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Kombat Kolumns: Mortal Kombat: Deception Review

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After the success of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Midway decided to keep the engine of the game and its design for the next installment of the Mortal Kombat franchise - Mortal Kombat: Deception, which was released back in 2004 for PlayStation 2, XBox and Nintendo GameCube. The game featured tons of extra stuff, including a Collectors Edition with a Bonus Disc (which we already reviewed). Of course, because of the many (really many) trailers floating the internet, fans expected something huge...which in time turned into one of the most controversial Mortal Kombat games.

General Review

I don't know why Midway put so much hidden characters at the beginning again. There are officially 24 characters in the game, but at the beginning the game is giving you only 12. The rest of them you have to unlock in The Krypt or in Konquest mode. So it looks that The Krypt is back, there are still some interesting stuff from the old Mortal Kombat games and media, but most of the hidden stuff there is not from previous installments but from Deception itself. Some of the hidden characters again, are ones of the best characters in the game like Kenshi, Havik and Noob Saibot/Smoke (yeah, i will get to that a bit later). Each character has 2 hand to hand fighting styles and 1 with weapon, just like it in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. In the Pause menu, you can view all your basic and special moves, including combos. Once again, the development team put so much useless basic hits for most of the characters, that some of them you will never have to use in either single nor versus modes. For the finishing moves you will need to search over Internet, but as we know, it's not that hard to find them. Each character has now 2 Fatalities and 1 Hara-Kirii. The last one is actually a new finisher. With it, the losing character gets the chance to perform a suicide before a Fatality is performed on them. While Hara-Kiris could be done anywhere, for the Fatalities this time you have to be in certain distance.

MKD Main Menu MKD Character Select Screen MKD Scorpion's Hara-Kiri

The game keeps its dark atmosphere and it has one of the best soundtracks. The graphics look better than they did in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. The main bad guy here is Onaga, The Dragon King - the former ruler of Outworld, who was killed (actually poisoned) by Shao Kahn. The story focuses on Shujinko who was manipulated by Onaga to collects 6 artifacts which will grant him freedom. Except Shujinko, there are few other new characters in the game but also a lot old ones too, one of which is Noob-Smoke. Noob-Smoke is actually Noob Saibot and Smoke combined, and you can switch between them during battle. Fans really didn't like that at fist, but shortly after the game came out, he (they) turned into one of the most used character(s) in the game. A lot of arenas from the old-school Mortal Kombat games return in 3D, including The Pit, Dead Pool and The Portal. All these arenas have kept their original soundtrack (of course enhanced). A lot of the backgrounds are hidden in The Krypt or Konquest. Also, while Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance had no Stage Fatalities, this time the team put them in, as a part of the actual gameplay. What that means is that you can perform a Stage Fatality (here they are called Death Traps) in the middle of the round. Some of them are really cool, but they could easily trick someone and help noobs winning rounds or games. Still, I believe that they were cool addition, since the game should not be taken seriously for versus mode. Some arenas also have Stage Weapons (Beetle Lair, Slaughterhouse, Sky Temple, Lungchuan Dao and Liu Kang's Tomb). They do more damage to the opponent and have universal, character independent moves. Note that If you change your fighting style, the stage weapon will return to it's pedestal.

Sub-Zero uppercutting Darrius Noob-Smoke ! One of the many Death Traps

The mini-games in Mortal Kombat: Deception are Puzzle Kombat and Chess Kombat. Puzzle Kombat is a tetris-like game. Your goal is to collect as more blocks of the same color as you can and than blast them with the Dragon Symbol block sending them directly into your opponents field. The very small versions of twelve Mortal Kombat characters will react to everything you do, making this mode really fun to play. Each character has special power that will help you during battle. Although fun, the idea for this mode was taken from Street Fighter by Capcom. They released Super Puzzle Fighter years ago. The other mini game is Chess Kombat. It is a chess-like game in Mortal Kombat style. First you must select a team with five characters. You will have a total of sixteen pieces which are 5 different types: grunt (which are the basic fighters with 40% life when the battle starts), shifter (with 50% life - 100% if its shifter vs shifter), sorcerer (the weakest fighters with 30% life, but with a lot of different spells), champion (equivalent to a queen, with 100% life) and leader (which is the king and have 80% life when the battle starts) and 5 boards - The Pit, The Portal, The Dead Pool, Courtyard and Living Forest. Both mini games in my opinion brings much diversity and it is a plus that you could play both online too.

MKD: Puzzle Kombat MKD: Chess Kombat

And finally, lets finish the General Review with the Konquest. This mode is very different now when compared to its first appearance in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. There its main purpose was to teach you specials and combos and tell you about each fighter's background. Here it is more like a third-person rpg game. In this mode you follow the adventures of Shujinko as he grows from a young boy, to an old man. As you travel through six Realms, you’ll come across old Mortal Kombat characters, chests that hold secrets hidden within the game, and Koins to open Koffins in The Krypt. Some of the chests found within Konquest Mode hold keys to unlock Koffins in The Krypt. Most of the hidden characters and stages can be found in these locked Koffins. Konquest Mode consists of six Realms. Earthrealm, Netherrealm, Chaosrealm, Outworld, Orderrealm, and Edenia. The Earthrealm also contains a small village where your journey begins. Each of the six Realms, and the village, are divided into a grid of numbers and letters ranging from A1 to H8. Certain battles throughout Konquest Mode will award you with Koins too. The type of Koins that you receive always changes, however the amount remains the same. I will not make spoilers what happens when you finish it, so have fun playing it.

