Reviewed: March 25, 2005
Released: February 28, 2005
When I was in high school in the mid-90’s, kids used to skip school and go to the mall for the sole purpose of playing Mortal Kombat III. Students risked detention, suspension, starvation (where do you think all of the quarters came from?) and a stay in Saturday class, all for the chance to turn Liu Kang into an arcade machine and bludgeon their opponents to death with it. Mortal Kombat was that big.
Nearly a decade later(and a few months after the X-Box and PS2 releases) Midway brings Mortal Kombat: Deception to the GameCube and proves that the franchise still has plenty of life. With Deception, a player is essentially getting four games in one: the one-on-one fighting challenge, the Konquest Adventure, Puzzle Kombat, and Chess Kombat.
While the GameCube version lacks the ability to play online, it does offer up two exclusive playable characters in the form of Goro and Shao Kahn. With 26 playable characters, all new fatalities, hara kiris, multi-leveled arenas, more than a handful of items to unlock, and three styles of fighting, Mortal Kombat: Deception is one of the most outstanding titles in the series.
This series would not have survived for over ten years, from the first Mortal Kombat all the way to Mortal Kombat: Deception, without the innovative and entertaining gameplay, which nearly every MK title has presented. Mortal Kombat: Deception is no exception, and delivers the goods on all levels. Everything the Mortal Kombat fan has grown to know and love over the years is here and then some. With four games to choose from, the player will not soon run out of options.
The arcade mode is the one-on-one fighting challenge. This is the bread and butter of what Mortal Kombat is all about. You know the drill: a player chooses a character and tries to fight their way to the top and defeat the bad guy who is causing all of the trouble, who in this case is the Dragon King. Or if you have a friend, and an extra controller handy, you try to beat the living crap out of each other. This is done by attempting to win two out of three rounds by knocking an opponent’s energy bar down to nothing, and then hopefully performing a fatality. Either way, it is good fun.
Each character has three basic fighting styles, each with their own distinct advantages and disadvantages. For example, the weapons stance is usually more powerful, but slows a player down in terms of recovery. Along with each stance comes a specific set of moves. A combo in one stance will not work as the same combo in another stance, therefore creating an almost endless barrage of attacks that a player can unload on their opponent.
Speaking of combos, they are here and as enjoyable as ever. Button mashers need not apply. It will take a player a little while to learn the huge combos and even longer to perfect them. From a simple two hit combo to an elaborate eleven hit opus, it is a rush every time you are able to complete one. A player can also link combos by changing stances. This will inflict some extra damage. Quick is the key to unloading the combos as most of the time you’ll be pressing the button well before the punch, kick, or swipe actually takes place.
On the defensive side, each player has three breakers which will stop a combo in mid-bombardment. These can be performed by hitting forward on the analog stick or directional pad and block.
The fighting environments in Deception are fully interactive and several are multi-leveled. A player is actually able to win via “ring out” in many levels. For example, in the Ying Yang Puzzle Arena a player can knock their opponent off of the island and into water, thus turning him or her into fish food. The other levels feature such interactive death traps as fire, bricks, spikes, and acid. Yep, the ol’ acid bath stage is back along with a plethora of other old school arenas. This is a very nice touch. Many stages feature weapons, too. Weapons, ring outs, multi-levels, acid! It doesn’t get much better than that.
Mortal Kombat would not exist without the fatalities. Mortal Kombat: Deception brings all new multiple fatalities and hara kiris (ritualistic Japanese suicide). Some of the fatalities simply need to be seen to be appreciated. As usual, there are a lot of flying and exploding body parts painted with gallons of blood. The hara kiris are equally as gruesome. If you’re quick on the button draw you can actually do yourself in before your opponent gets the chance.
Konquest mode is a free-roaming 3-D adventure. A player takes control of Shujinko, who has been chosen to be the Elder Gods’ Champion. The storyline is very intriguing and often times complex. This is a beautifully pieced together adventure and it should be one of the main reasons that a player picks up this title.
