Mortal Kombat Retrospektive #10: Mortal Kombat: Deception (2004)

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Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance did a fairly decent job bringing Mortal Kombat to the new generation of video game systems, but it certainly wasn’t a masterpiece or anything of the sort. Still, it sold and reviewed well, and a sequel was announced for 2004. Mortal Kombat: Deception would have more characters (including several returning fan favorites), more moves, more game modes, more of everything really.

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Deception would even be playable online, a first for the MK series and a big selling point at the time. The online mode is no longer functional due to the shutdown of the original Xbox Live and GameSpy and I never played it myself, but back in the day it apparently worked quite well.

Remember how in the old MK games, the canon ending was always the good guys triumphing and the late Liu Kang beating up the villains? Well, turns out Deadly Alliance didn’t end quite like that for our heroes — Shang Tsung and Quan Chi won, and their undefeatable army killed almost everyone.

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The story picks up right where we left off, with Raiden fighting desperately to end the Deadly Alliance’s terror but ultimately being defeated by the sorcerers. Shang Tsung and Quan Chi have won, but of course those two were never going to get along for any real length of time and proceed to fight each other.

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Quan Chi defeats Shang Tsung, but doesn’t have much time to celebrate his victory; Onaga, the Dragon King himself returns, ready to take command of his armies once more and become the supreme ruler of all the realms. Quan Chi and Shang Tsung attempt to take him down but their attacks are ineffective, and even Raiden’s help isn’t enough. In a final desperation move, Raiden focuses all his power and blows himself up along with the sorcerers and everything else in the palace. Well, almost.

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Onaga is still standing, and now he has Shinnok’s amulet which he plans to combine with six artifacts known as the Kamidogu. All these artifacts together will fuse the realms into “The One Being”, and everything will be destroyed. That is, unless someone manages to stop the Dragon King. Perhaps, the person responsible for Onaga’s resurrection can atone for what he has done…

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Mortal Kombat: Deception runs on the 3D fighting engine introduced in Deadly Alliance and uses the same control scheme, so if you hated how that game played you probably won’t be a fan of this one either. The fighting system has definitely been worked on and some of the rough edges have been smoothed out, and the experience feels quite a bit more fluid and more enjoyable than the predecessor.

Even with the improvements, Deception is still a bit too stiff and clunky to really take the fight to the best 3D fighting game franchises, and it still doesn’t feel anything like the 2D Mortal Kombat games. Whether that is a bad thing is up to you, but I still prefer my Mortal Kombat on a 2D plane.

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Every playable character still has three fighting styles — two unarmed stances and a weapon style. Like in Deadly Alliance, there isn’t much differentiating the unarmed styles from each other, but at least everyone now has more combos and special moves. Weapons can no longer be used to impale opponents and the special R1 moves are gone, R1 is now used exclusively for throws. Everyone also has uppercut and sweep kick moves now, as they damn well should in Mortal Kombat.

One of the most welcome changes is the addition of the combo breaker (insert Killer Instinct announcer here), executed by holding forward and block while stuck in a combo. In previous MK games, you were screwed and might as well have put down the controller the moment your opponent got a combo going. In Deception, you have three breakers per match at your disposal, making things far less frustrating.

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Everyone now has two fatalities instead of one, and Deception also introduces a fun new finisher known as Hara-Kiri. The Hara-Kiri is a way for the defeated kombatant to salvage some dignity by killing themselves before the opponent does a fatality, and they’re just as gruesome as the actual fatalities.

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The arenas in Deception are more interesting than the bland circles from the previous game, and quite a few of them are returning arenas from the 2D games. The Dead Pool, Living Forest, Portal, The Pit and Courtyard (complete with what appears to be the original MK1 sprite of Shang Tsung sitting on his throne) all have their original music and have been changed around a bit to better suit the 3D gameplay of this game.

Fighters can knock each other through walls and railings and continue duking it out on the lower level of a stage, and they can also use the new death traps to instantly finish a match. These are basically stage fatalities that can be done at any point in certain parts of the arena, even in the first round. If someone falls victim of a death trap in the first round, they return unharmed for the next one. The death traps can be turned off if you don’t care for them.

