Tag Archives: Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat: Special Forces (PlayStation)

Developer(s)- Midway

Publisher(s) – Midway

Designer(s) – Richard Ho, Carlos Pesina & Herman Sanchez

Producer(s) – John Walsh, Jonathan Murfey & Daniel Markham



These days regarded s a failure of gigantic proportions, Mortal Kombat: Special Forces was one of the first attempts from the creators of the series to create a number of spin-offs concerning individual characters; another being Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero. The game was created by John Tobias, but he left Midway before it was complete, and thus was rushed out to retail largely unfinished; causing the co-creator of the series Ed Boon to resent the game greatly, and publicly disavow himself of any involvement with it. Looking back at it, it’s no surprise that it wasn’t a great commercial success and that Boon despises it to the extent that he does.


Graphics – 5/10

The game wasn’t even finished when it was released to the public, and as such, it is rife with glitches. Even though it may have been fairly advanced in terms of graphics at the time, it counted for much less than it did for other games, since it is largely unpolished. On top of that, I think the conceptual design is particularly weak; especially taking into account that it takes place within the Mortal Kombat universe. Indeed, it has come as quite a surprise that Boon has allowed the inclusion of the brown ninja Tremor as a future DLC for the latest Mortal Kombat game.


Gameplay – 5/10

Special Forces lays out considerably less like a traditional fighting game, like most titles in the series, and something much more akin to Streets of Rage, only with a small, and for the most part significant, RPG element. Indeed, it’s even possible to kill the last boss, Kano, by simply shooting him with a machine gun until he dies, as opposed to fighting him head-on, as was most probably intended. Aside from that, the style of combat also remains very much unrefined and seems like yet another aspect of the game that was rushed.


Controls – 8/10

The best thing I can say about this game, and a way in which it is actually better than many other early PlayStation titles, is that the control scheme is nowhere near as unnecessarily complicated since movement is a lot easier to get to grips with; despite the initial absence of an analog stick for use in a 3D game. It misses out on a perfect score, however, since the combat mechanics are particularly weak.


Lifespan – 4/10

Aside from the game having pretty poor gameplay, the experience can lonely be made to last just over 2 hours, which not long before that, seemed like the norm, but at that time, felt like pretty much nothing, since developers had proven that games made in the same vein could be made to last unanimously longer. I can’t help but feel that if the developers had made the RPG element in the game count for more than what it did, which perhaps may have been part of John Tobias’ original plans before he left Midway, then the game could have been made to last considerably longer. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be.


Storyline – 4/10

The story of Mortal Kombat: Special Forces follows the long-time character, Jax, as he fights to take down the criminal gang, the Black Dragon, led by Kano, along with henchmen such as Jarek and Tremor. It speaks of almost every action film of either the eighties or the early nineties and has next to no originality about it. Aside from that, not only is there some incredibly bad voice acting, but there is also an inconsistency with the whole Mortal Kombat mythos since Special Forces were meant to be the first game chronologically, yet Jax has metal arms, whereas he didn’t have them in Mortal Kombat II, and was first seen to have them in Mortal Kombat III. The whole affair has even compelled Ed Boon to also consider the game non-canonical to the rest of the series.


Originality- 4/10

In every other aspect of this game, as well as the story there is hardly anything original about it. The only thing I can commend the developers for is their willingness to try something different with what at that point was considered to be one of the be-all and end-all of fighting game series, but unfortunately, it ended up backfiring on them severely and came off as nothing but a watered-down attempt at a 3D Streets of Rage.




In summation, Mortal Kombat: Special Forces has earned its rightful place in video gaming obscurity, and is a title worthy of no amount of money from any gamer’s pockets. It is largely considered to be a major catalyst behind the dissolving of the relationship between the two Mortal Kombat creators, and since the series has since regained much of its former popularity since then, this game definitely put it at its lowest ebb.



5/10 (Far Below Average)

Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero (PlayStation & Nintendo 64)

Developer(s) – Midway Games & Avalanche Software

Publisher(s) – Midway Games

Director(s) – Dimitrios Tianis & John Tobias

Producer(s) – John Tobias, Dimitrios Tianis & Michael Gottlieb



Taking just over a year to develop, and released in a time when 2D side scrollers were fast being considered a thing of the past, Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero was the first and last game of what was intended to be a series of games concerning the backstories of several major Mortal Kombat characters, and was subsequently panned by critics; the main reason of which being it’s visuals. Personally, I‘ve always thought this game to be nowhere near as bad as most critics have labeled it to be, since whilst it may not be the best side scroller released at its time, it’s certainly by no means a bad game.


Graphics – 9/10

As I said, the majority of the flack that this game received was aimed at what techniques were used to render the game’s graphics, which in lieu of franchise tradition, was a blend of both digitized live acting and real-time 3D graphics. Though games like Night Trap and Phantasmagoria used the same technique, with varying degrees of success, it’s never looked better than in this game. After looking at it, I can’t understand why this technique wasn’t adopted by other developers; especially as it made the game look far better than Mortal Kombat 4 ever did in my personal opinion. The biggest gripe I had with the visuals is in terms of concept since throughout the beginning and middle, the enemy characters are for the most part recycled, but this is rectified later on with the introduction of more variety in enemy design.


Gameplay – 7/10

Aside from it having underrated graphics, it also has underrated gameplay;, especially for the time. It was inevitable that this game would be overlooked amidst the 3D gaming revolution of the late 90s, it had some distinct differences between conventional side scrollers that the industry had previously become synonymous with. It almost plays out like a Metroidvania game, with secret items to uncover, and a small RPG element to it. The only thing missing is an open world. At its core, it is still a 2D fighting game in conjunction with the rest of the Mortal Kombat series, but the series’ developers introduced something different; an idea which would be further perpetuated by the likes of Guacamelee and even Dust: An Elysian Tail to a certain extent.


