Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks

By on September 30, 2006

It’s still fun to play!


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First Impressions
My reaction is

Mortal Kombat is a name that has been around since the early 90s. From video games to movies to merchandise, this franchise has seen it all. So when a new MK game was released for the Playstation2, I was a bit skeptical at first. What new features had developers Midway brought to a nearly-forgotten game?

Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks calls on players to save the Earth from the evils of Shang Tsung and his minions (no surprise there) by defeating him once again in Mortal Kombat.  In the game you can play as either the fireball wielding and high flying Lui Kang or the hat spinning Kung Lao. You are guided on your quest by the all-knowing Raiden, though several MK favorites join in to assist you, such as Johnny Cage, Kitana, Sub Zero, and Jax. Though the game doesn’t boast a very original story line, it’s easy to overlook this small flaw and become immersed in the frantic gameplay instead.

Breaking away from the standard MK 2D game view, this fully 3D game gives players a lot of

room to really break loose with enemies. The simple button combo layout means that even players new to the game will be executing 60 hit combos after 10 minutes of gameplay. With each enemy you dispose of, you gain back both health and experience points – the experience you gain can then be used to unlock more aggressive combos and special moves at any time during gameplay for either character. As in any MK game, environmental hazards are aplenty here, and enemies can be hurled onto spikes, ceilings, firey pits, living trees, or dissolved into acid rivers. Pick up a sword and you’ve got instant shawarmas.

Graphically, the game does quite well. Fans of the franchise will squeal with delight at the copious amounts of blood and body parts that are always flying across the screen. Levels are rendered flawlessly with no attention being taken away from the characters. Fire and water effects are also pulled off quite nicely, thanks to the PS2’s hardware. Detail is quite the key here, for even when an enemy is hit with a fireball, you can see the small glowing embers scatter onto the floor. Quite an artistic touch for a game whose main focus is to julienne your enemies.

Probably the best feature of this game is its Ko-Op mode. There’s nothing better than taking on waves of the undead with a sidekick. Though be warned – both characters share a single life bar, so it’s best you have a sidekick who’s good with the game, or you will find your life bar draining quickly as your buddy is pummeled into the ground. Team combos also offer a quick way to dispose of enemies while racking up ridiculous amounts of experience. In addition, there are tons of secret areas and unlockable characters which you can only access in 2P mode. You’ll definitely want to backtrack often to try and unlock other playable characters such as Scorpion and the elusive Baraka. There’s even a fully playable version of the arcade classic Mortal Kombat II. Lui Kang never looked so pixilated.

MK: Shaolin Monks breathes some fresh air into a game that has seen countless remakes for various platforms in the past few years. With another installment already out in stores, this game definitely stands out from the standard beat ‘em up gameplay of its predecessors. Frantic gameplay coupled with a somewhat interesting if not tired storyline will lure you to play this game for at least a few hours.

The Scorecard
Button crunching combos make it a worthwhile play.
Levels and characters are rendered quite well.
After a while Lui Kang’s screams become annoying.
The game unlocks more goodies in Ko-Op mode.
Fast gameplay makes up for the cliché story.
A game for loyal MK fans and newbies alike.


A former IT & Marketing Manager turned full time Editor, Nick enjoys hurling fireballs and tinkering with the latest gadgets. Follow him on Twitter as @theregos

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