MKD: Konquest MKD: Konquest

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The Gameplay

OK, let's start with the negatives. Before I start why this game is the most UNBALANCED Mortal Kombat game ever, I want you to know that this is a deep info which contains a lot of terms and phrases that concern game mechanics, skip this part if you are not interested. On first look, the gameplay looks similar to those in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, but it's actually a lot different. First the gravity is completely changed, now your opponent don't fall to the ground quicker after few air hits, but remain in the air, allowing really a lot of juggle infinites. The whole gameplay is faster too. PowerUps and Shoves have been removed (don't know why) and now you have BREAKERS! Breakers allow you to cancel the foe's combo while it is performed on you. You have 3 breakers per round so watch when you use them. The effect in terms of brokenness for breakers in Mortal Kombat Deception is being able to Quick Recover (QR) after them for free hits. Bo Rai Cho would get a free f3 after being breakered. Kenshi would get a free lift after being breakered. Again this is done by using QR after pushing back by someones breaker, you will get up off the ground instantly into any attack you want. QR is done by holding Down/Back or Down/Forward. The mixups here are also similar to these in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. Mixups are a term used for mixing up high and low attacks. In Mortal Kombat: Deception the best 2 are Lows (Throws) mixed in with Mids. Techrolls are moves that you are able to roll out of after hitting the ground, which were present in the previous Mortal Kombat game too. Here for the most part you cannot techroll out of anything. A few popups that are techrollable are Scorpion's f1 in weapon, Shujinko's f1 in Shaolin Fist, and Nightwolf's f2 in Val Tudo. Mortal Kombat: Deception suffers terribly from a non wakeup system which leads to unavoidable mixups for an entire round since you are forced up every time from almost every move. Under your lifebar you will see that there are 3 little cells. Those empty cells are triggered depending on where you are on the screen. If the cell flashes red, it usually means you are up close and vulnerable. If you start to walk back you willl see the yellow cell flash, which is a caution meter. And blue means you are completed safe from any attack while it is flashing. It's useful for AI but completely unpredictable in Versus mode. The special moves that restore energy here are removed. Only Havik has 2 moves which restore energy (Neckcrack move (B, F, 2) restores a little less then his Backcrack move (F, B, 4) and works the same way as in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance in terms to the more you use it, the less you will gain).

High juggle example Breaker ! Low Attack

If you want to fix the bugs in your game's gameplay, the Online mode is great way to do so, since thousands of players will explore the game in almost any way, but what happens when they discover one of the biggest brokenness in any Mortal Kombat game and it is not fixed at all...introducing the FREE THROWS. Free throws work a few ways. One is a programming glitch when a character transitions from high to low block animation they can be thrown after they start to duck. That is basically the entire glitch. When you are stunned and I go to free throw you, of course you will start to duck, but even during the beginning start up frames of your ducking animation you will still be thrown. For these type of free throws the only way out is to jump. Since you jump instantly on your first start up frame of recovery from the stun. Other free throws are camera locks which unfortunately plague the game very badly. When I stun you and then, sidestep while you're still being stunned, before you can move OR jump, you have to first face my character. So sidestep is synomonious with jumpovers as well, as long as you have time for it. After I jumpover you, your character is still facing the other way, so while you are turning around towards me I am able to free throw you. Moves that grant free throws are jabs, popups, lowhits, plants. But the only true free throws are plants and jumpovers. This is true because of Hit Recovery, which is done the same way as Quick Recovery, that allows you to cancel out your stun recovery before being thrown. Hit Recovery (also known as Jutsu) is done by mashing Down/Back or Down/Forward during stuns all the way up to the last recovery frame. As well, the sooner you start to mash db or df, the sooner you will start to recover. Jutsu is broke in many ways. One being on hit; after you are hit with a move, you can Jutsu then counter before the opponent is done with recovering of the previous move. Jutsu Throw is the most broken aspect of Mortal Kombat: Deception. As we know throws are already too broken, but add into the fact that you jutsu your own recovery, makes throws ridiculously too safe. An entire match of Mortal Kombat: Deception at the highest level consists of 90% whiffed throws, with each person trying to counter the other players throw with a throw of their own. Again, with both players missing 90% of the time. You simply cannot block in Mortal Kombat: Deception from up close because you will still be thrown after you start ducking. The only way around is to transition from high to low WITHOUT blocking. Which means you cannot block whatsoever while standing high... This was the reason why Mortal Kombat: Deception was not allowed in EVO 2004/2005.

