Mortal Kombat: Deception

STORY:  Scorpion 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 discovered the history of his amulet and about 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: Deception character select screen.

Deception's storyline begins where Deadly Alliance's left off, and that's precisely where I'm going to begin my review. The prequel's introduction with Liu Kang's apparent "Death" was memorable and borderline epic, but Deception's intro is a different story (no pun intended). Due to the silly, lugubrious narrator and the manner in which the intro is presented, it's awkwardly unclear whether it's supposed to be "serious" or just pure comedy.

During the introduction, two prominent characters seemingly get killed off (Raiden & Shang Tsung) but then "magically" awaken only a few minutes later. I suppose that can make sense because they're both gods or whatever, but it comes off as an ineffective (and laughable) story element because it's done so quickly. The thing is, they were obviously going for a more serious tone, but this intro will most likely evoke chuckling. It actually almost makes the game seem like its for kids or something... but I'm pretty sure it says "M for Mature" on the box.

If you remember correctly, they made a huge deal about Liu Kang being killed by Shang Tsung in the Deadly Alliance storyline. Well guess what... he's back as a selectable character (as "Zombie" Liu Kang). Baraka also supposedly died (as seen in his previous MK4 ending), but he has also returned to the roster without any explanation. So I'm guessing no one really dies in Mortal Kombat.... Why even bother with a silly story about "death" in the first place if it's gonna be like that? Ahh well, so the story is sketchy... it's not the end of the world since we're talking about a fighting game. Let's move on shall we?

"NO, Scorpion... YOU, get over HEEERE!"

There are over 26 selectable characters, each with access to 3 different martial arts styles that they can "swap" during gameplay. While the idea sounds good in theory, the underlying flaw is that the majority of fighting styles are nowhere near authentic (although they claim to be). Actually, some of the animations are so silly and poorly done that they're almost a "mockery" of martial arts. If you don't care about martial arts then you probably won't notice, but the purists will. Seriously though, the fighting stances alone are so laughable and bad... anyone that stands like that before a fight simply isn't a threat. lol.

Moving along, most fighters have some sort of projectile attack and a fairly decent selection of special moves. However, some movesets are pretty small and blandly designed overall. Some of the new special moves are well designed, but others are just plain uninspired and/or overly ridiculous. Each character also has two fatalities at their disposal and one Hara-Kiri (where the player can kill himself at the end of a match)... yeah great idea, just kill yourself FTW!  ...uhhhh, I don't get it.

Most fatalities are fairly well-designed this time around and do their job as fatalities, but quite honestly... I don't think fatalities have the same effect as they did in the early 90's. To me, it seems like Midway is just trying to cash in on the shock value of gratuitous violence all over again. Since the current generation of fighting games are heavy on technical & deep gameplay, winning a match using technique and skill is eons more impressive (and satisfying) than doing some silly tap-tap button command and watching a redundant fatality move. I guess it might work for casual gamers that get off on violence, but most fighting game players are looking for more these days.

How's that silly "Monkey" style workin' out for ya? 

Deception uses a very similar gameplay engine to the prequel, Deadly Alliance. The system hasn't exactly evolved for the better, but there are some new gameplay elements. Combo Breakers have been introduced in the MK series for the first time, but they're more of a frustrating obstruction during a battle than an enhancement to the gameplay. Combo Breakers worked in Killer Instinct 10 years ago, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's going to work in Mortal Kombat... that Ed Boon... always "borrowing" ideas. 

Overall, the gameplay seems a bit more rough around the edges this time. The system is (yet again) entirely too dependent on "tap-tap" chain combos & juggles, and not enough on timing and range (which is a staple of a quality 3D fighting game these days). Deception also puts an emphasis on stage fatalities, as quite a few stages contain pit fatalities or "instant death traps". Some of the stage fatalities are entertaining (the first couple of times that is) and I give them some points on innovation, but I don't feel it's very "fun" as a gameplay element in the long run. Knocking your opponent into a death trap with a combo or two, or vice versa, is far too easy to pull off... which means it doesn't take much skill to win a match in most cases, but I suppose it can be amusing for casual gamers who might enjoy seeing someone get crushed to death or fall on a giant spike repeatedly. *sigh* The violence & gore shock value might be the only thing that this series has going for it these days, and that sure seems to be the main focus in Deception... with gameplay being an after-thought. Tisk tisk.

Chess Combat? . . . gets kinda boring in five minutes.

Deception's graphics are fairly decent overall, but certainly not the best we've seen from a 3D fighter. There isn't much of a visual improvement over the prequel either, which is disappointing. Characters appear a bit on the skinny side this time around and don't seem to have much weight to them, which I think is the result of a low polygonal count. Overall, character detail seems to have taken a step back from Deadly Alliance. On the bright side, several classic MK stages have returned in Deception (with the original music themes intact) and they actually did a nice job on the overall stage designs. However, the BGMs aren't particularly exciting and sounds like something we've heard before many a time. There's a lot of grunting and moaning going on, and as expected, not very much talking... almost sounds like a really bad porno (not that I've watched really bad pornos or anything).

