Now wait just a minute, Mr Cynical. We know what you're thinking. You're thinking '"Oh, I bet that new Mortal Kombat game is rubbish". You're assuming that they've just taken all the famous old Mortal Kombat characters and shoe-horned them into a predictable and rubbish scrolling fighting game format, cashing-in on the well-known names - just like they did with the resolutely duff MK: Mythologies.
And you'd be sort of right. They have just taken all the well-known characters - Sub Zero, Rayden, Sonya Blade, Scorpion and the rest - and stuck them in a 3D action game, but the result is far from rubbish. Shaolin Monks isn't just another generic action game, rather it takes the best bits out of many, adds a surprisingly high number of original ideas, and presents it in a style all Kombat fans are going to love.
The bottom line is that the combat is fun. It's a bit complicated, and there's loads to learn, but once you've memorised a few favourite combos you'll be well away. The clever thing about Shaolin Monks is the way it makes chaining hits together so very simple. All enemies can be hoofed up into the air, where they stay for quite a while, begging to be combo-ed to death. So you can punch them a few times before they land, or, better still, jump up and start kicking them. It's pretty simple, with airborne attacks simply being you hammering the 'kick' button quite a few times in a row, but the way the game locks on and takes care of the targeting so you can have fun doing the crazy attacks makes it easy to pull off these ridiculously impressive juggling combos.
It's pretty damn satisfying to smash some monster thing a few times, kick him up in the air, jump up and kick him five more times, then land and hoof him up into the air to carry on the attack. And when he's dead it's not over - you can switch your focus to another enemy and carry on boosting the consecutive hits counter. Pretty soon, your combo counter starts hitting the 50 mark, and you start to feel like you're some sort of legendary Shaolin warrior yourself. Mortal Kombat finally works properly in 3D and gives you an easy, thrill-packed ride.
And it's as complicated as you want it to be. There's a block button, which'll prevent you from getting hammered, stabbed and generally humiliated pretty damn quick. Then there are your special attacks, pulled off by holding R1 and pressing a button - you might teleport, spin, throw your steeledged hat, or some other flashy manoeuvre. None of these are actually essential to combat, although all help to serve the far more important purpose of looking cool.
We just stick with the standard hoof them up, attack them until they land, then hoof them up again for more. Which is cool, but as fun and clever as the combo system is, it can get a little repetitive after a while, especially if, like us, you tend to pick a favourite technique and use it over and over again. The enemies take a lot of damage before keeling over, with even the earlier ones requiring a good 50-odd kicks, punches and throws before they die. When a new set of enemies respawn to replace the one you've just laboriously killed, you may find your heart sinking and your will to live reducing by several points.
But then you get a sword! Suddenly everything dies in three or four slashes, and you're left wondering why there isn't a whole lot more swordplay in Shaolin Monks. Weapons are only occasional finds, you see, with just the odd sword and other slashing implements dotted around the place. They're all great though - decapitating enemies after a few hacks, and providing much needed relief from endless punchpunch-and-maybe-a-kick combo attacks.