Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (PS2) Review

MK Armageddon

When it comes to the sequels to movies, which often begin to follow their own continuity, I thought I’d review another entry in the game series rather than stick rigidly to the release sequence (plus, let’s face it, my review of Mortal Kombat 2 would be pretty damn similar to my review of MK1!) Therefore we have Mortal Kombat: Armageddon reviewed alongside Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, two MK:A’s, but vastly different in how much fun you can get out them… Let’s have a look!

Background:

MK Armageddon 1

No matter how you look at it, that’s an impressive roster screen!

Mortal Kombat: Armageddon was released in the US on the PS2 and original XBOX on October 11th and 17th 2006, respectively, while it was only released on the PS2 in Europe on the 27th. Both regions got a Wii port in May the following year.

Armageddon is the seventh main entry to the series and acts a celebratory release, containing pretty much every character and boss from all the other games previously released in one roster. The final total is 62 playable characters for the PS2 and XBOX versions (plus created characters), while the Wii version gets a 63rd in the form of Khameleon, who fittingly had only previously appeared in the N64 version of Mortal Kombat Trilogy.

Gameplay:

MK Armageddon 2

I don’t think any amount of Kenpo will score you the win here… P.S: God, Blaze is such a generic looking design…

This was the first time I played a 3D Mortal Kombat, and I was surprised but happy to see very little had changed. The punches, the kicks, the sweep kicks, the uppercuts, and jumping attacks, they’re all still here and activated in the same way. Similarly the special moves are done by pressing the directional buttons and then a face button like they always were, rather than adopting the more standard quarter-turn style system found in most 2D (or 2.5D) fighters. So nothing to say here then, you use these attacks and special moves to get your opponent’s health bar down to zero, and often in a best 2-out-of-3 style contest.

There are some changes though, obviously. Each fighter (with one or two exceptions) have a second fighting style, one that is more often than not a weapon-based moveset. Now, apparently in the previous game everyone had three, but given the size of the roster it’s good they managed to keep two! Speaking of the roster size effecting things, Fatalities as we know them are gone, replaced by a “Cre…” sorry, “Kreate a Fatality” system. This means when you’re asked to “Finish Him!” or “Her!” you start putting in commands one after the other, slowly escalating from hard punches to ripping off arms to more gruesome final moves for up to a chain of 14. This means you can have fun brutalising your beaten foe, but it also means ostensibly everybody has the same Fatality, and therefore there is no variety or classic callbacks. There are still stage Fatalities though.

As for modes? Well, beyond the basic Arcade style mode of taking your fighter through a number of fights, fighting the final boss and seeing a narrated ending, you have Conq… *sigh* sorry, you have Konquest Mode, where you play as a man named Taven in a 3D action game, complete with nameless thugs to kill, a little bit of free roaming and platforming, and some regular style fights. It was a fun enough distraction, I guess, but Taven was seriously devoid of personality.

Then there are some bonus stuff, like C… Kreate-A-Fighter, which is your basic create a character mode, full of sliders and random (and often generic) attire to chose from and play around with. It does have the rather unique idea of being able to write a biography for your character, which will effect your ending screen after you beat Arcade mode with him/her. There is also an amusing Mario Kart parody called “Motor Kombat”, with super-deformed versions of MK characters racing in karts around various tracks. It’s … a fun little extra, but it obviously just that: extra. Don’t expect a polished Mario Kart beater! It goes without saying, but most of these modes are 2-player, alongside your basic versus mode. Konquest Mode is the only single-player only mode.

That’s it, but that’s more than enough, especially given how many times you’d have to beat Arcade mode to see all the endings!

Graphics and Sound:

MK Armageddon 3

This “Kreation” has got the Elder Scrolls creepy eyes…

Graphics are obviously rather basic 3D models now, free from the overly polygonal bodies of the early PS1-era 3D fighters, but still rather undetailed and there is little to no lighting of facial animation. Obviously that’s looking at it from a 2019 perspective, at the time I remember thinking they were good. I don’t remember ever thinking they were great, but they were fine. Still impressive they had this many 3D models made and playable in the first place!

Music is… as per usual with Mortal Kombat (in my view) fine, but not memorable. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a tune from MK stuck in my head (apart from the movie’s title song!) but they don’t stick out as bad. They’re just… in the background. Sound effects are fine though, comedy groans and blood splatters for everyone!

Story:

MK Armageddon 6

Black Dragon Thug is my favourite character.

The basic story focuses around a pyramid where a powerful being known as Blaze is awaiting, and if your chosen fighter beats him, they get any wish they want granted. The Konquest mode expands this, explaining that both the pyramid and Blaze were created by Argus and Delia, two people from the realm of Edenia who wished to create balance to the realms. Their children, Taven and Daegon, eventually wake alongside the demonic Blaze when the chaos in the realms reach a peak, and soon all the fighters of the realms converge on the pyramid to get a wish granted.

In the lead up to this Daegon betrays his family, kills him parents and tries to do the same to Taven, all so he can defeat Blaze himself and get his wish granted. Across Konquest mode Taven travels the realms and gains enough power to defeat his brother and avenge his parents.

This is where the title really kicks in, as it is revealed in the sequel that every fighter legitimately dies fighting each other, eventually Shao Kahn kills Blaze and is about to finally do-in his old nemesis Raiden, but the Thunder God sends a message to his past self to change history and prevent Armageddon, which he does. This led to the reboot universe the current games are set in, which means this really was Armageddon for the continuity we’d been playing since the first entry…

Thoughts Then:

MK Armageddon 5

Hahaha… haha… ha…. I’m bored now.

I brought this on a sort of whim, when seeing how large the roster was in a review and feeling a little nostalgic for the old series. I ended up really enjoying it, plenty of variety in the characters on offer (well, apart from Fatalities), the Konquest mode was quite good, and me and my friends had a good laugh writing the bios of created characters and then completing Arcade Mode with them. Motor Kombat was barely touched, I’ll admit but hey-ho, it was just an extra. I bet I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much had I continued playing the series after MK Trilogy, but as it was this was a lot of fun!

4 Star Game Old

Thoughts Now:

MK Armageddon 4

Motaro without his centaur legs, as they were too difficult to animate… Which is fitting after watching MK Annihilation...

Now? Well, the roster is still a good laugh to play about with, but the shine is definitely off the game. It doesn’t look good, it doesn’t play as well as later entries I’ve played more recently, and the lack of Fatalities seems more obvious to me now than it did back then. It’s 14 years old as I write this, so it’s a shame to say, but it has been out long enough now that I can say it’s aged quite badly. Best avoided, unless you really want to play a Mokap vs. Hsu Hao match…

2 Star Game New

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