Tuesday 28 April 2015

Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance Review (PS2)

When Deadly Alliance was first announced we feared the worst. Another version of the series that peaked in its second installment seemed to be the last thing we needed. To say we weren’t looking forward to this game is somewhat of an understatement. However, it turned out to be a nice surprise.

The first noticeable thing about Deadly Alliance is that the graphical style has been completely re-done. Instead of digitised characters we get more puppet like creations and this allows the game to reach whole new levels. Now fully in three dimensions the new style allows for much more freedom of movement than digitised characters would not have allowed.

Also, healthy selections of new Combatants (or should that be ‘Kombatants’ ) are added and some of the weaker ones removed. Most noticeable in this respect is that annoying Bruce Lee wannabe Liu Kang is not only removed from the game but we get to see him have his neck broken in the opening scene of the introduction.

The arenas and characters look decent and solid, not up to something like Tekken 4 or Soul Calibur but good enough. Every one of the characters seems to suite this new style perfectly, with scorpion and subzero looking meaner than ever before. The arenas also really do benefit from a fully 3D feel. The only thing which could have been improved are the objects within the arenas- as most are fairly empty despite the odd acid spitting statue or icicle hanging around to throw opponents through. The game would have really benefited from the multi level effect in the surroundings that Tekken 4 began to lean towards.

Sound wise it’s absolutely spot on and you can almost feel the tearing of flesh as someone sticks a sword through their opponent. Along with the moody music playing over the action it all adds up to the overall effect of creating some very tense and atmospheric battles. The booming voice of the fight announcer still sounds as sadistic as ever, and it all helps add to the feel. Most impressive.

Luckily, Deadly Alliance also has some solid gameplay to match the looks and sound. The basic concept of Mortal Kombat has been re-built from scratch in order to try and make a dent in the PS2’s fighter catalogue. Each character has three unique styles of fighting, two forms of martial arts and one weapon based. These styles can all be linked together in devastating combos reminiscent of the Killer Instinct series.

Everything moves smoothly enough, each style is different to the next, some flow together, while others are more slow paced styles. The skill comes in knowing which style that your character possess is the most appropriate to beat your opponent.

Luckily the characters themselves are as diverse as the new styles of kombat, each being given far more of an individual feel than in previous instalments of the game. Whereas before the set of characters all had the same basic controls, (press up and high punch to perform an uppercut for example) only the special moves separated the individuals, now these generic move sets have all been removed.

Furthermore, what adds to the charm of the game is the variation in the ways you can travel through the story. As well as the arcade mode you also get the Konquest mode, not essential but a nice touch as it helps teach you how each character moves and attacks work while expanding on the background of the current tournament. This coupled with some nice extras such as documentaries and the history of Mortal Kombat all adds up to a nice package. Adding longevity is the krypt, with over six hundred goody laden caskets which will take forever to open.

To sum up, Deadly Alliance represents an improvement on a stale series. There’s still room for improvement (a few more fatalities would have been nice), and more detailed arenas to fight in would take the game up a level. If only someone would look at Legend of Fighters on The 3DO- it had all the right ideas. But it shows how a stale franchise can be reborn.

Overall 7/10

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