Back in the days when arcade machines were the cutting edge of computer gaming technology, along came a simple fighting game that changed the genre. Followed up by the excellent MK2, and the not quite as good MK3, the series unfortunately took a bit of a downturn when the 4th entry joined in the fad of '3d' movement for characters and thus quite literally sidestepped what made it a cut above the competition.
MK 9 goes back to its roots and re-tells the story of the Mortal Kombat franchise from games 1 to 3.
This it does through its excellent story mode, in which you play a large number of the characters as they move through the events of the Tournament decreed by the Elder Gods as the only method by which the ruler of a realm may challenge for dominance and merger with another.
The tale is simple;
Shao Khan, the Emperor of Outworld has conquered many realms in the past. Now he challenges for Earth, and it's defender- Raiden, the God of Thunder- has put forward a selection of heroes to stand in his path. Between them they must face and defeat the champions of Outworld, including the fearsome 4 armed Goro and the shapeshifting sorceror Shang Tsung.
This was the tale of MK1, but things have changed...
The game begins with the defeat of earth realm. On the verge of death, Raiden sends himself a message back through time- "He must win".
Now Raiden must work out who exactly the 'He' in his warning referred to, and ensure that Shao Khan is finally defeated. As the tournament progresses the events of MK1, 2 and 3 play out once more, though with twists and changes as Raiden tries to change the course of the future.
So, why do I say it is not quite complete?
Well as someone who played the first 3 arcade machines when they were first released, there are certain things I expected to see yet did not. Within the playable and CPU only characters are pretty much all the opponents you could have faced at the arcades. With one notable exception- Motaro. Erm, why was the big bad monster from MK3 missing from the gameplay and only seen in cut scenes?
Similarly there are plenty of new costumes, yet there is also quite a notable absence in these. All the characters have a primary and backup costume, yet only certain ones get their outfits from MK1, 2 or 3. Why? I would have thought a new wardrobe for every character should have been present, along with ALL the retro outfits from the first 3 games. Surely that is what Komplete should actually mean!
As for the aforementioned storymode, this is good- but has a couple of flaws. One is that when you load up this mode you always go back to the current match you are at. Err, I want to go and redo the tag team against both Goro and Kintaro simultaneously thank you very much! What do you mean I have to go all the way round again!?!? That's insane!
The second is that the final match is simply dumb. Instead of a decent AI you just get a spam machine. This is a battle between Gods in a storymode- surely the programmers and writers could do better than that!
And it's very nice to have new characters in there, but Sub Zero Snr and Jnr are different people- I'd quite like to have them both as seperate playable characters with different moves- not just a costume option! In fact I'd rather have SZ Snr than Freddy, who amusing though he is has nothing to do with the MK mythos!
However, all ommissions aside, this is a game worth getting- and currently a penny cheaper than the incomplete version.
Oh well, no one ever accused Play of having consistant pricing...