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PAX East 2012: Mortal Kombat Vita Preview

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Mortal Kombat made one Hell of a comeback (komeback?) on the PS3 in 2011, restoring fans’ faith in their beloved slaughter simulator. One year later, NetherRealm Studios looks to bring that magic over to the PS Vita.

The biggest challenge with bringing Mortal Kombat to the Vita is maintaining the high level of visual fidelity that helped make the console version such a hit in the first place. While the characters are a little less detailed, the game still runs at a silky smooth 60 frames per second. On top of that, the backgrounds are still completely animated — Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 had to use static backgrounds to maintain its framerate.

The PS Vita’s hardware makes it a great fit for fighting games, and MK is no different. The d-pad is the best way to control your character, and pulling off familiar combos is a breeze because of it. The touchscreen also plays a big role, as you can now activate your X-ray move by simply tapping the super meter with your thumb rather than pressing L and R at the same time. Pulling off fatalities is also easier than ever — just swipe your finger on the screen in the correct directions rather than using the d-pad, and you don’t even have to press the face button at the end to close it out (although you still have to be the right distance away from your victim).

The Vita ends up getting the definitive version of Mortal Kombat from a pure content standpoint, with plenty of extra stuff to make fans happy. Everything available for the console versions, including DLC such as characters and costumes, is available right out of the gate. There will even be Vita-exclusive costumes for some of the characters. To top it off, a new challenge tower adds another 150 challenges to the original tower’s 300; there will be plenty for players to do, to say the very least.

Included in that new challenge tower are some minigames that take advantage of some of the Vita’s features. One of them is Test Your Slice, which plays very much like Fruit Ninja with human hearts and disembodied heads. Occasionally a bomb will fly on-screen, and you have to shake the Vita to detonate it; if you slice it, it screws up your score. There’s also a piece of toast that you slice to activate Toasty mode, where a flood of body parts fills the screen to let you rack up huge scores and combos. A second game is Test Your Balance, and it works just as you’d expect — you tilt the Vita to keep your character from falling, although you’re bombarded with foreign objects to make things interesting. Balancing was annoying in Uncharted: Golden Abyss because it didn’t make sense in that context, but it’s surprisingly fun here.

This Vita port will be a bit of a tough sell to anyone who already owns the console version, but tons of content has been packed in to sweeten the pot — playable Shao Kahn, anyone? — and the game plays as well as ever.

Mortal Kombat will be available for in stores and on the PlayStation Store on May 1st.

Posted in Editorials, News, PlayStation Vita | | Tagged , , , , , , , , |

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