It was those two words that appeared on the backs of comic books when I was a kid, advertising a game that we had no idea how much we were going to fall in love with. It was a 2-D fighter and we hadn?t had a good one since Street Fighter II. It had revolutionary graphics, or at least so we thought for its time. It was a game that sparked huge debates, as it completely crossed the line of violence in so many ways that a trail of blood followed. But man, did we love it!
Veteran gamers of more than twenty years remember what it was like when this title came out. A second and third were bound to follow and we fell in love with the new fatalities and the new characters both times. Movies, an awesome theme song from the movie, action figures, cartoons ? you name it ? MK had it.
Somewhere down the line, people stopped caring about MK. Midway released MK Trilogy that had every single character, even the weird variations of the ninjas, such as ermac and rain, the red and purple sub-zeroscorpion look-alikes. It had the makings of a great title but it wasn?t well received. Since then, many MK titles have come along and although diehard fans got their fill, mostly because they are, after all, diehards, the rest of us weren?t very impressed.
Well fear no more because the developers at Midway have at long last produced a good one, enter Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, available for PS2 and Xbox. Now, I’ve heard that Mortal Kombat: Deception is the better title but I thought I?d talk about this one because it?s a completely different kind of game.
The story, in a nutshell, is that Shang Tsung after being defeated in Mortal Kombat is supposed to return to the outer realm but decides he?d be much happier taking over the earth instead. Using his shape-shifting ability to impersonate Raiden, Shang Tsung lures Liu Kang and Kung Lao into the outer realm where they are faced with a seemingly infinite amount of Tsungs?s loyal minions.
For starters, it?s not a 2-D fighter it?s actually a 3-D actionadventure. You start off with Liu Kang andor Kung Lao at your disposal. In essence, you move through the levels fighting tons of enemies MK style. Punches, kicks, throws, combos, projectiles and lots of fatalities.
Interestingly enough, when playing co-op mode, the two characters share an energy bar, which I thought was a clever idea, as it evens out the team; if one player is phenomenal at the game while the other is trying it for the first time, the health will go where it is needed.
The controls aren?t as Mortal Kombat-ish as I wish they were but they don?t take too long to get used to and once you do, the gameplay is quite fluid. The more enemies you take down, the more experience points you receive, and the more experience points you receive the more moves, which includes fatalities, you can unlock. There is also a decent 2-player fighter mode that becomes more and more appealing as you unlock characters in the main mode.
What I love most about this game is how downright old school it is. For instance, there are many levels that explore and exploit those backgrounds we became accustomed to throughout the entire MK series.
Remember that level on the bridge in which you could uppercut your opponent into the spikes when it was time for the fatality? It?s in there. And remember those silent, hovering figures, dressed in the purple cloaks from MK II? Now, they are part of the slew of enemies you have to take on. Again, the veterans will appreciate this title.
This game is all about the characters from the early MK titles such as Kano, Baraka, Goro, Sonya, Sub-Zero and Scorpion, just to name a few.
So there you have it. MK: Shaolin Monks has a very simple formula that works. It?s a title that doesn?t take too long to beat but if you can get another player in on it the game becomes an entirely new experience.
If you?ve been a long-time MK fan then this is a title you’ve been waiting for.