Last year's best fighting game is back with more than a vengeance. Mortal Kombat Vita has brought bloody murder into your bathroom, bus seat, garden bench, or anywhere else you'd care to dispatch your foe, and it is so much better than its console-based forerunner.
The story mode, a kind of animated martial arts B-grade flick, is here in its full glory, as is the Challenge Tower. In this handheld version, an additional 150 challenges have been added to take advantage of the expanded cast of characters and the Vita's hardware. These extra challenges mean racking up those "koins" for additional moves, garb and content is made much easier. You'll be king or queen of the Krypt before the blood of your enemies has run cold.
Of blood, there is plenty. One of the best gimmicks sees your screen covered in the vital fluid, meaning you'll need to wipe it away with your finger to see the fight going on beneath.
Test Your Slice is a deliciously twisted take on the Fruit Ninja concept, where dismembered body parts are tossed skyward for you to slash apart with a swipe of your finger. Test Your Balance uses the Vita's tilt sensors help you keep your fighter's balance as they sway and wobble on a thin plank. The failure sequences are a right laugh - it's worth screwing up a few times just to enjoy the comedy carnage.
For final proof that the developers really wanted to make the most of the Vita hardware, go hunting for the augmented reality Easter egg which uses the rear camera to put the fight wherever you are.
Are there downsides? The worst - patchy performance during multiplayer play - won't affect offline players, and it's not hard to appreciate why corners were cut in the graphical delivery in order to make the game work. The character sprites are a bit blocky, and the in-game text is a bit hard on the eyes, but the action is appreciably fluid at 60 frames per second. It plays and handles as Mortal Kombat should.
Mortal Kombat Vita improves on its console predecessor in almost every way, which is no faint praise considering how good that was. It contains the complete Mortal Kombat experience, all of the DLC, and the Vita-specific bonus modes that are wicked fun. It's not often you find a gaming package that's such good value for money straight out of the box.
Platform: PlayStation Vita