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Along with the regular fighting game mode and Konquest (more on that in a bit), Deception includes a couple of new minigames. The more popular of these is Puzzle Kombat, a clone of Super Puzzle Fighter with blood and gore and fairly mediocre gameplay. It’s a fun distraction for a while and the super-deformed kombatants and their specials are amusing, but it’s not a great puzzle game by any means. Puzzle Kombat also showed up in the Nintendo DS port of Ultimate MK3.

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The other new minigame is Chess Kombat. Remember Battle Chess, the old computer game that changed the pieces on the chess board to human characters and had violent animations for when they got taken? Well, this is not that. Instead, Chess Kombat is inspired by another game from the 8-bit and 16-bit computer era — Archon.

In this mode, you choose characters to play different roles on the chess board, and when two pieces land on the same space a fight ensues. If you are good at the fighting game or turn the CPU difficulty down, you can do a lot of damage with just the basic pawns. Chess Kombat never became that popular and hasn’t shown up in later games, but it’s a fun time-waster and better executed than Puzzle Kombat.

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Arguably, the focus of Mortal Kombat: Deception is Konquest Mode, which has gone through a major overhaul since its debut in Deadly Alliance. Konquest still teaches you the moves and combos of the characters, but instead of a linear tutorial with a series of missions for each character, it is now an adventure game mode that takes you on an epic quest spanning decades.

image001While Konquest sounds great on paper, it’s really a tedious slog with an annoying main character, repetitive side quests (“Oh dear, I dropped my bear ass somewhere in the Netherrealm, I’ll give you Koins if you find it for me! No, of course you don’t get any hints, just scour the entire map!”), godawful voice acting and a timeline that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Just rushing through the story will take at least ten hours, and if you want to find all the hidden treasures and do the side quests you’re looking at twice that amount of time.

The main draw of Konquest was, of course, the fact you could finally explore the different realms of Mortal Kombat and meet all your favorite characters (and Mokap), and you definitely get to do all that here. Unfortunately, the graphics look like an early Dreamcast game and the actual environments don’t resemble the nice loading screen art at all.

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While you do meet almost every single MK character, most of them are there just to give you more fetch quests or challenge you to fights. Many of these fight challenges have certain gameplay modifiers or conditions, sort of making them the precursor of the Challenge Tower and similar modes in the modern games. Some of the challenges are also incredibly hard, but there’s no penalty for skipping them other than losing out on a few Koins.

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The worst thing about Konquest is that you have to find the hidden treasure chests to unlock anything worthwhile. That’s right, no skipping stuff this time. If you want to unlock new characters (as in Deadly Alliance, half the roster is locked at the start), stages or outfits, you can’t just grind Koins to unlock them in the Krypt because their chests are locked with keys you need to find in Konquest. Hell yeah, more gameplay content that totally isn’t shameless padding!

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Let’s talk about the playable roster. As I mentioned, a few fan favorite characters return for Deception along with the few survivors from the previous game, and there are some new kombatants added to the mix as well. Most of the new faces are more than a little bland, but at least none of them is Hsu Hao.

The GameCube version doesn’t have online or widescreen support, but it has a couple of exclusive characters to make up for these omissions. The PSP port, Mortal Kombat: Unchained, has its own exclusive fighters returning from Deadly Alliance, although their movesets are straight from that game as well. Unchained also has every character unlocked from the start, as they should have been in the first place.

THE KOMBATANTS

Shujinko

MSEL_PORTRAIT_SHUJINKOThe main character of Konquest and the guy who caused the whole mess that led to Onaga’s return. Shujinko (whose name is literally “Protagonist” in Japanese) starts out as a young teenager playing Mortal Kombat (the tournament, not the game) with his friends in an Earthrealm village. I thought the existence of the Mortal Kombat tournament wasn’t common knowledge, but whatever. He is sent on a quest for the Kamidogu by a glowing orb calling itself Damashi.

