When I first sat down to review Mortal Kombat for the Vita, I assumed that it would be an easy task. After all, this would be the third time I had reviewed the same game. The first time was last April with the console version, then again on console in February when the Mortal Kombat: Komplete Edition was released. Turns out it was tougher than I thought.
This is a tricky review, primarily because it needs to be judged on a scale. The Vita is not even close to being as powerful as an Xbox 360 or a PS3 Break, as you almost certainly know. If not, I apologize for ruining a perfectly good delusion. But just because the Vita isn’t as powerful doesn’t mean it can’t offer a comparably entertaining product. It just means that there will be a few sacrifices.
That is where the “judging on a scale” I mentioned comes in. Things like graphics are always going to take a hit, but if you can pack a ton of content in to a mobile device, offer gameplay on par with any system, and also have the foundation of what was already a winning game, then you are doing alright.
In that, Mortal Kombat for the Vita is a triumph. But with an asterisk.
If you are familiar with the game, then you know what to expect. You know exactly what to expect, and I mean that as a complement of the highest order. The Mortal Kombat reboot on the console was silly with content. There really aren’t too many more options that you can dream up for a fighting game without changing the directions towards something that feels alien to the series. Tekken 6 tried it by introducing a fairly lengthy beat ‘em up section, and it wasn’t bad, but it didn’t really feel much like Tekken.
The Vita version of Mortal Kombat features every challenge mode, all the ladder matches, and the full campaign, along with ad hoc and online multiplayer. It also comes loaded with the PS3 bonus character of Kratos, as well as the four additional fighters that were originally sold as DLC before being included in the Komplete Edition: Rain, Skarlet, Kenshi, and Freddy Krueger.
That is a ton of content to cram into the Vita, but NetherRealms didn’t stop there. Along with all the ported content come two new mini-games, an entirely new challenge tower with 150 new challenges, and a handful of new controls that are specific to the Vita.
The mini-games are simple. One requires you to physically move the Vita to maintain balance, while the other uses the touchscreen and is essentially a Fruit Ninja clone. On their own they are fun distractions, but as part of the new challenge tower, they add a lot of variety.
The Vita controls work almost as well as they do on the console, and the inclusion of touchscreen X-Ray activation and fatalities, where you swipe in the directions instead of using the D-pad, is a nice touch but not at all necessary.
Remember that asterisk I mentioned? Well, here’s the rub: the graphics. You expect a bit of a downturn in Vita graphics compared to a console offering, but there is a major drop in quality. Compared to other fighting games on the Vita like Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 and the upcoming Street Fighter X Tekken, Mortal Kombat is noticeably weaker than its competitors.
This is especially obvious in the story mode when the game switches from the cinematics to the in-game graphics. But while this is an annoyance, just like the console version the animations feature a full 60 fps, so the graphics can be overlooked.
It would also have been nice to see some cross platform connection with the PS3, even as just a bonus for people that owned both versions, but maybe that is getting greedy.
What else is there to say? This is the same game as its original console counterpart with even comes with more content, and it does it all on a small, handheld device. The gameplay is solid and smooth, and the animations are fluid are fast. The biggest negative to the Vita game is the graphics, which aren’t on the same level as its peers. Having some benefit for owning multiple copies of the game would have been a good touch, but not a major strike against it.
If you are looking for a good fighting game for the Vita, or just a good game in general, you won’t go wrong with Mortal Kombat on the Vita, which maybe the ultimate edition for the title. Or at least I hope so, because reviewing the same game four times is madness.