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Mortal Kombat 4

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Reviewed by Scott McCall With a new lease on life because of its move to the third dimension, the Mortal Kombat series has once again managed to secure a large following of loyal fans. The last time there was this much interest in an MK game was back in 1994 when Mortal Kombat II hit the home systems. Here's the good news: The N64 version of Mortal Kombat 4, which is based on the arcade's "Revision 3," is nearly a flawless port. Here's the bad news: It's still the same ol' Mortal Kombat with a few enhancements. Of course, if you're already a fan of the series, then the N64 version of Mortal Kombat 4 is a must-have for you. But if you don't like the series that much, then this version obviously won't change your mind. To a non-fan of the MK series (that's me), here's what Mortal Kombat 4 seems like: the same 2D gameplay of Mortal Kombat 3, except with 3D graphics, new weapon-based fighting, and side-stepping. But even I have to admit how exceptionally well Mortal Kombat 4 was ported to the Nintendo 64 -- and that's great news for MK fans. First of all, Mortal Kombat 4 contains a plethora of options and gameplay modes. You can thankfully change (and save) the controller configuration for both players because the default just didn't cut it for me. Here's how I personally configured my controller: I used Left C for low punch, Top C for high punch, Bottom C for low lick, and Right C for high kick. Then I configured the A button to run and the B button and the Z trigger to block. That left the L and R shoulder buttons to do the side-stepping. With the choice between the Control Pad and the Control Stick, I chose to use the Control Pad, like in most other fighting games. There are other options to toggle, too. You can change the difficulty level, you can change the number of rounds it takes to win the match, and you can change the number of continues you get in the single-player mode. You can enable or disable the VS screen, Rumble Pak support, Blood, and Fatalities. Finally, you can change the volume level for the sound effects and the music. Probably what makes the N64 version of Mortal Kombat 4 the best MK game around is the numerous gameplay modes in the game. There's an Arcade mode with one-on-one or two-on-two kombat, a Tournament mode in which four or eight players can participate, several Endurance modes, a Team mode, and a decent Practice mode. I must mention, however, that the Tournament mode could have and should have been a lot better. It isn't very intuitive because of its clumsy interface. Also, there should have been support to use and configure all four controllers (just in case people use different button configurations) and there should have been a way to choose which controller controls which fighter before each match. Besides some of the aforementioned modes exclusively added to the port, there are a few other additions to the home version. Most notably is the inclusion of a favorite kombatant from an old game. Yep, Goro is in here, and man is he ticked off. There's also an exclusive arena, new kombat codes, and at least one more hidden character besides Goro. In the graphics department, the N64 version of Mortal Kombat 4 screams along at 60 frames per second. That means this baby is quick and smooth. And you know what? It shows. The use of 3D graphics was probably a good addition to the MK series, especially when it comes to the gruesome yet awesome fatalities. The polygon-based fighters are nice and don't look like, well, polygons, but they certainly aren't as impressive as the cast of Bio F.R.E.A.K.S. One downside to the graphics is that there are some clipping problems. On some levels you'll notice that the floor might disappear or a wall might vanish if you get too close. Aside from the weak animation that was also found in the arcade version, the N64 version, overall, looks almost as good as the arcade version and certainly looks better than the PlayStation version. The sound in Mortal Kombat 4 is pretty much dead-on, too. Disappointingly, the sound is completely in mono, but I guess the MK series was never known for anything other than mood-setting, eerie music. The sound effects, including the announcer's voice, are all accurate. The best news about the sound is that all of the voice made it into the real-time endings! Hallelujah! Having great endings with different voice actors only increases the game's replay value. Mortal Kombat 4 for the N64 is an outstanding port, surpassing the arcade version with all of its extra features. The game is also noticeably better on the N64 than the PSX, so be sure to get the N64 version if you have both systems. If you're not an MK fan, then Fighters Destiny is still the best fighter on the system. But for all you MK fanatics out there, Mortal Kombat 4 is the new reigning champion. As a final note, you can basically add or subtract .5 from the overall score, depending on whether you like Mortal Kombat or not.

Graphics: 3.9 out of 5 Sound: 3.7 out of 5 Control: 3.8 out of 5 Gameplay: 3.9 out of 5 Lastability: 4.4 out of 5 Overall: 4.0 out of 5

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