Last year, Warner Bros. Games and NetherRealm Studios dusted off the Mortal Kombat franchise for the consoles, and in so doing, re-invigorated the fan base with a game that many consider the best fighter of this generation. So, when the folks at WBG and NetherRealm announced a port of the game to the PS Vita, it could only mean that the craftsmanship that went into the console games would transfer over, seeing as the Vita is a powerhouse, right? Right?
Mortal Kombat for the PS Vita is a tight fighting game experience. NetherRealm kept the majority of the console game's features, and then added content. Tons and tons of content. In addition to all of the game modes (Story, Ladder, Tag, Challenge Tower, training, etc.) there are new characters, costumes, skins, and over 150 Challenge Tower missions. Heck, there is even a second Challenge Tower designed specifically for the PS Vita! This tower takes advantage of the Vita's touch screens and built in six axis controls to add new layers of playability.
As for the fighters, NetherRealms brought back the favorite characters of the past like Raiden, Johnny Cage, Sonya Blade and Scorpion and Sub-Zero, but also included God of War's Kratos and Freddy Krueger, both of who appeared exclusively in the console version. And new fighters like Skarlet, Rain and Kenshi are all there as well. And the best part is that these are NOT DLC characters that you have to pay for. They are standard in-game fighters! All in all, there is a huge stable of fighters to choose from.
Mortal Kombat retains the style and controls that have made the series a "Klassic." There are only a grab button, a block button, two punch buttons, and two kick buttons, and then a plethora of combinations can be created using those buttons and the joystick. I didn't find any problems attacking with the PS Vita's tiny buttons (other than a joint in my thumb throbbing after awhile).
Also, the PS Vita's touch screen can be used to initiate Fatalities and X-Ray attacks, which makes it easier to pull of devastating moves on your opponent. I personally enjoy it when developers utilize the touch screen for the bigger, more destructive moves. It keeps my focus on stringing combos and makes the end move, or in this case, the Fatality a reward of sorts by a simple finger swipe across the touch screen. I hope this is a sign of things to come.
The overall look of the game has been maintained, but there is a steep degradation in the graphics of the character models. Most times, the characters look like they come from an early PSP build, as they are blocky and the textures are too smooth. This is a shame, as the game runs at a true 60 frames-per-second, so the action is fast and crazy. The PS Vita's gorgeous OLED screen demands that the graphics really pop, but sadly, that isn't the case here.
I will say that I do enjoy how the characters show residual damage throughout a fight. Even Freddy Krueger can get more messed up with Scorpion beating the loving crap out of him.
Mortal Kombat on PS Vita, as a portable fighting game, also demands a good online versus component. The game delivers as you can challenge and fight anyone anywhere via Wi-Fi (though sadly, no 3G support) and through AdHoc. Unfortunately, there isn't a cross-platform element here. You can't connect this game with the PS3 version, and fight friends, which is a shame as the games are so similar (well, save for the weak character graphics in this version).
The LiveArea contains the game's manual and game portal only. No additional features were included, not even a link to the PlayStation Store, which is strange for a game that one would assume would have some DLC support in the near future.
There is also Trophy support, with many new Trophies designed for the PS Vita release.
Mortal Kombat on PS Vita is a great game. The sheer volume of content coupled with the solid 60 fps gameplay does work to offset the shoddy character graphics. With insane fatalities and X-ray moves, not to mention the blood and gore that the series has built itself on, I never really found myself staring at my character too much. I was too involved in eviscerating my opponents. The utilization of the PS Vita's touch screen is a welcome addition, and the mini-games of the Challenge Towers offer a welcome break from the constant fighting and bloodshed.
For long time fans of the franchise, Mortal Kombat on PS Vita is a great way to take the game on the go and to beat the living snot out of anybody anywhere... provided they too have a PS Vita. That was not an invite to beat up total strangers.
- Jon Hueber
Shop for Mortal Kombat on Playstation Vita for a discounted price at Amazon.com (May 1, 2012 release date).