Mortal Kombat: Deception picks up where Deadly Alliance left off.  In Deadly Alliance, Shang Tsung had won several Mortal Kombat tournaments but never the required ten in a row to crush Earthrealm, but all that was put to a stop when Liu Kang issued a crushing defeat to Shang Tsung. Quan Chi and Shinnok, after their defeat and banishment in Mortal Kombat 4, formed an alliance with the Dragon King of the Netherealm.  Working with Shang Tsung, they raised an undead army by transferring the souls of slain mortals to march on Earthrealm.  Their first obstacle in Earthrealm was Liu Kang, but he was no match for the combined power of the Deadly Alliance.  Shao Khan fell equally as quick against the combined power of Shang Tsung and Quan Chi.  With the two major threats eliminated, the next tournament had begun.


Two years later, Quan Chi and Shang Tsung stand locked in Mortal Kombat with the Thunder God, Raiden.  Raiden fights valiantly but even the Thunder God cannot stand against the combined might of the two sorcerers.  Raiden falls prone on the ground, but as the sorcerers prepare to finish off the only thing standing between them and the destruction of Earthrealm, a new threat emerges.  The Dragon King’s undead army was not without a price.  Shao Khan and Quan Chi attacked the Dragon King, but this threat was far greater than anything the two had faced.  Their most powerful attacks were shrugged off and the two sorcerers knew their time was up.  Raiden, beaten but not destroyed, recognized this new threat and took a most unexpected action.  Teleporting away with the two sorcerers, a new alliance was formed…this is Mortal Kombat Deception.

The graphic engine in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance was a fantastic re-invention of the Mortal Kombat system.  It featured a 3D environment with multi-tiered levels and interactive arenas.  All of the characters were motion captured, and while that would normally be a good thing, when you also have motion captured two martial arts and one weapon style, it goes from being a good thing to a fantastic thing.  Most of the martial arts were motion captured to perfection with only minimal clipping and jitter issues. 


Not content to rest on their previous success, Midway went back and cleaned up the rough edges on the graphics engine and obviously re-captured a few of the fighters.  The results are clear from the second you power up the game.  The opening animation will have you charged for the full product, and for the most part, the full product will not disappoint. 


On the graphics side of things, the only area that really seemed to suffer is the Konquest mode.  With artificial limitations such as water you can’t cross and vast areas of fairly blank environments, there isn’t a whole lot going on in the Konquest Arena.  About the time you start noticing this, you need to pick up the box and realize that you are playing a fighting game.  The Konquest mode is really just a way to apply a storyline punctuated by fights against fighters you know and love.  In between those fights you’ll play FedEx boy as well as a bit of training in other martial arts and weapons styles.  It is a small price to pay given how much work was done on the graphics engine as a whole.

“FINISH HIM!” As you read it, odds are you can hear it in your head.  On the Xbox you get to hear it in 5.1 surround sound and it is beautiful.  Much like the previous titles, your fights feature the groans and screams of both characters as you slowly rip each other apart.   It is pretty standard fare and you have heard it before, but that doesn’t make it any less great.  A lot of the characters sound alike, but its a minor nuisance. The music in Mortal Kombat: Deception is well blended into the background and varied enough where it doesn’t intrude.  All of the sound and music is classic MK fare and since it works, I don’t see a good reason to break it. 


There is a good amount of voice acting throughout the fighting portions and on important people in Kombat mode.  Throughout Kombat mode you are given direction by various players such as the Lin Kuei, the Elder Gods, and more.  It brings a level of immersion into the game far more than you’d find with just plain text.   

Back, Forward, Forward, Down A.  Congratulations (or is that Kongratulations?) you have just de-spined your opponent.  The control scheme is pretty much untouched from the previous game, and just as before you are given the option of using the analog or D-Pad to control your Kombatant.  Just as before it requires a certain degree of practice before you’ll be good at it.   As I played through the game, there were very few times where the camera or environment caused any sort of control difficulty.  Occasionally, you’ll be miles away from a fatality-zone (grinder, steel press, etc.) and still get knocked back into it, but for the most part the controls are well behaved.

