Mortal Kombat: Deception (Second Opinion) GameCube Review

The events of Mortal Kombat: Deception strangely take place both before, during and after Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance.

While the actual introductory FMV of Deception has the story taking place after Deadly Alliance, the main Konquest mode actually spans a number of years functioning like previously mentioned.

In the introductory FMV, it is explained what happened after Deadly Alliance. Apparently since Liu Kang was killed by Quan Chi and Shang Tsung, Earthrealm is in deep trouble. Unfortunately without their prized warrior who happened to win the first Mortal Kombat tournament, his successors failed in their mission. They were charged with stopping the Deadly Alliance in their goal of resurrecting the fallen Dragon King’s mummified army, but were unable to do so.

So in a last ditch effort to save Earthrealm, Raiden himself challenges both sorcerers in mortal kombat. Seeming to take his battle to them in some kind of ancient looking castle in Outworld, Raiden fights. At the beginning, he actually seems to have the upper hand in being able to fend off both opponents and putting a nice “buzz” on them. But these guys are two of the most powerful warriors in the Mortal Kombat universe, and even for a Thunder God, it’s just too much.

They eventually defeat Raiden, but then something unexpected happens. Because of their greed for lust and power, Shang Tsung and Quan Chi turn on each other in an attempt to gain ultimate control over the army and the realms. So they begin fighting and Quan Chi ends up victorious. However, that victory is very short lived, as merely seconds later, the “true” ruler of Outworld and the rightful commander of this army has resurfaced! Onaga, the Dragon King, has returned to reclaim that which was once his. Quan Chi is puzzled at how this could be, but without thinking another second, he begins attacking the demon-like being. Onaga is hardly phased by his spells, and all of a sudden Shang Tsung and Raiden come back to life. So all three of them begin using their special abilities in an attempt to take this new threat down. But unfortunately they aren’t even close to successful, as Raiden in final attempt sacrifices himself in an ethereal blast to kill Onaga. But the Dragon King is barely scratched by the attack, and all three warriors are gone, with him standing alone.

The whole time you are watching this, an older sounding man by the name Shujinko is actually narrating the story. This man claims responsibility for Onaga having gotten the power that he has to shape the realms, and how he was “deceived” to cause it to happen. It is now his duty to correct that which he has done wrong, or else all the realms may be soon doomed!

In terms of Konquest mode, you simply take Shujinko starting out as a mere teenager and take him through the six realms of Mortal Kombat. You are practically forced into a mission by the Elder Gods in collecting items called Kamidogus from each realm in order to stop an evil entity from achieving its goal of realm domination. In reality, the events you experience in Konquest are actually what lead up to the introductory FMV, which is a very cool concept. Then after you defeat Konquest’s main mission, you can then help Shujinko in his “final objective” to correct what he’s done. You will age, you will learn the fighting styles of many warriors and you will be ran through the ringer in order to complete your mission!

Mortal Kombat: Deception without a doubt has one of the best stories if not the best story so far for a MK game since the franchise started. A lot of the twists and turns of the plot were a pleasant surprise as it truly isn’t expected, and that all starts when you begin the game.

Arcade mode is practically no different than the arcade mode from previous MK games, but it still maintains that awesome MK atmosphere that fans of the franchise have come to love since it was birthed. But in Konquest mode, you will be immersed in an atmosphere of many human emotions. Shujinko, a mere young boy who aspires to defeat the dreaded Shang Tsung in mortal kombat someday will allow himself to be drawn into anything to achieve that goal. He isn’t stupid by any means, but just how human he really is and how well we can really relate to him offers some great first impressions of the game.

You should immediately feel like a part of Deception, as how everything presented to you helps you to connect with it all. MK: Deception just has a great beginning overall, as it presents something new while offering other things that very much maintain the traditional MK glory.

