Feeling a bit down about what to play? Well, here is your prescription right here - Mortal Kombat: Deception. But, before you have your first injection, let's look at the history of Mortal Kombat. Back in 1992, when Midway first introduced the game, it was really impressive to see the fluidity of the characters and the violence of the fights. Over the years, we've seen it taking a place in the pantheon of gaming classics, due particularly to its graphic violent content -- which we have to admit, we loved to bits. This time, Midway have decided to combine the whole lot -- Kombat, Puzzle, Strategy and Konquest -- all with online multiplayer capability. The result is that Mortal Kombat: Deception is now surely the goriest one-on-one fighting game on the market.
The game starts with a nice movie explaining how things turned out after Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance ended. Unfortunately, as you can guess, the good guys didn't win. And now once again it's time to stop evil messing around with the Earthrealm and there's only one way to do it: challenge him!
This wouldn't be an MK sequel without some inexplicable character roster updates. Kung Lao's gone, and Ermac's back in. Huh?
The combat feels really easy at the beginning; the opponent does hardly any moves to hurt you. But after a few matches, it becomes incredibly hard. You have to defeat two opponents in the same round and they are on a higher difficulty setting so you can't count on the few cheap moves that you used to beat the earlier fighters. You can still set the difficulty level in the options if it's too hard. Another new feature is that some of the stages have multiple rooms, levels or death traps that you can throw your opponent into. There is also a special weapon per stage that you can grab to defeat your opponent in a really painful manner. Why lose time on combos when you can kick the opponent into an acid bath?
The Konquest mode works well as a tutorial, but it is far from a good RPG. Your main character has a straightforward set of quests which are often not terribly challenging. The controls feel clumsy and it's hard to turn around to talk to a person or open a chest because your character is always running. One interesting challenge, especially for the fans, is to collect "koins" to unlock different fan art and new characters from the krypt.
The Kombat chess is just a nicer way of playing the Kombat mode. Don't get me wrong, it's not a chess game, it's more of a framework for a tournament. There are some strategic squares on the board that can give you bonuses during a fight and spells that can be performed to teleport one of your characters or exchange two pieces. Unfortunately, if you are good at strategy but not very good at fighting, the opponent will easily win, every single time. Infuriating doesn't even begin to express our anger!
The Puzzle mode looks a bit like Dr Mario - you place dual-coloured blocs together then break the series of the same colour. Each character can build energy up to perform certain actions during the game like deleting lines or freezing his opponent blocs so he can't destroy them.
Puzzle Kombat is a spitting image of Capcom's classic puzzle battle game, right on down to the superdeformed characters you'll see duking it out onscreen.
The graphics aren't that much different from MK: Deadly Alliance. The faces aren't very detailed, but the bodies look and act realistically. Blood isn't displayed very well, especially if we consider the capability of the Xbox graphic card. Many of the stages are beautiful, often medieval-looking. They make you feel like you're playing the last fighting scene of a kung-fu movie.
The controls are certainly the weakest point of the game. The responsiveness is just not there. You can finish a combo on your controller and then go get a coffee while your character finishes it off in the game. The fighting often feels like "I'm doing my combo then you do yours" because of a certain gap between each move. It is really frustrating to jump/crouch instead of dodging because these two really important moves have been put on the same direction on the gamepad.
In the end, MK: Deception is really one for the fans. Even though it is an "all-in-one" package of games, the Arcade Kombat mode remains the centre of attention. If you don't like Kombat, you probably won't enjoy the other games since they closely rely on it. If you are new to Mortal Kombat, rent it before you rush out to buy it.