- The Washington Times - Friday, May 11, 2012

A powerful port of last year’s reboot of a classic, 2.5-D side-scrolling fighting game franchise gives owners of Sony’s latest handheld gaming system a mobile way to satisfy their appetite for violent combat in Mortal Kombat (Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and NetherRealm Studios, rated M for mature, reviewed for PlayStation Vita, $39.99).

More specifically, culling and adding to content from the more recent Komplete Edition of the game, a player gets all of the grisly match variations set in dynamic arenas while enjoying an animation-rich story mode tied to all of the previous tournaments against the evil Shao Khan.

That means there’s a roster of 28 warriors and players can use classic characters such as Johnny Cage, Reptile and Scorpion; once-downloadable-only opponents Skarlet, Kenshi and Rain; and even Kratos (from God of War) and horror icon Freddy Krueger stop by for the overtly grotesque matches.

Just a reminder: Players get the story, tag-team and versus modes; the Tower Challenge (300 levels); coin rewards to buy costumes, fatalities and virtual collectibles in the massive graveyard called the Krypt; access to all character bios and alternate costumes in the Necropolis; and excellent tutorials on how to perform combination attacks for all warriors as well as a patient walk-through on delivering those bloody fatalities.

So if I am a PS Vita owner, I might be satisfied, but considering the multifunctionality of my powerful device, I should demand more.

Have no fear. Developers first tease with using the Vita’s touch screen to unleash the gushing, gooey fatalities  swipe the screen in the proper directional sequence and the outrageously horrific scene ensues. Also, a simple tap on an icon after filling up the Super Meter during a fight for an X-ray move reveals an exaggerated anatomy lesson on high-impact trauma injuries realized while striking an opponent.

Thankfully, NetherRealm keeps the extras coming with a second Tower Challenge equaling another 150 minigames that takes further advantage of the handheld’s touch screen and its tilt sensors.

Players enjoy minigames such as a perverse homage to the popular casual challenge Fruit Ninja tied to slicing bouncing heads and skulls in half. Simply use your finger to swipe across the screen and shake the device to explode hazardous bombs.

Other challenges range from wiping blood off the screen during a fight (use your finger like a squeegee) to balancing on a pole (hold the device very level and twist it to keep from falling to a horrible death) to tapping rockets to keep Scorpion in the air to shaking powerups out of trees.

Finally, there’s a bit of a gimmick using the system’s augmented reality potential to actually fight a match using a player’s current live location as a backdrop.

For those looking to compete against fellow PS Vita owners, matches can take place via an ad hoc or WiFi connection. I was surprised by any lack of combat cross-compatibility with the PlayStation 3, which seemed like an important component when Sony launched the handheld.

Despite my continued questioning of the relevance of the PlayStation Vita in the mobile gaming market, I’ll admit this Mortal Kombat package is a cornucopia of content that has never looked prettier on a handheld.



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