Like Street Fighter IV two years prior, Mortal Kombat 9 (simply called Mortal Kombat) serves as a revival of everything players loved about the series even as it attracts a new generation of players. Although Midway has long since been dead as a gaming company, the original developers, under the name Netherrealm Studios, haven’t lost a beat as the most recent entry, Komplete with all the DLC characters, walks a fine line between revamped sequel and reboot.

MK9’s story takes place right at the end of Armageddon. Things haven’t ended well, as every character in the MK franchise lies dead and dismembered except Shao Khan, who is about to land the killing blow on Raiden. In his last second, Raiden sends a mysterious telepathic warning to his younger self. Although this warning is vague at first, it changes the entire history of Mortal Kombat….

MK9’s story is an alternate telling of the first three games in the series. Thus everyone from the first three MK games are playable (except for Rain who was later added as DLC, final Boss Shao Khan, and Motaro, who is seen in a background), and all the backgrounds have been redone. Long times will flip when they see Klassic arenas such as Shang Tsung’s throne room, The Pit, and even MK3’s subway redone in beautiful Unreal Engine 3 powered graphics. After MK vs DC Universe’s toned-down fatalities and Armageddon’s zany kreate-a-fatality, MK9’s fatalities are more brutal and gruesome than ever. Surprisingly though, the babalities are back, and each features a different animation for each character. They are joined by the new X-ray moves, moves that can be pulled off during a match that show a Romeo Must Die-style x-ray closeup of your opponent’s bones breaking. Of course how said opponent can still continue fighting afterwards remains a mystery. The only characters from later games who have been added are Quan Chi and Kenshi (via DLC). It would have been nice to see some faces like Bo Rai Cho, Fujin, Havik, or Frost, but then again, the newer heads don’t have the same prestige in the franchise as the old heads do. Still, it’s disappointing to not see any new faces added to the franchise. Oh, and Kratos appears in the Sony versions of the game, and let me tell you, he fits here much better than he does in SoulCalibur.

The single player story will put you in the role of several Mortal Kombat characters as you travel through each of the three games only to see things turn out differently. You’ll even see different versions of Kharacters that are not just texture swaps, but have different frames of animation to boot! Ever wanted to see what Sektor and Cyrax looked like before they were transformed into cyborgs? How about what Kabal looked like before he got turned into a Tusken Raider? It’s here. Once you’re done with the story, you can take on the challenge tower, a tower of over 300 challenges, guaranteed to keep fans busy. There is also the Klassic arcade mode, Komplete with endings for each character. Of course online and local multiplayer modes are also available. Test your might is back, and it’s joined by two new minigames: Test your Luck and Test your Sight. This Komplete Edition contains all 4 dlc characters, Kenshi (who was introduced in Deadly Alliance), Rain, new Kharacter (and former MK2 rumor) Skarlett, and horror movie Icon Freddy Kruger. The Vita version also contains the 4 characters, along with new challenges and new costumes.

MK9 represents a successful reintroduction of the classic fighting game franchise, much like 2002’s Deadly Alliance did almost 10 years prior. With MKX just having been announced, now is the perfect time to get acquainted/re-acquainted with the classic fighting game franchise.