I have been a huge fan of the Mortal Kombat movies since its first film, and that fanaticism has continued into the gaming aspect. Mortal Kombat: Unchained takes off from the storyline of the 2004 Mortal Kombat: Deception for PlayStation 2. Being patterned after the 2004 release, Unchained features mostly the same strengths and weaknesses that Deception had.
The game features the classic One-on-One skirmish with two added quirky extras namely: Chess Kombat and Puzzle Kombat. Chess Kombat puts on a basic tactical layer over the one-on-one bout similar to that of the traditional computer game Archon. Instigated by Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, the Puzzle Kombat is, as you can probably guess, a cutthroat puzzle game. Also featured is a story-based mode called KONQUEST, which unfortunately gives the player a dizzying spin into heaps of interminable and convoluted tales about the Mortal Kombat universe. One new feature that the game offers is the Endurance Mode where it lets you fight with consecutive opponents, which ironically has too many interruptions. Players new to the game are likely to get awed by the overwhelming counter-intuitive quality of the controls. Each featured fighter has 3 different fighting stances that include a weapon-based stance. Each stance has its own moves and combos that you’re supposed to memorize; plus a set of special moves unique to each character.
The roster has about two dozens of diverse characters to pick your choice from, featuring newly added characters such as Shao Kahn, Jax, Frost, Goro, Blaze, and Kitana fighting alongside the series of favorites like Liu Kang, Scorpion, Raiden, and Sub-Zero. With various interactive fighting arenas for combat, the game provides more exciting gameplay. The combat has an inflexible feel to it, though. It seems unresponsive no matter how hard you try to click; it may take some time to learn all of the controls as well as particular fighter’s move combos. However, fighting can be very tactical and full of thrill once you get used to the controls, especially if you’re trying to get the upper hand on the ad Hoc WI-Fi match with a friend.
The full 3D visuals don’t seem quite as detailed in the PSP as Deception in PS2, although the game still appears and sounds great and definitely runs smoothly enough. The audio is so evil-sounding with some hard core sound effects, a suitably vicious announcer, a decent collection of authentic grunts and realistic screams topped with some moody, sinister-sounding track; adding to the images of gruesome fatalities – these all add up to the classic dark feel of the game.
Now, this may seem very exciting to newbies, but to players who got to play Deception in PS2, nothing much has changed in Unchained with the exception of the Endurance mode. The online mode which was a key feature of Deception was removed from Unchained for the PSP. Another annoying thing the game has is its extremely lengthy loading time during the extras and even in One-on-One fighting; taking as long as 20 seconds to load and slowing down your progression from one fight to the next. But if you’re an avid Mortal Kombat fan like me, all these things are negligible and the game remains to be very enjoyable indeed.