Memory Lane, such a wondrous place for gamers of a certain age to visit. Don the rose tinteds’ and we’re lost in a bygone age. The birds are always singing, rainbows adorn the crystal blue sky, the postie delivers pristine parcels bang on time, it snows on Christmas Day & the summers are long and hot. Oh yeah, and in the case of today’s review, Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection, decapitated heads bounce merrily down the tree lined avenues.
Mortal Kombat is certainly a game that conjures up images of my youth. I loved it, all my mates loved it, GamesMaster loved it and my Nan hated it. Result!
The over the top blood and gore, the severed limbs, the ridiculously grisly finishing moves and the fact that back in the day it courted controversy, all combined to make it a must have game for every self-respecting video gaming schoolboy of the time.
But, as Bob Dylan told us donkeys years ago, ‘the times they are a changing,’ and as we gamers know only too well, there’s few places they change as fast, as in the realm of video games.
Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection serves up a very filling three game platter. We get Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat II & Ultimate Mortal Kombat III, all of which are straight from the arcade cabinets they once inhabited, except now they come festooned in those all-important achievements and with the added bonus of online play, although I must admit, take that bonus I just mentioned with a pinch of salt.
The three games included here are bare bones ports of the originals. There’s been no graphical or sonic overhaul, the magic HD wand hasn’t been waved and added extras are only conspicuous by their absence. At 800 MS points I would say that’s acceptable, disappointing for sure, but acceptable.
‘But how do these old timers shape up by todays standards?’ you ask, well, it’s not great news I’m afraid. It’s not that any of these MK titles is poor or, even below par; it’s just that the times really have changed. The expectations of the gaming population when it comes to fighters in this generation has dramatically changed from what they were back when MK first hit our systems, and on top of that when old games are reborn on our current consoles we at least expect them to come wearing a shiny new 21st century outfit. Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection has none of this, it’s a genuine throwback to another time, stuck in its old ways and refusing to move on.
If you’re one of those players that relish every opportunity to go retro with games then this will please no end, if not…..well, read on. The original MK is certainly the weakest title here, looking rustier than an old DeLorean and providing far less satisfying time travel, but there’s a considerable quality hike with both MK II and UMK III. These two throw in more characters, slicker graphics, extra finishing moves (although I was always partial to the classic fatality myself) and a lot more pace to the action. Both the later titles here actually stand up quite well among todays 2D fighters, sure they don’t have all the bells and whistles of todays crew or the super smooth gameplay, but they can both deliver a few hours of fun so long as there’s a friend around to take you on. ‘Why a friend, what about the on-board MK AI?’ well, because here’s another problem, the AI is damn near unbeatable. The (hmm shall I use the word broken, yeah what the hell,) broken AI within these three games is going to torment you to the point of breaking, they seem to know exactly what move you’re about to conjure up and deliver the perfect response almost every time, leaving you once again on your back in a crumpled mess or being happily juggled through the air as they combo you into extinction. I’m willing to hold my hands up and say this could be down to my own lack of Kombat prowess, but I fear that for once that’s not to blame. Please don’t play MK wireless as I can guarantee the chances of the controller hurtling through the nearest window are highly improved.
So to the online multiplayer we go, and hope upon hope that this could be MK Arcade Kollection’s saving grace………yeah right. Unfortunately things only get worse here, unless of course you have a weird fetish for some seriously laggy lagfests and being booted from matches time after time. It’s such a shame as some quality online action really could have given this Kollection a shot in the arm and made it, at 800 points, a must have.
As it turns out, one of the few things in this games favour is that 800 points price tag, it’s not often you’ll get three games for that price, and despite the problems, it is still possible to weed out a little bit of pleasure from them.
So to summarise, as much as I wanted to like MK Arcade Kollection it turns out the only real enjoyment to be had is from playing against a friend on the same console. The single player becomes incredibly frustrating in double quick time, while, at present, the multiplayer is as good as unplayable. With the quite excellent retail Mortal Kombat game having hit the shelves of game stores only a few months ago it makes it very difficult to recommend this to anyone but those completely intoxicated by Mortal Kombats’ world or in need of a quick retro fix.
Memory Lane, a nice place to visit but, you wouldn’t want to live there.