Shujinko meets a host of characters, both old and new, and is often trained by these characters. This is one of the most valuable aspects of the Konquest mode. The player gets a first hand gameplay tutorial, while at the same time actually playing the game. The training helps with the combos and will surely inspire a player to try some new things while brutalizing an opponent.
The bulk of the Konquest mode revolves around doing a lot of “fetch it” type of mini-quests in several different realms. Many of these quests are essential, while many other are not exactly the most important things a player could be doing during the game. The side adventures are where a player picks up krypt keys, unlocks songs, and earns koins.
For example, a krypt key can be used to unlock such things as new arenas, new characters, or alternate costumes. Whereas, running around looking for Oni teeth will yield a fair amount of koins, which is fine, but players might want to get on with the Konquest. The side missions can become quite tedious, too. This will certainly not deter the most dedicated players, though.
Thankfully, Shujinko has the option to run (by using the R button) if a player chooses to do so, because the realms are huge and you will have a lot of ground to cover. A player also has the option to punch, which will trigger some battles and help you “obtain” certain items. The compass system is a little tricky at first, but after getting used to it a player should have little trouble navigating the realms. Grasping the use of the compass system is essential since a lot of the realms have very similar looking structures. Very similar. You are going to need to know exactly where you are located. The Konquest mode manages to provide the time-honored MK gameplay, while at the same time introducing some brand-new elements.
Puzzle Kombat and Chess Kombat are two welcome additions to the MK series. Chess Kombat is not your typical chess game. Players set traps, use spells, and battle each other in this competition. Instead of just taking a square when you land on it, you actually have to fight for the space. Perhaps, some hardcore chess players will be turned off by this, but then again, how many people in the chess club run home to play Mortal Kombat? You never know, though.
Puzzle Kombat is an exciting puzzle game with great visuals. A player tries to keep his or her blocks below the Kaution Banner. Breakers are used to eliminate any connected pieces of the same color, while bombs eliminate all pieces of a certain color. When a player’s super meter fills up, the player can execute a fatality. Each character has their own fatality, which will help them in some way during the game. These are two unique games that add tremendous value to the title.
The aforementioned Krypt is yet another excellent feature in Mortal Kombat: Deception. This is a 400-tomb crypt that houses many of the game’s secrets. With the krypt keys and koins earned in the Konquest mode, a player will be able to open a koffin and see what’s inside. Sometimes the items are amazing (new arenas) and sometimes they are rather bland (a photo of some guy). Either way, it is a blast to open the koffins and see what pops up. With all of the options in the one-on-one mode, the Konquest mode, the Chess and Puzzle modes, and the Krypt it is going to be very difficult to find a better, more well rounded fighting game.
Deception’s graphics are absolutely dazzling. The minute a player pops the disc into his or her Gamecube they know they are going to be in for a visual treat. The opening cut scene is brilliant. From the first flying fireball to Raiden’s last lightning bolt, one cannot help but be in awe. When the Dragon King first appears, more than likely, a player is going to step back and whisper, “Whoa, awesome.” Radiant colors, background detail (especially the bricks), and an attention to facial expressions help set the stage for what is to come during the rest of the game.
The characters simply look amazing. One thing that the Mortal Kombat series has over its competitors is its original style. When a person sees Scorpion, Raiden, Baraka, Nightwolf, or Goro there is no doubt that they are Mortal Kombat characters.
While legions of other 3-D fighting games boast generic, faceless fighters in dull karate outfits, Mortal Kombat: Deception gives players vivid costumes, rich characters, and lots of color. They way the purple stream of color flows off of Li Mei’s sword is something you just do not get in an average 3-D fighting game.
Don’t worry, the blood is still here and it’s flowing more freely than ever. It wouldn’t be a Mortal Kombat game without the blood, now would it? Sure the blood looks comical, but that is part of the MK charm. Obviously this game gets the ESRB rating of Mature due to its “blood and gore and intense violence”, but it is hard to think of the game as that intense when a player cannot help but chuckle during some of the blood-soaked fatalities. Nevertheless, the bright red blood surely does the job.
