Mortal Kombat: Deception is a fighting game developed and published by Midway as the sixth installment for the Mortal Kombat (MK) series. Deception was released for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox in October 2004, while a Nintendo GameCube version was published in March 2005. Mortal Kombat: Deception follows the storyline from the fifth installment, Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. The story centers on the revival of the Dragon King Onaga, who attempts to conquer the realms featured in the series after defeating the sorcerers List of characters in the Quan Chi and Shang Tsung, the main antagonists in the previous game, and the Thunder God Raiden, defender from Earthrealm. As such, the surviving warriors from the previous titles join forces to confront Onaga.
Twenty-six characters are available to play in the game, with nine making their first appearance in the series. Deception contains several new features in the series, such as chess and puzzle games with the MK characters and an online mode. The Konquest Mode role-playing game (RPG) makes a return from Deadly Alliance, but follows the life of Shujinko, a warrior who is deceived by Onaga to search for artifacts to give Onaga more powers. In November 2006, Midway released Mortal Kombat: Unchained, a port for the PlayStation Portable, which adds new characters to the game.
Series co-creator Ed Boon designed Deception to be an unpredictable fighting game, and included new features such as the mini-games as surprises. Several parts from Deadly Alliance such as combos and arenas were redesigned to be more realistic as well as more interactive. Deception has been well received by video game reviewers, who praised the fights and new features. The Konquest Mode, however, received criticism for poor voice acting. Several publications have awarded the game as the best fighting game in 2004.
The game's arenas are similar to those in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, but include new features such as unique weapons which players can use, and instant-death traps, which instantly kill a fighter who falls into them. The game also introduces the "Combo Breaker", a system which allows players to interrupt combos up to three times per match. In contrast to Deadly Alliance, in which characters had only one fatality finishing move, the Deception characters have two fatalities and a hara-kiri suicide move. The latter is used when the phrase "Finish Him/Her" is shown in the screen and the player is about to lose.
Deception introduces several minigames that use MK characters. Chess Kombat is a minigame similar to classical chess, but uses player-selected characters as pieces that must engage in fights to take a square. Some pieces have certain abilities, ranging from impersonating their opponents to instantly killing one of the opposing pieces. It also adds Puzzle Kombat, a puzzle game similar to Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo which features super deformed versions of the MK characters that attack each other once a player gains an advantage in the game.
The "Krypt" returns from Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, and serves as an interface to access extra content hidden in "Koffins". In Deception, the size of the Krypt was reduced from six hundred seventy six Koffins to four-hundred Koffins. A new feature was the inclusion of Koffins that could only be opened through the use of keys that can be found in treasures chests from Konquest mode, or by defeating characters throughout the realms in the mode. Krypts in Mortal Kombat: Deception include twelve bonus characters while this was cut down to six characters in the GameCube version.
Deadly Alliance's RPG-style game called "Konquest" also appears in Deception. Deception's Konquest mode explores the history of Shujinko, starting prior to his training with Bo' Rai Cho and ending with the beginning of Deception's main story. While mostly an adventure game, the combat elements take place in the normal Deception fighting mode. In Konquest, Shujinko meets Damashi, a being who requests Shujinko's assistance in collect six powerful items, the Kamidogu, to send to the gods. By the time he collects the six Kamidogu, Shujinko is an old man, having spent forty years completing his mission. However, Damashi is then revealed to be the Dragon King Onaga, who deceived Shujinko to obtain the six Kamidogu. Players seeking to unlock much of the bonus content in Deception are required to play through the Konquest mode.
In the final events of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, Raiden's warriors who were meant to protect the six fictional universes named realms are killed by the Deadly Alliance (Shang Tsung and Quan Chi), who attempted to conquer the realms. With Raiden defeated, the Deadly Alliance turns on each other. When Quan Chi wins, Dragon King Onaga, the former emperor of the realm of the Outworld, appears to regain his power. Raiden awakes and then unleashes all his powers in a colossal explosion that but apart from making both members of the Deadly Alliance and himself be affected, has little effect on Onaga.
Onaga now seeks to use six artifacts called Kamidogu (literally "Tool of God" or "divine clay"), which are able to destroy the realms. Those fighters not killed in the battle against the Deadly Alliance now stand against Onaga and his supporters. The latter include a fictional horde known as Tarkatan led by Baraka, one of the characters who starred in Mortal Kombat II. Other enemies include the former defenders from the realms, who were resurrected by Onaga and are under his control.
In the story explored in Konquest mode, a young man named Shujinko is deceived into spending his life collecting the Kamidogu for Onaga, who uses the guise of an emissary of the Elder Gods, the beings who created the realms, named Damashi. Onaga reveals his identity and intentions after Shujinko has gathered all the Kamidogu. Shujinko, led to believe he was working for the greater good, joins the others opposing Onaga.
