You're never quite sure what you're going to get when it comes to a Midway fighting game. Is it going to be a bona fide classic, like Mortal Kombat II; or a full-on disaster, like War Gods, Primal Rage, or Mortal Kombat Advance? Loyal fans have been through the worst of times; they deserve a sequel that delivers on all the potential created a dozen years ago.
Mortal Kombat Deception might not end up being everything the fans have been waiting for, but it comes pretty darn close. After all these years, and an extremely awkward jump from 2D to 3D, Mortal Kombat is better than ever with more extra modes, characters, levels, and surprises than you can shake a giant spear at.
The game play is largely unchanged from that of Deadly Alliance two years ago. Each combatant is offered three different fighting styles, one of which includes their own weapon. New to Deception is a combo breaker, a move that will stop just about any series of attacks, but can only be used three times per match. This, along with a few other minor upgrades and additions, makes Deception the best playing Mortal Kombat game since its launch a dozen years ago.
But no matter how good it plays by Mortal Kombat standards, the fighting system still feels years behind the likes of Virtua Fighter 4 or Soul Calibur II. The moves, especially punches and kicks, look clumsy at best, the animation lacks any kind of smoothness or finesse, and I've never been a fan of the whole dial-a-combo system Midway insists on including in their games. But even with better playing fighters on the market (for a fraction of the price), Deception manages to feel different; for better or for worse, this plays exactly like a Mortal Kombat game should.
Where Deception really takes hold is in its amazing level designs. Not only are these stages dark and eerie, but they are also extremely large and full of surprises. Like Dead or Alive 3, Deception's levels extend farther than just one room, you can break through walls, fall off roofs, and much more. Using the environment to your advantage is a major part in this Mortal Kombat, and is easily one of the most rewarding aspects of the game.
Not only has Midway added a bunch of new levels, but also brought back some of the best-loved stages from previous Mortal Kombat games. The acid pool level from Mortal Kombat II is reintroduced for a new generation, except this time you won't have to wait until the end of the match to kick your opponent into the acid. Each level has a set of unique traps that can literally stop a match dead in its tracks. There is a new pit level, but this time around the stage is doing everything in its power to make you fall to your demise. These traps are especially effective when playing against unsuspecting friends, and really add to the over all chaos found in Deception.
There are 24 characters to choose from, 12 from the start and 12 you're going to need to earn. Along side the returning characters, like Sub Zero and Scorpion, are a bevy of new fighters. There's Ashrah who looks like a female Raiden, but has a few surprises up her blouse. Hotaru looks cool and is sporting flags, but seems to be limited by only having two special moves. And then there's tough girl Kira and tough guy Darrius taking the place of Sonya and Jax, but not really adding much to the roster. The new characters are fun to play with, but they just don't seem as interesting or creative as some of the past combatants.
Of course, it's not all new characters in Deception, as a lot of past favorites make their first 3D appearance. Here we have the return of Baraka, one of the most popular characters from Mortal Kombat II. He still sports the long blades that jet out of his arms (think: Wolverine, except with long swords), but somehow a lot of the brutality has worn off. I had similar problems with some of the returning Ninjas, like Ermac, Smoke, and Noob Saibot, who just didn't do much for me this time around.
Deception also plays host to the return of Nightwolf, the Native American character that seemed to embody every bad stereotype you could think of. Kabal also finds his way into Deception, but like Nightwolf, just seems very out of place in this Mortal Kombat universe. Ultimately these characters add very little and don't warrant leaving out many of the best characters from Dark Alliance, like Kung Lao, Kano, Reptile, and others.
If you can forgive some sloppy controls and a few other hiccups you'll find an entertaining fighting game that manages to set itself apart from the competition. Throw it an online mode and a bunch of mini-games and you have the best Mortal Kombat game in years.
This product was submitted by the publisher for review. As a rule, Defunct Games does not review games we spent money on. However, that does not always apply to classic/retro games. This specific product, however, came straight from a PR guy for the purposes of being reviewed!