Mortal Kombat Review (PS Vita)

May 3, 2012

PS Vita, Reviews

When Mortal Kombat hit consoles last April, it struck to much critical praise, including from us (our console review here). One year later, NetherRealm Studios has brought their game to the portable audience, aiming to provide an experience that is practically identical to that of the console version. Is it on par with the console version or is it nothing more than a simple port?

If you’re looking for a descriptive review on the game’s main mechanics, then check out MJA42X’s review. The main aspect of this review is to touch base on the Vita features, the additions and how the overall game translated onto Sony’s new handheld.

Story: 5/5

Normally, we wouldn’t rate the story section of a fighting game, but Mortal Kombat is the rare exception. Thanks to Ed Boon and his team over at NetherRealm Studios, they’ve created an extremely well-crafted story that fans of the mythology will love. Taking place during the events of MK 1-3, you will witness a re-imagining of the original storyline, unfolding in ways that might’ve been slightly different than previous told. However, the cutscenes are done very well and transitioning them right into the gameplay is flawless and brilliant. The story shows the events of each character as you advance through the chapters and how they intertwine with each other. Fans will be shocked at the crazy ending that awaits them as well.

Gameplay: 5/5

Mortal Kombat wasn’t only our site’s Best Fighting Game last year, it was one of the best fighting games made this generation. It offered an incredibly brutal and satisfying combat system that replicated a similar feel to the originals and a variety of content that was sure to keep fighting fans busy for months. The Vita version includes not only the entire console experience of modes, but also a Bonus Challenge Tower consisting of 150 extra missions, all pertaining to the system’s specific features. It is here where you’ll test out new variations of combat and new game modes like Test Your Slice (a Fruit Ninja spinoff with heads and intestines to cut) and Test Your Balance. Test Your Slice works incredibly well and is a perfect mini-game to have on the go, utilizing the front touch screen spot-on. Test You Balance will have you using the Vita’s Sixaxis functionality to carefully balance your character standing on a thin platform. If you lose your balance, a wealth of death traps await you on your fall through the pit. It’s a pretty fun mode and the Sixaxis works very well. Another cool addition are the UMK3 costumes they added for some of the characters. As you complete some Bonus Challenge Tower missions, you’ll unlock these for the respective characters.

Test Your Balance with Sixaxis Functionality

In terms of combat, if you played the console version, you know exactly what to expect here. The game runs incredibly smooth at 60 fps, which allows the optimal response time. They added the option to initiate X-Ray moves by tapping the icon on the screen, which is welcome, but you can still press the L and R buttons at the same time to initiate it like in the console versions. The greatest addition is the ability to pull off a Fatality using the touch screen. By swiping your fingers in the gesture that replicates your movements on the D-Pad/Analog Stick, you eliminate the chances of accidentally jumping of moving out of range when trying to finish off your opponent.

Online is integral with a fighting game and I can happily say that MK runs lag-free on the PS Vita. While the King of the Hill mode was omitted from this version, the standard 1vs1 matches still works wonders and for the first time ever on a PS Vita game, enables voice chat support with the built-in microphone. It’s great to see NetherRealm Studios put so much extra effort in translating the game into the portable format.

Test Your Slice proves to be an addictive mode

Graphics: 4/5

For a PS Vita title, it looks quite remarkable. Environmental detail has carried over nearly spot-on from the console versions, along with the amount of blood and gore, the damage modeling on characters and the impressive 60 fps that has been a staple for the MK series. Even the X-Ray moves still look visceral and effective in action, regardless of the smaller screen. The only downside is that character models have decreased a bit in quality, but it’s not the worst thing in the world. The trade off here was to achieve the 60 fps, which was only doable by toning down some character detail. To be honest though, the only reason you’ll notice it quickly is if you compared it to the console version. Without comparing them, this is one great looking game.

Sub-Zero finishing off Jax in UMK3 fashion

Sound: 4/5

As MJA42X stated in the original review, MK has some of the best sound design in a video game. The sound effects will make you cringe with each hit, stab and slice and the soundtrack will have you really getting into your fights, with remixes and original versions of the signature music. The only problem that remains here from the console version is the audio mixing. Even at the highest audio settings, both in-game and with the system volume control, the audio isn’t loud enough. At the 100% volume mark, it only sounds like the 40% volume mark of most other Vita titles out on the market. Also, the music is overpowered by the sound effects a bit much and doesn’t feel balanced correctly, even after tweaking the audio settings.

“If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball”…or in this case, a fan with blades on them

Overall Score: 18/20 = 9.0 out of 10

Mortal Kombat for the PS Vita sets a benchmark of how to bring a game over to the handheld, while in the process, making it the definitive version. The game is perfect for both quick pickup-and-play sessions and lengthy ones as well. The PS Vita has seen some solid titles at launch, but not too many games have come out recently. Mortal Kombat is one of those reasons to fire up your PS Vita again and bring it along with you. It is literally the visceral and brutal console experience in the palm of your hand.


+ Perfect transition to the portable format

+ Addictive gameplay

+ Great soundtrack

+ Cringing sound effects (in a good way)

+ Vita features add more content

+ Bonus Challenge Tower is a ton of fun!


– Character model detail is toned down a bit

– Audio master levels are still a little screwy

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About Glacier928

Marcello is the founder, creator and editor-in-chief of GamersXtreme. His dedication and passion shows as he keeps gamers informed with daily news articles and provides truthful, honest opinions on all gaming related news. Having experience with video game design, as well as over 20 years of gaming under his belt, Marcello has always had a massive interest in the gaming society. Originally, he created GamersXtreme in the style of a magazine back in middle school. Today, he has taken what was created as a basic premise and has evolved it into the site it is today.

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