One Last Fight to The Death
After 14 years, the bloodshed will come to an end with the Midway release of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, the final installment of a popular franchise.
The series goes all out this time with an impressive computer-animated intro that has all the "kombatants" spanning the entire Mortal Kombat universe fighting it out in a no-holds-barred throw-down. The story in Armageddon is a simple one. Because the number of fighters has grown tremendously throughout the series, a pyramid has been set up with a fire demon at the top. Whoever defeats the fire demon, known as Blaze, is granted anything he or she desires and receives a surge of godlike powers. The pyramid is a way to keep fighters in check and prevent chaos.
Armageddon features a plethora of fighters. If you remember a character from any Mortal Kombat game, chances are that character will be playable here. From the start of the game, 58 characters are playable, with four that must be unlocked. The fighting system is similar to that in the two previous installments, Deadly Alliance and Deception. Each character has two move sets: hand-to-hand and weapon-based combat. However, unlike in Deception, Midway excludes a third fighting style in Armageddon to keep the play simple.
Returning to the series are "air combos." Not since Mortal Kombat 3 could you throw an opponent in the air and continue to attack him for more damage. In Armageddon, a new aspect of the game is the "Kreate-A-Fatality" system. Once you have defeated an opponent, the "Finish Him/Her" prompt will appear followed by a red bar. As the red bar drains, you have limited time to create one string of a fatality. The bar will show up again to allow you to create another string, and so forth until you run out of time. While this is a nice new twist on a well-known part of the game, it is disappointing that there are no more character-specific fatalities. That was the heart of Mortal Kombat.
Speaking of heart, this game has two of them, so to speak. The "Konquest" mode is an adventure side quest along the lines of last year's Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks. This is where you earn money and unlock items and secret characters. The "Kreate-A-Fighter" is easily one of the deepest systems in years. You can spend hours on this mode alone.
There are some issues with Armageddon. First, while it's faster and more fun than earlier installments, it still feels slow and outdated. Also, the endings for the most part are disappointing. Finally, the mini-game Motor Kombat, which is like a violent Mario Kart, is fun at first, but it becomes boring quickly.
Still, this is a great send-off to the popular series.
-- Gregory McDougal
Mortal Kombat: Armageddon Mature; PlayStation 2, Xbox ($40) Midway