Mortal Kombat! If I were to scream that at you, chances are that hypnotizing techno beat that fell behind it in the first movie would come rushing back to you in an instant. Much like that simple phrase, getting your hands on an old school Mortal Kombat should bring back the good old days as well, but after playing Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, I’m disappointed I ever played this game in the first place. How did I ever think this game was cool?
My first interaction with an Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 machine was at my local bowling alley when I was only a wee child and my grandparents gave me some quarters and I played as Nightwolf. I remember how cool it was performing that glowing bowshot and trying my hand at his fatality â€“ the real reason to play the game. I expected those same feelings to come back to me, but upon starting the game up, it makes me wish I could go back into the past and slap the quarters out of my own hands.
Now whether it is a case of the game simply being bad and not knowing any better at the time or rather that it just doesn’t hold up well when compared to today’s games and played on the Xbox 360 remains to be seen, I just know that I don’t like it.
The controls are what you’ve come to expect from the Mortal Kombat series and fighting games in general. For Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 for the Xbox 360, you’ve got the X and A buttons being used as your punches of different degrees, your Y and A buttons are your kicks of different degrees, the left thumbstick and direction pad control your character’s movements, and you’ve also got a block thrown in there for good measure, because nobody enjoys being punched in the face. New to the Mortal Kombat series was the inclusion of a run button, which allowed players to quickly sprint across the screen to their enemies and perform a combo.
However, though the controls mimic that of many other fighters at the time, what defined the Mortal Kombat franchise was the Fatalities, which were hilarious/gory finishing moves meant to humiliate the fact your opponent lost rather than look particularly cool, which are 100% not what they are today. Perhaps I was easier to please back then, but the Fatalities and other assorted finishing moves lack the panache I used to hold them up to.
Okay, now let us get into why this game is bad â€“ essentially everything. First up, the controls are an unresponsive mess, as everything seems horribly jerky and I find it insanely difficult to perform the true moves that are anything other than a punch or kick. For instance, Sub Zero’s ice throw is the exact same control movement as a Ryu fireball in Street Fighter, and in that case I can throw one after another in rapid succession because of the fluidity, but here it seemed as if I only got lucky when I managed to pull off the movie.
Secondly, the game is extremely cheap and difficult even on the easiest difficulty selection; when you jump in the air over someone, you should be facing the way in which you land and have to turn, not jump over someone and be able to spin in mid-air to perform a kick to the back of my head. Enemies also seemed quicker at pulling off their moves than me, managed to get complicated combos to land time and time again, did a stupid little kick jump to knockdown my hopping butt, and everyone loved sweeping my legs right out from under me I expected them to all start singing, “Chim chim-in-ey, chim chim-in-ey, Chim chim cher-ee!” And if you don’t get the Mary Poppins lyrics reference to sweeping, so help you all.
The graphics and animation are also unexplainably atrocious. I once thought it cool that the players looked like real people instead of anime characters like in the Street Fighter series and other 2D fighters, but now they just look ugly. I’m not even just talking about the characters either, as the special effects generally look like nothing more than bright globs of green and orange. The animation is what makes it all really bad though, as characters are so rigid, especially when doing something as simple as jumping in the game. It almost looks like the game placed these characters in the starting motion of a movement, then placed them in the ending of their move, and then decided to call it a day. And I didn’t remember this from the old days, but when a character gets smacked down and loses all their life, there is no ragdoll physics or anything even remotely close, because instead players suffer from instant rigor mortis and topple over backwards like a rigid domino being pushed over; I laughed so hard. Beyond the graphics, the sound is equally bad, especially the music.
If I were forced to list a bright spot, it would be the online play over Xbox Live, though my games suffered from lag, and of course I was competing over Live with this abysmal game. But if you like the game, hey, whatever gets you your kicks. As for me, I would be taking the time now to delete this file from my system’s hard drive, but I’ve already forked my money over for this waste, so I’ll keep it where it is in its place of shame. I once loved you Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, but I was young, didn’t know better, and only now am I learning what true love isâ€¦namely not playing a nine or ten year old game on a brand new cutting edge system.
Unless you are a die-hard fan, I wouldn’t buy this off Xbox Live.