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Mortal Kombat: Armageddon

With a twist of the wrist, Armageddon silences naysayers. By ripping off their faces...

Up, down, towards, away, A, down, away, B, A, B. Right now you're either nodding your head, thinking "that's what I'm talking about" or you're quivering nervously, waiting for the bad NGamer man to stop.

To the hardened Kombaters there is no greater thrill than to finger-dance opponents to their deaths with button presses; digit dexterity seeing icy-blasts ripping through human flesh and massive hats flung around with great abandon. To others there's nothing worse - a cruel hurdle for the impatient/fat fingered. And to the impatient/fat fingered we say it's not the end of the world, it's Armageddon time. Er...

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The brightly-coloured tusslers - a whopping 63 of them - are directed with the analogue stick, while the remote controls offensive moves. Kicks, punches, swipes, bites, pokes and squeezes are meted out with the D-pad - which is clumsy, but certainly not game-ruining. So far, so MK on GameCube. But what of special moves? In the absence of buttons, movement prevails.

After Eight deaths
Holding B and enacting one of eight gestures - towards-away, up-down, downwards semicircle, etc - instantly summons these ludicrous acts of screen engulfing violence. Mid-air gestures are already a sore point for some - with SSX Blur Uber moves eliciting torrents of snowbound swearing, for example - but here the simplicity of the gestures and, more importantly, the tightness with which the game registers them, allows for instant accessibility.

With only eight gestures to employ, there's no question of your ability to remember how moves are activated and, even so, some actually align nicely with the gestures. Scorpion's circular flaming kick is initiated wisely with the semi-circle arc and Bo' Rai Cho's puking attack is wonderfully regurgitated by arcing the remote semi-circle downwards towards the enemy, pitching you as a magical vomit conductor.

With the strongest and most exciting moves at your beck and call it's no longer a case of can you send Stryker's nerve frazzling taser into your foe, but when you should strategically employ it. Fights are hectic affairs, players throwing everything they've got at each other, deflecting and dodging with run-of-the-mill combat moves or some Z button activated blocking and parrying. Good fun, but long term fans may be galled when their Nan pulls off moves that they took 15 years to master.

With special attacks a-go-go it lacks the sophistication of a technical fighter, but when was Mortal Kombat ever about attack transition and graceful Zen-like fluidity? It's the pantomime of fighters; a mockery of conventions that has never been more satisfyingly far fetched than with a remote in your hand.

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Cruel to be kinda evil
In place of character-specific fatalities of yore we now have Kreate-A-Fatality, a counting down timer at the end of fights in which players can piece together their own combos of body-destroying moves with remote gestures - pushing the remote towards the screen and flicking it up to pluck off a head is a gruesome highlight. There's a cruel nonchalance in casually flicking the remote to snap a man's arm or tug out his heart, but it's malicious fun nonetheless.

Konquest mode - in previous games a tame third-person walk/fight scenario - has been transformed into a fun, if brief, free-roaming massacre. Uppercutting ninjas into giant ceiling fans; skewering them onto stalagmites; splicing up a fresh batch of ninja flavoured pastrami with a handy pair of lightsabers - it's monotonous button-bashing, but it'll satiate the bloodiest of bloodlusts.

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