“Damashi” just happens to be Japanese for “deceive” (“damashii”, on the other hand, would be “spirit” or “soul”, so maybe they were going for a double meaning with the name). Indeed, the spirit is simply an avatar of Onaga despite claiming to be affiliated with the Elder Gods. How does he coerce Shujinko to do his dirty work, you ask? Well, he threatens to find someone else to do it, like that kid who plays Shang Tsung. Seriously, that’s all it takes because Shujinko is an idiot who will do anything anyone asks of him. Damashi also gives Shujinko the ability to absorb other fighters’ skills, depicted as him literally turning into the fighter he is mimicking.

Shujinko spends four or five decades gathering the Kamidogu and honing his skills, and at the end Onaga reveals his deception and tries to kill him. Shujinko barely escapes with his life and swears to atone for his foolishness by taking down Onaga. He actually succeeds at the job in his arcade ending, which is canonical in the MK storyline. Of course, the next game will undo that whole thing, but still!

Shujinko doesn’t have any special moves of his own and just uses other fighters’ attacks including Scorpion’s spear and Raiden’s torpedo dive. The whole character is kind of terrible, but his creators did actually have high hopes for him as the new face of MK. Ed Boon wanted him to be, and I quote, “the next-generation Liu Kang.” Good job, lads.

Scorpion

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Shujinko thinks he is the champion of the Elder Gods, but the actual champion is none other than everyone’s favorite undead ninja. Scorpion got tossed in the Soulnado at the end of the previous game, but managed to escape to “the Voids” (whatever the hell that is) where he witnessed Onaga’s return and ran into the Elder Gods. The Gods send him to Outworld to kill Onaga.

He is also the final boss of Konquest and gets his ass kicked by Shujinko. Poor guy.

Sub-Zero

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Sub-Zero no longer looks 70 years old, but now it appears he’s ready to dine on turtle soup. Some people like this redesign, but I’m still not feeling it. What was wrong with Sub-Zero just looking like himself?

While looking for a place to bury Frost in Outworld, Sub-Zero came across some ancient ruins that turned out to belong to a race of cryomancers — the ancestors of both Sub-Zero and Frost. He also found this really sweet suit of armor.

Sub-Zero’s appearance early on in Konquest is explained as that Sub-Zero being one of the ancestors of Kuai Liang, which would be nice if the rest of Konquest gave a fuck about the timeline making sense. Minutes before you meet Grandpa Sub, you fight Jax to get over the bridge leading to Lin Kuei’s temple.

Bo’ Rai Cho

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The farting goon is still here, and now Kitana has given him command of the Edenian armies. He does manage to save Li Mei, at least, and his skills as a general help the troops defeat the Tarkatan hordes of Outworld.

Bo’ Rai Cho is the first fighter to teach Shujinko during Konquest, training him in the basics of martial arts and then his fighting style. At one point you have to retrieve his medallion because he lost it while out drinking with his buddies. Master Cho’s presence in that part of Konquest actually makes sense, since he’s an Outworlder and therefore hasn’t aged at all over the last few decades.

Ermac

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All right, now here’s a redesign that is actually really cool. Ermac is a warrior created from a thousand souls and was never really a ninja, so it makes perfect sense to give him a new look. He uses a lot of the same telekinetic special moves Kenshi did in the previous game, and he’s just really well done in general.

Ermac has been freed from Shao Kahn’s control, and he is now one of the good guys. Liu Kang’s spirit gets in touch with Ermac and asks for help freeing his fellow Earthrealm warriors from Onaga’s control. Ermac wants to atone for the evil deeds he’s done as Kahn’s slave, so he agrees and successfully frees Liu Kang’s friends.

Kenshi

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The standout character from Deadly Alliance was nearly killed in his fight with Mavado, but was found and patched up by Sub-Zero. While recovering from his injuries, Kenshi senses that Shang Tsung has died and all the souls he took have been freed, meaning that his quest for revenge is over. He joins up with Sub-Zero to find a way back to Earthrealm.