Controls – 8/10

Since the control scheme works on more or less the same principles of a Mortal Kombat game, the platforming isn’t the best ever seen in gaming. There were times when I thought it would have been better if commands had been made easier to register as opposed to the development team incorporating conventional fighting game mechanics. For example, having one specific button to activate ice powers rather than players having to try and string specific buttons together.


Lifespan – 2.5/10

The worst thing about this game, in my opinion, the aspect of where I can personally draw the most criticism for, is its lifespan. Even completing the game to 100% can take just under 2 hours, which whilst may have been impressive for a side scroller back in the third generation of gaming, had been long since outdone by this time. It’s especially shocking since CDs were supposedly capable of holding much more digital memory than cartridges, which was part of the entire point of introducing them to gaming in the first place.


Storyline – 6.5/10

The story takes place even before the events of the original Mortal Kombat game and follows Sub-Zero, a servant of the Lin Kuei clan, as he is hired by the sorcerer Quan Chi to retrieve an amulet of unimaginable power. Events soon unfold into something much more convoluted, and Sub-Zero is forced into even further adventure to uncover the truth behind the amulet, and what purpose it serves. The plot of the game fairly well written and contains many themes and elements synonymous with the series, but a point I do have to agree with mainstream reviewers on is that the voice acting is less than average, as was seemingly customary throughout the fifth generation of gaming.


Originality – 7/10

Amidst a time when the 2D side-scrolling genre was in the process of being phased out in favor of 3D platformers, this game introduced new elements to the category that had never been seen before, and in all, they worked fairly well together to provide a very different experience distinctive from most things seen in gaming at that time. I think it’s a shame that this series never became as prolific as John Tobias originally intended before he left Midway since it would have been interesting to see exactly how it would have evolved and moved with the times if it had come into fruition.




In summation, Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, whilst not a magnificent game, is in my opinion nowhere near as bad as most critics have made it out to be over the years. I personally regret missing out on it during the time of its release and would advocate any fan of the 2D side-scrolling genre try it at least once.



6.5/10 (Above Average)

Mortal Kombat (PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 & PlayStation Vita)

Developer(s) – NetherRealm Studios

Publisher(s) – Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Director(s) – Ed Boon, Steven Beran & Alan Villani

Producer(s) – Hans Lo, Adam Urbano & Shaun Himmerick

PEGI – 18


Released in 2011 as an extremely successful revival of the widely acclaimed fighting game series, Mortal Kombat went on to win three gaming awards in the year of its launch and was later re-released with additional content, as well as there is a sequel coming out soon for next-gen consoles. As far as fighting games go, whilst I don’t indulge in them as much as I do in other genres of gaming, this is most definitely one of the best entries in the series and had made me particularly excited about its future.


Graphics – 8/10

Conceptually, a lot of the different stages are re-master versions of previous ones found in many of the classic games; and in my opinion, they’ve never looked better. From a technical standpoint, in particular, the game has a great deal of textural detail, which depending on what stance players may take on graphic violence, can be seen as either impressive or disturbing. The fatalities were made to be more violent than ever before, and in my opinion, is one of the most violent games ever developed behind Abadox.


Gameplay – 7/10

A traditional fighting game, what I was most glad at was the fact that the developers strayed away from the concept of fighting in full 3D environments, and reverted back to 2D stages, but kept the 3D graphics intact. To me, the previous style of fighting from Mortal Kombat 4 to Mortal Kombat Armageddon didn’t work anywhere near as well as the system in the original trilogy, and many other fighting games of the time. But aside from this, there is also a vast range of different ay modes in this game, as well as a plethora of different unlockables aside from what can be downloaded as DLC.


Controls –10/10

Aside from the developers reverting back to the layout of a traditional fighting game, the control scheme works extremely well, since not only does it work well to re-immerse long-time fans of the series, but it also works well for newcomers in the form of the practice mode and move lists. I also like how much time is given to players to perform fatalities, since personally, I’ve never been able to execute one in any of the three original games.


Lifespan – N/A (10/10)

Though fighting games have an infinite lifespan by default, there’s still a great deal present in this game than many others of its kind to keep players immersed in many different ways. Not only is there a story mode, and the added bonus of using points earned in battle to acquire things such as alternative costumes and conceptual art, but there is also an online multiplayer mode, that can become quite addictive. The developers are working to enhance this aspect for the next game, but it’s still extremely satisfying in this case too.


Storyline – 7/10

The overall story arc of this game is also handled in an extremely unique way for a fighting game. It acts as a revival to the series, and at the same time re-tells the events of the first three games, whilst simultaneously carrying on the story from where it left off after the latest game to have come before it; Mortal Kombat Armageddon. The basic premise is that fighters from all the different realms of the universe convene to compete in the Mortal Kombat tournament. But there does end up being a lot of twists and turns before the end.


Originality – 6/10

In terms of uniqueness, this game does have a fair bit of originality about it, in the structure of its story, and how the incentive is earned whilst playing through it. But to an extent, the developers had to keep things as simple as possible in order to revive the series, which beforehand, has been losing commercial momentum. I suspect the developers are saving more unique aspects of the series for the next game, Mortal Kombat X, judging by what I’ve seen so far, since new policies are being explored within the online multiplayer facility, and it also looks as if the developers are branching out more from a conceptual standpoint, in a similar fashion to how they did it with Mortal Kombat III.




In summation, Mortal Kombat is an exceptional fighting game, and I would recommend it to veteran fans that may not have tried it, as well as newcomers. The next game looks to be even better, but this title still serves as an ideal starting point to anyone curious about the series.



8/10 (Very Good)