Mortal Kombat: Deception (PS2)
Mortal Kombat: Deception was the second mainline MK game of the 6th generation of home consoles. It was released in 2004 for PS2 and Xbox, 2005 for Gamecube, and eventually released as Mortal Kombat Unchained for PSP with extra characters. Following on the heels of Deadly Alliance, the game features a roster of 28, including the new character Shujinko, who is the focus of Konquest mode, a RPG story mode set in the MK Universe.
My review will mostly focus on the Konquest mode.
Our story begins in Earthrealm, where we follow a young man named Shujinko, who begins training with Master Bo' Rai Cho. Imagine Shenmue...but with Mortal Kombat characters. You'll notice immediately the extreme difference between Konquest character models and actual fighting mode models. It's amazing. Basically, you run around from point to point to fulfill your mission, which in Earthrealm is training. Scattered all around are koins or chests, which hold more koins or secrets to be unlocked in the Krypt mode, which is where you pay to open kofins that contain production art or extra costumes/moves/levels.
Along the way, you're contacted by a mysterious floating flame called Damashi, who has requested your help on the orders of the Elder Gods. Shujinko's mission is to collect special items from each realm, known as Kamidogus, in order to protect/save/whatever the fuck the realms. Little Shujinko is happy to help the Elder Gods, and now your life's mission has begun. You can enter nearly every door in the game, although usually the only thing inside are koins or chests. You can speak to every NPC, with many giving you side missions. This applies to actual MK characters as well, who show up all over the place, even characters not playable in the game. And since this is MK, there is tons of weird shit, like random MK characters running in forests and disappearing into smoke, cryptic messages, backwards audio, and so forth. After being trained enough, you'll find the Kamidogu and travel to the next realm.
- The Special Forces, also known as the Outer World Investigation Agency: 1st Timeline Cyrax, Jax Briggs, Kenshi, Sonya Blade, formerly Hsu Hao.
- The Lin Kuei: Frost, Sub-Zero/Cyber Sub-Zero, Hydro, formerly Noob Saibot, Cyrax, Sektor andSmoke.
- The Shirai Ryu: Scorpion, Takeda
- The White Lotus Society of Shaolin monks: Kung Lao, Liu Kang, formerly the Great Kung Lao, andKai.
- The Black Dragon: Kano, formerly Tremor, Jarek, 1st Timeline Kabal, Kira, and Kobra.
- The Red Dragon: Mavado, Hsu Hao, Daegon.
- The Tekunin: Sektor.
- Others: Johnny Cage, Kurtis Stryker, Mokap, Nightwolf, Shujinko.
Non-native or outcast
Shujinko travels to the Netherealm, where his main mission is to meet and train with Ashra, a fellow newcomer to the series who is a demon hunter despite being a demon herself. She's trying to kill enough demons to remove the taint of the realm from her soul, which would enable her to leave the realm. In addition, she has a real hard on for Ermac, and you need to bring them together so they can hate fuck/fight. Their brawling releases the Kamidogu, which you take back to the portal to place on the altar. But once you get there, there is the inventively named "Monster" who claims to be the Elder God's true chosen warrior. He has Scorpion's moves and voice, though.
You'll find a ton of characters around here if you take the time to look. I ran into Noob Saibot, Moloch, Nightwolf, Shang Tsung, Shinnok, and saw a few others wandering around. You might have noticed that Damashi was kind of a dick when you summoned him, which seems kind of weird behavior for an emissary of the Elder Gods.
A new realm introduced in this game, the Chaosrealm is, as you'd imagine, a place where chaos reigns. There is no structure or rules, only turmoil. Here, you'll come into contact with Noob Saibot (pretend you didn't see him in the Nethrealm), who has taken a patch of land in the name of the Brotherhood of Shadows. The realm has been invaded by warriors from the Orderrealm, and a local denizen named Havik will ask you to get rid of them in exchange for training. Get rid of them, and he tells you "lol nope" because how can you trust a dude whose entire existence is based on chaos? He trains you anyway, though. The Kamidogu is located in some weird pool, which you stay in for a few years. Damashi doesn't seem to be interested in Shujinko's feelings over having lost multiple years of his life and not even realizing it. The graphics are like...PSX level. This game is so ugly.
Probably the most famous of all the realms in the MK universe, this is by far the shortest level in the game. It's so short even Damashi is surprised at how quickly you find the Kamidogu. Your main role for this realm is to attempt to barter a deal between a local leader and Shao Khan's Tarkatan horde, who are willing to kill all the citizens of the walled city unless the leader gives his head. Literally. Everyone will be spared if the dude lets them cut his head off. Lol. The leader takes a second option, which is asking Shujinko to go to the Orderrealm to send their warriors as protection. The leader tells Shujinko of a special item in the Living Forest that he can offer to the guards in the Orderrealm. Of course, it's the Kamidogu, and you have to defeat Jade to get it. However, Damashi claims that shit as the property of the Elder Gods, and basically says the Overlord dude can go fuck himself. Besides, Shujinko can't enter the portal to get to the Orderrealm without using the Kamidogu anyway.
