Mortal Kombat on Xbox 360 and PS3 was one of my favorite games from last year. It was an incredible comeback story for the franchise, properly mixing the brutality the franchise is known for with an addictive 2D-gameplay foundation. Now, NetherRealm Studios is bringing that experience to Sony's new handheld, the PS Vita.
And the best news: nothing is being compromised.
The PS Vita version of Mortal Kombat is the entire console experience on the go. The game performs at 60 frames per second and features all the gameplay modes found in the original release. Furthermore, all the downloadable characters released post launch come standard with the Vita version of the game, including all the additional costumes for every character. It would have been fine if NetherRealm stopped there. That would have been a good port.
But "good" wasn't good enough.
No, NetherRealm is taking the Vita version of Mortal Kombat a step further. The game will also boast a completely new challenge tower (in addition to the original one) that incorporates the Vita's more gimmicky features. I was shown a demo with the "Test Your Balance" and "Test Your Slice" mini-games. As the titles imply, you need to use the Vita's gyroscope for the balancing mini-game, standing on a plank and trying to balance while dismembered body parts are flung at you, while the slice mini-game is essentially Fruit Ninja with the system's touch screen, only with a lot more blood and guts. Surprisingly, I enjoyed both of these distractions. They might be gimmicks, but they don't feel pigeon-holed into the game. Their absurdity fits right in line with the spirit of the MK franchise. They come off as Mortal Kombat's version of car crushing from Street Fighter if I had to draw a comparison.
I also got a chance to feel how the main game plays on the Vita system. In a word: good. Like I mentioned previously, this is the entire Mortal Kombat fighting experience on the go, running at a smooth 60 frames per second. There are no hiccups, just silky smooth maiming and murder (yay!).
NetherRealm also added some touch features for the game's fatalities. You can use swipe gestures to perform the game's various fatalities instead of fumbling with the joystick/joypad and buttons. This actually serves as a great alternative because it makes it easier to pull off the moves and look like a Mortal Kombat champ. I found myself using the touch screen for fatalities far more than the buttons once my attention was drawn to the feature. Lastly, with a simple touch of your X-ray bar when it's full you can unleash your character's special brutality move. This is simple and elegant design on the part of NetherRealm.
Overall, Mortal Kombat for the PS Vita is looking great. As previously mentioned, it's the full console experience on the go. So if you liked that version, then you'll like the Vita edition. Furthermore, the extra content that comes with the game is just icing on the cake. If you're a Vita owner and fan of Mortal Kombat, I strongly suggest you pick this game up with it releases on May 1, 2012.
This article originally published as part of our PAX East hub coverage. Head over to the site to read more articles from our weekend in Boston.