Kenshi shares a few special moves with Ermac, although he now also has a teleport and a telekinetic punch and kick flurry.

Sindel

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Queen Sindel was presumed dead after Shinnok’s invasion of Edenia back in MK4, but this is Mortal Kombat and so it turns out she was only captured. She was freed after Shinnok’s defeat and helped her daughter Kitana restore Edenia to its former glory.

Now, Kitana has been brainwashed and enslaved by the Dragon King, whose forces attack Edenia and imprison Sindel again. She manages to escape with the help of Jade, but they can’t rescue Kitana by themselves.

Jade

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Jade wants to help Sindel and break the spell on her friend Kitana. When she escapes Edenia with Sindel, she sees that Tanya is working with Onaga and helping the Dragon King in his quest for the Kamidogu. Hold on, I thought Shujinko already gathered those for him. Christ, this plot is so poorly written.

Now, Jade is going to kick Tanya’s ass for what that traitor has done. According to the wiki, she also represented Mortal Kombat in G4’s “Video Game Vixens” contest. Now there’s an important bit of information for you all.

Nightwolf

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I’m not sure if anyone particularly wanted Nightwolf to come back, but here he is anyway. He is now the shaman of his tribe and acts as their “Sin-Eater” who absorbs all their sins.

It’s apparently necessary to absorb all this evil if he wants to fight Onaga, even though it may make him a threat to his people at some point. Nightwolf banishes himself to the Netherrealm until the threat is defeated. You actually run into him there during Konquest, even though at that point Shujinko is still a young dude so it actually takes place decades ago so he shouldn’t be there because Onaga hasn’t shown up yet and now my brain hurts

Li Mei

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When last we left Li Mei, the Outworlder’s soul had been shoved inside a mummified soldier in the Dragon King’s army by the Deadly Alliance. Bo’ Rai Cho’s timely interruption saved her from that unfortunate fate, and now she is helping him fight the Tarkatan hordes.

Li Mei learned some new things during her stay inside the undead soldier. She now uses a sword instead of sais, and generally acts more like a warrior. Her alternate outfit actually has her wearing armor instead of… that stuff you see in the picture.

Raiden

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As we established, Raiden blows himself up to try and take down Onaga. Now of course, Raiden is a god, so he doesn’t die in the explosion. However, it does leave its mark, as Raiden comes back as an angry dark version of himself.

Dark Raiden is not evil per se, but he is so goddamn sick of all these fuckers trying to invade Earthrealm that he has had it and will now defend Earthrealm by any means necessary, and it does not matter what the idiot mortals have to say about it. This reimagining of the character might seem like a pointless attempt to make him ~darker and grittier~ because it was 2004, but honestly the wise mentor act was getting a bit stale and Asshole Raiden protecting the shit out of Earthrealm is much more fun.

He kills Shujinko in his ending, but unfortunately that one isn’t canon.

Liu Kang

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While Liu Kang’s spirit is still around and helping out the good guys, his physical body has been reanimated as Raiden’s enforcer and is now going on a murderous rampage. His spirit can do nothing but watch in horror.

Liu Kang’s human form is included as an alternate outfit, but in order to unlock it you need to play Konquest and be in a certain spot of a certain realm at a certain time — on a certain day of the month. Then, and only then, will the chest with the Krypt key appear, and if you miss it you have to meditate for a month to speed up time. Unlocking Liu Kang in the first place requires a similarly obtuse process, although at least that chest appears a bit more often. You also need to have beaten Konquest first.

Mileena

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Deception was the first Mortal Kombat game that really played up the succubus aspect of Mileena’s character and gave some fans the weirdest boners by putting her in ultra-revealing costumes and making her do all these “sexy” poses (mocapped by Carlos Pesina, I believe) after biting some poor sap’s head off. That’s been her thing ever since, at least until Mortal Kombat X changed it up a bit by making her less playful and more vicious and giving her pants.

