THE TRIBUNAL: Mortal Kombat: Deception (XB, PS2)

Mortal Kombat: Deception has caused quite the stir in the gaming community with reviews from various journalist outlets touting the game as either phenomenal or mediocre. In his Inside Pulse debut our own Aaron Hicks seemed to agree with the latter and gave the game a average score of 5.5. That’s one opinion, but how does it stack up to those who judge it in…THE TRIBUNAL?!?!?

THE SESSION HAS NOW BEEN CONVENED

*The crowd gathers into the fabled Inside Pulse Tribunal Stadium*

Attention! Attention! All will come to order!

*All in attendance settle down except two quarrelling figures in the background…*

Widro: I’d like to be on this Tribunal! I think the review that guy posted was way off…

Aaron Hicks: That guy?… Hey wait! That guy was ME!

Bebito: ORDER! COME TO ORDER! BOTH OF YOU!! *Bangs gavel* Come on, guys! This is the first one of these things that Alex Williams is letting me do! Please don’t screw this up. He’ll be pissed!

Aaron Hicks: *ignoring Bebito* What do you mean WAY OFF?! Are you saying I didn’t play the game thoroughly enough?

Widro: In your review I got the feeling you thought Konquest was boring and stopped halfway through and didn’t play much of the fighting game or new minigames!

Aaron Hicks: Konquest was boring, but I finished it out. It is a one-on-one fighting game, but you’re forced to play Konquest mode to unlock anything, and that’s where my biggest problem was.

Alex Williams: (Appearing out of nowhere) KEEP IT DOWN, you two! Don’t make me turn this car around!

Bebito: Aw, great. I TOLD YOU!

Alex Williams: This is what the Tribunals are for. It allows more than one person to comment on the game, allowing for different view points to come across. And from the looks of it, this will be the first one to contain radically different points of view. (The rest were how everyone LOVED the game, or how everyone HATED the game.) So keep the in-fighting down, please. Everyone gets an equal say here.

Aaron Hicks: NO! Don’t turn the car around! I wanna go to Disney Land!

Bebito: You’re not pissed?

Alex Williams: You’re doing fine. Just keep them from killing eachother, and we’ll be golden. (Dissappears)

Bebito: Um…yeah. That’ll happen… And wait?!? What am I scared of you for?? I run this freaking place! You mouth of to me, I’ll fire you. YOU HEAR ME!?! YOU’RE FIRED!!

Widro: I wont go into crazy detail because I probably seem like an evil dictator or something, but two scores in particular seem very wrong to me: You gave gameplay a 4 – did you hate MK: Deadly Alliance? The gameplay was awesome in that game, and is virtually unchanged here… what is so bad that made it below avg gameplay for a fighter?

Also with 24 characters (say an hour to beat the game with each) for 24 hours of fighting gameplay, a 15-20 hour one player mode, a puzzle mode and a chess mode ON TOP of the core 1on1 fighting, how is replay value average (5 out of 10)? How many gameplay hours needs to be in a game before the replay is above average?

To me, we have the itemized review standard so that bias like ‘fatatalities are so passe’ only impact a category like originality, and not to color all aspects of the game…

Aaron Hicks: Gameplay got a “4” because I was averaging 15-20 minutes per character, making the standard one-on-one fighting a lot shorter than what you were saying, which might’ve had an impact on it. And no, I wasn’t the biggest fan of MK:DA, though I’m probably the biggest MK fanboy on the east coast. The gameplay to me couldn’t hold a candle to any of the other 3-D, or 2-D fighters for that amtter, on the market.

Replay value is average because I didn’t feel there was that much worth replaying. Sure, Konquest takes a while, beating the game with every character takes a while, but I’d put that under Addictiveness. Replay to me is going back to the game after you’ve done everything (which I did) just to play and have fun. I stopped having fun around Konquest hour 7 and beating the game with character 5. Also, Puzzle and Chess just seemed too tacked on to me to even warrant much of a mention.

And Fatalities only impacted the originality score, everything else was scored on its own merits in my opinion.

I’m not arguing with you, just defending my review.