Something else I have to point out is that several of the new characters introduced in Deadly Alliance (Nitara, Mavado & Hsu Hao) were scrapped as playable characters this time. Instead, you can actually see them in Deception's jail stage, behind bars (where those crappy designs belong). That's just epic planning right there: Introducing new characters in a next-gen Mortal Kombat game and then sticking them in a jail cell in the sequel? Good one Midway! (For the record, it almost seemed like the dev-team took my advice on those crappy designs.) Unfortunately, Deception features a brand new selection of rather boring character designs that don't nearly live up to the classics. And on top of that, Deception is missing many fan favorite characters that made the MK series so great in the early 90s. I used to be an MK fan... but I can't say the same anymore.

Page Updated: February 27th, 2023
Developer(s): Midway
Publisher(s): Midway
Designer(s): Ed Boon
Artwork by: Steve Beran, Luis Mangubat, Herman Sanchez, Jennifer Hedrick
Platform(s): PlayStation 2, Gamecube, Xbox
Release Date(s): Oct. 4th, 2004    (PS2/Xbox)
Mar. 1st, 2005
Characters Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Sonya, Kenshi, Ermac, Baraka, Mileena, Nightwolf, Noob Smoke, Darrius, Kira, Kobra, Kabal, Li Mei, Shujinko, Tanya, Raiden, Jade, Hotaru, Havik, Dairou, Bo Rai Cho, Ashrah, Sindel, Liu Kang, Onaga, Goro (Gamecube), Shao Kahn (Gamecube)

Featured Video:

Related Games: Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat 2, Mortal Kombat 3, Mortal Kombat 3 Ultimate, Mortal Kombat 4, MK Gold, MK Trilogy, Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe, Mortal Kombat 9, Mortal Kombat X, Mortal Kombat 11, Mortal Kombat 1, Super Puzzle Fighter, Killer Instinct, Bloody Roar 4, King of Fighters: Maximum Impact, Capcom Fighting Evolution, Dead or Alive 4, TEKKEN 5, TEKKEN 5: Dark Resurrection, Soul Calibur 3

Gameplay Engine  5.5 / 10
Story / Theme  6.5 / 10
Overall Graphics  6.5 / 10
Animation  6.0 / 10
Music / Sound Effects  5.5 / 10
Innovation  5.5 / 10
Art Direction  5.5 / 10
Customization  6.0 / 10
Options / Extras  7.0 / 10
Intro / Presentation  6.5 / 10
Replayability / Fun  5.0 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  6.0 / 10
Characters  6.0 / 10

 6.0 / 10

 Review based on PS2 version    


Final Words:

Overall, MK: Deception isn't terrible in casual play. You can still have some fun projectile wars and "type your friends an ass kicking" if you waste enough brain space to remember any of the combo strings. In case you haven't figured it out for yourself, Deception falls short when you compare it with the top 3D (and 2D) fighting games of this era. Deception blatantly seems to bank on "violence for the sake of violence," instead of delivering a truly solid gameplay experience.

Switching fighting styles mid-game is a cool novelty, but as I stated before, most of the fighting styles fail to impress. For example: Scorpion wouldn't know Hapkido if it punched him in the junk. I actually teach Hapkido in real life... (been doing it for almost 20 years) and I can confidently say Scorpion does not perform one single Hapkido technique. It's okay Scorpion, you're still cool... someone just lied to you and taught you some fake Hapkido.  I wouldn't have such a problem with the fighting styles in the game if they didn't claim to be authentic martial arts... and if they didn't look so damn sloppy 80% of the time. Who motion captured this goofy shit?

The story & presentation also feels a bit "forced" and rushed this time around. It's pretty clear that more thought was put the prequel's presentation and cinematics. Deception might be worth a buy if you're looking for some simple, violent and stupid entertainment... because there's not doubt you'll find yourself laughing at random things during the game.

There are indeed some good unlockables and flashback movies that are worth seeing... it's definitely cool to be able to look back see how far Mortal Kombat has come (and where it went wrong). In closing, I guess MK: Deception is a mildly entertaining console game for the casual crowd, but that doesn't mean it's a good fighting game.
~TFG Webmaster | @Fighters_Gen  

Click Here for all box artwork!


MK: Deception's revamped Konquest mode revolves around a new character called Shujinko. The new "adventure style" mode is somewhat fun, but ends up being monotonous. It's like a "dollar store" version of Shenmue... lots and lots of looking for people and talking. Some of the dialogue is so stupid that it's funny... actually, some of it was sooo stupid that it actually motivated me to keep playing it all the way through. Was that your plan Midway? Well it worked....  As a bonus mode for a fighting game, Konquest is a decent playthrough. It has a few cool moments, cut-scenes & interesting environments to explore, but overall the mode felt more like a chore to finish.

Actually the best mode in MK: Deception.

Deception also includes two mini games, Chess Kombat and Puzzle Kombat ( a straight up rip-off of Super Puzzle Fighter). Seriously, I haven't seen such a blatant rip-off since Fighters History... Capcom should sue their balls off.  The Krypt also returns from Deadly Alliance but seems like more of a rehash this time around, featuring tons of of useless "krap" to unlock. Only kidding... some of the commentary movies are actually hilarious to watch... (you have to hear Boon tell the audience how "his favorite character is Scorpion"). There's definitely some good unlockables, and good thing... because you'll most likely need some further incentive to play this game besides the "amazing" gameplay. (Hope you picked up on my thick sarcasm.)

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