On Monday we kicked off Mortal Kombat week here at Game Rant with our choices for the 10 Most Awesome Mortal Kombat Characters as well as published the first installment of our Mortal Kombat retrospective.
On Tuesday, we published our review of the latest Mortal Kombat title and yesterday we continued with our feature, A History of Violence: A Look Back At The ‘Mortal Kombat’ Series – looking at Mortal Kombat 4 and Mortal Kombat: Special Forces.
Next up: Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Mortal Kombat: Deception, and Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks.
We’ll keep updating the stories with links to subsequent installments but, for now, here’s a guide to help you navigate to the other articles in the series.
- Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat II
- Mortal Kombat 3 and Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero
- Mortal Kombat 4 and Mortal Kombat: Special Forces
- Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Mortal Kombat: Deception, and Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks (you are here)
- Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, and Mortal Kombat 9
Following the lackluster Mortal Kombat: Special Forces spin-off, the series returned to its former glory in the form of Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance. The title represented the first Mortal Kombat released on the new generation of consoles (PS2, Xbox, and Nintendo Gamecube) without an arcade port. A sign that things had changed considerably for the franchise, and the content of the game itself furthered that belief. Deadly Alliance was also the first primary series installment without John Tobias.
The fighting system received a complete overhaul from the previous games. Now, characters could move in three dimensions – allowing them to dodge attacks much more easily. Each character now had three distinct fighting styles, two hand-to-hand and one weapon. These changes were made to appease those who wanted the series to emulate the more sophisticated 3D fighting games such as Virtua Fighter and Soul Calibur.
However, a number of other aspects had to be altered as a result. The “run” mechanic was dropped entirely, and characters’ special moves were reduced (only two to four per character). Fatalities were also reduced to only one per character – and stage Fatalities were removed entirely. This caused a bit of backlash from fans of the older games, but overall, the changes were well-received.
A few modes were also added to provide a robust console experience. “Test Your Might” made a return after years of being absent – as well as a new version called “Test Your Sight.” The minigames weren’t played for points; instead, rewarding players with Koins. Koins could be used to purchase various items in The Krypt (grid full of unlockables) such as characters, arenas, costumes, or concept art and other behind-the-scenes content. Of course, you would have no idea what the coffin in particular contained, it was a total mystery (especially before FAQs became readily available on the Internet).
Another way to get Koins, besides the normal Arcade and Versus modes, was through Konquest. The Konquest mode was a more elaborate version of a traditional training or tutorial mode. The player would pick a character from the roster, and go through a series of missions with that kombatant, teaching them most of the fighter’s moves while going over their personal backstory. The mode had a two-pronged effect: explaining the story of the game while allowing the player to familiarize themselves with the roster, particularly newer characters.
The plot of the Deadly Alliance seemed to go out of its way to change things within the series forever. Liu Kang and Raiden successfully defeated Shinnok in the last installment. Liu Kang was offered to rule Edenia alongside Kitana as king and queen, but declined due to his status as Mortal Kombat champion and defender of Earth. Raiden ascended to the heavens as a reward for defeating Shinnok, leaving Fujin as the new protector of the Earth Realm. Meanwhile, Quan Chi revealed to Scorpion that it was he who killed his family and clan, not Sub-Zero. He cast a spell on the ninja and returned him to the NetherRealm – but Scorpion managed to drag Quan Chi down with him. Scorpion chased Quan Chi throughout the realm, seeking his revenge slowly. Quan Chi, however, found a portal that transported him to Outworld – to an undiscovered chamber.
As it turns out, Shao Kahn wasn’t always the ruler of Outworld. Before him was the Dragon King, Onaga. Onaga ruled over the realm with his supposed indestructible army, and Quan Chi had stumbled upon the tomb of that same army. If Quan Chi managed to get control of the army, he could rule Outworld, and possibly all of the realms. The problem is, the army is dead, and could only be used if new souls were transplanted into the bodies. Therefore, Quan Chi begins an alliance with an expert soul-sorcerer, Shang Tsung. Together, the two decide to take down the only enemies capable of posing a threat to them.