Matt Yeager: *standing up* I’m with Aaron here, I thought the fighting engine isn’t nearly up to speed with other fighters. Too combo reliant and not enough ways of breaking those combos up. And the controls are not very responsive some of the times I’ve played.

If the fighting isn’t very fun, that’d cut down for sure on the amount of time I’d want to replay it. Plus getting some of those 24 characters is a complete pain in the ass.

Still, it’s all just a difference of opinion and what this is all about. Group hug!

Alex Lucard: (Appearing from nowhere) Bebito and I sided with Aaron and Yeager via email yesterday. 4-1 Widro loses.

Widro: You too, Bebito?

Bebito: Sorry boss. It sucks.

Aaron Hicks: It’s still all good, man.

Widro: Absolutely!! It’s such a nice refreshing change to argue about actual games and reviews and also that I have actual time to read and participate in the section a bit!

Bebito: Can we get on with the blasted Tribunal then, or are you two going to have make-up sex now? Because I’ll call my Rumor Monkey, he’s kinky like that…

*The crowd, is disturbed and finally quieted down.*

Very well. Now what is it that Williams says here? Oh yeah… We meet in the fabled Tribunal hall to pass judgment on one of the more…controversial releases to arrive as of late: Mortal Kombat: Deception. Mortal Kombat: Deception, you will rise and step forward.

*The game does so. (I don’t know HOW the game is doing this. But it is. Hush people.)*

Mortal Kombat: Deception, the Tribunal has brought you forward today for one purpose: to prove yourself to our judges, and to the world. What is it about you that causes such division? Such senseless bickering within the Kliq… Err, more so than usual. This is why you are here today: to see if we can settle the dispute.

Your judges today are Widro, Aaron Hicks, and Matt Yeager. These three have played your fighting adventure quite a bit in order to form fair and unbiased opinions on you. Now…

LET THE JUDGEMENT COMMENCE

JUDGE #1: Jonathan Widro

Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance was lauded as a revolution for the series, and the sequel Deception continues on the same path, trying a lot of new stuff and expanding the core without sacrificing the gameplay that made DA so great. There are some misses (chess, tedium of collection in conquest), but for the most part, the new stuff works well. Unlike many fighting sequels, the developers have taken the time to create an almost entirely new roster of characters, with a nice balance of old favorites, new characters and awesome updates to classic characters (Nightwolf is back!!?) and the new characters fit in nicely with the Mortal Kombat world nicely. The story and opening are very well done as well, with the huge Raiden blast destroying EarthRealm and leaving everything uncertain with the return of the Dragon King. The graphics are on the same level as the last game, which is good or bad depending on how much you liked the DA graphics.

The gameplay is largely similar, but with over 2 dozen playable characters, there is a lot of value in the core fighting game alone. Its difficult to recommend any other fighting game of 2004 over Deception for the multiplayer experience, as in addition to the traditional vs. mode, there is an online play option over Xbox Live. Outside of the core 1on1 fighting, which now supports online play on Xbox Live for those into that kind of thing, there are three other game modes that add to the depth and replayability. The Konquest mode does get tedious at times, but it is a novel approach at adding a compelling one player adventure to the fighting genre not really seen since Tobal No1. The puzzle game could easily have been released as a stand alone puzzle game if it was fleshed out with a couple more modes, but the game that is there is a fun diversion and very fun in 2 player settings. The chess mode is admittedly on the weak side, as a throw-in mini game, it’s nice added value.

Overall if you liked MK:DA, you will be very satisfied with Deception, and if you are new to the series, this is a deep fighter with tons of gamemodes and unlockables that will keep you playing for hours.

THE SCORE: 7.5/10

JUDGE #2: Aaron Hicks

I don’t recall a game that I was looking as forward to as this one. I was literally counting the hours until this game would be in my possession. I cleared my entire calander in anticipation…and was sorely disappointed. I had fallen for the hype…I want my time back.

Like with all fighting games, once you unlock everything and beat the game with every character, there isn’t much reason to go back to it. Unless you’ve got friends to play with or Xbox Live I can’t see much need to go back to playing this unless you really like to watch the same fatalities over and over and over and over and over and over. It will certainly take some time to unlock everything that deserves unlocking (seriously, do we really need 200 koffins in the Krypt filled with pictures of the development team? Does anyone care?), but after everything is said and done you’ll find yourself moving on to other, more exciting games. I hear there’s this hot new game called Pong everyone’s raving about.

