Midway Games, Inc.
Mortal Kombat 4
Mortal Kombat 4 review
Mortal Kombat 4 for PlayStation is the symbol of changes in gaming. The last installment meant for arcades, and it’s the first one made in 3D. The PlayStation version delivers the complete experience of arena fighting both in solo or 1-vs-1 mode.
The Mortal Kombat of XX century wasn’t much about narrative; it was just an unnecessary side dish, while everybody wanted raw meat. So the story about Shinnok, the evil god trying to conquer all realms with his dark forces, and the union of the light forces to stop them is too basic to be taken seriously. What we’re here for is fighting and FINISH HIM! And it’s done at a high level, as usual.
The most influential innovation is the introduction of weapons fighters can pick or choose, and using random items around as weapons as well. Another important innovation is a transition from preprogrammed combos to player-defined ones, so you can combine hits, kicks, and tricks in real time now. To prevent these combos from being unstoppable (thus giving the opponent no chance to stand them), the maximum damage is limited with a cap. Another noticeable innovation is the bone-breaker, the trick that replaced the throw from earlier parts and brought in some more difference between characters.
The weapons can be used in quite a regular way, like fists, once they’re equipped. But in some situations it’s better to drop your weapon, say, to pick the one that your opponent has dropped after you attacked.
If you’re still interested in the backstory, there are a better way of learning it than from the game itself. The comic book inspired by the game tells it in more details and with more drama.
Though this installment is positioned as the first Mortal Kombat game in 3D, in fact, it’s only partly true. Yes, the environment has depth now, and characters look more 3D, but they still can only move in two dimensions. So this change is rather visual than principal. Yet, it adds some cinematic experience to playing, and that is especially important for the game inspired by action movies.
From 2019, though, it looks much less impressive than either the original or the latest installments. Neither modern enough to play seriously nor ancient enough to appreciate as an artifact. Successful and innovative for its time, now Mortal Kombat 4 seems the least attractive from the whole series (which doesn’t mean it’s bad, but it lacks that charm games of arcade era deliver to us now).
When the game was released for PlayStation, it already had DUALSHOCK gamepads, but the game is quite good with Dual Analog, featuring the same set of buttons and handles. MK engine allows for combining joystick moves and buttons, so there’s much more freedom in improvising new combos.