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SummaryWhile not the deepest fighting game of its time, Deception is still blast to play and a credit to the Mortal Kombat Franchise.
The GoodYou got to hand it to Midway -- these guys know what passes for fun in the gaming industry. And while there are certainly shortcomings to be identified in Mortal Kombat: Deception, no one can deny that this game is genuinely fun to play. The Mortal Kombat series of fighting games have never been as deep or scientific as Namco's Tekken or Capcom's Street Fighter, but MK has always made up the ground by providing a easy-going fighting engine that almost anyone can pick up in a few minutes and grasp the basic with relative ease.
The other major strength of the Mortal Kombat Franchise, specifically in more recent iterations, is the bevvy of features and unlockables present for the player to discover. Specifically, Deception offers 12 fighters right off the bat, with 12 more to unlock (14 if you're playing the GameCube version). Apart from actual fighters, there's a number of unlockable arenas and alternate costumes. Available from the start, there's also three game modes that have nothing to do with the actual game. Puzzle Kombat gives you a head-to-head puzzle game that heavily borrows from Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, but does an excellent job of putting its own spin on the game. There's also a Chess mode that is reminiscent of the old computer / NES game Archon with Mortal Kombat characters filling the role of the playing pieces. Finally, there's a Konquest mode, in which you take control of Shujinko, a student of martial arts, as he embarks on a quest through the many realms of the Mortal Kombat Universe. Along the way, you'll discover many hidden keys and "Koins" which serve to unlock the majority of the game's hidden content. You'll also meet most of the fighters from the game and get an abbreviated tutorial on how to use them in combat. None of the extra modes can really stand on their own, but as a combined product, they serve to add some variety to the title and offer some excellent alternatives to how exactly you choose to waste time with your friends.
The fighting itself is pretty good. The three-style system introduced in Deadly Alliance returns in Deception, and serves to provide a level of depth to each of the 24 characters in the game. Each style is different enough to warrant some practice with your favorite characters, and mastering the timing-heavy style-branching combos is a feat that, although not ridiculously difficult, will require some skill and patience.
Possibly the best new feature in Deception is the addition of newly designed arenas, many of which include interactive elements such as weapons that can be picked up and used on your opponent and death traps that will kill you instantly if you happen to fall (or get pushed) into them. These elements are clearly marked in each stage by ominous glowing red boundaries, and serve to add a level of tactical strategy to the fights, as you and your opponent will vie superior positioning. Some stages also feature multiple levels, meaning you can knock your opponent through walls, floors, or even ceilings to cause extra damage and move the fight to a different locale.
The BadEven though there's a laundry list of unlockable content, much of it is pre-production drawings and photos of the design team, which, although are a nice touch, probably won't generate a ton of excitement from most gamers. Also, the fact that the game insists on Auto saving every time you buy a "Koffin" in the Krypt slows down the process of unlocking content, and after a while the process seems like a bit of a chore.
It's not worth much, but the Konquest adventure mode features some of the worst voice-acting I've ever heard, and this is coming from a guy who's played the House of the Dead series. While I understand that Midway is not going to hire top-dollar talent exclusively for a secondary feature in their fighting game, I'd rather just read text and not hear the voices at all than have to suffer through so much poorly-delivered dialogue.
The controls, although generally good, sometimes don't seem to register if you're frantically trying to input the command for a special move or combo. Also, "block" has been assigned by default to R2 on the PS2 controller, which is somewhat unintuitive. Thankfully, the control scheme can be changed in the options menu to fit your needs.