I am not sure if you all remember this, but back in the days of the first few Mortal Kombat games it received so much criticism from politician for being too gory and violent for gamers, not unlike what the GTA series has been treated as now. Well you really don’t hear much about Mortal Kombat anymore as being that "ultra violent video game", but instead we have seen some disappointing games out of the series that has sort of made it begin to disappear in many peoples’ minds. Well now Mortal Kombat is back in Shaolin Monks, and it may not be what you expected. Is this the game fans of the series have been waiting for? Read our full review to find out!
Mortal Kombat, like I mentioned has been known for its violence by politicians and gamers alike, but it also has been of course a pretty upfront, fast paced, fighting game. In fact the games so far that have gone to a more action sense have been pretty bad. So can Shaolin Monks take what is great about the MK series and translate it into a good action game?
For those that are familiar with the Mortal Kombat backstory, the game begins right after the first Mortal Kombat tournament. Basically you get the choice of playing as either Liu Kang or Kung Lao to take on this adventure. The story unfolds throughout the game, and without giving anything away, it really has a lot of ups and downs and remains pretty interesting throughout. I think what I liked the most was the pacing of the story, as it never dragged nor did it ever really make a huge interruption on the pacing of the gameplay in the game.
Well as in any Mortal Kombat game, you don’t play the game for its story, no matter how interesting it is. The franchise is all about action, and that is clearly the case here. Whether you choose to play as Kung Lao or Liu Kang, you will find that the fighting engine is nowhere near as deep as many would have hoped. One thing the developers decided to do with the game was to make it easier to string together combos, which may make some of the hardcore MK fans a little upset. This is because MK has always been known for having a very deep combat system, which required plenty of memorization of combinations of keys. Here in trying to make the game more accessible for casual gamer, the developers have opted for a much easier combo system.
One of the weird things the developers did with Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks was they allowed you to play either by yourself through the game’s story mode, or via the co-op. Basically the major gripe I had with this was that this feature is quite rigid, in the sense that you can’t change this option midway through the game. If, for example, you start the game in a single player, and want to change to a co-op, you’d have to start all over again. With that being said, the developers did a solid job with the co-op, as the camera works very nicely when having two players on screen.
When I look at Shaolin Monks, I see that the developers really had a clear purpose in what they wanted to do in this game, and the end result shows just that. Although the game has some minor issues, it is still very impressive as it has just a wide array of levels and manages to fix some of the shortcomings by throwing in a lot of history from the MK series. This really just makes an interesting game from start to finish. The combat may not be as deep as some hardcore MK fans would hope, but the game does provide enough variety and enough upgrades that really makes the overall scope of gameplay very impressive.
One of the things that I would have hoped the developers had cleaned up a bit more before this final release was the presentation, which in my eyes seemed very scratchy and not as clear as I would have hoped from the game. First and foremost, the character models are nowhere near as impressive as they could have been, as the MK characters are very elusive and impressive characters but that was not portrayed all that well in the game.
The other issue that is not as big of a deal in the game is the environments. Although Shaolin Monks does provide quite a variety in the environments, it didn’t do much in terms of detailing these levels. Overall the presentation may not be as impressive as I would have liked it to be, but the developers nevertheless manages to do the job well.
Shaolin Monks is a game that may not be as impressive as many would have thought at first, but gets better as you play it. You will see more upgrades to your character, which made it enjoyable throughout. The game is at its best when you do play in a co-op mode, as the combat seems even more fun and the action in the game does come at you a little more consistently.
Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks is a game that succeeds in breaking the mold of mediocre releases from the famous (or infamous) franchise. In fact I was actually surprised to find myself enjoying this game as much as I did, as the combat is fluid, the graphics are good, and the overall storyline of the game is very interesting, especially with how much MK history is involved in the game. If you enjoy MK and want to experience a different flavor for the series, Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks is a great way to do just that.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.