Fatalities in your hand.
Fighting games and the most recent handheld consoles seem to go hand in hand. The Nintendo 3DS already has a wealth of fighting titles available and Sony’s Vita now has three (or four if you include Reality Fighters), which is pretty amazing considering the relative drought of games for the Sony handheld. The most recent example of this genre on the Vita is Mortal Kombat from NetherRealm Studios and Warner Bros. Being that the game has been ported over from the reboot of the Mortal Kombat series that appeared on the PS3 and Xbox360 last year, do we really need it in a portable format?
Well, one thing that certainly cannot be denied is the wealth of content that comes in this extremely violent package. Last year’s game on the home consoles was absolutely packed, and the addition of DLC left the game absolutely brimming with fighters, skins and modes for the player to indulge their 2D fighting passions in. The great news is that the vast majority of this content, including the DLC, is also present in the Vita version of the game, along with something a bit special only for players of the handheld, but more on that later.
The game packs in an impressive story mode, something rarely found in a fighting game. It may not tell the most engaging story, but the execution is where the mode shines, fluidly shifting from the gorgeous-looking cut scenes to the actual gameplay graphics in an incredibly smooth manner. The animated backgrounds look stunning and the fighters’ animations remain as quick and solid as the console versions, which really shows how powerful the Vita actually is. The only time the game falters is when the focus zooms in and slight degradation is visible, but it makes absolutely no difference to the game whatsoever, so I don’t even know why I mentioned it. It becomes even more irrelevant when you take into account that the game runs at an impressive 60 FPS without even a hint of getting bogged down.
There are plenty of other modes available for those not wanting to indulge in the story, and the options for those wanting to fight human opponents are plentiful, both locally and online. The enjoyable King of the Hill mode is missing, but otherwise everything else can be found, from the more intimate one on one matches, to the much more social four-player Tag Team.
Multiplayer aside, the most enjoyable mode for me is the Challenge Tower. This enjoyable collection of quick-hit challenges manages to squeeze in some 300 levels with an impressive variety. The best thing about these levels is not only the different things that the player will find they have to do to progress, but the fact that the player will be learning all the while. From using characters that they would perhaps not usually choose, to learning fatalities or special attacks, the Challenge Tower will make players better at the game. Don’t be thinking that this mode will be easy though, even the most experienced Mortal Kombatant will spend many hours working through the 300 levels. Particularly tricky levels can be skipped by spending Koins earned in the game, but this challenge is still formidable.
All of this content would surely be enough to keep any fighting game fan happy on the Sony handheld. But it doesn’t stop there as Vita owners get to enjoy their very own exclusive Challenge Tower. Known as the Bonus Challenge Tower, this collection of a further 150 levels follows the same formula as the standard Challenge Tower, but the levels all make use of the Vita’s alternative controls, such as the accelerometer and touch screen. Perhaps the highlight, or the stupidest thing ever depending on your point of view, is the Fruit Ninja clone in which the player is slashing body parts and shaking the Vita to explode bombs. As I am sure you have now worked out, not every level is created equally. But these Vita exclusive levels are sure to make the owners of the handheld grin from ear to ear.
The Vita functions don’t stop there as there are swipes and screen taps integrated into the other parts of the game as well. But ignoring the novelty of the Vita’s unique control functions, the standard D-pad works incredibly well and allows the player to enjoy Mortal Kombat exactly the way it should be enjoyed.
With the glorious visuals and the huge amount of content, of which the two Challenge Towers are a personal highlight, it is difficult to find fault with the Mortal Kombat on the Vita. As of right now, this is the best fighting game available on the handheld, and it would be difficult to imagine any other game being able to compete in the near future. The only thing I will say is that if you don’t enjoy fighting games, Mortal Kombat Vita really won’t change your mind. Otherwise, if you own a Vita you need to buy this game, now!