Originally one of the most talked about franchises around, Mortal Kombat had equal amounts of adoring fans and blood-thirsty parents trying to get the title banned due to the excessive blood and violence contained within. This, of course, only led to further publicity and high levels of sales. Many sequels and off-shoot projects arose, each one arguably weaker than the next...and then the series hit an all-time low with the side-scrolling N64 adventure Mortal Kombat: Mythologies. But, in what has to be the turn-around of the century (yes, irony is intended there), Midway has brought the decidedly tasty Deadly Alliance kicking and screaming 'Finish Him!' to the next generation consoles.
For some reason, companies always try their best to piece together a feasible storyline for beat-'em ups. Why this is is beyond me, as just how many people buy these types of titles for a good story? Nope, we simply want some good old fashioned fighting. But anyway, for the minority here's the spiel: The fate of Earth Realm once again lies in the hands of another tournament, therefore battle must once more commence between the variety of humans, sorcerers, demi-gods and other beings that have entered. A wide range of regular and extra-ordinary special moves are at hand for the one-on-one, three-round duels. But this time there is a new twist...
The first major change that should be noted is the transition into the full three dimensions, and Midway seems to have managed to make the move a relatively smooth one. Perhaps when compared to the sublime Soul Calibur, MK: DA may come off worse due to the characters sometimes appearing clumsy in their movement, but the responsiveness and overall flow of the action is more than adequate. Animation on the whole is also of a 'more than decent' quality, with little touches like being able to bruise combatants' faces being a nice inclusion. Even though the fighters' appearances are actually rather bland, their motion-captured moves and complicated combos are very striking. A truly pleasing effort!
The 'Musik of Mortal Kombat' has never been extremely memorable...sorry, scratch that. The music of the MK series has always been utterly forgettable, simple as that. Whereas Capcom has always at least attempted to produce interesting background tunes in its Street Fighter series, Midway either lack the ability to do so, or perhaps believe that the games can solely rely on gruesome voice-overs and blood-curdling sound effects to provide the utmost atmosphere. Whatever the case, whilst the speech-clips and various *thuds* and *squelches* are satisfactory, something more would have been greatly appreciated.
The fighting system of old has been given a bit of spring clean – well, in fact it’s been completely overhauled actually, and given the nature of the last few iterations of the series this is certainly a welcome change. The only similarities that can be drawn between Deadly Alliance and its forbearers are, thankfully, the best features from those games: fatalities and crazy juggle-fest combo attacks. As a replacement for the discarded elements is an inventive use of different battling styles to increase depth in the game, one of which allows players to unsheathe weapons, thus adding extra potential moves. But the styles don’t really add to the total supply of moves, as you will gradually discover that many of them remain the same despite the style that is chosen. Also the opponents barely ever have to change tactics to defend against a new style. The throwing system is a let down as well – in a 3D game you can approach your enemy from numerous angles, yet the game only offers one simple throwing style, which is ultimately disappointing.
So, the additional depth is essentially shallow, player movement around the opponent is sluggish, throwing is far too basic…oh, and there’s the matter of being able to do easily over 100-hit combos with ONE SINGLE BUTTON! Things don’t appear to bode well for the game, right? Well, not exactly. You’ll still have plenty of fun despite the niggles, and that is, after all, the most important point…
A plethora of extras hidden throughout the game, along with the usual addictive two-player mode should keep any fan happy for many months to come. 'The Krypt' actually holds 676 secrets (or 'koffins' are they are so cringingly titled) that can be eventually unlocked, although quite a lot of them leave you with a feeling of 'Why did I bother?'
A complete system overhaul that leaves the best parts of the old games in tact.
A pleasing move into 3D, but with some clumsy player animation.
Meaty sound-effects, but the in-game music is extremely lacklustre and underwhelming.
Nearly 700 secrets to be unlocked. But you may not really want to do most of them!
Definitely a game not without its faults, but it certainly is a miraculous turn-around for a series that looked destined to spend eternity in obsolescence. So far this is the best fighter on the GameCube, marginally nudging ahead of the average Bloody Roar 3 and the 'great, but needs a better controller' Capcom vs. SNK 2: EO, and it will at least keep you occupied until the likes of Soul Calibur 2 arrive on the scene later this year.