Mortal Kombat: Deception is quite similar to Deadly Alliance in terms of learning time, but it is a tad easier. Yes all the warriors still have three different styles of fighting while also the insane special abilities and combos very much make returns. But the engine that drives all of them is somewhat simplified so as to make it easier to get familiar with how each character actually utilizes the face buttons to execute their arts. Each warrior generally has a certain style of fighting and/or combo that is emphasized through their presentations, so as long as you understand what that is quickly enough, you’ll be ok.

This doesn’t go to say it still can’t be frustrating to try learning all the specific moves of each character, but it isn’t quite as daunting as it may have been in Deadly Alliance. Plus how you actually receive your training in Konquest mode this time around makes things a bit more interesting and exciting, which in turn helps you learn your stuff easier. So it really all comes down with just how experienced you are with the MK franchise. If you’ve played a lot of the games in such, you may just feel right at home with how the game controls. If you’re a moderate fan like myself who’s played a few of the games in the franchise, it may take a couple hours or so to really get familiar with how the fighting functions. If you’re completely new to the MK franchise and this game, it could take a while for you to get a hold on what you need to do to become good enough to compete. But nevertheless, it’s never a bad thing to get yourself to learn a game that may be a little more difficult to do so, but the choice is obviously yours.

Mortal Kombat: Deception is a very impressive game when it comes to the graphical presentation, but it’s surely not without its shortcomings. The biggest strengths for the game’s graphics probably deal with the actual character and arena designs. The weaknesses deal mainly with Konquest mode and all the environments contained therein. There are also the two “side game” modes in Puzzle and Chess Kombat, but they didn’t need to be paid attention to quite as much so it’s understandable how they look.

But in terms of the actual character and arena designs, Midway did a great job bringing each to life. There is a true diversity in the looks of the characters, and the outfits were designed to accentuate that. Surprisingly, there is a good number of female characters compared to the male characters and that is a very nice thing. The females consist of fighters like Kira, Jade, Tanya, Mileena and Ashrah. Males do indeed dominate the fighter roster, with such members as Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Ermac, Kenshi and Bo’ Rai Cho. There are six realms in the MK universe, and each of the characters originate from each of the different ones. Also in a bonus to GameCube game owners, infamous MK bosses Goro and Shao Kahn are actually playable in this version! But so as to not get off track here, the characters were designed incredibly well and look superb. Each has their own unique outfit made of different kinds of material while dawning a plethora of color and cosmetic appeal. A really awesome looking fighter happens to be MK favorite Sub-Zero, who dawns a “Len Keui” champion’s outfit. It basically makes him look like an advanced medieval knight with armor similar to that of Batman’s in the movie Batman Begins. Just everything about the characters is quite impressive looking, even if their actual movements can appear awkward sometimes.

Not all the arenas are great looking, but how Midway chose to go about implementing the possible interactivity with them made a lot of them look superb. You have anything from an innocent looking island in the middle of nowhere (that changes from sunny to a storm multiple times), the top of an ancient Japanese-looking tower, a prison and many more! What’s great about each arena is there is always at least one death trap that you can get your opponent destroyed by. In the island, the water around you seems infested by man-eating fish. At the tower, if you knock your opponent down two levels, you’ll witness a rather gruesome “explosion” of their body. In the prison, there is a wall dawned with spike pillars that you can grate your opponent through! It definitely adds to the tense and exciting atmosphere of the game’s fights, and how great the backgrounds look in the arenas helps that along nicely!

Now Konquest mode isn’t terrible looking by any means, but it certainly won’t “wow” you on any accord. It could be that there are six different worlds and many things are contained within, both natural and man-made. Plus each realm is very different looking from one another, because they are all virtually fantasy-driven. But in Earthrealm in particular, the natural environment around you (which there is a lot of) almost looks like it could’ve been easily generated by the Nintendo 64. The textures and 3D elaboration are just downright pitiful in some areas, and all the buildings look no different from one another. Then you have the actual citizens, and surprisingly a lot of them appear blocky. Really the only things that look pretty nice are the actual MK characters you encounter in the different realms. But other than that, you will most likely not be impressed. Some of the realms like the Orderrealm and Outworld actually look cool in terms of layout, but the layout doesn’t mean much when the design contained within looks so uninspired.