Mileena is freed from her prison cell by Baraka and joins Onaga’s forces. Her orders are to pose as Kitana and mislead the Edenian armies, and somehow that actually kind of works. Sure, most people think Kitana killed her years ago, but come on. You can clearly see the monster teeth underneath the veil. Naturally, Mileena plans on betraying the Dragon King and taking the armies for herself.

She has all her old special moves in this game, although for some reason her roll attack no longer acts as a launcher for juggle combos. For once, she also has good fatalities!

Baraka

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The nomadic Tarkata warrior returns, and he’s not letting the fact all his old masters are gone bring him down. Instead, Baraka and his fellow Tarkatans join up with Onaga, whom he believes to be invincible. He also frees Mileena from the Edenian royal dungeons because he thinks she’s pretty hot, although that nearly backfires on him when Mileena takes control of the Edenian armies and decides to get Baraka out of the way. She ends up killing a decoy instead and Baraka escapes (he actually kills her in his ending, which is not canon).

I think Baraka was much cooler when he was a guy wearing a Count Orlok mask, his 3D design isn’t doing it for me and his special moves are rather poorly animated.

Tanya

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This is the first time a character introduced in Mortal Kombat 4 appears in a later game, and I suppose Tanya was the least bland of the new faces in that game. Betraying her home realm of Edenia is still what she does best; having worked for the Deadly Alliance until their defeat, now she’s helping Onaga attack the realm.

I am not sure why she has glowy white demon eyes now. The game certainly doesn’t explain it, either. Usually when people have white eyes in these games, there is a reason for it, but as far as I can tell that isn’t the case with her.

Noob/Smoke

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Noob Saibot came across Smoke in the depths of Shao Kahn’s fortress and reprogrammed the cyborg for his own purposes, planning to create an army of cyber ninjas using the former Lin Kuei as a template. Noob and Smoke fight as a tag team and are a complete pain in the ass to to fight against. They’re the sub-boss fight of the arcade mode.

Deception is the game that officially establishes Noob Saibot as Bi-Han, the original Sub-Zero who has been corrupted by the Netherrealm.

Kabal

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In the previous game, Mavado claimed he had killed Kabal and taken his hookswords. Well, he did take the hookswords, but did anyone actually think a loser like Mavado could kill Kabal?

In fact, Kabal only survived with the help of a stranger called Havik, a cleric of Chaos. Havik convinces Kabal to bring back the Black Dragon gang to fight Mavado and his Red Dragon. From now on, he’s Black Dragon for life. Being a good guy sucked anyway.

Kabal heads out to Outworld to test his new Black Dragon warriors by pitting them against the enemies of the Dragon King. If they survive, they’re worthy members of the clan.

Kobra

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New Black Dragon recruit #1, apparently infamous for being a brutal and merciless killer. That’s more or less the extent of his character. His moveset is based on Johnny Cage’s from the last game.

The most interesting thing about Kobra is that his placeholder name during development was apparently “Ken Masters” due to his resemblance to the classic Street Fighter character. A German magazine got hold of a beta copy of Deception and published screenshots where Kobra was identified as Ken, leading some to believe that the actual Ken was going to be in the game.

Kira

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New Black Dragon recruit #2. Kira is the more rational and cunning of the two, but is a brutal warrior just the same. That’s about it. They didn’t give me much to work with when they wrote these characters.

Kira’s moves and fighting styles are taken from Sonya and Kano’s appearances in Deadly Alliance. She uses Kano’s butterfly knives and does a mean Kanoball, so if for some reason you ever wished Kano was a redhead girl in leather instead of a hairy one-eyed Australian dude… well, here you go, I guess.

Hotaru

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Hotaru is a general from the realm of Seido, also known as Orderrealm. As the name suggests, Orderrealm is really big on rules, and even a minor infraction such as violating curfew can land you in prison for decades. This actually happens to Shujinko at one point.

Being the leader of the Seidan guard, Hotaru is all about law and order and works with the Dragon King in order to spread his kind of order to other realms. I’m not sure he thought this plan through all the way.

