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Mortal Kombat: Special Forces
Platform:  Playstation
# of Players:  1
Developer:  Midway
Publisher:  Midway
Features:  Dual Shock
Ratings:  Mature
Memory Req.:  
When I first saw the previews for this game I thought, “Oh no, another MK Mythologies: Sub Zero” meaning disappointment in the face of potential. An adventure game in the Mortal Kombat universe? Sounds like a cheap rip-off to me. Well I took home this Mortal Gear Kombat game and I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised. Now if you are in the cynical-Mortal-Kombat-sucks slice of the population then you will not have any initial desire to play this game, so it is for the rest of you that I write this review.

The game takes place a few years before the Mortal Kombat tournament is introduced. It follows the lines of Jax and Kano, archenemies on the streets that Jax is sworn to protect and Kano is aimed and conquering. Kano is the affiliated with the criminal underworld and a gang known as the Black Dragon (hmm, where have I seen a Dragon Symbol?) bent on controlling the city. The cops hate him so much that they have put up Wanted signs just like in the Old West (ooooh, look out Kano). To the cops credit they have also enlisted the help of special agent and butt-kicker Jax. You remember him, he’s got metal arms, and that deep soulful voice that makes all of the ladies weak in the knees.

The gameplay does a good job of mixing a few genres. Basically it takes a lot of cliché game elements (nearly all of them except collecting coins) and puts them all in one game hoping to make a new genre. It does not really work since the influences are blatantly obvious but strangely the game is still fun to play probably because they stole from good sources.

At the core this is a Fighting Force/Final Fight type of beat-em-up game with guns and various items to pick up. You use Mortal Kombat punches and kicks and gain new combos as you gain experience. You also have 4 special moves at your disposal (also from the fighting game) but they take away life force as you use them. The view is a ¾ overhead view, which makes for very simple control but some bad viewpoints. By the time you get to the second level you will find yourself getting shot up by enemies you cannot even see.

This brings up the second influence on game, Metal Gear Solid. After you die a couple of time from off-screen gun fire you will realize that you cannot just run around aimlessly looking to get into a fight. You will get your ass shot off. The game tries to incorporate the use of stealth, but instead of being able to crawl or sneak the only real way of being stealthy is A. trying not to be seen and B. taking guys out with a machine gun or sniper rifle before they see you. There is a 1st person sniper mode that aids in seeing the path ahead and taking out enemies before you get to them. The only problem is that the character cannot move at all in the sniper mode. Also, bullets are scarce so don’t miss.

There are eight levels in all and each one is very nicely designed though they are very generic video game levels. Enemy headquarters, streets, sewers, etc. Once you get the hang of the control and the combos, taking out the guys becomes fairly easy. There is not much complexity to the environments nor are there is a need to jump, thank God. However, the game does not have very much depth. I can’t decide if the areas are too large and unoccupied or the game is too simple, but there definitely seems to be something missing. To the game’s credit, it does do a good job of putting the Mortal Kombat fighting in an adventure element complete with responsive control, great options, and a decent storyline. Mortal Kombat fans will be happy to see it. Metal Gear Solid fans should know better than to compare any game with MGS. Man, I was hoping to be able to rip this attempt at a game to shreds, but I have to give it its props. Plus at $19.99 it is definitely worth the spent cash.

Chris Shade

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