Puzzle Kombat looks almost like a version of Tetris Attack MK style. You simply have colored blocks and various special features while you watch extremely funny looking (and miniaturized) avatars of available MK characters. It’s nothing awesome, but the graphics serve the purpose. Then with Chess Kombat, you choose four levels of pieces: Grunt, Shifter, Sorcerer and Commander. Then you have an almost standard chess board littered with the characters you have chosen to take on whatever role you gave them. This mode is presented in a more isometric layout than anything, but it is pretty cool to experience.

However, the most impressive graphical feature of this game is definitely the introductory FMV mentioned earlier. It features Raiden, Quan Chi, Shang Tsung and a plethora of other things, and the rendering of it all is simply breath taking. It is a fairly long FMV too, so you are treated to a great presentation of in-game cinematics when viewing it. It helps you understand the story very well, and it’s just awesome to look at.

Overall, Midway did very nicely to make the graphics of MK: Deception stand out in its own unique way. Unfortunately, your experience with Arcade mode will more than likely end up being the most impressive because the attention to detail was paid to the arena and character designs. Konquest just isn’t that impressive looking, and with Puzzle/Chess Kombat not doing much else to help out, the graphics aren’t as excellent as they could’ve been.

Anyone who may happen to be a loyalist to the MK franchise or has any knowledge of it whatsoever, you’re bound to know what the music and sound effects are like in this game. So yes that pretty much means that everything you may have heard or are familiar with from the past, you will be hearing it here. But if you think about it, that’s not much of a bad thing at all.

The music is very similar to that of previous MK iterations. Almost all if not all the themes have a sort of moody, “you better be prepared for a fight” kind of style. It’s not really horror driven, but it could be considered pretty close. However, it is really meant to keep the action going and at an interesting enough pace so as to pretty much never make battles unexciting. But that’s hardly ever an issue anyway, since the computer will always keep you on your toes. Probably the coolest sounding music comes up when you initiate your fighter’s particular Fatality. It doesn’t exactly last that long, but just how the theme makes the situation feel “doomed” is really cool.

Now the music isn’t exactly a vital part of the game, even though it does do its job. The sound effects is

the area in which Deception truly shines. Now if you happen to be a MK fan, the first sound that may indeed come to mind is that grisly male voice in the background that starts every battle. “Round 1…..FIGHT!” What loyal MK fan wouldn’t remember that awesome voice? Then of course you have each character’s particular grunts and yells during the battle that will bring out their egos and fighting styles. You’ll also hear some lovely screaming as you torture your opponents with your weapon or an arena’s unique death trap. Then with each victory, hearing that grisly voice say, “Kenshi Wins!” really brings back memories of any previous MK titles you may have played. Also hearing him say “Fatality” and “Hara Kiri” when the fight has been decided adds a nice touch to the action as well.

Another area in which Deception shines is the game’s voice acting. In Konquest mode, each MK character you interact with and every citizen you speak to has a unique voice to come along them. All of them sound surprisingly good, even though the quality of some of the citizens’ lines may remind you of the shoddy voice acting of Baten Kaitos at the beginning of that game. But really, each MK fighter’s voice sounds fairly authentic, especially Scorpion and Bo’ Rai Cho. The only one that seems a little out of place is the NPC Shang Tsung. For some odd reason he just sounds like an up and coming teenage boy when you speak to him at length. But all the other characters have great sounding voices and that helps add to the experience of Konquest. The male announcer for fights also has work done with each character’s particular ending in Arcade mode, and that was done very well too.

The music and sounds of Deception will easily bring any franchise lovers back to the roots of MK history. The nostalgia you will feel when hearing and listening to some of the things presented in this game is enough to please any gamer. While the music isn’t exactly expansive, it retains the MK atmosphere well and the great voice acting certainly helps to overcome any possible shortcomings.