I think it’s time to just kill the idea of Fatalities. The well has run dry. Oh look, another decapitation. Never seen that one before. The guy exploded! Oh noes! Any Titanic jokes you want to throw at me too as long as we’re hitting these phenomena at the height of their popularity? There’s only so many ways you can kill someone before it gets old. Baraka pulls out his MK2 decapitation to the letter, but catches the severed head on his blade. WOW! That is sooooo fresh! I can count the number of fatalities that don’t suck on one hand.

Overall, there’s just nothing exciting enough or interesting in this game that makes you want to continue playing. I’d almost go so far to say there’s nothing that makes you want to START playing. Unless you’re a die-hard MK fan, stay away from this game. And even if you are, find a plot synopsis to read and save your money.

THE SCORE: 5.5/10

JUDGE #3: Matt Yeager

There had been a lot of talk about the new Mortal Kombat game before it’s release and all of the hard work and new additions to the game. I loved the old mortal Kombat games but thought Deadly Alliance was lacking (especially in comparrison to other 3D fighters) yet I still got caught up in the hype for the game. Is the new game a flawless victory?

No. For every new addition there also seems to be a new problem. The Konquest mode is a great idea and has an amazing amount of recorded dialouge even if it looks like crap. But it’s basically a tutorial wrapped in an overly long bunch of fetch and retrieve quests that get old fast. When I play a fighting game I don’t want to spend a huge amount of time searching for someones lost son sleeping in the woods. Sadly it’s the best way to get Koins for the Krypt. Not sure if this is a bug in all version but the Krypt was VERY annoying for me since I’d buy some art, but the tombstone still looked like I could purchase something, and I’d accidently come back later and buy the same damn art. Unless I wrote down all of the tombstones unlocking everything would take forever this way. Chess Kombat was an interesting addition that bastardized the game of chess. It doesn’t really matter how you move compared to how well you can fight. The fighting engine itself is a little bit better with the addition of breakers, though for me it still feels lacking compared to games like Virtua Fighter and even Tekken.

Not that everything is bad either. The fighting system works well enough and it is fun to play through the arcade mode if you’re a Mortal Kombat fan like myself. Sure some of the characters feel cheap to fight against like Noob Smoke, but what Mortal Kombat game hasn’t had a cheap character? The most disappointing thing for me was how easy the Dragon King was to beat. I beat him just by using one combo over and over. Waaaaaaaaaay too easy. The Puzzle Kombat while a clone of Puzzle Fighter is a great extra that they didn’t need to include. I agree with Widro here, they could make a completely seperate game of it with some additional modes and I’d be happy with that. The arenas are great and it’s awesome to have the option to play online this time.

Overall I’d say it was a good effort and you can tell they tried very hard to make the best of what they could with the game, but I think they need to work on either improving or replacing the core fighting engine instead of adding on extra content. If I wanted to play Mortal Kombat mini games and running around fetching items I’d be demanding a Mortal Kombat party game (which would be cool).

THE SCORE: 6.5/10

The Tribunal has spoken! And now, to the final judgment…

SCORE #1: 7.5
SCORE #2: 5.5
SCORE #3: 6.5

FINAL JUDGEMENT: 6.5

It is the decision of this Tribunal that Mortal Kombat: Deception is the great divider of fighting games. Oh the raging debates you create over your gameplay and replay value. You contain all the elements that make gamers smile with lunatic addicting glee while at the same time your elements make gamers yawn with apathetic distaste. And still even others you leave somewhere in between. You are all things to all people Mortal Kombat: Deception and that is a feat unto itself. So you may go now, knowing that through your controversy you have forged yourself into an above average game worth checking out just to let those who play thee discover their own unique feelings.

THIS SESSION HAS NOW BEEN ADJOURNED

We now dismiss all the attendees to this gathering. But we shall require your presence again, once The Tribunal deems another to prove itself…