Game Review Roundup: MORTAL KOMBAT, PORTAL 2

Game Review Roundup: MK, PORTAL 2


Mortal Kombat

From: Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment

Reviewed on: PlayStation3 (also on Xbox360)

Like other recent franchises, when WBIE decided to put out their newly-owned-IP of Mortal Kombat as a new game, they decided to drop any subtitles or numbers after the name, and just go with the original. It's meant to signify a return to the roots of the franchise, and return it does.

Mortal Kombat is absolutely what it claims to be - a MK game with the brutal moves, brutal fatalities, and brutal difficulty the series is known for. If you've loved many of the Mortal Kombat games, or still hold MKII as the crown jewel of fighting games, you will be extremely happy here. The moves click the same way, the fatalities are gory and vicious, and the overall fighting style feels very much like the last couple of decades of Kombat.

That's not to say there's nothing new for you here. There are tag matches now, a staple of fighting games that finally makes its way in, including a full tag "tower" in the single-player campaign. It opens up combos quite a bit, lending functionality to the new feature. There is online play, though due to the current PSN outage, we weren't able to test that. The new bar along the bottom fills up to an "X-Ray" attack, which is a quick strike that shows your foe's bones literally crunching and is usually accompanied by a drastic loss of health.

The difficulty is a bit on the crazy side. If you're not seasoned, even beginner can be pretty rough, with the "extra" boss fight of Kintaro being next to impossible. That will frustrate beginner Kombatants quickly, and is kind of surprising. Why include a beginner difficulty level if it's still going to be that hard?

Other than that issue, which of course is a non-issue for MK fans, this is a game that returns to formula and does so in grand fashion. The PS3-exclusive Kratos is a welcome addition to the roster, and his familiar moves from fit right in with the other chracters. There's probably nothing here that is going to change your mind if you haven't been a fan of the series in the past, but long-time fans are in for a treat with Mortal Kombat.


Portal 2

From: EA Games

Reviewed on: PS3 (Also on Xbox 360, PC, Mac)

The concept behind Portal and its successor is a simple one: You have a gun that can shoot two holes into walls, which connect to each other. Using this and elements in the world like weighted cubes, lasers, and levers, you have to solve puzzles that a maniacal, evil Artificial Intelligence besets upon you.

Oh, and it's just pure, awesome fun.

The puzzles this time are a bit more varied, and a bit more difficult. The humor is even stronger, and the creepiness of GLaDOS (the aforementioned AI) is ramped up as well. So now you'll be laughing one second and cringing the next, all while trying to flex your mindgrapes to escape danger. Taking such a simple concept and executing it so brilliantly is a testament to Valve's designers. This could very easily be a repetitive or even boring game, and instead it pulls you along to the very last moment, even leaving you craving more.

Luckily there is more this time around. The game itself is a good 2-3 times as long as the first installment, plus there are new co-operative puzzles. Those can be played with a friend locally or online (that is, whenever PSN is working). The other neat thing about the PS3 version, at least once online features are re-enabled, is the free edition of the game for your PC or Mac via Steam. With that, you can save games to Steam, pick up where you left off on your computer, then jump back into it on your TV when next you play. it's an amazing feature to be included, and something that opens up a lot of possibility for the future.

Portal 2 is simply delightful to play. it's a beautiful game with amazing nuance that makes you think while allowing you to enjoy the complexities and simplicities equally. This is as unique an experience as you can get in video games, and an absolute must-own.

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