Players of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance should most definitely be pleased with the fighting engine in Deception of you happened to enjoy DA. The same mechanics pretty much apply here, but like stated previously, it’s a little more simplified. Now a lot of people like to say that the GameCube’s controller wasn’t really meant for fighting games. That obviously is based on personal opinion, but it really isn’t so bad as some make it out to be. You have the B and Y buttons for punching, A and X for kicking, L and R for blocking and Z for grabbing. Now that isn’t exactly difficult is it? Then if you take the time to actually go through Konquest mode, you will receive some nice training from the game’s more prominent characters. There are around 12 in all for that, but there could be more. But nevertheless, when you do get trained, you can easily take what you do in those sessions outside of Konquest and deliver it in Arcade mode pretty well. Sure it may take some time with the character to learn their more advanced and deadly combos, but it’s pretty worth it considering how fun it is in the game.

Speaking of Arcade mode, it is virtually identical to any MK game in the past that had it. You go through a series of different fights with random game characters until you reach the final two bosses. The sub-boss in Deception happens to be the Noob/Smoke combination, sort of like how Zelda and Sheik work in SSBM. It is rather odd for them to be the second to last fight though, since they really have no relation to the actual boss. That happens to be Onaga, or the Dragon King. He is the one that you see take back Outworld in the introductory FMV, and thankfully he’s not insanely difficult to beat. There are actually six special items surrounding his battle arena that will stun him each time you grab one, allowing you to unleash your deadliest combo every time. Then using your weapon takes down his health pretty well, so beating him isn’t the hardest thing in the game to do. But as always, with each fight progression comes increased fight difficulty. It starts at 25% and ends at 65% with the Dragon King. Each fight takes place in a different arena, and of course your Fatalities and brand new Hara Kiris are available to use each conclusion. Fatalities more or less “kill” your opponent for good and Hara Kiri is basically the losing fighter taking his or her own life so no Fatality can occur. Some of them are rather uninspired and unoriginal, but others like Noob’s are really painful looking!

Konquest is the game’s main mode, so obviously it’s the most expansive. In it, you take the role of Shujinko, a young teenage boy who is aspiring to become the next legendary Earthrealm warrior. His dream is to take out Shang Tsung in his traditional Mortal Kombat tournament. However, very soon at the beginning of the game while you’re receiving your initial training from Bo’ Rai Cho, you are presented with your “secret” mission. You are greeted by an orange glowing entity that calls himself Damashi, claiming to be a messenger for the Elder Gods. He basically explains to you that the Elder Gods are looking for a champion to utilize for the daunting mission of saving all the realms. You are asked to explore each of the six realms (Earthrealm, Netherrealm, Outworld, Orderrealm, Chaosrealm, Edenia) for a unique artifact known as a Kamidogu. Apparently when you acquire all six, you will help the Elder Gods put a stop to an evil being trying to take over ruling of the realms. This will take you through a fairly long journey, having been given the special “ability” to acquire the fighting techniques of any combatant you encounter. It’s a rather cheesy way to make your “training” seem more interesting, but it works at least. So you will explore the six realms, meet hundreds of people, train yourself in various fighting techniques and do sidequests along the way! Sidequests normally come from actual realm citizens who ask that you fetch something for them or deliver something to someone. They do normally result in nice rewards of Koins so they can be worthwhile to accomplish. Also during your journeys, you will collect Koins as they randomly appear in the areas you navigate, as well as in the buildings you can enter. The same works for treasure chests, which can contain hundreds of Koins, as well as Krypt keys to unlock specialties. The Krypt is essentially a main menu area in which you use your keys and Koins to unlock a huge field of graves that contain all the game’s unlockable materials. They can include anything from the six hidden characters to alternate bios and costumes.

Finally, we have Puzzle and Chess Kombat. Puzzle is essentially a fight between two people to make the other player’s blocks rise above a certain line on the screen. There are different color blocks as well as MK icons called “Breakers” to assist you in getting rid of them. When you use a Breaker on the right color of blocks (the blocks also must be touching each other in some horizontal or vertical fashion), those blocks will disappear from your side and reappear on your opponent’s side. You will also occasionally receive bombs, which will eliminate all blocks of whatever color you happen to place yours on. Then depending on which MK character you choose for your side, there are special abilities you can use to make things harder on your opponent. They can range from making you unable to see your blocks for a time, to actually relieving yourself of a good number of the blocks you currently have. But when those blocks do reach past a certain point in your area, you will win that particular round. The winner of two rounds “kills” the opponent’s avatar through some nasty little death trap that appears onscreen.

