As Thomas said nearly a year ago, the Mortal Kombat reboot was a great overall game that put the focus back on the fighting without padding the disc with filler. The Vita version takes the same core game, downgrades the graphics a bit, but also and adds a few things to it to freshen it up and make it worthwhile for those who already dominated the console version.
The Vita’s back camera, Sixaxis motion control, and front touch screen are used pretty well. The camera is used for a hidden AR training mode activated by hitting the triggers at the arena select screen and is perfect if you’ve ever wanted to say…use your cat as a background for a fighting game, you can. Or even if you never have, it is fun to do that and have a cat in the background either nudge their nose towards the system, or better yet claw at it for a dramatic increase in comedy.
New mini-games have been added to make use of the the Sixaxis and front touch screen in the form of Test Your Balance and Test Your Slice. The former basically brings up a snowboarding game-style balance bar and you need to keep it as close to the center as possible, while the latter is essential Fruit Ninja with skulls, assorted limbs, and bombs you need to shake away. Outside of that, commands like enhanced special moves, combo breakers, and X-ray attacks can be executed with an on-screen icon touch or their usual button commands. While the touch options are nice, the icons are quite small and if you’re in a close battle, you’ll probably want to stick with the buttons instead of taking your left hand off of the d-pad and touching the screen. Fatalities can be done with either swipes or button commands too, and probably work out the best since you don’t have to worry about a touch command causing you to take damage.
The Vita’s control layout works out great for MK, with the d-pad working better than the analog stick for control since it’s easier to do straight up directions with it and the MK series doesn’t require circular-style motions. Load times are pretty good as well and it’s nice to have characters unlocked from the start in the Vita version. However, drudging through everything to collect coins for the krypt is still a bit of a pain, and the long story mode tells a good tale, but the longer cinematics don’t quite work as well on the go as they do on the console, especially since they can’t be skipped. Screenshot support is included, and comes in handy for the story mode since it uses a lot of stunning imagery in it that you’ll probably want to see again later.
For the most part, everything is about on par with the console versions with one huge exception – the graphics. While there hasn’t been a downgrade for everything because the animation and backgrounds look great and the fast pace is intact without slowdown, the character models went from looking top-shelf on consoles to looking like a PS2 game – complete with terrible hair. It’s disappointing to see how much worse the visuals are after also seeing Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 look as close to console-perfect as possible. This falls far short of even the standard set by Super Street Fighter IV on the 3DS about a year ago.
Outside of the graphical issues, this is a well-made port overall. I’m not sure why the graphics weren’t able to be translated perfectly to the Vita, but at least the developers tried to make up for that by including extra content that makes use of the hardware. While the use of the touch screen for the core game isn’t perfect, I really do love the Fruit Ninja knock-off. However, I can’t recommend it as a full-price purchase if you have the console version due to the huge graphical downgrade. At about $20, it would probably worth it to have some gory carnage on the go, but not much more than that. It’s also worth noting that the digital version requires over three gigs of storage space, so you’ll definitely want to consider that if you prefer downloading Vita games instead of the boxed versions.
Reviewed By: Jeremy Peeples
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
This review is based on a digital copy of Mortal Kombat for the PlayStation Vita provided by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.