Patrick McCarron - May 1, 2012
One major difference between console and portable Mortal Kombat games is the complete lack of online play in the past iterations of the game. Typically in the past the mobile versions of games don't have any form of online play. You could typically link two handhelds together with a cable, but if you had no one to play nearby you had no one but the AI to play against.
In Mortal Kombat: Unchained for the PlayStation Portable it had only a Versus mode where you could play each other via local ad-hoc wireless networks. While that feature remains in Mortal Kombat for the PlayStation Vita, there is not much you can do with that feature if no one immediately nearby has both the game and a Vita.
I didn't get a chance to test ad-hoc on the final version of the game. But back a few months ago I used it at the Vita Hill Social Club's Mortal Kombat Demo Event and it worked flawlessly. Not only that, but was dead simple to setup. Felt was like you were playing on the same console, with no lag at all. It even transmits your voice from your Vita if you want too.
Thankfully for people without friends in your house with a Vita, online Internet play finally makes its way to a portable system with this port of Mortal Kombat. As long as you are nearby a WiFi hotspot at home, or while out and about, you can log into PSN and play other players with the game as easily as you could with a console.
When playing over WiFi there are RANKED, PLAYER and PRIVATE match options available to you just as before. RANKED randomly matches you up with someone with no way to bail on the game when you see their win/loss record without taking a penalty against your record. But if lighter competition is your game, then both PLAYER and PRIVATE matches show your opponent's stats before you accept the game, and also offers you the ability to rematch against that player again if you so wish.
In addition to those online modes, are also given access to both your overall stats and online leader boards which also includes a hall of fame.
In the over fifty online matches I've had, lag spikes were few and far between over my home's WiFi connection. I had only one game that was totally unplayable that resulted in the player dropping out on me. So I'd say it works as good if not better than the PlayStation 3's online play over my same internet connection. If you have problems playing online currently with your internet connection, this game wont make it suddenly better. I played on a few vastly different WiFi networks, some of which was a public WiFi network with other people on it, and had no problems finding and playing games.
The one main issue I see with the PlayStation Vita multiplayer, is that you can't tell when the other player is trying to talk to you. I typically keep my mic muted, which is the default behavior, but I'd switch it back over if I see them trying to talk. This may actually be a limitation on Sony's end, and if so I hope a future patch includes the ability for games to indicate to other players when the mic is being used.
In order to maintain this quality of online play, NetherRealm decided to not allow for online games over the 3G connection for those who bought a PS Vita with 3G capabilities. Current generation of 3G connections are not reliable enough to provide end users a reliable connection for online play. I read that a Mortal Kombat competitor is working on changing that, but I'll believe it when I see it. I personally feel that until LTE wireless makes it to portable systems, online play for fighting games on anything but Broadband over WiFi will not be a fun experience.
The game has a whole lot of content available and is easily worth the $40 price. You will find after picking this game up that you now have a LOT of game content to play, much more than the console counterparts due to the new additions for the Vita. After a few days of almost non-stop playing of the game, I still have quite a bit of content left untouched. Some of the new Bonus Challenge missions I skipped over due to difficulty, and I'm looking forward to clearing it out as well as finishing up Story Mode.
While the graphics may not be as good as the console version of the game, it doesn't distract from the game itself. After years of portable games not playing similarly to the arcade or console counterpart, I'm happy to have what I feel is a comparible experience.
One of the questions I have heard a lot of fans ask me is, "I love Mortal Kombat, should I buy a Vita and this game?" The way I see it, there are going to be two major use cases for this game.
The first is that of a tournament pro player, someone who wants to have more opportunities to practice their combos and strategies on the go. Because the game lacks 3G play, you won't be able to play ANYWHERE but if you have access to a WiFi hotspot or friends with Vitas you can connect and get some real games going. Since the gameplay is almost identical to the consoles having this will be useful if you are waiting for your turn and want to warm up while at a tournament. Or it would make practice easier on the road with other players on your way to a tournament. I see a lot of opportunity here for these players to really take advantage of Mortal Kombat for Vita as a training tool to up their game even further.
The other type of player that would benefit from this game would be that of players who have to share a common TV with other people. Being able to play Mortal Kombat anytime on your Vita while the TV is in use is a very nice thing to have in a crowded household. The majority of time I was playing the game for this review was while watching movies on my TV or while someone else played an Xbox game. It really is nice to have a powerful portable system capable of AAA quality games with real physical controls instead of cheaper touch screen only smartphone games.Be sure to swing by our Mortal Kombat Vita Forums for our strategy and FAQ guides on the game as well as user reviews, discussion & feedback.
If either of these cases is something you can see fitting into your life, then I think it's an easy case to buy a Vita and Mortal Kombat.
Thanks to everyone who I got the opportunity play online against the last few days. Especially Delriach and STORMS for the good games and gameplay feedback.
Disclaimer: While we received an advance copy of the game from Warner Bros. to review, we were not required to write a positive review or provide them a copy or synopsis of the review prior to publishing.