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Mortal Kombat 4 Review
The Mortal Kombat series of fighting games were two dimensional coin-op arcade games also released in console and PC versions until Mortal Kombat 4 (MK4) hit the market. Because of intense competition between 3D video games in the late 90s, developers at Midway entertainment presented a 3D version of Mortal Kombat, making MK4 a legend among fighting games.
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Mortal Kombat 4 was a damage-control measure adopted by Midway Games to compensate the flak received on their previous title: Trilogy. With some polished moves, good (then groundbreaking) 3D graphics and new characters, MK4 received good reviews from Mortal Kombat fans and critics.
The story in MK 4 focuses on Shinnok rise after Shao Kahn gets vanquished by the earth warriors. Shinnok grabs the hot seat and the earthly mortals, together with Raiden, set on a new task to defeat him. There are no RPG or adventure elements in the game, just pure Vs modes, where players have to defeat the opponent and advance to the next stage until they confront Shinnok in the final showdown.
There are some great and not-so great parts of MK4. The inclusion of new characters like Kai, Quan Chi Reiko etc. add some interesting elements. The game also features seven old characters such as a Liu Kang, Sonya, Raiden and host of other popular MK4 players. While the new characters completely fit into the MK universe, little changes have been made in the moves list of old characters. Some innovative moves could have made MK4 more interesting.
The best part of Mortal Kombat 4 is the addition of hidden characters like Goro and Noob Saibot. They are not playable unless players unlock them with a code. The 3D version makes Goro look awesome and huge. Gamers can also play as Shinnok against Goro as the final boss. The game also introduces a weapon system in which each character wields a different weapon. At first, the weapon system may look quite unnecessary, but they have great importance in later stages, particularly if you are playing against a tough opponent.
One of the most difficult parts in playing the Mortal Kombat 4 PC version is bringing in those final fatalities. Midway tried to simplify them, one can achieve fatalities easily by using a gamepad. Some can achieve fatalities with key combinations, but one has to be very quick in pressing keys in those last minute actions. Except Goro, each character has only 2 fatalities. Adding a few more would have certainly added more zest to the game.
MK4 has some different gameplay modes including a practice mode, a tag-teamed styled battle mode, tournament mode and three styles of endurance fights. I like the tournament mode and the tag team mode. But, endurance fighting is more challenging and difficult because you have to fight till the end without regaining your blood.
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The rising popularity of 3D games during the late 90s compelled Midway to develop a 3D MK version. With its own game engine, Zeus, developers strived hard to create 3D characters from scratch, resulting in more development delays.
The game uses two dimensional frame rates of movement and animations imposed on three dimensional graphics. Hence, it is one of the rare games that has a “2.5D” tag and is also sometimes described as having 2D gameplay.
Mortal Kombat 4 PC characters looked very blocky, but a patch was released to heal this issue. Since most systems have a Direct3D compatible card, the graphics look much sharper than the original version. The game engine’s dynamic camera angles allow players to sidestep, which adds more three dimensional feel to the game.
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Music in Mortal Kombat 4 gives a perfect arcade styled soundtrack. The music features many nicely composed tracks that go well with the environment during fighting modes. The sound effects are truly great, especially death cries and taunts. You can listen to the scary screams uttered by characters when they are brutally hit. The game also has some taunting and humorous dialogue in-between blood-chilling cries of pain. The various weapons and block defense sounds makes MK4 more entertaining.
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MK4 is an excellent 3D translation of the MK franchise. The availability of the game is a bit rare, but you can still buy the game from e-stores at a very low price.
For some, Mortal Kombat 4 is a just an arcade game, for others it is one of the best fighting games available, but for MK fans, the game is a legend, a timeless myth which spawned many 3D console versions including the latest MK Vs. DC fighting game.