There are twenty six characters in the game: nine new and seventeen returning. New characters include Ashrah, a demon searching for redemption by killing demons; Darrius, the leader of the resistance in the realm of Order; Hotaru, a warrior of Order, pledged to serve the Dragon King; Dairou, a mercenary contracted by Darrius to assassinate Hotaru; Havik, a cleric of Chaos who wishes to consume Onaga's heart and revive Emperor Shao Kahn to ensure chaos reigns; Kira and Kobra, new members of the Black Dragon organization; Onaga, the Dragon King and former emperor of Outworld who appears as the boss character from the arcade mode; and Shujinko, an old warrior who was deceived by Onaga when he was a young adolescent. Several of the returning characters have been redesigned and were given new moves such as Liu Kang who reappears as a zombie. Noob Saibot and Smoke who first appeared in Mortal Kombat II are sub-bosses that fight together under the name of Noob-Smoke. The GameCube version has two more playable characters: the sub-boss from the first MK game Goro and the boss from the two following titles Shao Kahn, both of whom were previously thought to have died in the prologue of Deadly Alliance.
Series co-creator Ed Boon wanted Deception to be an unpredictable fighting game that gave players new features "they could never imagine". In order to do it, the Midway Staff listened to fans on bulletin boards to know what to work on for Deception, such as the playable characters. Wanting to surprise fans as well as to make the game more deep, they added the puzzle and chess game. Boon and John Podlasek supervised the staff, which was divided into teams to work on different areas of the game. A concern from them was to maintain the flavor from the MK series as they wanted the game's violence to make it a more realistic fighting game rather than "a fighting simulator". Character appearances were improved to make their moves be "more responsive" to the player's input. They also wanted to bring back several characters they felt were absent for too long including Sindel, Nightwolf, Baraka and Mileena. Developers also wanted an arena with several weapons which players can use to fight; however, it was remade to become the Liu Kang's Tomb arena. Characters' combos were redesigned to be distinct so that they would be more important due to the fact Boon noted that they were necessary for any move the player would like to use to make more damage to an opponent. The Midway Staff focused on the designs and functions of the backgrounds, wanting to make them be as influential to the outcome of the battle as the fighting between characters.
Because of the popular demand and favorable reception of Deadly Alliance, the number of finishing moves, known as fatalities, increased to two per character. The fatalities were developed by a group of animators lead by Carlos Pesina. They comically considered Mileena's fatality in which she eats the opponents' neck as the most disturbing one due to how her "sexy moves" are modeled from Pesina. The hara-kiri moves were added to allow the losers to perform a finishing move, creating a race between both players. The death-traps, meant to be introduced in the first game, were added to give the combat more strategy as well as to give more chances to players to win a fight if they are in disadvantage. The game was originally meant to have other new finishing moves, such as tortures and falling cliffs similar to fatalities.
One of the main features to Deception was the emphasis on online gameplay, which had yet to become common for console fighting games. A team of engineers spent almost a full year to decide if the feature was viable. The MK team focused their energies solely on platforms that had strong online functionality available to the end consumer; this led to a tight focus on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions. Because GameCube games require a bit of re-engineering versus the other platforms when porting, it was decided to exclude the GameCube from the work of the team until the online hurdles were cleared. Some time after the game's release, Boon commented that he was disappointed that the GameCube version did not feature online gameplay as he regarded it as "the best in the business".
Details about the game were first confirmed to the general public in the May 2003 issue of PlayStation: The Official Magazine, in which the game was known as Mortal Kombat VI, and an online mode was confirmed. On February 6, 2004, Midway registered the domain names mkdeception.com and mortalkombatdeception.com. When the IGN staff asked Midway Entertainment if Mortal Kombat: Deception was the official title, the developers gave no answers. However, later that month, Midway released the first trailer from the game, confirming the title as Mortal Kombat: Deception.
Mortal Kombat: Deception was released for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox in North America in October 4, 2004, while the PAL version was released on November 19, 2004. While the game is known as Mortal Kombat Mystification in France, other countries did not change its original name. A GameCube version was later released exclusively in North America on March 1, 2005. Two versions were released for both the PlayStation 2 and Xbox consoles: the regular version for both systems, a "Premium Pack" for PlayStation 2, and "Kollector's Edition" for Xbox. The Premium Pack and Kollector's Edition include a metal trading card and a bonus disc containing a history of Mortal Kombat, several video biographies of characters, and an "arcade perfect" version of the original Mortal Kombat. The PlayStation 2 version features the Sub-Zero character available, while the Xbox versions includes the characters Scorpion, Raiden, Baraka and Mileena. In October 2005, the game was redistributed as a "Platinum Hits" title on the Xbox and "Greatest Hits" title on the PlayStation 2, coming in new packaging and sold for a discounted price. Deception is also included along with Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks and Mortal Kombat: Armageddon in the compilation Mortal Kombat Kollection released in September 29, 2008 for the PlayStation 2.