With Chess Kombat, you choose four classes of fighters to take into battle. They range from Grunt to Commander. Each class has different attributes in accordance to what happens to battle, so you should choose wisely. There really isn’t any “right” strategy for this mode, since the Grunts have 50% health loss even though they are the most plentiful pieces. Then most actual chess rules apply, with a little bit of a Midway twist. Not all piece movement is identical to real chess, and actual “killings” are determined through actual MK battles. Both modes do have their entertainment value, but more often than not you’ll find yourself returning to Konquest and Arcade mode.

So with having the fighting engine being a little easier this time around, Deception is really a lot of fun to play. Konquest mode is an excellent way to train yourself to be good at the game as a whole, and Arcade mode will bring out that beautiful MK nostalgia. Chess and Puzzle Kombat are interesting and entertaining additions that have their merits, so that’s always a nice thing if you wish to do something else for a change. Of course the entire game isn’t without its frustrations, but that’s pretty much to be expected with any kind of fighting game.

Depending on what mode you play, you can see endings of each character in accordance to the game’s story in Arcade, as well as Shujinko’s mission in Konquest mode. Experiencing each character’s ending in Arcade mode most certainly is a daunting task, and many probably won’t even bother trying to do so. But with the characters that you actually do take through Arcade, you’ll be treated to about 30 seconds of ending story with how each player reacts to defeating the Dragon King. They are pretty nice, but it’s not essential to see them all in order to enjoy Deception as a whole.

However, experiencing and ending Shujinko’s mission in Konquest mode will not only unlock him as a playable character in Arcade mode, but seeing how it all unfolds is very intriguing. Now of course if you really understand and pay attention to the introductory FMV, you will more than likely be able to predict just what happens at the end in accordance to Shujinko, Damashi and the Elder Gods. It was rather discouraging to have been able to guess it so easily, but experiencing such a great story like that was very cool indeed. Players of Deception who enjoy the MK franchise shouldn’t be at all disappointed by the endings that you are treated to!

Mortal Kombat: Deception has great replay value. There is so much to do in Konquest mode in terms of unlocking special things and completing all kinds of sidequests so you’ll almost always have something to come back to. Then the fun you may very well have playing the nostalgic Arcade mode and playing the quirky Puzzle and Chess Kombat modes also add a nice touch to the replayability factor. If you’re a big MK fan or loyalist of any measure, you will definitely want to come back to this game pretty often. However, if you’re picking this game up just to have some fun with it while you can, then there probably won’t be much motivation for you to do everything the game has to offer. But being able to play your friends one-on-one to really determine “who’s boss” is another great feature that helps the multiplayer aspects along. So if you want a game with a lot to do and a lot of great fun awaiting for you when doing it, Deception is an excellent pick!

Overall, Mortal Kombat: Deception could easily be considered the best MK franchise iteration to have been birthed since Mortal Kombat II on the SNES. There is a great number of fighters to choose from, and each bring their own unique style of kombat to the game’s atmosphere to prevent boredom from possibly ever happening. It’s no shocker that with a story as good as Deception has, there is a lot for you to experience and want to come back to. It was nice to see Midway take a better direction with Konquest mode with Deception than they did with Deadly Alliance, as it definitely immersed you into the game a lot better than it may have if it wasn’t how it was. Arcade mode will appeal to any MK fan, and the new side games of Puzzle and Chess Kombat will help the entertainment value stay consistent throughout the game’s entire experience. So any fans of MK should definitely check this title out, and any people interested in the genre altogether are strongly encouraged to do the same! Plus, we have Goro and Shao Kahn, we get to laugh at the Sony and Microsoft supporters!

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