Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance

:  Scorpion had found out of Quan Chi's involvement in the death of his family and began to pursue him throughout the Netherealm. During his escape, Quan Chi entered a portal that sent him to ancient writings where he learned of the history of his amulet and the Dragon King's invincible army. He managed to escape from the Netherealm using a secret portal and approached Shang Tsung with an offer to join forces and rule the realms together. Quan Chi established a "Soulnado" in Shang Tsung's fortress with the agreement that Shang Tsung would use some of the souls to animate the army. Together, they approached Shao Kahn and attacked him, seemingly killing him in his weakened state. It was later revealed that they killed a clone, and that the real Shao Kahn had escaped. The Deadly Alliance then double-teamed and killed the only one who could possibly stop them, the Mortal Kombat Champion, Liu Kang.
Raiden once again rallied the Earthrealm soldiers to stop this impending threat. Also included in the battle were newcomers Li Mei and Nitara. Nitara's realm had been merged into Outworld against her will, whereas Li Mei was trying to free her land from The Deadly Alliance. Others joined the fight as well, including the newly reprogrammed Cyrax (now working for the U.S. Special Forces Unit with Jax and Sonya), as well as Kenshi, a warrior who had been blinded by Shang Tsung's treachery and who sought revenge, and Sub-Zero, the younger brother of the original Sub-Zero and the new leader of the Lin Kuei. Unfortunately, these heroes were unable to stop the Deadly Alliance, as the two sorcerers overcame all foes, destroying the majority of the opposition.

Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance character select screen.

REVIEWIn the early / mid 90's, the MK series literally changed the face of the fighting genre forever. Since then, the series has slowly fallen from its former greatness, as numerous "rehashes" and cheesy spin-offs failed to live up to the original titles. And lest we forget the atrocity that was MK: Annihilation, which certainly didn't help anything. While iconic, MK's aged 2D gameplay also fell stale (especially when compared to the new generation 2D fighters), so clearly... a proper "reboot" was in order.
After a 4-year-long absence, the Mortal Kombat series returns with a brand new coat of paint and a completely new gameplay engine in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. Ed Boon and the MK team at Midway ditched the Mortal Kombat 4 (and Gold) engine, introducing a completely new 3D gameplay system featuring both hand-to-hand combat and weapon combat, like the most recent prequels. 
A new graphics engine also shows off the most detailed character models seen in an MK game to date, as well as some cool looking and particularly moody 3D environments that suit the series very well. Deadly Alliance's presentation includes: a cool extended introduction movie, an impressive handful of modes & options, and a ton of extras to unlock. MK: Deadly Alliance also marks the return of several classic MK characters that haven't been seen in quite some time (including Kano & Shang Tsung), and introduces a handful of newcomers as well.

Badass character models and backgrounds!

The gameplay feels "similar" to previous installments at first, but Deadly Alliance introduces sidestepping to the series for the first time... taking MK out of the realm of 2D and into true 3D gameplay. This drastic change puts the MK series in a different light, as it now ventures into the 3D fighting realm dominated by the likes of Tekken 4, Dead or Alive 3, and Soul Calibur 2
Deadly Alliance's combo system is a bit more polished than what the series became known for in the recent past, and is pretty fun overall. One of the most notable aspects of the new gameplay system is that characters can switch between 3 different fighting styles, on the spot. Each fighter has 2 open hand fighting styles and 1 weapon fighting style. This creates not only interesting-looking gameplay but opens the door for a variety of combos that utilize different stances. This concept is also unique in the fighting genre, as it has only been attempted in a few other games (those being Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi and Ninja Master's).
The idea of being able to switch fighting styles is definitely cool and all, but the fighting styles themselves leave a lot to be desired (especially from a fan of authentic martial arts like myself). Not only do 70% of attacks look a bit "stiff," but the martial arts styles represented in Deadly Alliance are far from authentic. A few are close at best, but the majority are simply slapped on as a novelty. Simply put, oftentimes the MK characters look like they're "playing" martial arts instead of fighting for their life. Non martial arts enthusiasts may not notice this, but those of us that appreciate properly represented fighting styles in our fighting games will see this flaw as plain as day. Character movelists are also on the short side, especially when compared to the likes of Soul Calibur 2 or Tekken 4... yes, we must compare MK to 3D fighting games now.

