|FIMP: Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance [GCN]|
From the five hours or so that I've played of MK: DA, I can say that this is perhaps tied with MK II as being the most polished game in the series. It just *feels* like they spent a lot of time making everything come together, something I certainly did not feel with the many iterations of III, and not quite with 4, although 4 managed to be quite fun at times. The graphics are excellent -- it runs at a smooth 60 fps and has nice details and character definition. Mind you I'm playing the Cube version -- some textures end up being a wee bit blurry, like the floors of the arenas. (Apparently the Xbox version has the best textures and effects, so if you've got all 3 systems and are a graphics scrutinizer check that version out instead.) A really cool detail is that you see your character's face and body get battered and bruised throughout the course of the fight, hearkening back to Art of Fighting, which had this same graphical feature.
The music hasn't really seeped into my head yet -- maybe that's saying something about it. The sound effects are a different story, with a mixed assortment of grunts, groans, screams, crunches, cracks, and slices accompanying the gushing fountains of hemoglobin that spill out of the characters' open wounds. The sound effects reach a point where, even if a fatality isn't really that bloody, just *listening* to it can be a scary experience.
The gameplay is where it gets tricky. I can get thoroughly addicted to this game if I wanted to, but at the same time, it can turn me off if I'm not in the mindset to tolerate it. It's not exactly Tekken -- good, very good, in my book. But ain't exactly Virtua Fighter, Dead or Abreasts, or Soul Calibur either (even though it has weapons). AnTiPoDe described it to me as such, and he's kinda right. I don't feel the monotony and the unflexibility I felt when playing Tekken games but at the same time, it's not as fluid or adaptable as the three other fighters I mentioned. In fact it retains that sort of stiffness from Tekken, but thankfully the combo strings aren't 10-button telephone numbers that jump all around the pad. There are juggles a-plenty, but I always found those amusing. If only they made gameplay smoother, and if only I could use the analog stick to sidestep/walk around the arena. Yep, that's right, no analog sticks are used nor is there an option to turn them on. Pretty $#itty if you ask me.
The styles and weapons for each character, though, add some depth to the game. I haven't fully mastered the intricacies of the different forms yet but it adds a twist -- and the fighting strategies do change quite a bit once you switch up your stance. Some of the weapons can also be used to impale your opponent, his life slowly seeping to empty status. This prevents them from just trying to run away -- now they've got to come after you or die a slow death. Mwahahaha...
Once I spend a lot more time with this title I'll give a review. But this is definitely a rent-first. It took me two long sessions with it to appreciate it enough to buy it, and even now I'm skeptical as to how much I can really like it. One thing's for sure -- if you can stomach the game, it's got LOADS of replay value (676 things to unlock, such as concept art, spoof MK commercials, and information on MK lore). And, the fatalities really are cool this time around.
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