A mostly impressive port of the hit fighter arrives on PC.
Mortal Kombat 9, aka Mortal Kombat, was first released in April of 2011 and our own Will Johnson reviewed. Less than a year later, with all of the DLC released, the Komplete Edition came out which I reviewed. Now the action arrives on PC via digital distribution (namely Steam) and it's still pretty damn awesome.
I only recently got back into PC gaming after purchasing some used hardware that has given me a modest gaming machine. Running a E8400 at 3.0Ghz, 8GB, with a 1GB AMD HD4850, my machine isn't going to blow away any benchmarks. But, I'm happy to report that it does run MK9 silky smooth at 1080p with Texture and Shadow quality at High and 4x Anisotropic Filtering. Other technical graphics options include Anti-Aliasing and Transparent Anti-Aliasing. With these options enabled, the PC version is clearly superior to the console versions, but it's not a night-and-day difference. In other words, purchasing MK9 for PC just "for the graphics" isn't worth it alone.
With any console-to-PC port, or vice versa, there are legitimate concerns about not only presentation quality but also game modes and control. Fortunately, High Voltage Software, who handled the PC port, did a great job other than some lag issues in online multiplayer and less-than-stellar image quality for the cutscenes in story mode. The story mode cutscenes are blocky and look highly compressed; it's weird, and if this is your first impression of MK9 on PC it might make you uneasy. Fortunately, actual gameplay is on target, and the presentation is solid otherwise, although online play has some lag woes.
Seen especially during the character selection screen, lag for online play is a concern right now. I wouldn't go as far as to say online play is broken, but I think there is some patching in order. In multiple matches, the player select screen was always a choppy experience. Were the issues contained there, that would be okay, I guess (weird, but tolerable). Unfortunately, actual gameplay has bouts of lag as well. The lag was never bad enough to bail on the match or fault it for missed opportunities, but it just wasn't as smooth as it should be (which is to say as smooth as playing it single player). Given the spread of the lag across many matches, and some corroborated complaints online, it seems like this is more of a (patchable?) netcode issue than my internet connection or those of others.
The online community at this early stage (the game was only released about four days ago), is pretty small, understandably. During online testing from tonight, there were only about a dozen game rooms and roughly forty players in those rooms. However, that doesn't account for all of the available players online, and I didn't have much trouble finding Ranked and Unranked (aka Player) matches to play. Ranked match types include classic 1v1 and Tag, while Player Matches have these two as well as King of the Hill. I also didn't have much trouble getting into matches where I was thoroughly out-skilled, hah. Other tidbits as of this writing include the current all time leader for most wins sits at 241, and it seems most players have played under fifty matches total, if that gives you any sense of where the community is at right now. I think given some more time and hopefully improvements to lag, the PC MK9 community will be strong.
Playing MK9 online or in single player (local four player mode is also supported) is just as komplete and fun, if not a bit more so, than it was playing it on consoles. I used an Xbox 360 controller and had no trouble getting right into the mix of the variety of modes available, including the excellent Story mode as well as Arcade mode. Skarlet, Freddy Krueger, Rain, and Kenshi are all here, nothing was added nor removed as far as I can tell from the console versions of the Komplete Edition. Unlocking parts of the Krypt and viewing the concept art and other goodies in the Nekropolis is still a gift-opening type of thrill and the "Test Your..." mini-games are a decent distraction for a break from the main modes, as is the Challenge Tower. MK9 on PC also has Social Messaging integration as far as you can get a Web Kode and have the game automatically post updates for you whenever your unlock new content, perform an achievement, or other great feats. I didn't test any of this particular feature, though.
With that, let's get to the summary...