You can’t see them on the render, but Hotaru wears flags on the back of his armor like actual samurai in feudal Japan used to do. He also has a woman’s name because the MK team is bad at foreign names.

Darrius

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Darrius is also from Seido, but he isn’t as enamored by the oppressive nature of the laws in the realm of Order as Hotaru is. Instead, he leads a resistance movement against the Seidan leaders, doing whatever he deems necessary to achieve his goals.

As such, he’s often labeled a terrorist in Orderrealm. That doesn’t seem to require very much, but honestly this guy deserves it because some of his tactics are rather questionable to say the least.

He wants Hotaru dead and hires a former Seidan guardsman named Dairou for the job.

Dairou

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After Dairou’s family was killed by an unknown assassin, he killed the man he thought was responsible and was promptly imprisoned. He escaped during a riot incited by the resistance and now works as a mercenary. Darrius hires him to assassinate Hotaru, but what Dairou doesn’t know is that Darrius actually is responsible for the murder of his family.

It was all in the plan: whack a guardsman’s family, get him imprisoned and then hire him to do your bidding. This storyline would almost be interesting if the characters involved in it weren’t the blandest yet in Mortal Kombat history.

Havik

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Havik is a cleric from Chaosrealm, which is quite obviously the opposite of Orderrealm. Chaosrealm is full of backwards-talking weirdos who love, well, chaos and that kind of thing. Havik here wants to eat Onaga’s heart and return Shao Kahn to power, because that would mean more chaos instead of whatever would happen if Onaga fused the realms into the One Being.

Havik likes to snap his own limbs to do damage to his opponent or heal himself. Needless to say, this guy is by far the most interesting new character in Deception.

Ashrah

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A demon from the Netherrealm who has taken human form and hunts other demons with her dagger that she believes to have come from the heavens. Ashrah believes that by slaying demons with the “blessed” and “heavenly” dagger gets her closer to humanity and escape from the Netherrealm.

In fact, the dagger is cursed and manipulates its owner into slaying demons and vampires for the bloodlust of the dagger itself, making its owner believe they’re fighting for a higher purpose.

Ashrah resembles a female version of Raiden or Kung Lao, and does actually have a couple of special moves much like theirs. She has what is basically Kung Lao’s spin attack as well as a variation of Raiden’s torpedo.

Shao Kahn (GameCube version/Unchained only)

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Despite getting killed by Shang Tsung and Quan Chi in the intro of the previous game, the Konqueror is back in action. Turns out he used some sort of magical artifact to create a decoy of himself, and that decoy is what the Deadly Alliance killed.

Kahn has found out that some asshole went and resurrected Onaga, and his formerly loyal Tarkatan forces are fighting for the Dragon King. The former emperor sets out to reclaim his throne and punish all the weak, pathetic traitors. Severely.

Goro (GameCube version/Unchained only)

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It was assumed that Goro had been killed on the battlefield by Noob Saibot. However, this was not the case. The weakened Shao Kahn found the gravely injured Shokan and used what was left of his power to heal him in exchange for his loyalty.

Kahn also promised to return the Shokan race to favored status and banish the Centaurs, and Goro accepted the offer and faked his death by placing his royal seal on a Shokan corpse. Now, he is fighting for Shao Kahn once more.

Jax (Unchained only)

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Jax fell in battle against the Deadly Alliance and was revived as a brainwashed servant of Onaga. With the help of Liu Kang’s spirit and Ermac, he is freed of the mind control and joins the fight against the Dragon King. It’s payback time.

Jax, like the other exclusive Unchained characters, retains his look and moveset from Deadly Alliance.

Kitana (Unchained only)

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Like Jax, Kitana died fighting the Deadly Alliance and became Onaga’s revenant and personal guard, doing his bidding until Liu Kang’s spirit and Ermac helped her regain control of her actions.

