Mortal Kombat Review: Banned in Oz

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Most fighting game franchises–Street Fighter, Tekken and the like–don’t try to convince players that pain’s being dished out in agonizing quantities. Believing that Ryu’s roundhouse kick actually hurts requires a suspension of disbelief on the player’s part.

Not so with the new Mortal Kombat. These brawls clearly hurt.

The damage wrought on the character models is such that Scorpion, Sub-Zero and their opponents look like they should barely be able to stand. And then there’s the new X-Ray Moves, which reach a new pinnacle of brutality. When triggered, you can see bones shatter and viscera explode. Ain’t no doubt about it: you’re in a fight to the death.

It’s those X-Ray Moves along with the series’ trademark “Fatalities” that had the Australian Classification Board refuse to give MK a rating, effectively banning it from the country. (It’s rated ‘M’ for Mature here in the States.) While MK’s Fatalities are nothing new, the X-Ray Moves are, and they’re not the only thing new in the reboot of this bloody brawler.

(More on Mortal Kombat Gets Punching Noir Rebirth)

Netherrealm–the development studio that rose from former publisher Midway’s ashes–reboots everything about this once-controversial series. The visuals, controls and storyline get a soft reset, familiar costumes get updated (so Sub-Zero and Ermac don’t just look like re-colored versions of the same characters) and iconic backgrounds from Mortal Kombat 1 and 2 get hi-def re-imaginings, too.

The reasons we’re seeing those established locales has to do with the story. This new MK technically picks up after Mortal Kombat: Armageddon in series continuity. Netherrealm assumes the worst case scenario: evil extra-dimensional overlord Shao Kahn emerges victorious from the bloodsport tournament, spelling doom for both the Earthrealm and Outworld dimensions. Cribbing from J.J. Abrams, thunder god Raiden sends a message back through time to his past self to try and prevent Shao Kahn’s future victory.

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