Mortal Kombat
Shaolin Monks

Format: PS2

5 037930 072369
Age Restrictions: 18+
30 September 2005

Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks is an Action/Adventure title driven by single and multi-player action. Similar in style to Mortal Kombat: Deception, background interactions (i.e., acid pits, living trees, spiked ceilings, etc.), multiple new fatalities, and action-based puzzles also play an important role in the player's quest for an "outstanding" victory. For the first time, Mortal Kombat fanatics can explore all the mythos and rumours of the Mortal Kombat universe from a new perspective...

I'm probably not the best person in the world to review this game. I've never understood why Mortal Kombat has lasted as long as it has as a franchise. I've never been impressed with the rather dull plot lines, and I've always found them to be a little too complex for a serious beat em up, while a little too dull for an adventure game.

I know that there are millions of fans out there who will love this, regardless of whether it is any good or not. It's a Mortal Kombat game and they'll love it. I approached Shaolin Monks as though I were coming to the franchise with fresh eyes. Would it hold my interest if I pretended that the other games in the series had never existed? The answer to that question is, sadly, no.

The story line (which is too long and dull in places) makes little to no sense at all if you are not aware of how the characters have advanced over the franchise. Any new comer will be scratching their head as to what on earth is going on.

My main concern is that the game moves from one extreme to the other. You start off getting used to the controls with some relatively simple baddies to kill. This then gives way to an interesting series of segments where you enter a city and solve some problems. Then you encounter your first major boss (and her two friends). These are relentless in their attacks and it took me ages to progress from this point. Then I was stuck in a sort of limbo where I spent ages wandering around trying to work out where I was supposed to go - jumping backwards and forwards into levels I'd already been in an attempt to work out where I should be going. This was not fun at all.

Another problem I had was with the save function. Sadly if you are killed in the midst of fighting a boss you generally have to redo large chunks of the level that you have already completed. Faced with a boss that is just too difficult to complete, you'll be reaching for that off button in frustration, only to find that when you come to reload the game you may have even further to go in order to continue where you left off.

Nice graphics, it's just a shame about the overly long cut sequences, frustratingly difficult gameplay and amount of general running around you have to do. That said, fans of the series will no doubt lap this up. If you enjoyed Mortal Kombat: Deception, then you'll love this.

Nick Smithson

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