quality all it's own when compared to other fighting games.
But therein lies a frustrating complexity when it intorduces the "style branch"
combos. More on that later.
A little backdrop on how the series progresses now. Shang Tsung and Quan Chi
have joined forces (hence the deadly alliance) to take out Shao Khan and try to
take over the universes with the souls he stole and transplant them into a stone
army. Not only did they go after Shao Khan, but they went after Lui Kang as well,
who has been a staple in the MK universe for years. But with one snap of the neck,
he's done with. Kung Lao was the first to know, and informed people that he knew
along the way about what had happened. Now Kung Lao, Sonya Blade, Princess Kitana,
Johnny Cage, Sub-Zero and others are trying to stop the Deadly Alliance forces
from taking over. If this sounded like a jilted explanation, check out the Midway
site for a more accurate description.
Now, on to gameplay! MKDA feels like the more modern 3-D fighting games such as
Tekken, Virtua Fighter and Bloody Roar, except it has the MK twist. Where would
MK be without the blood and violence? On store shelves, like the SNES version of
the first MK back in 1993. Aside from the gore, MKDA comes with a whole new fighting
system that works, in most respects. Each character has 3 different fighting styles,
each with their strengths and weaknesses. It's great to be able to change your
style quickly in mid-game, and try something new that doesn't work a different
way. The third fighting mode is where you can use a weapon, either a blade or a
wooden object. And some weapons have a little depth to them as well. Some can
execute devestating strikes, evasive manuvers, or even a life draining impale
move. Of course, you'll need to decide if using some of these moves are wise,
since it may cause you to lose your weapon for the rest of the match, plus the
added vulnerablillity. The thing I hate about the system, however, is the combos.
some seem pretty standard, then some get ridiculous. For one combo, you may need
to press 7 buttons. Then comes the style branch combos, which can be simple, or
require a little finger work. Some, like Raidens final Style Branch combo seems
impossible. And I mention Raiden, because you NEED to execute this in the Konquest
The modes of play seem like quite a bit at first, but in a way, I was a little
dissappointed. I though there was a little more to the Konquest mode rather than
just executing moves and combos. Some are actual fights or challenges, but the mode
seems a bit flat. Compared to the Quest mode in Soul Calibur, this really doesn't
hold up as an adventure. It does provide a lot of background information, though.
You also have the arcade mode, which is pretty much what you expect. Fight your
way to the end, with some Test Your Might/Sight challenges in between. It seems
a little lacking, but it can be fun, if not challenging. But all this play doesn't
come without reward. You can earn different Koins to unlock coffins in the Krypt,
which contains a whole bunch of secret goodies that is too much to list. This is
the best feature of the game, which encourages the gamer to keep playing for
something cool. And with 676 coffins, you'll be busy. And add in the already unlocked
content such as the Adema music video, the videos for the History of MK and "A
Day of Making MKDA", there's a lot to see and do. This game is one of the richest
in content I have ever seen.
The graphics are pretty good. Using the RendeWare platform, which was used in
games such as Burnout. I'm not sure what use it has here other than the particle
effects, which there is a lot of. The models, while not lifelike, look pretty good.
All I care about is how good Kitana looks, and thank god she does. And ever since
the DOA series, we've seen a lot of "booby-jiggle" in fighting games, and here it
is no different. In some cases, they flop around quite a bit. Kind of a shame that
you beat the living crap out of them, huh? The arenas look very good, with some
background effects and a good use of lighting. I would have like to have seen
a little bit of bump mapping, but oh well. The fighter animations are done very
well, and move very fast and fluid. This could be one of Midway's best looking
games so far. As far as the Xbox version goes, it's almost identical to the Gamecube
version it terms of looks, but a tad bit sharper. The textures, framerate, character
models are practically the same. That's not a bad thing, since it did look great on the
Gamecube, and that's what you'll get here. It may not have the great lighting effects
and other Xbox effects we've come to know in titles developed exclusively for the system,
but it's good.
The sound is good, but probably could have used more. It seems like all the fighters
do is grunt and scream. Not many voices, and even some of the women sound the same.
But the music is good, and the sound effects are great, even if some sound a little
gross. Nothing is compressed to hell or done badly here.
The Xbox version is just as good as the Gamecube version I had played and reviewed
prior, and is easier to play than that version. Wether or not you want to make the assumption
that a controller for a system can make the difference on which version is better is
up to you. Both versions (as well as the PS2 version, I assume) are practically identical,
and either version you choose, you'll end up with a great, challenging fighter. It's
even better than Dead Or Alive 3 it terms of gameplay. That's pretty good if you ask