Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that. It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece. I strongly recommend anyone...
The Good: Deeper more strategic fight system, game looks good, return of mini-games are a nice touch, the Krypt is a nice addition for fans
The Bad: Characters look like plastic dolls, blood looks too gelatinous, overall lack of content, boring arenas, most of the new characters are unlikable
Deadly Alliance was a turning point for the series. MK4 got mixed reviews from fans and critics and wasn't exactly what they wanted. Being only the second 3D Mortal Kombat game it was another reboot that took itself more seriously and became more complicated and deep. It featured three different fighting styles, long combo chains that you had to memorize, and gone were the days of fast button mashing. You now had to think ahead for your next move and strategize. It was the most robust and sophisticated fighting game ever made at the time, but it didn't come without its flaws. Deadly Alliance was the first MK game to venture out away from just fighting in a core title. The team added a Konquest mode which is a giant tutorial on how to use every fighter and learn all their moves. This is pretty big for a fighter and can be a lot of fun. You follow Raiden down a long path across various MK worlds and learn about each fighter. They each have three different fighting stances; two regular and one weapon stance. That's not all though, these can combo into and out of each other for major damage. Characters with blade type weapons can impale their weapons into the opponent to make them bleed out, but they lose the weapon for that round. This more technical fighting style for MK had mixed reactions, but I like it a lot.
One thing I wasn't fond of were the lack of special moves and fatalities. There's only one fatality per character and a lot of them are mediocre at best. They aren't as gory or as awesome as previous games. Cyrax is missing his net move, a few characters only have 2-3 special moves, so it feels a weak. At least the mini-games make a return because they haven't been seen since MK1. A new Test-Your-Sight mini-game is added which is a cup and ball game. The team also added
a Kurrency system and a Krypt to unlock costumes, videos, art, and interviews. I love this a lot and is a great fan service. However, once you unlock the entire Krypt there's not much else to come back to. Unless you are playing with a friend on the couch the game is just seriously lacking in single player content and is why I got bored with it after a couple of months.
The graphics were decent for the time, but the gore looks like balls of Jell-O and the characters look like plastic dolls. The women's breast physics look like swaying punching bags at 100 MPH even when you tap forward slightly. The sound effects are a bit weak and a few are recycled from MK4. The arenas are also kind of boring and many of them are new. The overall game is pretty solid but needed more polish. I also wasn't too fond of the new characters. A few were likable such as Frost, Nitara, and Drahmin, but all the rest just felt forced or rushed. I also didn't really like a lot of the redesigned characters such as Sonya and Johnny Cage. The character design is just really lacking here, but that could be just me being a picky fan.
Overall, Deadly Alliance is a nice change for the series and the more complex and strategic fight style may not be for everyone. The lack of content really hurts his game though, and it suffers from an overall lack of polish. It's still worth getting in your bargain bin for some couch time fighting.