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Mortal Kombat: Armageddon

Every character ever is back for MK's brutal PS2 swansong

One thing that we've never fully understood about Mortal Kombat is the fact that nobody ever actually stays dead. After six games, we can count the actual deaths on one hand: Johnny Cage turned up in a cemetery for a bit, Scorpion managed to finish off Sub Zero for a couple of weeks, Liu Kang spent an entire game as a zombie and after being exploded into rubble kept Shao Kahn on the back foot for almost a year. In Outworld, having your upper torso eaten by a dragon or being sliced in half with a razor sharp hat's not much worse a torn ligament in the Premiership - you might be out of action for a while, but you'll come back stronger.

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Will this change in Armaggedon? Midway will only say that this time all bets are off, nobody's safe, and a lot of people are going to die in Mortal Kombat's last appearance on current-gen systems. What we do know is that every character's back, in a bust-up for the one mysterious object that can control the fate of the world. And we do mean every character: from nearly-man Kung Lao to tutorial character Shunjinko, the entire crew from every game - no matter how unpopular, useless or dead they were - is back.

Bosses Shao Kahn, Goro, Kinatoro and Moloch appear as playable characters, though they'll have a different fighting system, giving them less agility but more powerful moves. MK: Deadly Alliance bonus character Blaze returns as the main villain, this time sporting a ninja-style faceplate and steroid-case muscles. Even ping-pong-ball-covered goon Mokap joins in the fun, becoming our number one pick for 'character we'd most like to see popped like a meat balloon.' Finally, there's new character Taven, the equivalent of Deadly Alliance's Shunjinko. Together with his brother Daegon, he's been sent to Earth-realm to uncover the weapon that'll allow one of them to defeat Blaze. Rather than simply wander round picking fights like in Deception, though, the improved Konquest mode comes with its own fighting system, loosely based on the one in MK spinoff Shaolin Monks. Puzzles are basic and attackers stupid, but highlights include a sledgehammer that pulps attackers with one swipe. Of course, there's still plenty of opportunity to fight the main characters - here, the action changes to traditional side-on Kombat.

Fresh meat
But you don't really care about that, do you? You want to hear about the Create-A-Fatality mode. Simply double-tap the pad in a certain direction and hit any button, and your character will kick things off by hitting his opponent in the spuds or gouging his eyes. From then on, you're got decreasing increments of time to add as many moves as possible, before finishing off with a double-tap and the actual 'Fatality' button. Should you knee him in the face and pull out his brain? Slip a sword up his chuff and yank out his internal organs? Or slice off one of his arms, hit him around the face with it, pull out his lungs, cut his torso in half and stamp on his head? Don't worry, traditionalists - characters still have moves related to their own skills, so Scorpion and Sub Zero will be able to incorporate burning and freezing into their combos, while Bo Rai Cho'll probably have some sort of acidic puking move. It looks good - let's just hope some of them actually stay dead this time...

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Air Kombat
Gravity? What's that?
One element that has made the cut from quasi-sequel Shaolin Monks is the 'aerial rave' move. After you've nailed another character with a juggle, you can follow them into the air, nail them with a preset combo, and - hopefully - knock them into a gigantic fan.

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