Developer(s) – Midway Games, Probe Entertainment & Sculptured Software
Publisher(s) – Midway Games & Acclaim Entertainment
Designer(s) – Ed Boon & John Tobias
Producer(s) – Ken Fedesna & Neil Nicastro
PEGI – 18
One of the first examples of a video game appearing on prime-time news across America, Mortal Kombat II gained media attention for its use of excessive violence compared to other video games at the time but was also met with a high level of critical and commercial acclaim. In my opinion, it was certainly a positive departure from the first game and a massive improvement to it.
Graphics – 9/10
One of the main improvements made to the series with the release of Mortal Kombat II was that since the developers weren’t pressed for time, they added a plethora of new characters to the roster, such as Kitana, Mileena, Baraka, Noob Saibot, Smoke and Kung Lao to name but a few. People will argue that this was the point in which the developers got out of hand using palette swapping to create new characters, but I think the point where they got truly out of hand with that was with Ultimate Mortal Kombat III, when not only new characters were made with this technique, but more or less every other previous character had been added to the roster as well.
Gameplay – 7/10
The core gameplay concept of Mortal Kombat II remains largely the same as in the first installment, but it was made a lot more diverse with the second since the multitude of different characters also provided players with a lot more variety in terms of not only fatalities but in different character abilities too. Indeed, having Shang Tsung as playable helped a lot in this respect, as well as introducing such characters as Jax and Kung Lao.
Controls – 7/10
Before Street Fighter II came along and properly introduced fans of the fighting game genre to the concept of pulling off combos, things started out relatively primitively; especially given how poor the original Street Fighter was. Fighting games relied on combining attacks in a much spaced out and precise manner than combo systems of today, which in fact started out as a glitch; and it was all fairly well handled in Mortal Kombat II.
Originality – 8/10
Since its inception, the Mortal Kombat franchise was particularly unique for many different factors, such as its core story concept and selection of characters. But the second game took all that to the next level, so to speak, introducing not only different characters, but the different direction in which the story went at the time, or where it would go in the future. Ever since there have been spin-off films and TV series of the game, and I think the second installment proved to be a huge step to making a lot of all that happen.
Overall, Mortal Kombat II, though not the perfect fighting game by any stretch of the imagination, was a massive improvement over the first, and one of the more standout games of the time. It would have inevitably been difficult for a fighting game to hold up after the release of Street Fighter II, but Mortal Kombat II did that very well.