Mortal Kombat: Deception

Though the GameCube version of Mortal Kombat: Deception lacks an online mode, playable versions of Shao Kahn and Goro make a decent consolation prize.

Though the online mode ended up on the cutting-room floor, the GameCube version of Mortal Kombat: Deception holds a few sinister surprises.

Kombative Kontrols

Beyond minor gameplay tweaks and new fighting styles, Deception makes little effort to advance its predecessor's somewhat simplistic formula. And thanks to the GameCube's unfriendly button layout, performing the new demanding dial-a-combos is harder than ever. Patient players, however, will uncover an almost overwhelming array of play modes and hidden features. Take the RPG-styled Konquest mode, which serves as both a training mode and a vehicle for unlocking hidden levels and characters. Though Konquest suffers from ugly character models, atrocious voice acting, and sleep-inducing mission objectives ("fetch this, murder that"), it's still a surprisingly compelling workout. Casual gamers will love Puzzle Kombat and Chess Kombat (a gory retread of Archeron) because they don't require superhuman fighting skills. Alone, these novel game modes aren't worth much; together, they're a potent force.

"You Weak, Pathetic Fool."

Aside from the preposterous costumes, which make some fighters look like blundering WWE rejects, Deception features more sophisticated visuals than its predecessor, Deadly Alliance. The new arenas flaunt sharp detail (look for long-lost fighters like Kintaro and Shinnok, who was incarcerated in the Dark Prison) and enable fighters to smash each other through walls and ceilings, and even into piranha-infested waters. While it's a damn shame that the GameCube doesn't support online play, the designers thoughtfully included two exclusive characters not found on the PS2 or Xbox versions. Original bad boys Goro and Shao Kahn are finally playable, both boasting bone-snapping combos and devastating weapons. Frankly, these two bruisers are cooler than almost any other character in the increasingly bizarre and outlandish Mortal Kombat talent roster, and their inclusion in the game almost compensates for the missing online mode&almost. If you're a broadband gaming addict, stick with the Xbox or PS2 version; otherwise, let Kahn konsume you on the GameCube.

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