Gruesome. Brutal. Bloodthirsty. Vicious. Murderous. Violent. Maniacal. Ferocious. Fisty. And FUN. Mortal Kombat II is here and Amiga Format are playing it to death. There are 12 characters, each with different moves and skills. Spikes, spears, ice, balls of fire (goodness grac...), energy bolts and snot. Electrocution, acid spit, flesh-slicing fans and decapitating hats.
A certain brouhaha surrounds MKII with its gratuitous violence and rivers of blood but really it's more the stuff of Tom And Jerry than Rambo. Sure, when you impale someone on the ceiling, only to watch him (or her) slowly sludge off the spike and crash to the ground, you might turn your face and shudder but you'll still be grinning like a Cheshire Cat.
Mortal Kombat II recognises both one and two-button joysticks/pads to perform the many complex and varied moves, the two-button option is most favourable. It's certainly playable with a one-button contraption, only the moves are more difficult to pick up.
Steeeve Bradley says...
So what makes Mortal Kombat II better than every other Amiga beat-'em-up? The sprites are huge and move with incredible fluidity, although the backgrounds could be neater. And there's a huge number of moves - no way can you survive by frantic waggling and button bashing, and as you develop skills and learn the moves, the better the game gets.
Blood. You want blood? MKII has more of the red stuff than Safeways have tomato ketchup. Add to this, a liberal dose of humour (not the expression on Jax's face when he gets caught middle stump) and you've got yourself the best Amiga beat-'em-up yet.
Before we first loaded the MKII disks, Steve McGill went something like this. Me - "Do you want to review it? I'll review it, I don't mind reviewing it. But you can, if you want."
Him, somewhat skeptical, though polite - "Erm, I don't realy mind reviewing it, but when's Cannon Fodder 2 coming in?"
Twenty minutes Mortal Kombat time later. Me - "Actually, I really don't mind reviewing this at all. Yes, I think I'll do it."
Him - "Are you sure you want to do it. Otherwise, I'll do it. Honestly, I'll do it. I;d really like to do it". So, the democracy that is AF deems that we both get to put our oar in.
The AF office is hardly a hotbed of beat-'em-up genre fans, but when Mortal Kombat II arrived a crowd gathered. Perhaps they wanted to see a funeral; see the mighty Mortal Kombat II die an Amiga death. Instead, they got a wonderfully playable, pugnacious romp, and a significant improvement on the original Mortal Kombat to boot.
Amazingly, these little piles of pixels that represent the characters actually begin to resemble real people after a while. And not only that, you start to empathise with them. The first few games in the AF office were good natured affairs - oh how we laughed when we were punched four feet in the air, blood flying everywhere, and then suddenly, once we'd learned a couple of simple moves, losing wasn't so humorous, the language not so polite. Mortal Kombat II is a fun game that you cannot help but take seriously.
All the characters have basic moves like punch and kick, but when you get to grips with the special manoeuvres, you can kill off an inexperienced human opponent with relative ease. Initially, the characters with easily accessible special moves are most favourable but with perseverance, most can be learnt in minutes. And forgotten minutes later.
Mortal Kombat II is a game with buckets of playability, and a depth of gameplay to match. Tactics play an integral part whether you're morphing into someone else (Shang Tsung) or anticipating a grappling hook on a rope (Scorpion). Canny players (not me, I hasten to add) know when to kick you in the teeth and when to produce a devastating special move.
So what we have is quite simply the best Amiga beat-em-up to date, not only in looks, but in playability terms too. Even if you have beat-'em-ups with a passion, put aside your prejudice and give it a go. You won't be disappointed.
Quite simply the best Amiga beat-em-up to date, not only in looks, but in playability
Tall Scotsman speaks
It came as no surprise that in AF's last survey, beat-'em-ups were the second least popular game types with readers. Mortal Kombat II could change all that. It's a game that's got balls, guts, gore and violence in-extremis. And that's just the superficialities.
Excluding the first Mortal Kombat, the control system is the best you'll find on any Amiga beat-'em-up. With the exception of special moves, the characters' fighting actions are virtually identical to each other with similar ranges and damage.
This means that rather than form a special relationship with any particular character, you're more likely to use the one whose special moves you find easiest to perform. The special moves aren't so easy that they can be accessed every single time, but unlike Streetfighter II, it's not just a matter of wiggling the stick and praying that a move is executed.
To complement the control system, the graphics are even better than the original Mortal Kombat. The digitised frames that make up the fighters are so well animated and put together that the motion almost convinces you that the little people inside the computer are real.
The mass, inertia, momentum and reaction to the blows all add to the atmosphere. And if you want depth, consider the fact that each character beside having their own unique special moves, can defend themselves against their adversaries' special moves. So that each bout against a different opponent requires a different style of fighting.
Back to school
So, after the initial, laughing-so-hard-your-sides-split learning curve is climbed, the serious business of learning the offensive, defensive and counter offensive strategies of your opponent and your player begins.
If that sounds like there's a lot of depth to the game, then you'd be right. If you were to play the game in one-player mode and choose one single character and have that character play against all the other characters plus themselves, you're talking about 144 different bouts.
Now, when you consider that it's going to take all sorts of different strategies, styles and special moves to win these bouts, the diversity of the gameplay is staggering.
And, although I am on the verge of repeating what's been said earlier, the digitised animation adds incalculable believability to the whole spectacle.
When punches connect, heads are thrown back in a whiplash snap. When a character is beaten senseless, but still on their feet, and the message flashes up, Finish Him, the senseless character looks completely punch-drunk. Basically because they are.
Due to the way that we've written the review (there was almost a fight in the office over who was going to write it) I may have repeated some of what Steve already said. But I have got to conclude that this is one of the most entertaining games I've played all year.
Every person you play against develops their own style. So, even if you're having a bout with the same two characters all of the time, it's never going to get boring.
Forget all the crap about violence and dissolution of society and morals and all the other nonsense that gets banded about by the autocratic bureaucrats who want to control people's entertainment. Mortal Kombat II is the computer equivalent of a Quentin Tarantino film - so violent in the extreme that it couldn't be anything other than funny.
Buy it tomorrow.