Game Reviews

Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3

Star onStar onStar halfStar offStar off
Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3

The contest between Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat has always been a fascinating one.

The former has always relied on rewarding and robust gameplay, while the latter has built its reputation largely on blood and gore. Both have succeeded in finding a sizable audience and now the age-old rivalry has spilled over onto iPhone and iPod touch.

Street Fighter IV isn't a perfect translation, but it covers the fundamentals. Compared to botched controls and thin roster of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, though, it's like a dream.

Finish him

Things start off positive. EA Mobile has gone for the whole hog and recreated the Mortal Kombat cast in glorious 3D. The backgrounds are also fashioned from detailed polygons, and everything looks sharp – especially on iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch.

The action remains firmly rooted in 2D, but the 3D visuals lend a surprisingly degree of fluidity to the animation. Most importantly, the characters look and move as you’d expect, although die-hard fans may be upset at the lack of digitised actors.

It almost goes without saying that the key objective in this one-on-one brawler is to reduce your rival’s health bar to zero. This is achieved either by basic punches and kicks or – if you’re feeling brave - more extravagant special moves.

Fatal error

The series' trademark finishing moves lend an additional layer of depth. Rather than just pounding your opponent into dust, you can choose to pile additional humiliation on them by dispatching them with a gore-laden Fatality or transform them into an infant with an hilarious Babality.

Needless to say, these actions require complex pad and button combinations to execute, and it’s here that the game’s Achilles heel is uncovered.

Although the virtual stick and button interface works as well as can be expected – there’s even the option to customise the layout of the controls to suit your own personal preference – the harsh reality is that intense 2D fighting titles were simply never intended to be played on a touchscreen.

The designers acknowledge this fact by including a designated button for unleashing special moves, and this predictably takes the strain out of actually having to enter the command. However, it also removes the skill, and purists will undoubtedly scoff at this scurrilous shortcut.

Total karnage

Unfortunately, forgoing such aids ultimately leads to frustration because the interface isn’t anywhere near as accurate and responsive as it needs to be. This lamentable incompatibility robs Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 of its glory, because the rest of the package is razor-sharp.

The standard Arcade mode is complemented by a Survival mode, but the real draw is score-focused Shao Karnage section, where you have to administer punishment to nefarious bad guy Shao Kahn within a set time limit. Your final rating is based on your overall performance, as both parties are equipped with unlimited health.

There’s also a multiplayer element, although sadly this is limited to local contests only. Taking down a friend who is close enough to hear your smack-talk harks back to good old-fashioned gaming sessions of the early ‘90s, but we would have liked to have seen an online aspect via Game Center included as well.

Thin kast

Another thing that will have hardcore fans up in arms is the lack of characters. The original 1995 version of the game boasted an incredible 27 different fighters (including boss and hidden combatants) while this iPhone update musters a meagre 13.

There’s a good chance new fighters will be added via updates periodically – as Capcom has done with Street Fighter IV – but that’s beside the point. The 'ultimate' prefix is there to denote the definitive version of the game, and in this case it’s something of a falsehood.

Take Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 at face value and it will offer a moderate amount of enjoyment, but if you’re expecting a facsimile of the ’95 classic then you’re going to come away bitterly disappointed.

Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3

Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 possesses appealing visuals that give it the swagger of a prize fighter, but the botched controls and anaemic fighter roster expose the game underneath as a featherweight with a glass jaw