Mortal Kombat: Deception

Flawless Victory.....NOT!!!

For the life of me, I have NEVER understood why anyone thought the Mortal Kombat series was better than the Street Fighter series when the two were leading the console beat'em wars in the mid-'90s.
One side rooted for the technical aspect of Street Fighter's gameplay, while the other enjoyed Mortal Kombat's bizzare juggling combo system as well as the gore and fatalities which caused video games to be rated for content and adding further fuel to the fire at the time that video games made kids violent.

The Game
I never picked up Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, and the storyline of this game picks up right where that one left off. Raiden sacrificed himself at the end of that one to try and destroy Onaga, the Dragon King. But his sacrifice was in vain as it didn't even scratch the big guy, leading to his world conquest.
So now the survivors of Onaga's holocaust are battling back to reclaim the Earth Realm.
And if you didn't know, the game is now in full 3D, gone are the scanned actors that made the original games in the series stand out from other games. This was probably for the best though.
You start off with about a dozen characters, while there are about a dozen more that are hidden and can be unlocked. A noticeable omision is that there's no Johnny Cage! Instead, they just gave his moves to someone else which is kinda lame.
All the characters now have two Fatality moves as opposed to Deadly Alliance where they only had one. You also have a Harakiri move to finish off yourself should you lose a fight! And to make things more interesting, the backgrounds have become more interactive, and that's not just limited to knocking opponents through walls or down floors. Some areas have dangerous backgrounds that can cause instant fatalities should you or your opponent get knocked into them! But if you beat your opponent in the first round like that, they'll still be back for the 2nd round.

Your given the usual two punches, two kicks and a block button combination that made the game what it was all those years ago. By pressing the directional button also adds some variety to the moves you have to help chain combos together. Each character also has THREE fighting styles. Two are hand-to-hand, and the third is a weapon style. And you can switch styles right in the middle of the action with a simple press of the button. But you'll mostly be finding yourself just sticking with one style that gets best results.
I would also like to point out that to this day I still HATE when you have to block by pressing a button.
I'm not sure why also, but I've noticed a kinda of bug in the gameplay. For example, one minute you can pull-off a good 5-hit combo, but try for it again, and the moves just won't come out. What gives with that??? Is that the CPU's idea of learning your moves and countering your strategies?

Graphics and Sound
As with the rest of the series, settings are all dark and gloomy with music to match. The characters are all nicely done and detailed, which small touches like bumps and bruises to a characters face as the fights progress. And blood splatters everywhere throughout a fight and you leave footprints as you walk past the blood soaked floors.
Like I mentioned above, there's alot of doom 'n' gloom in the soundtrack if your into all that goth stuff. But some of it just doesn't seem to fit the mood for kickin' ass though. If they sped up the beat a bit like the soundtrack for the movies, I could get into the action more.

There are TONS of extra stuff in this game! As you battle throughout the game, you are given Koins (coins)as credits that you can use to buy stuff in the Krypt. These range from concept art, to video clips, to pictures of the games designers, to additional backgrounds to play in. The problem here is that you don't know what your buying till after you pay for it. You run around a graveyard and pick out a tombstone with a number on it that signifies the amount of Koins needed to purchase whats buried there. Once you pick a tombstone to "buy", the game instantly saves to prevent you from changing your mind, and THEN they let you see what you just wasted our cash on.
There are also a bunch of fun mini-games. Like the puzzle-drop game and battle-chess with the MK characters. But the big addition is the Quest Mode, which could have been a game in itself. Here you run around the MK world learning new moves and gaining experiance. The character you play as here has a significant role in the main storyline too.

Now to get to the bad of the game. This game doesn't have a much needed quick continue option. As soon as you lose a match and continue, it's back to the player select screen to select your player, and then WAIT for the fight to load all over again! Things like this really spoils your momentum and ultimately pisses you off at times. And like I mentioned above, there's a kinda glitch with the combo system. If they meant for it to be that way to force you to change your fight style on the fly, then that sucks too.

This game does take awhile to get used to, though it should be easy to pick up if your a fan of the series and have already played Deadly Alliance. This is a good fighter, but it's definately not flawless.

Game Ratings:
Graphics - 7
Sounds - 6
Gameplay - 6
Lifespan - 6
Overall - 6


More Quick Previews!

Just got my hands on a few more new games today. Reviews coming soon.

BloodRayne 2
- I was really looking forward to this sequeal, though I was wondering if maybe I should have gotten the PC version since I heard there were a few bugs in the PS2 version.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
- I was also wondering if maybe I should have waited for the PC version of this too since the shooting sequences would be easier to control with a PC mouse? Anyways, this is one of the most anticipated games of the year, and hopefully it delievers.

DragonBall Z V
- Normally I wouldn't even have bought this, but this was the Japanese version, so the hearing the original Jap voices should be way better to help get into the game than the lame gaijin dubs.

Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone
- I needed a fourth game to get a discount, so I picked up this RPG. I might get around to it for awhile though since I'm still playing Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne and Shadow Hearts: Covenant.


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Quick Previews

Just got my hands on these new games yesterday so expect some reviews soon:

Tony Hawk Underground 2
My experiance of playing the first one was marred by bad hacking. Damn pirated games! Hopefully the game will be as good (or better) with the inclusion Bam Margera, who's popularity is beginning to rival Hawk's since he got his own show, Viva La Bam! on MTV.

Mortal Kombat: Deception
My first shot at the new generation of Mortal Kombat games. Lots of hype behind this and hopefully the game lives up to it.

Def Jam: Fight For New York
I really wasn't big on the first game, and really didn't intend on getting this one, but I needed a third game to get a 3-for-2 discount^_^. Seems popular with the locals though. But I'd like to state for the record right now that this should be considered more of a beat'em up than a wrestling game.

