For nearly two decades Mortal Kombat has dined out on its notoriety. The 1992 original shocked the moral guardians of its day so much that the US game industry was forced to slap age ratings on games to pacify posturing senators.

But while it achieved fame in a shower of blood and parental outrage, the game itself was a second rate Street Fighter II clone and over the years the quality of the series has withered rather than blossomed.

And so it falls to this - the ninth Mortal Kombat - to put things right with a return to its bloody roots under the leadership of series co-creator Ed Boon. The result is a no-nonsense side-on fighting game that revels in its juvenile bloodlust.

Battles end with fighters drenched in blood and punctured with gaping wounds. The infamous fatalities are typically graphic and are now complimented with brutal X-Ray moves that deliver detailed depictions of shattering bones and bursting organs. Subtle it is not.

But beneath the gore is a rock solid fighting game underpinned by controls that are easy to use but challenging to master. Its pace is more measured and deliberate than Super Street Fighter IV, but the upside is that there's more scope for strategy and less reliance on furious button hammering.

The powerful X-Ray moves, which can only be used when your special move meter is full, also play a crucial role, allowing fighters to turn the tide of the battle in one fell swoop. The game doesn't skimp on variety either offering tag-team fights, online matches and decent story and challenge modes.

It may lack Street Fighter IV's precision and could have done more to even out the abilities of its fighters, but for once Mortal Kombat has delivered a game to match its gore.

Stuff says... 

Mortal Kombat review

Not just bloody, but bloody good fun. The best Mortal Kombat yet