If you grew up going to your neighborhood arcade on a regular basis like I have in the 90s, then you’ll know there were two fighting game series that were fighting for dominance on a regular basis: Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. Earlier this year, Capcom released an iPhone version of Street Fighter IV which we felt it successfully brought the console and PC fighting experience to a mobile platform.
As in the 90s, Mortal Kombat has come out of nowhere to attempt to dethrone Capcom’s fighting franchise on the iPhone with Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. Does the game successfully recreate the fighting experience we all expect from a Mortal Kombat game? One simple word: Yes.
Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 has four different modes to play: Arcade, Local Multiplayer, Survival, and Shao Karnage. Arcade mode is the traditional fighting mode that we all should be familiar with if you ever played a Mortal Kombat game. You choose from one of four pillars, each varying in difficulty as well as how many enemies you face off against. Once you make your way through the regular cast of enemies, you’ll face off against two bosses who have an increased difficulty and will certainly pose a challenge for most players. Survival mode pits you against your enemies one after another without any increase in your health bar to see how many enemies you can beat before your inevitable demise. Shao Karnage is a first for the fighting franchise as it introduces a new mode where you fight the final boss in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, Shao Kahn. Every hit you successfully make against him will be added to your overall score. The point of the challenge is to get the highest amount of points within a certain time limit.
Every mode you fight in begins by choosing one of the nine available characters, with two that need to be unlocked. Many of the iconic characters you’d expect from a Mortal Kombat are here: Liu Kang, Sub-Zero, Scorpion, and Sonya Blade to name a few. Some other characters didn’t make the cut such as Baraka, Mileena, and Kabal, but hopefully EA Games will plan to bring the rest of the Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 cast of characters will be made available in a future update similar to how Capcom did with Street Fighter IV.
The control scheme in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 make up of a virtual joystick and a 5 button layout by default which offers a kick, punch, block, run, and special button, which can be changed to the traditional Mortal Kombat 6 button layout of low and high punch, low and high kick, block, and run. The 5 button layout allows for novice players to be able to keep up with more advanced players as it makes performing special moves a breeze with just a touch of a button and a pull of the joystick. If you’re a hardcore Mortal Kombat player, you’ll find the 6 button layout a more rewarding experience as all of the moves each character is able to perform are all here. It also helps the controls are very responsive to your inputs, so I didn’t have any trouble performing special moves, fatalities, or any of the other finishing moves Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 is known for.
The graphics received a complete overhaul as the original sprites from Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 have been replaced with 3D models. The 3D models may not be as defines as the original sprites, but seeing as all of the characters stand, move and perform just like they would in UMK3, I felt the “updated” graphics were adequate.
One thing that I felt could have used a tweak was the game’s difficulty. Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 is known to be a challenge for console players and it seems the iPhone version has that same level of difficulty infused to it, which can be seen good or bad. It’s good because it keeps the game challenging and doesn’t allow for any cheap tactics to be rewarded, but at the same time I think EA Mobile could have dumbed down the enemy AI a bit to compensate for the game being played on a touch-screen. As good of a Mortal Kombat player as you think you are, you’re going to require practice to get your rhythm down in UMK3 and the enemies aren’t as forgiving as I would like.
What would a Mortal Kombat game be without a multiplayer mode. Unfortunately, there isn’t an online multiplayer as I would have loved to play with my friend from Vietnam, but it does have local multiplayer over Bluetooth. Playing local over Bluetooth was a 50/50 experience as through my experience there were times where the game reacted flawlessly as both iOS devices responded to the others input instantly. On the other hand, there were some matches that showed a lot of lag and were almost unplayable. Granted, there are a lot of wireless and Bluetooth devices around my test area, so maybe those could have influenced the game.
FINAL THOUGHT: If you enjoyed Street Fighter IV on the iPhone and you consider yourself a bigger Mortal Kombat fan, then you’re going to enjoy your experience with UMK3. The game successfully recreates the console experience on the iPhone as each character performs exactly how you would expect them to. Be wary that the game will not be forgiving and you may run into some local multiplayer problems depending on how many wireless devices are in your area, but those can easily be overlooked with how enjoyable UMK3 is.
Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 ($6.99) – [iTunes Link]