The best home port of MK yet.
The Mortal Kombat series should by now have come a long way. Relative to other fighters, the series really hasn't. But relative to the last Mortal Kombat title, Mortal Kombat 4 has made a significant step in the right direction. And the biggest step the series has ever made.
Mortal Kombat 4 for the PlayStation isn't just a great port. It's not just an arcade perfect port. It's better than an arcade perfect port because it's better than the arcade game itself. In terms of accomplishments, that may be a true first.
First, the PlayStation game is faster than the arcade game. How is it faster? The moves can actually be pulled off quicker. The response time is instant. This translates to fantastic combo-brawls and seriously fun battles that last a long time despite the quickness of each character.
The PSX game includes more options than the arcade did, which should usually be expected, but Midway hasn't always been consistent about this, and it's good to know that gamers won't get stiffed in any way by purchasing this game. It's not Mortal Kombat Trilogy in any way. The game is set up in five different modes: Arcade (anyone can challenge at any time), Team (as many as five characters on one team), Endurance (a match of time length), Tournament (up to eight in a battle), and Practice (practice silly).
As you already may know, MK4 was created in 3D, so characters are complete polygonal, texture-mapped figures. And it should be said that their texture 'skins' are truly fantastic looking. Yeah, many of the suits and outfits are cheesy by nature, but that ancient, stiff 2D look of yesterday is gone, replaced by seamless, glitch-less, fully formed characters who move without fault.
Realtime lighting, moving background animation, rich detailed textures, reflection textures, great-looking particle effects and smoke, among other cool effects, make this game a treat to simply watch. The blood has not been omitted, and it's realistic looking this time, especially when compared to the previous versions, or even for that matter Midway's own Bio Freaks. Ad far as sound effects are concerned, they are as weird, high pitched, and funny to hear in repetition (like Liu Kang's sequel, or Scorpion's 'get Over Here!) as ever. The music is particularly eerie and looming, continuing the gloomily dark Mortal Kombat theme.
All of the Fatalities and great combos are here, and they are as fun as ever. And the fighting really is fantastic. Sure, some cheese can be found, like a few shin-kick moves, and projectile blasts, but all in all the gameplay is balanced quite well, and you simply must go looking hard for any kinds of cheese. Of course, at least two secret characters have been added that weren't in the arcade game, noob and Goro.
The most significant aspect of the game is the way in which weapons add a new dynamic to the familiar stiff-kick-and-uppercut library of MK moves. Last-minute deaths can be avoided with serious whacks of sticks, boulders, or slashes with deadly knives. At least one character's gun shots will ricochet across floor and ceiling, creating a dangerous environment. And of course, if you knock your opponent's weapon out of his or her hand, you can pick it up and use it against them.
In many ways, Mortal Kombat 4's side-stepping function is even more effective than that of rival software maker Namco and its monstrously awesome Tekken 3. It appears that more time was spent in creating a game that incorporates the side-step into the third realm, as opposed to merely adding it in for as afterthought.
In the end, Mortal Kombat 4 isn't the most amazing game in the fighting market, but it's a great new leap for Midway, and Eurocom has outdone itself in creating the port of its career. And Mortal Kombat 4, in this gamers eyes, is the best of the series.