As she makes her way back to Edenia after Onaga’s defeat, she encounters Blaze. The fire elemental tells her of a new danger threatening all the realms and that she needs to gather the forces of good to do battle against this threat. By this point, Kitana is completely sick of the constant fighting and asks when it all will end. Blaze assures her the battles will be over soon…

Frost (Unchained only)

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Sub-Zero laid Frost to rest in the ancient cryomancer ruins in Outworld, but somehow the apprentice lives. She believes Sub-Zero stole the Ice Medallion from her and left her for dead, and he is going to pay for that if he survives the battle with the Dragon King.

Frost returns to the Lin Kuei temple and begins to experience hallucinations of Sub-Zero. She kills several Lin Kuei warriors she thinks are her old master. When Sub-Zero finally returns, he deep freezes Frost in an ice coffin and seals it.

Blaze (Unchained only)

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For thousands of years, Blaze has monitored the kombatants of all the realms, and once upon a time his creator foresaw that one day the fighters would become too strong and cause the end of everything unless stopped. Blaze was to awaken his creator’s sons at the right moment, for they are the ones who could prevent Armageddon.

Many years ago, Blaze was captured and forced to guard Onaga’s dragon egg. Now that Onaga has come and gone once again, Blaze is free to continue his original work but finds out the kombatants are already too powerful and one of the brothers has already awakened. Blaze sounds the call to awaken the other brother and prepares to lure the kombatants to the final battle.

Onaga (non-playable boss)

Onaga_the_Dragon_KingThe Dragon King is the final boss of Deception, and after a couple of games with rather lackluster final boss fights this is definitely a return to form. He’s not quite Shao Kahn, but losers like Shinnok can’t even be mentioned in the same breath. Onaga is huge, hits like a draconian bulldozer, can take a ton of punishment and would like nothing better than knocking you into the spikes surrounding his arena. (Well, I disabled all death traps, so the joke’s on him)

For some reason, Onaga keeps the Kamidogu right there on the sides of the arena. If you break them or lure him into doing it, he gets stunned for a couple of seconds and you get an opening to do some damage with your best combo. He can be very tough, but eventually he should go down and when he does, he explodes. Haven’t seen that in a while.

The endings are similar in style to those in Deadly Alliance, except with Shujinko narrating most of them instead of Raiden. No animated cutscenes with voice acting, I’m afraid.

deception009Mortal Kombat: Unchained deserves a paragraph or two dedicated to it, because it is a very convincing port of the console game. While it runs at a lower frame rate and the graphics have taken a hit, all the content from the original release is there, including Konquest. Unchained is one of the more impressive PSP ports I’ve seen, and it’s a shame there is no digital release of the game so it can’t be played on the PS Vita. Of course, if you have a Vita you have access to several fighting games that are better than Mortal Kombat: Deception/Unchained (including the port of Mortal Kombat 2011), but still.

PPSSPPWindows64 2015-06-19 08-10-18-06Unchained was released in 2006, around the same time Mortal Kombat: Armageddon came out on the home consoles. The bios and endings for the exclusive characters reflect this — as you probably noticed if you read what I wrote about him earlier, Blaze’s is basically the entire plot of Armageddon.

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If you want to play Deception, the PS2 version is probably your best choice as that controller simply works best for the layout these games use. The Xbox version plays on the Xbox 360 almost flawlessly and actually controls better with the 360 pad than it does on the original Xbox controller, although the D-pad might cause some headaches. If you’re capable of playing Mortal Kombat with the GameCube controller, I suppose you could give that version a shot too.

Z0058120The PS2 and Xbox got collector’s edition releases of the game in America. These versions include a bonus disc containing various behind-the-scenes features and an emulated version of the original Mortal Kombat arcade game. I don’t have this bonus disc, but from what I’ve read the emulated MK runs faster than the original arcade game and has some issues as a result.

Mortal Kombat: Deception was another successful release for Midway and a big improvement over Deadly Alliance. While I’m not a huge fan of the fighting engine these games used, not all the content is particularly enjoyable and things feel a bit too stiff for my liking, Deception is nonetheless very playable and the best game of the PS2-era MK trilogy by a fair margin. Now, before we get to Armageddon, there is one more thing to take a look at…

Next: An action game spinoff that… isn’t awful?

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