On the bright side, the graphics in Deadly Alliance are sharp on all 3 systems! Character models are nicely detailed (Scorpion never looked so badass) and the backgrounds, lighting effects, and reflections don't fail to impress either. The animation is good sometimes, but once again, a handful of character movements are kinda jagged. However, there are plenty of cool and recognizable moves that do have oomph, and bring the pain. The camera also plays a part in the "awe" factor of the game, and does a great job in cinematically capturing all the action going on, as well as showing off the cool arenas which stretch pretty far back into the horizon. Characters' faces also become bruised and bloodied after a match. It's a nice touch... but I wonder, why do the characters have blood on their faces only, and nowhere else? Looks kinda weird.

Tons of "fighting styles"... but not authentic. 

Deadly Alliance also introduces an all new mode called Konquest, where players take a little journey learning all of the characters moves, all the while earning "koins" which they can use to purchase "extras" in The Krypt. The Krypt system is also nice addition to the game and is something you won't find in an "arcade" fighting game. Within the Krypt, players open (AKA purchase) coffins that contain unlockables, like: concept art, early screenshots, logos, print adds, and "behind the scenes" pics, in addition to more "useful" things like new characters, stages, character outfits, extra koins, etc. There are 676 coffins to open I believe... can you say replay value?!
Deadly Alliance is no doubt a decent console-exclusive fighter, but there are some flaws.... To nitpick a little further, I will say that some of the fatalities are lacking on the shock value that the series thrives on. Some of them are just plain stupid and will leave many players with a "blank stare"... you might even hear some crickets afterwards if you listen closely. Also, there's only 1 fatality per character, which is a pretty big disappointment considering the series history.
The character roster is also very unbalanced, as Midway obviously worked much harder on some characters than others for some reason. In fact, some characters clearly have a significantly larger movelist and a wider selection of special moves than others. The new characters introduced also lack the "awe factor" of the veteran MK characters, part of the reason being their uninspired movelists. Many classic moves from veteran combatants are simply "gone" as well. My last gripe is that the characters "grow" and then suddenly "shrink" from retrieving power ups in-game.... That's actually one of the stupidest things I've seen in a fighting game. What is this... Mario Kombat?

Page Updated: December 7th, 2019
Developer(s): Midway
Publisher(s): Midway
Designer(s): Ed Boon
Platform(s): PlayStation 2, Gamecube, Xbox
Release Date(s): November 22nd, 2002
Characters Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Sonya, Shang Tsung, Quan Chi, Kenshi, Kano, Kung Lao, Mavado, Johnny Cage, Jax, Kitana, Rayden, Reptile, Moloch, Cyrax, Hsu Hao, Drahmin, Li Mei, Frost, Bo Rai Cho, Nitara, Blaze, Mokap

Featured Video:

Related Games: Mortal Kombat: Deception, Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat 2, Mortal Kombat 3, MK3 Ultimate, Mortal Kombat 4, MK GoldMK Trilogy, Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe, Mortal Kombat 9, Mortal Kombat X, Mortal Kombat 11, Mortal Kombat 1, Soul Calibur 2, TEKKEN 4, Ninja Master's, Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi, Bloody Roar 3, Dead or Alive 3, Tekken 4, Soul Calibur 2, Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution

Gameplay Engine  7.5 / 10
Story / Theme  8.5 / 10
Overall Graphics  9.0 / 10
Animation  8.0 / 10
Music / Sound Effects  7.0 / 10
Innovation  8.0 / 10
Art Direction  8.5 / 10
Customization  7.0 / 10
Options / Extras  8.5 / 10
Intro / Presentation  9.0 / 10
Replayability / Fun  8.0 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  7.5 / 10
Characters  6.5 / 10

 7.9 / 10

 Review based on PS2 version    


Final Words:

Midway did a decent job bringing their hit franchise back up to speed. Deadly Alliance has its flashy moments and packs a handful of interesting extras for a console-exclusive fighting game, but... from the perspective of a hardcore arcade fighting game player... MKDA's gameplay and mechanics simply don't hold a candle to other 3D (and 2D) fighting games of the time. Midway also could've done a much better job developing some of the brand new characters and fighting styles... because several are just plain uninspired.

Of course, casual fighting game fans and Mortal Kombat fans will undoubtedly get some enjoyment out of Deadly Alliance for the cool unlockable extras, Konquest mode, and hard-hitting 3D gameplay. However, fighting game players looking for more substance may become bored quicker than they can unlock all the extras in the game.
~TFG Webmaster | @Fighters_Gen  

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