Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 for iPhone and iPad brings the legendarily gory and addictive fighting game to iOS, and it mostly hits the mark with only a couple of problems. What was formerly a smash hit (and somewhat controversial) stand-up arcade game went through a complete face-lift for the iPhone version. Gone are the stop-motion character animations from the original arcade game, replaced with beautiful 3D animations that re-create all your favorite characters' fighting moves. For the most part, this game looks and plays great, as long as you can get past the limited character set and the lack of tactile controls.
Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 lets you choose from nine characters, with two you can unlock by beating the game twice in the Arcade mode on different skill levels. The characters included work well, but characters with more-complex animation requirements (like Cyrax and Kabal) were not included in the iOS version of the game. Hopefully EA will add these characters in later versions of the game, but perhaps EA is waiting for a future, more powerful iOS device.
Even without the remaining characters, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 is a great game. The control system includes a directional pad on the left and punch, kick, run, and block buttons on the right. What's interesting here is you can use the original six-button layout from the arcade version or you can use a modified control system that saves you from the difficult joystick motions required for some of the more-complex fighting moves. (Instead of a complex set of commands, you simply hit the Special Attack button and a direction to use a character's signature moves.) While the Mortal Kombat purists might initially think this makes the game too easy, we appreciated not having to remember the complex moves and just seeing the cool results.
The Mortal Kombat franchise has always been controversial for its violent "Fatality" moves, and you'll get to do them all in the iOS version. Along with the modified control system, you also can pause the game at any time to see a list of moves and special attacks for your character, as well as Fatality moves, Babalities, and Friendship. Some fans of the original game may think this makes the special moves too easy, but fight game novices will appreciate being able to jump right into the game and use every advantage at their disposal.
You get a few game modes to play, including Arcade, Survival, and Local multiplayer. The Arcade mode challenges you to fight your way to the top of a group of random opponents with four different difficulty levels adding extra challenge along with more opponents to fight through at harder difficulties. Survival lets you take on an endless stream of opponents to see how long you can last with one character. Local Multiplayer lets you play against a friend over a shared Wi-Fi connection. There is no online multiplayer at this time, but perhaps that is another feature that will come in later versions. There is the option to play two players head-to-head on the iPad, but an online or local network variation would be a lot better.
Overall, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 is a beautiful game and plenty of fun in spite of its various issues. If you are a fan of the franchise, you will enjoy being able to bring the game with you on your iOS device, and the graphics look great on both the iPhone and iPad. It's important to note that this game is probably not for kids; it has a high level of animated violence and some pretty gruesome finishing moves.