Deception’s arenas are, without a doubt, the strong point in this game. Most of the multi-tiered arenas are jaw dropping upon first inspection. Since a lot of these arenas are multi-leveled that means that there is more than one place to do battle in a particular stage. In the Beetle Lair a player can knock their opponent through a brick wall and into another section of the lair, sending bricks flying and blood splattering. The detail is wonderful. You might even notice that you’ll squash your fair share of beetles simply by walking around. Just wait until the first time you punch or kick someone through the glass ceiling in the Chamber of Artifacts. It is awesome.
The graphics in the other parts of the game are quite nice, also. For example, in the Puzzle Kombat mode, the screen shows two fighters, a detailed background still, and two side animations, while not distracting from the puzzle gameplay one single bit. Another nice touch.
Perhaps the only graphic flaw in the entire game comes during the Konquest adventure. In certain towns and in certain realms during the nighttime, it is far too dark. A player might have some trouble actually trying to tell if a door is in front of them or not. Of course, this is a very minor flaw in a game full of exceptional graphic triumphs.
“Fight!” You know it and you love it. Mortal Kombat: Deception is another game that perfectly blends the sounds of the old with the sounds of the new. The music is extraordinary. Players will hear everything from tribal-influenced movements to plain old electronic and synth-based pieces. Every track faultlessly fits the arena in which it is presented. Though, I have to admit, it is quite hilarious to hear reggae music in the Ying Yang Puzzle Arena as two fighters try to disembowel each other.
Also included in the game is the option to listen to each song in the Kontent menu. This is great if you are a music fan and you want to study the pieces. Perhaps you can break out the flute and jam along. Many of the songs can be unlocked by using the krypt keys that are obtained while playing the Konquest mode.
The punching, kicking, and swiping noises are back and as crisp as ever. The sound effects are in full swing with footsteps, thunder, and explosions adding great depth to the cut scenes and the fighting episodes. While the usual “ahs,” “uhs,” and “aaaaaaaaahs” are present; the voice acting is a tad trite in the Konquest mode. Again, this is just a minor flaw in a game that is very aurally pleasing.
Every aspect of Mortal Kombat: Deception is valuable, whether it be gameplay, replay, or simply monetary value. It would be very difficult for anyone to find any fault with this game in terms of worth.
This game is so chalked full of goodies that a player is not likely to get bored within the first couple of weeks of playing. The GameCube version features 26 playable characters and the Krypt has 400 koffins to explore. Unlockables, hidden keys, hidden characters, and Krypt “shopping” during and after the Konquest mode make this game a hot property. If you’re the type of player who likes to finish a game at 100%, this will definitely keep you busy. Don’t forget the inclusion of Puzzle Kombat or Chess Kombat, either. The replay value of Deception, as a whole, is tremendous.
Midway could have easily put out Puzzle Kombat or Chess Kombat on their own and stuck on a $19.99 price tag, but instead they opted to include the games here and it creates a great sense of worth. $39.99, the price most retailers are currently offering the game for, is an absolute steal when you take into consideration what you are actually receiving, which is four games in one. It would be nearly impossible to find a fighting game with a higher value.
The Mortal Kombat series has come a long, long way since 1992, when it actually changed everything in terms of fighting games. Seven fighters, “Get Over Here!”, and lots of gore started it all. Now, nearly thirteen years later, the MK gods have given players what might just be the Holy Grail of the series.
Mortal Kombat: Deception is a must have, not only for MK fans, but for fighting fans in general. Mortal Kombat: Deception has everything that a player loves from all of the previous MK titles plus a whole lot more. More exceptional and more stylish than any other game in the series, Deception will provide an endless amount of entertainment. Mortal Kombat: Deception is a surefire title and it will certainly please gamers of all types, regardless of their previous knowledge of Mortal Kombat.