In a shocking turn of events, they successfully kill two of the most important characters in the series: Shao Kahn, the main enemy of the series, and Liu Kang, the main hero. After dispatching the series-staples, and absorbing their souls, the pair returned to Outworld and began transplanting spirits into the army. The heroes, still reeling from the death of Liu Kang, gather together to make an attack on the duo.
Despite working together, the Deadly Alliance was hardly a happy-pairing: Quan Chi only wants to use Tsung to get the army, and Tsung only wants to use Chi to get access to the Soulnado – a large quantity of souls that could grant Shang Tsung eternal life. Scorpion manages to escape the NetherRealm again, intent on tracking down Quan Chi and finishing him off once and for all. Sonya and Jax, in addition to wanting to defeat the sorcerers, are on a mission to find her missing comrades in Outworld. Sub-Zero, now the leader of the Lin Kuei, wants to make the clan a force for good – by helping the heroes. Kung Lao seeks to destroy Shang Tsung – wanting revenge for the death of Liu Kang.
Kitana is focused on defeating the opposing Outworld armies once and for all – allying with the Shokan in the process. Raiden, having relinquished his status in Heaven to return to Earth, leads the forces of good into battle.
To keep with the theme of starting anew, a large number of new characters were introduced in the game. Bo’ Rai Cho is a native of Outworld, a master of drunk boxing and is actually Liu Kang’s teacher. He joins up with the forces of good to avenge his student, to train his fellow Shaolin Kung Lao, and to free his native realm. Li Mei is also from Outworld, and seeks to defeat the Deadly Alliance – to free her village from tyranny. Kenshi is a swordsman blinded by Shang Tsung after being tricked into removing a sacred sword from a pedestal. The sword, containing the souls of his ancestors, heightened his other senses, giving him the necessary means to take his revenge on Shang Tsung. Mavado is a member of the Red Dragon clan, a group of mercenaries that split from the Black Dragon, seeking to exterminate all members of the rival clan by allying with Quan Chi.
Nitara is a vampire whose realm was merged with Outworld many ages ago. She seeks to separate the two realms and save her race, and manipulates both Reptile and Cyrax into aiding her. Drahmin is a demon of the NetherRealm, and serves Quan Chi in case Scorpion returns. His ally Moloch serves as the sub-boss for the game. Hsu Hao is another member of the Red Dragon, and is targeted by Jax for destroying the base of the Special Forces. Frost is a new recruit of the Lin Kuei and has the same powers as Sub-Zero – which results in her becoming his personal student.
Finally, once Konquest mode is completed, two more secret kombatants are unlocked. Neither of these characters were usable for Konquest, however. Blaze is a fire elemental who was initially focused on a mysterious quest, but is now forced to guard the egg prophesied to reincarnate the Dragon King. Mokap is a martial artist who pays the bills with motion capture work, but somehow gets caught up in the events surrounding the game.
It should also be noted that there were two ports to the GameBoy Advance. One had the same name as the main title and featured about half of the character roster, while the other port was named Mortal Kombat Tournament Edition, which featured the other half along with three more characters. Noob Saibot served as a member of the army opposing Kitana and the Shokan alongside Kano. Sektor, having failed to become the leader of the Lin Kuei, now starts his own clan of warriors, called the Tekunin. Sareena was one of the demons the original Sub-Zero battled while fighting Shinnok – but oddly enough was spared by the warrior. She is now forced to serve Quan Chi again, although she seeks her freedom.
After the dip in popularity surrounding the series during Mortal Kombat 4‘s run, things were looking up once Deadly Alliance was released. The game was considered a massive improvement over prior installments, namely Gold and Special Forces. The controversial actions shown in the story helped spark interest, and the update to the game’s fighting system modernized the series in many fans’ eyes. Mortal Kombat had made its return, and they were just getting started.