Yeah, I know I got a ton of games from the last preview that I haven't reviewed yet, and honestly I haven't even touched most of them yet! My gaming time is limited due to work. But with what free time I've had, I've been stuck on Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne and Shadow Hearts 2: Covenant. Those are LONG RPG games, and I'd like to delve a little deeper into those games to get a little more background before reviewing them.


Sakura Wars V Episode 0: Arano no Samurai Musume

The latest installment of the Sakura Wars series takes a different direction from the turn based strategy style of the first four installments, and rides head-long into the wild wild west!

The Game
Fans of the Sakura Wars series of games are familiar with how the original series was an original combination of turn-based startegy and anime where each mission was an episode with a plot for you to interact with the female cast, then battle enemies in a board-game type setting. This latest installment is a complete change from that. The interaction with characters where you decide what should be said in certain situations is still there, but gone is the turn based strategy element. Now it's an all out action slasher where you ride on horseback (no Kobous!) and hack and slash your way through steam powered robotic enemies.

You play as the red headed cowgirl, Gemini Sunrise and her noble stead, Larry (???). Gemini wields a samurai sword (I'm not sure who it was that gave it to her since My Japanese isn't that good). From what I could gather from playing the game, Gemini is travelling cross country trying to get to New York when she runs into a girl by the name of Juanita being chased by a bunch of bad guys. Gemini rescues her and that's where real adventure begins as you figure out why they are after her.

The in game controls are simple enough. Run around the area and destroy anything that gets in your way with a variety of attacks. Other than slashing with your sword, Larry can kick enemies, and Gemini can also pull off special attacks.
As you clear missions, you get points, and you can use these points to upgrade Gemini and Larry's stats to make them more powerful. You also can pick up new weapons and abilities as the missions progress.
It can be a bit hard to control at times. Bear in mind your riding a horse, so don't expect to be pulling off quick 180-degree turns. The camera also takes some getting used too as you'll constantly be adjusting the camera to it's default level behind you just so you can keep up with everything around you. It can also be a bit of a chore spinning around and around just to get your enemies in sight when they are spinning circles around you. I don't know if there's one in the game, but a target lock would have been welcome.

Graphics and Sound
The 2D CG pictures look great, just like a cartoon, though I would have preffered more full motion anime video than just looking at still pictures with moving lips.

The 3D graphics and environments are very well done and detailed, though there are itmes in the background that can be broken open to unveil goodies to pick up like health-ups, the sorrounding environments does look rather plain and empty at times.
I also noticed so far there hasn't been much variety in the enemies, but some of the huge bosses are impressive since you battle them and their cronies without any slowdown on screen.
With all the action going on in the game, you don't really notice the background music. It's standard Sakura Wars orchestra fare music, but with a little southern flair added. And needless to say the voice acting is superb.

OK, so with only one character in game as compared to the cast of girls from previous games, what's the replay factor here? Here's the deal, once you beat the game, you can unlock HIDDEN characters from the previous games! Sakura & Ohgami (SW 1 & 2) and Erica (SW3) both on either horseback (in this case, Erica rides a zebra!)or in Kobou versions are available for unlocking. Some easier than others though.
For example, to get Sakura, you must have a save file from the original Sakura Wars game that came out on PS2 last year, and to get Erica's Kobou, you need a have a save file from the Sakura Wars 3: Mysterious Paris game that also came out last year! Talk about interactive! There's also a special cell-phone club in Japan that will notify subscribers of new codes and other hidden stuff in the game at alloted time intervals. Lucky Japs!

This would probably appeal to Sakura Wars fans in general who don't mind a change of pace. Fans of action games with cute anime chicks might also want to give it a spin. Just remember there's an abundance of text to get through in between battles. This will be good to tide you over till the REAL Sakura Wars 5 game comes out though.

Game Ratings
Graphics - 7
Sound - 7
Gameplay - 7
Lifespan - 7
Overall - 7

Right now I'm really hoping they release Sakura Wars 4 on PS2. This was the Sega DreamCast only Sakura Wars game that came out several years back and combined all the characters from the Sakura Wars 3 & 4 games. A PS2 version would really be cool, and even if that doesn't happen, I just hope Sakura Wars 5 will be as good and will see the light of day here.

Credit: Sakura-Taisen.com for the pictures


The big shill

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Your a one man demolition crew! But this is not an action game...

The Game
In Detonator, your a demolition expert given the task of demolishing buildings by taking out their supports with strategically placed charges.
You accomplish this by trying to arrange blocks and fit them inside different sized grids. Your given a set number of moves and pieces you can use to accomplish your goal. It's kinda like one of those chinese IQ puzzles where you have to fit a jigsaw type puzzle into a small frame.
And if you meet the quota here, you get to see a building get blown up and levelled to the ground.

Nothing really special. Just select the piece you want to use from the sidebar and place in the grid, rotating if nescessary to fit it in. Doesn't get any easier to control than this.

Graphics & Sound
Ok, it doesn't really look like anything a PSOne couldn't pull off, and the same goes for the 3D footage of the building when it gets blown up.
But the in game music is really good though. Very relaxing despite the fact your trying to demolish a building. The robotic female voice tends to get annoying after a while though.

There are several different game modes aside from the main game, these usually involve some gimmicked version of the main game like additional odd-shaped pieces you can use, or the ability to pull of chain detonations and such.

Definately recommended for fans of puzzle games. The only complaint I have is that it sure takes a while to load, and the fact you have to wait for a continue screen to load in before you can continue really slows things down.

Game Ratings:
Graphics - 4
Sound - 7
Gameplay - 7
Lifespan - 5
Overall - 5