During its release week, Mortal Kombat: Deception sold one million units, surpassing the sales from the previous MK title and becoming the fastest-selling game in Midway's history. A year later, the game had sold 1.9 million units worldwide. Before being released, GameSpot named it the "Best Fighting Game" from the E3 2004. It was also the winner of the 2004 "GameSpot Top Spike TV Video Game Awards" in the category "Best fighting game". For "Gamespot's Best and Worst of 2004", Deception received the award for best fighting game. On February 1, 2005, Deception received the "Fighting Game of the Year" award at the 8th Annual Interactive Achievements Awards held at the Green Valley Ranch Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. Its PlayStation 2 version was a runner-up in IGN's "PS2 Best of 2004 Awards" in the "Best Fighting Game" category, and won the "Readers' Choice".
Metacritic had 81 favorable reviews out of 100 for both PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions. However, the GameCube version received 77 favorable reviews. GameRankings had an average of 81.31% from 57 reviews for the Xbox version of the game. The PS2 received almost the same average but with 49 reviews, while the GameCube version received 77.43% from 18 reviews.
Video game publications have commented on the game, giving praise and criticism. Jason Porter from GameChronicles.com and Louis Bedigian from GameZone praised the interaction with stages as one of the best parts of the game, commenting that it adds more strategy to fights. Both praised the return of "classic character", commenting on their new designs as well as how different were they attacks. Porter noted Noob-Smoke to be "arguably the coolest fighters in Mortal Kombat history". Gaming Age writer Brian Peterson commented that Deception was the best game from the MK series since Mortal Kombat II. He praised the characters designs, noting them to be fluid and detailed. Like Porter, he praised the interaction with stages. Jeremy Dunham from IGN said that it is the best game from the Mortal Kombat series. He also stated that the removal of special move buttons, which caused too much damage to an opponent, was one of the developer's best decisions. As such, with the special moves removed from the fights and the addition of Breakes, players are now able to stop any combo. However, he noted that character designs were "robotic" in comparison to other video games such as Dead or Alive or Virtua Fighter 4. The soundtrack was also criticized as having "basic sound effects". GameSpot reviewer Greg Kasavin commented that the fights have been highly improved with the addition of new fighting styles which "is clearly inspired by kung fu movies". Although he stated the fights were not perfect noting they could end in a few seconds due to the interaction with the arenas, he praised how painful and funny some moves looked. TeamXbox reviewer Dale Nardozzi praised the characters' animations and movements. He also noted that the soundtrack "sets the tone perfectly for your basic, disembowelments, decapitations, and impalements".
The Konquest Mode received mixed reviews with Jason Porter praising it for the interaction between characters and how different it is from common RPGs. He also lauded how Konquest develops the story for Deception and Shujinko, whom he noted "players will really care about". Jeremy Dunham praised how the Konquest Mode explains the storyline from the game. Conversely, Greg Kasavin commented that the Konquest Mode "is the weak point from the game" as he noted it to be "ugly", lacked good voice acting and good graphics. However, he noted that one of the "few nice touches" in Konquest was "hitting anybody you want". He then added the mode had to be passed if he wanted to unlock characters. Bedigian complained that the Konquest is the biggest flaw of the game, criticizing the storyline, the trainings and voice acting. Nardozzi, however, noted the mini-games to be very entertaining if played online.
In contrast to the Xbox and PS2 versions, the GameCube port received lower scores from publications. It has been criticized for the lack of an online mode though 1UP.com still praised it. Although the addition of Goro and Shao Kahn was praised, GameSpot noted that the other ports were better, while also commenting on Goro's appearance which looks "anemic". In his review, GameSpy's Miguel Lopez said the GameCube version "is far from the best version of the game" and adviced player to use another port to play.
Mortal Kombat: Unchained
Mortal Kombat: Unchained is the title of the PlayStation Portable version of Mortal Kombat: Deception, developed by Just Games Interactive. The game was shipped on November 13, 2006 in North America, November 24, 2006 in Europe, and December 9, 2006 in Australia. The game includes all the characters from the GameCube version, and four more characters—Blaze, Frost, Jax and Kitana—from Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance that are exclusive to the PlayStation Portable system. The four characters, however, have one fatality and no hara-kiri in contrast to other characters. An Endurance mode is an exclusive new feature where players can compete against a constant wave of opponents. The system's Wireless Ad-hoc functionality can be used for multiplayer games. Characters who remain hidden in the other version appear unlocked in Unchained. The producer Shaun Himmerick commented that the staff wanted to show players characters that were difficult to obtain in Deception such as Liu Kang. Although Midway did not develop the game, they helped Just Games Interactives optimize their code and the Wi-Fi linking, as they wanted to keep the framerate very high.
Metacritic had an average 70 from 14 reviews, while GameRankings gave it a score 70.88% based on 17 reviews. Although Brian Peterson from Gaming Age commented the game was entertaining and praised the audio, he criticized the difficulty it took to fight with the handheld system. Jeff Haynes from IGN agreed with problem with the controls and criticized the long loading times.