Noob-Smoke's Throw Crossover example Whiff Throw Example

Frame advance exampleThere are also differences if you use Player 1 and Player 2. Player 1 controls the camera, has frame advantage and basically the entire game was built around Player 1 (for example, each Player 2 character has their own hitboxes and models). Player 1 also has less recovery time on defensive moves (takes them less time to recover: for example: Raiden's 100% combo only works for Player 1, since after being planted, Player 1 recovers to the ground too fast, same applies for Sindel's infinite too). Player 1 has more recovery time on offensive moves (after a move is blocked, it takes them more time to move) and juggle height in general is completely different. Player 1 juggles higher to make up for its added recovery time on offensive moves which Player 2 juggles lower since it recovers so much faster. In short, the axis are completely different for Player 1/Player 2. Shujinko's infinite from other hand works only for Player 2. Player 2 also takes longer to recover after stuns and takes less time to recover after offensive moves. It has more range on moves but is given no frame advantage as a "balance" to Player 1. Otgs (like Raiden's 100% combo) do NOT work for Player 2 due to Player 1 recovering faster stuns. There are a few that still work for Player 2, but it's completely lopsided. All characters share the same model and all characters share the same hitboxes as that one model.

Note that Online mode has also less recovery time for some moves (for example Liu Kang's f2 f2 f2 infinite is working only online). There are also online freeze glitches that freeze your opponent for the whole round. Online you can also take your controller out of the socket before the round starts, plug it in and be able to hit your opponent before the round starts with an infinite of your choice...Mortal Kombat: Deception = Broke!

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Versions Comparison

Now, let's step away from the complicated explanation about the gameplay and see what each version has to offer. Mortal Kombat: Deception was first released on PlayStation 2 and XBox only. Sadly, my favorite console from Sony loses the battle here. If the game is played on normal TV, the graphics are equal, but if you play the game on HDTV, the XBox version looks better. Both games support Digital Surround Audio, so the sound factor is the same. What is a plus for the PlayStation 2 version is that you can play with Onaga and Konquest only characters if you have third party cheat device, while the XBox version needs Trainers to use them, which is more complicated (Action Replay XBX is just a savestate trading utility). From other hand, these cheat devices could be used online, which makes the already broken gameplay even more annoying. With XBox, since it does not support these, you will be sure that your online opponent will not be cheating. The XBox version has also shorter loading times, which is a huge plus in my opinion. The controller factor is also not important here, because it is easy to adapt to the pad in this game. Lets get back to the online mode, since it was so advertised (remember MK3/UMK3 Wavenet and MK3 PC DOS and MKT PC Win also featured multi player option, but not an Online mode). To play online the XBox version you will need XBox Live account, while in the PlayStation 2 version you can play online for free. The bad thing about Sony's console is that it netplay is more laggy than those of Microsoft's console. So, with XBox Mortal Kombat: Deception you will get better and more stable online play. All the game physics are the same on both consoles.

MKD for Xbox MKD for Xbox MKD for Xbox

A few months after the official release of the game Midway reported that Mortal Kombat: Deception will appear on Nintendo Gamecube as well. I was surprised that graphically the game looks better than the PlayStation 2 version. Of course Gamecube don't have HD output so XBox version is the leader here, since it has also better graphics than the PlayStation 2 version, as we already said. Loadings are shorter too. The GameCube version also has Shao Kahn and Goro as playable characters, but the Online mode was removed (and so the faster recovery online infinites obviously). Both Goro and Shao Kahn have all of their Trilogy moves including the infamous taunt. At highest vs level each character is able to cancel his wait time in between tombstone drops by either backdashing or sidestepping after them (Bo Rai Cho: puke ss puke ss puke, etc... which is an infinite). However, it was fixed in Mortal Kombat Deception for GameCube and also Dairou's ts drop was toned down majorly. Jutsu sadly remains in this version too. Other small fixes were made too, like the double Spear glitch with Scorpion (which is another example of tombstone drop cancel). The other thing about the GameCube version of Deception is that many more characters are unlocked right up front, so you immediately get a total of 20 fighters to choose from, whereas the PlayStation 2 and XBox versions only have 12 initially playable. This means there's less reason to play through Konquest mode, the key to unlocking most of the game's hidden content. But Konquest mode could be a drag for some, so this could be a good thing. The game plays OK using the stock GameCube controller, despite the small D pad and asymmetrical button layout. Nintendo's console supports third party cheat devices, so if you had one of these, you could play as Onaga and Konquest only characters as well.

MKD for GameCube MKD for GameCube MKD for GameCube

So, if I have to pick the best version, I would probably go with the GameCube. It's a personal choice of course, because someone else could vote for the XBox one. Sadly the PlayStation 2 version got a minus.

At the end I want to give a HUGE credit to Check (who dont needs a presentation, since everyone who was into next-gen Mortal Kombat games should know who he is) for the deep explanations about the gameplay. Another credit goes to Patrick McCarron of The Realm Of Mortal Kombat who helped me with some stuff here and there. Thank you both.

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Written by: ded_
Date: January 31nd, 2010