With its roster of super human psychopaths, gallons of blood and guts and OTT, incredibly graphic “fatalities”, Mortal Kombat was, in part, responsible for the creation of the ERSB and remains the undisputed king of 90s video game nasties. But how does this rebooted and graphically enhanced iPhone iteration square up to impressive showing of fighting games already available for the format, which includes young pretenders like Blades of Fury and Bruce Lee Dragon Warrior, not to mention MK’s old sparring partner, Street Fighter?.
Well, long standing fans of the franchise will no doubt be delighted to find that in spite of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3’s (out now, $6.99), fancy schmancy 3D face lift, spruced up selection of arenas, and, indeed, a set of touchscreen controls tailor-made for its iOS debut, once you get stuck into the game, it’s pretty much bone-krunching business as usual.
So to answer my opening question: as ever, MK doesn’t attempt to meet its competitors head-on by aiming to be the most technically brilliant fighting game on the block, and instead focuses on delivering a hugely entertaining hit of utterly ker-azy special moves, fireballs, gut-wrenching levels of gore, and pitch black comedy; put simply, while this isn’t as polished or sophisticated as, say, Street Fighter IV, it is arguably more fun.
Featuring four varied game modes for you to battle your way through – Arcade, Local Multiplayer, Survival and the all new Shao Karnage – 3 unforgiving difficulty levels, as well as a wealth of fighting arenas, this pseudo port of the popular Xbox Live Arcade title (itself a remake of the third installment of the iconic arcade franchise) certainly comes packing enough content to sate even the most bloodthirsty of gamers. However, rather disappointingly, the supporting cast of playable characters appears to have been culled for this version. The game’s 13 strong roster of fighters does, of course, include fan favorites such as Scorpion, Sub-Zero, and Sonya Blade, but others are regrettably conspicuous by their absence. Ho-hum.
Now, especially when running on iOS, fighting games live and die based on how well they control. And while UMK 3’s duo of control schemes (“Pro” which replicates the classic arcade style and an “easy” option that simplifies pulling off combos and is better suited to an iDevice’s interface) are by no means flawless and do have a bit of a learning curve, thankfully, given the fact that the button layout of each is fully customizable, you’re all but guaranteed to eventually hit upon a set-up that you’ll be comfortable with.
Personally I had a rip-roaring good time with UMK 3. It authentically captures the series’ trademark schlocky aesthetic and frenzied, button mashing style, discovering and executing combos and brutal finishing moves is as thrilling as ever, while the transition from 2D to 3D has been handled well and the online and Bluetooth multiplayer options are welcome additions. Before I wrap up, it’s probably worth noting that I’m ancient enough to recall playing MK and its sequels in their heyday, so I will say (minus my rose tinted goggles) that newcomers to the series who don’t share my fondness for the characters or experience a tingle of nostalgia every time Scorpion disembowels someone or Sonya punches an opponent through a brick wall might not be as forgiving of this title’s faults.
If you ask me though, the poor showing of combatants and those initially fiddly controls aside, UMK 3 is still a worthy addition to your collection of fighting games. Proof that the long-running franchise can still cut it the iGeneration, this is a killer remake of a klassic game.
iFanzine Verdict: A nostalgia inducing onslaught of visceral, mega-violent action brought bang up to date with eye-popping new visuals. Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 stays faithful to the series’ roots while making some timely tweaks to the winning formula. Bloody brilliant, but could really do with adding a few more characters.