Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks Review

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Another instalment of depraved bloodletting for fans of the series.


Although Mortal Kombat has been panned by critics since it first hit arcades in 1992, Ed Boon’s brutal series has proved to be one of the most successful gaming licenses of all time and a guilty pleasure for millions of fight fans. And for anyone who shunned the subtleties of Street Fighter for MK’s depraved bloodletting, Shaolin Monks could well be the best game ever made.

Ditching the one-on-one scraps of old, Shaolin Monks thrusts the classic Kombatants from the first two games into a sprawling 3D adventure, the spine-snapping, puzzle-solving action staged in the colourful fantasy worlds that provided a backdrop for the myriad MK tournaments.

Like all MK games the action is absurd and cheesy, the clichéd fighters and gratuitous gore helping to create an atmosphere more like a low-budget 1970s kung fu flick than the slick scraps of Tekken and Dead Or Alive. Essentially, Shaolin Warriors is more Shogun Assassin than Crouching Tiger.

Long-time fans of the series will have endless fun spotting obscure references to previous MK games, stories and characters, and there’s even the option for two aficionados to tackle the quest side-by-side in the sublime co-operative mode, a team-based adventure that plays much like coin-op favourite Gauntlet.

But while Shaolin Monks is damn-near perfect for MK nuts, many gamers will feel frustrated by having to backtrack through areas they’ve already visited to unlock the game’s secrets, shallow attacks that lack the challenge of other modern brawlers, and the perplexing, overwrought story that often gets in the way when you just want to twat stuff.