Despite having been on the shelves for a good six months, the Wii has yet to see any serious fighting games. We have Dragon Ball Z, and there are a few others on the way, such as Bleach, but when it comes to a Wii equivalent of Tekken or Soul Calibur we're left wanting. So thank you to the nice people at Midway who've brought us Mortal Kombat: Armageddon on the Wii.
The name might ring a few bells because this game was released on the PS2 and Xbox late last year. It's the final game in the series as we know it, and the fond farewell means that Armageddon is designed to be the ultimate game in the series. Every character from the series' history has been brought together in one place, which results in an extraordinary roster of 64 playable characters.
The story goes that with so many unearthly warriors roaming around, it's only a matter of time before the very fabric of Earthrealm and Outworld is ripped to shreds. So the Elder Gods have created a giant pyramid of justice, atop which the ultimate warrior, Blaze, has been placed (bear with us). He's a bit tough and the idea is that he'll sort out the men from the boys and save the world from destruction. So far, so nonsense, but we all know that this is a fighting game and when it comes down to it we really don't care all that much about the story.
The big selling points for the Wii version are that it looks great and it plays like no other fighting game before it. When it comes to graphics, this still isn't touching on what the Wii can really do but it's definitely one of the prettier Wii games. When it comes to controls, however, this is in a league of its own.
Wax On, Wax Off
The idea is that you use the Nunchuk analogue stick to move your character around and jump. The big difference comes with using the motion sensors of the Remote to pull off special moves. So whereas Scorpion's Bloody Spear would normally be performed by tapping back, towards and punch, now you can perform it by gesturing away and towards with the Remote. It simplifies the move and makes it more natural, although for some reason you have to hold down the B button while performing special moves.
Regular attacks such as uppercuts, throws, jabs and roundhouse kicks come courtesy of the A button and D-pad. It all works really well (though it does take a while to get used to the timing) but doubters will be pleased to hear that you can plug in a GameCube or Classic controller and play the game the old way.
The gesture controls extend to the infamous Fatalities, although we think this area of the game has been changed for the worse. The idea is that you perform gruesome moves on your helpless enemy at the end of a battle. It used to be the case that every character had their own Fatality but here you have access to set moves that can be chained together to mock your opponent. So you might thrust the Remote forwards and up to rip off a head, or towards and away to rip out a heart. The process works fine but we preferred it when each character had a signature move.
Mortal Kombat's grisly excess may put some people off, but it's a great fighting game with a seemingly endless list of characters, terrific graphics and plenty of gore. It's also the only serious fighting game on the Wii and a great insight into how fighting games might develop with gesture controls in the future. But most importantly, get two people together and it's damn good fun!