- Outworlder: Bo' Rai Cho, Li Mei, Reiko, Shao Kahn.
- Saurian: Chameleon, Khameleon, Reptile. (Though originally from Zaterra.)
- Shokan: Goro, Kintaro, Sheeva.
- Tarkata: Baraka.
- Centaurian: Motaro.
- Osh-Tekk: Kotal Kahn, Kotal K'etz.
- Other: Ermac, Onaga, Mileena, Skarlet, D'Vorah, Ferra/Torr.
You know how every game has "that one level"? This is that level, because it's not A level. It's about twice as long as all the other levels, and you jump back and forth between Orderrealm, Outworld, Netherrealm, and Earthrealm. And it's fucking tedious. As this point, the whole game is. The graphics are shitty, the story is bland, the voice acting is awful, and the actual fighting mechanics in the proper game aren't very fun, as they're overly complicated for a MK game. This is also the point in the game where you realize Shujinko is an idiot and Damashi is full of shit. Damashi is clearly lying (not only does Raiden have no knowledge of Shujinko, but Shujinko has never even heard of Raiden), the deal you made with the Orderrealm guards to save the Outworld city has resulted in the whole city being locked down and treated like a totalitarian state, which gets Shujinko imprisoned for 20 years over a curfew violation. CURFEW. And possibly worst of all, Shujinko doesn't even know what Shang Tsung looks like until he's introduced to him, despite spending his entire life wanting to beat Shang Tsung in the Mortal Kombat tournament. The story mode STARTS with young Shujinko pretending to be Kung Lao and defeating Shang Tsung. Yet this fuck didn't even know what the dude looked like. It took so long I had to break it up into two parts. It's not like this is set hundreds of years ago. Mother fuckers had cameras.
You finally get the Kamidogu after Damashi pays off an assassin to kill the guards keeping you in your cell, on the day you were to have you day in court. At this point, Shujinko has been on this quest for nearly 50 years and is getting sick of Damashi's shit, openly calling this flame fuck out for how long the quest has taken and how shifty he's been acting.
Finally, the last stop on this boring ass quest. It's taken Shujinko 50 years in game to finish this, and it feels like it has taken about that long in real life. Fuck. Fuck this game. And after 50 years, Shujinko finally asks point blank what the fuck his mission is all about. That's right, he's been doing this for half a century and didn't actually know what exactly he was doing. Damashi explains that the Kamidogu were used to split the consciousness of the One Being, creating the realms. The Elder Gods had come to know of a plot by someone, perhaps in Edenia, who was planning to retrieve the 6 Kamidogu in order to merge the realms and consolidate power. Shujinko is still lost at why he's doing this. It seriously took him 50 FUCKING YEARS to question any of this. So you get your Kamidogu, return to the portal, only to be interrupted by Scorpion, who has been sent by the Elder Gods to stop Shujinko. After you beat him, The One Being Onaga reveals himself. He was Damashi the whole time. DECEPTION! Get it? He had you collect all the Kamidogu so he could be reborn. And then the mode ends. No boss battle. No finale. No crescendo. No climax. It just ends. Shujinko says he has much left to do and then the credits hit. If you want more story, go play the arcade mode, nerds.
This is when I realized I had just played an 8 hour tutorial.
FUCK ED BOON
The game includes two other notable modes: Puzzle Kombat and Chess Kombat. Puzzle Kombat is a shameless ripoff of Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, and not nearly as fun. It's almost agonizingly slow. Chess Kombat is pretty much what you'd think it is. It's chess...but to take pieces, you fight.
I'm going to go ahead and say FUCK THIS GAME. Konquest is literally an 8 hour tutorial disguised as a "story mode". It attempts to expand the mythology of the series and introduce you to the new Liu Kang, but it does so in the most boring of ways, and it was all thrown out 2 games later anyway. The side modes are novel distractions for a bit, but are ultimately are fluff. The core gameplay of the 3D MK games is not fun. It's extremely complicated and awkward, where commands do different things based on where you are standing in relation to your opponent, and there is a weird timing system of when strikes do more damage or are less likely to get blocked. The combat just doesn't feel like MK at all, which is why the whole system and almost all of the characters from the PS2 era games were dropped and the series went back to the core roster and 2.5D fighting.
Shaolin Monks game out shortly after and, as a hint of the future of the series, ignored everything related to Deadly Alliance and the work being done on this game to go back and retell the story of MK, with only the MK2 era roster (plus Quan Chi). That's because no one gives a shit about the new characters. In fact, Shujinko didn't even make it to the next game as the main character, as he's replaced by another new character that was the focus of the Konquest mode that will likely never be seen again.