Mortal Kombat: Komplete Edition

Console players have had the ninth Mortal Kombat since late 2011, but that can't keep this PC port down. Developer High Voltage has done a fine job translating NetherRealm's accessible, gore-laden fighter to computers.

And what a load it is to translate. Snappy, hard-hitting 2D combat is the gnarled heart of Mortal Kombat. Learning each character's stable of special moves is relatively easy, though learning when to use them to maximum effect is as enjoyably lengthy a journey as you want it to be. It's all supported by an awesome help system that shows the exact positioning and timing needed to pull off anything in the game. Unlike so many fighters, Mortal Kombat's hurdles have nothing to do with missing or obscured knowledge. Nothing but your raw skill stands in the way of plumbing the depths of the system. Granted, those depths aren't as harrowing as your Street Fighters or Guilty Gears. For the vast majority of fighting fans, though, that should be no problem.

In fact, one of the series' most pronounced pleasures lies in how it never takes itself too seriously. There is a unique and deliberate movement to the fighting that feels great, but those roots are planted in some wacky modes that really help flesh out the package. Of course, climbing a ladder of opponents or tag teaming your way through a tournament is still here, but the Challenge Tower is the most fun for a solo player. It combines stock fights with modifiers that change the way matches can be completed. You may find your jump command disabled before a match begins, or perhaps your foe will only be damaged from combos surpassing a certain number of hits. A few minigames break up the tension between fights, be it building up steam to bust some boards by tapping the triggers or keeping your eyes fixed on a macabre shell game.

Fighting games are all about taking on other players, of course, and the online works just fine here. The player base feels much smaller on PC, but it's still possible to connect to random matches months after release (if you're missing some friends to commit with). The netcode was mostly unobtrusive, though some abnormally lengthy connection periods did pop up semi-regularly.

The PC's Komplete Edition is the best way to experience this game, technically. A modest gaming machine can run it with a nice smooth framerate and settings set high. The game has never looked more detailed and crisp, and timing your movements feels a little easier with the improved performance. Some textures were clearly designed around the limitations of the PS3 and 360, but it's nothing that distracts. Of course, you'll want a gamepad if you're even thinking about playing this. A mouse and keyboard control scheme is available but, as you may suspect, it's pretty rough.

It's sort of late to the party, but the Komplete Edition of Mortal Kombat is the superior version of an excellent modern fighter, all around. It also includes all the DLC released thus far on console, too. If you've been holding out for a PC release, it's tough to ask for a better conversion.