I’ve played a few portable fighting games recently and there’s always been something lacking. When titles make the jump from home console to handheld, it’s often the case that something has to be cut, simplified or changed to better suit the pick-up-and-play nature of the device.
Mortal Kombat for Vita bucks this trend, aiming to deliver a complete fighting game experience without anything taken away, In most ways, it’s identical to its larger siblings on PS3 and 360, preserving the same basic modes as well as the addictive Challenge Tower and one of the deepest Story Modes to come out of the genre.
Given the limitations of the system, however, it’s clear that some tradeoff was still required. Developers NetherRealm Studios had a choice to sacrifice either the solid 60fps frame rate or scale back the in-game visuals to prevent excessive slowdown. While it doesn’t make for the best screenshots, they made the right choice by choosing to keep the frame rate as high and smooth as possible. Fights look fantastic and, even at the end of a furious combo, the action never slows down. The fully animated backgrounds are present as well, making up for a few lower quality textures. This is also only really jarring when moving from pre-rendered cut scenes (which still look fantastic) to in-game visuals as well so there’s no real impact on the gameplay.
NetherRealm have really outdone themselves in ensuring that Mortal Kombat is as challenging and enjoyable on the Vita as it is on every other platform. As well as the standard modes, there are a series of mini-games in their own dedicated Challenge Mode that make use of the tilt, touch and camera functions of the Vita.
The best part of this is that the new games are entirely optional – even using the touchscreen for bone-crushing X-ray attacks and fatalities can be bypassed by the standard button-presses. This means that, if you want to skip the sometimes frustratingly shoe-horned in “accessibility features”, you need never encounter them. They are worth checking out though and are the perfect length to while away a short trip on the bus.
Finally, by doing away with the embarrassingly complicated DLC system for multiplayer (“Want to fight your opponent wearing the fancy skin you bought? Tough, they don’t support it at their end.”), this version of the ninth MK outing has possibly the most robust netcode of the series, making it easy to find a fight whenever you’re connected to PSN. The ad-hoc mode also works well – allowing two local players to throw down.
I’ve focused more on Mortal Kombat as a port than as a game. After coming out last year on consoles to widespread acclaim, it’s safe to say that this version equals or betters its predecessor in nearly every way. An absolute must for Vita owners.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation Vita code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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