Mortal Kombat has come a long way over six games and several side-stories.  From two-dimensional side scrolling sprites to fully interactive 3D multi-tiered environments, the series has finally evolved with the times.  Throughout the late 90’s the blood-gushing gorefest type games such as Mortal Kombat, Killer Instinct, and Time Killers began to fade away.  Only on this most recent console iteration are we beginning to see the re-emergence of a worthwhile 3D fighter.  With a staggering cast of 24+ characters, it is hard to believe that each character has two martial arts styles and a weapon as well.  Each one is unique and each one is well balanced. The online component only opens that up wider. On top of the primary fighting system, you can also enjoy the minigames including Puzzle Kombat, Konquest, and Kombat Chess. 


Puzzle Kombat is similar to Super Puzzle Fighter from Capcom.   Blocks of varying size and colors drop from the top of the screen on both sides as your bobble-headed fighters duke it out at the bottom.  You can rotate and match up these blocks and then destroy them by lining up a like-colored Mortal Kombat Dragon symbol on top of it.  Its a welcome distraction and you can also play it online. 


Midway has brought something unique to Deception that combines the strategy of Chess with the brutality of Mortal Kombat, they call it Kombat Chess.  In Kombat Chess you pick 5 characters that will comprise your fighters and line them up on a 10×10 chess board.  The rules are modified from standard chess as your characters movement is determined by their power level.  Pawns can move in all directions but not for a great distance.  Your ‘queen’ piece can move the furthest and is your most powerful character. Before the battle, you get to place a few traps for your enemies. To ensure your friends don’t see where you are placing your traps, you can also place fake traps as a bluff. When you close distance and engage in battle, you fight a short battle against your opponent. Their power level may be boosted with things such as whether they hold the two power points, whether they are the aggressor, or whether they are a leader character. After the battle, the winner takes the square, but does not regain any extra energy. As you continue through your battle, you can cast spells such as heal, resurrection, teleport and more to gain the edge against your opponent. When your Leader piece falls…so does your army.


Rounding out the extras is the expansive Konquest mode.  Konquest mode is an adventure type mode that features Shujinko, a brash 13 year old kid with dreams of becoming as powerful as his idol Liu Kang.  You’ll start off in basic training with Bo Rai’Cho and learn his abilities thanks to a power granted to you by an Elder God.  You’ll travel the countryside of Earthrealm as well as Outworld and several other areas in your quest to become the next Mortal Kombat fighter.  You’ll fast-forward through periods of Shujinko’s life throughout the 15-20 hour story mode following his progress from childhood to old age.  Once you reach certain objectives you can use Shujinko in the standard game as well as online.  The fetch quests and lack of detail in Konquest mode are the only real drawbacks to this mode, but the distraction of a 20 hour storyline is welcome just the same.


What sets Deception apart from even its predecessor is the fact that it is online capable.  The few chances I had to take my paltry skills online I experienced very little if any lag.  Just like any other online title, you’ll find your smack-talkers with no skills as well as the quiet ones that will juggle you through two rounds of embarrassing defeat. 

The value of a fighting game is usually measured in how long it takes you to beat the game with only your favorite characters.  After that, you might squeeze out a few more hours if you invite some friends over to play.  Mortal Kombat: Deception has several gameplay modes that extend the gameplay by giving the players a break from the action without having to switch to a completely different game. 


The addition of online multiplayer over Live allows you to arrange gametime without having to leave the comfort of your own home.  The fact that you can play the Kombat Chess and Puzzle Kombat modes online also extends the gameplay just a little bit further. 


The cast of fighters in Mortal Kombat is staggering.  There are 24 known fighters (I’ve not unlocked em all yet!) and over half of them have to be unlocked to use them.  You will collect Koins to use in the Crypt to unlock art, biographies, and hidden fighters.  It’ll take quite a while to get enough Koins to unlock all of the crypts, so you’ll be playing this game for a long, long time. 


In addition to the standard edition, there is also a Kollector’s Edition.  The Kollector’s Edition contains several bonuses that might make it worth your while.  Several stores have exclusive box art featuring a specific character, and all of them have a limited edition trading card.  The game also features a piece on the History of Mortal Kombat as well as the arcade version of Mortal Kombat 1.  The game also contains an additional 15 character videos.

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