Sunday, October 22, 2023

Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (Playstation 2, 2002)

It's day 3 of the Twelve Days of Halloween and it's time for more Kombat.

This one dropped five years after MK4. Which means that while took them a few years to count to 4, it took them even longer to count to 5. And make no mistake, this is "MK5" in everything but name. Notice how the background of the title is a somewhat camoflaged "V" symbol.

I probably would have paid a lot more attention to it in 2002 if it had been called that, but as it is, this is my first time playing it. This was the first MK to go straight to consoles instead of having an arcade version first, likely because arcades unfortunately declined in popularity after the 90's ended.

This one is the first to go full 3D, and begins a trilogy of sorts on the PS2 gen. This culminates with MK Armageddon (AKA MK7) which is basically the end of the series as we know it. But not to worry, it gets rebooted (...twice) after that.

In any case, this one has Shang Tsung and Quan-Chi teaming up to form the DEADLY ALLIANCE. Only question is, which one's the bitch and which one's the butch which one gets to be the final boss?

Opening cutscene shows us THE DEADLY ALLIANCE. Both of these guys got tired of being the Underboss of previous games and joined forces.

First thing they do is ambush Shao Khan and kill him. Or at least, it appears that they killed him, with his helmet clattering to the floor. We'll see if that holds.

Next, Liu Kang is practicing his katas at the temple.

Shang Tsung ambushes him! They fight it out. Kang really looks like Robin Shou here.

Quan-Chi launches a fireball that knocks Liu Kang off balance, allowing Shang Tsung to get the upper hand.

And then... Shang Tsung SNAPS LIU KANG'S NECK.

My GOD. He's dead. LIU KANG IS DEAD. The ostensible hero of four no more.

Raiden gathers the remaining heroes together to discuss the DEADLY ALLIANCE. He's going to lead the charge against this new threat.

This game introduces a bunch of new ideas, like The Krypt where you can unlock unlockables. Or Konquest where you spend 15 hours meeting specific objectives during fights for fun and profit. I'm just checking out Arcade mode.

Very good character select theme. MK games usually have good character select themes.

The Villains are both selectable right from the get-go. And sandwiched between them is...

...Bo Rai Cho, the latest addition to the roster. This guy is a robust drunkard who stumbles around during fights. Starting in the next game, he gets an atomic fart finishing move.

Sub-Zero is an older version of his MK3 look, which shows us the passage of time a bit.

I think the most interesting new character is Blind Kenshi. This guy has a mean katana and, oh yeah, he's blind. John Wick 4 taught me that blindness is actually a buff, kind of like dying in DBZ.

Shame that almost half the roster is locked at the beginning and requires playing other modes and getting Krypt unlocks and so forth. REALLY not a fan of how the different versions of this game do that.

Also not a fan of some of these character redesigns. Sonya has traded her athletic, realistic, healthy look for this new inflated look that'd be at home in Ride to Hell: Retribution or something. And Jax looks like Generalissimo Jax Amin, dictator of Uganda.

I choose... BO RAI CHO! The 3D environments are quite nice for the era and the freedom of movement gives things a new dimension at least.

They were clearly going for a Virtua Fighter or Tekken type of game here. However, the controls feel a little delayed and slow, and the 3D isn't the best ever (sidestepping seems to be hit-or-miss in terms of whether it works as a dodge). In short, Tekken and Virtua Fighter did it better.

I think MK might have been better off sticking to 2D, which is probably why later games in the series actually go back to it.

FREEZE! Not as cool as previous games. Where's the ice?

There's this overworld of sorts between stages, telling you where it is that you're fighting next. It's mainly here to mask loading screens...which this game has a lot of unfortunately.

Li Mei is another new character and kind of fetching. Except they went way overboard with Balloon Boobs. Gotta say, I really do miss athletic MK3 Sonya right about now.

Nice PS2 rain effects here. This would be a good time to mention the biggest change in this game (besides it going 3D). Each character has three different movesets and you can switch between them on the fly. Typically it's two different fighting styles and one weapon style.

This might be lifted from Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, which also has two fighting styles and a weapon style that can be switched on. Only fighting game I know of with that system before this one, and it's from a few years prior.

Bo Rai Cho with a graceful ballet-like punch!

"Tee hee" he says. It's like he's got a secret.

Bo Rai Cho's weapon is a walking stick, which he likes to do quick jabs to the balls with. The man is a SCAMP.

Scorpion is still traditional in look, at least. So we've got one character who really feels like Mortal Kombat. He now has katanas.

Fun Fact: The reason MK3 in its original form was missing all the ninja characters is because Ed Boon and John Tobias got tired of being criticized for having so many pallete-swap ninjas. So they just axed everyone.

Scorpion and Kenshi have a swordfight! This is when the game is at its best: Characters clashing weapons together.

Kenshi likes to stand there meditating while looking right at the camera.


His finisher has him doing the Psychic Wave attack from South Park and Focusing Really Hard until his opponent blows up.

Sub-Zero's weapon is a sword made of ice. Yeah, this particular gimmick is the thing I like about this game.

Other than that, there isn't much to it. The locked character select is a big turnoff.

Here's Kitana, one of the locked characters. I'd love to give the game a run with her if she wasn't locked!

Some of the fighting styles are actually pretty accurate to their real-world counterparts. Here's Kung Lao doing Mantis Style. They changed his look quite a bit from previous games which I'm not a big fan of.

The new Goro-type sub-boss is Moloch, this giant beast. Good time to mention...why is this game so DARK?

Pretty much have to use weapon arts to get anywhere fighting this guy, and he's easily the toughest foe in the game.

Johnny Cage takes a swing at him!

Yeah this is rough. His reach is much longer than anyone else's and he hits harder, so I die a lot here. Which isn't the worst thing, except that the fight and Moloch himself are kind of boring. Definitely prefer four-armed monstrosities.

I finally manage to eke out a win with Kano and his knives. Kano having knives as his third weapon was a stroke of genius, since he was the only one who had a built-in weapon from the other games.

Here's Nitara, another ::sigh:: locked character. She's got some fans, and is still around as late as the newest game. She's some sort of demon. Cool design, but also kind of feels...not very MK? I guess I should get used to MK feeling less and less like the MK I knew as a kid.

Next up is Quan-Chi (So Shang Tsung gets main event status). I choose Kung Lao so he can avenge his friend. ...if he can win, that is.

Quan Chi with the fireball that resulted in Liu Kang meeting his end. This is personal dammit!

A lot of quick jabs with a pointy weapon tends to be something the CPU has a difficult time dealing with.

Last fight, Shang Tsung. No secret Shao Khan fight here. Time to end the DEADLY ALLIANCE. Unfortunately Kung Lao lost this a few times so I switched gears to Kano, who I had luck with against Moloch.

Nice character portrait, really leaning into the Terminator influence.

Spamming quick weapon jabs is how I eke out a win here after a few tries. This game definitely ramps up in difficulty towards the end, and the sluggish movement speed doesn't help.

Kano wins and seizes an amulet from Moloch that lets him command an army of undead. He uses this to defeat Sonya finally.

Then when Shang Tsung asks him for the amulet, he decides naw, he'll just keep it and take over the world. Didn't he just beat up Shang Tsung anyway?

Very weird, very non-canon ending. Not super keen on this game, we'll see what the rest of the PS2 trilogy has in store.

Other Mortal Kombat Posts

No comments:

Post a Comment