One of the biggest fighting game headliners at E3 this year is the newest Mortal Kombat, with fans and press alike lining up to see the latest game footage. The hype surrounding the new MK title has been intense in the last few weeks, what with the official announcement and game trailer coming out a little more than a week ago and the official movie pitch that hit the Internet earlier this summer, all becoming instant online sensations. This excitement filled the air at the Warner Bros. booth, and we at Skatter Tech couldn’t wait to check it out. As Skatter Tech’s senior reporter Dominic and I sat down to watch an exclusive demo of the legendary fighting game, we noticed that I was the only girl in a room of upwards thirty people. As such, I feel it is my duty to adequately represent the finer sex’s Mortal Kombat fan base, and I’m pleased to report that the new Mortal Kombat looks (literally) bloody fantastic.
Many fans were upset with Ed Boon and other programmers after Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe had a teen (T) rating and as such didn’t have all the blood, violence, and fatalities that have marked the MK franchise for nearly twenty years. The presenter assured us that Mortal Kombat has “gone back to its roots,” which definitely seemed to be the case with what was shown. Gameplay is back on a 2D plane, reminiscent of earlier MK titles, but to keep Mortal Kombat “new” it appears that developers have re-imagined several characters and levels from the first few games in 3D with an unbelievable attention to detail. In one level, for example, we could see other battles, characters being tortured, and even a monster rampaging in the background. The graphics themselves are darker, grittier, and overall more realistic than previous titles.
But most importantly, blood is back to Mortal Kombat, and boy is there a lot of it. The characters now visibly reflect damage done to them during the fight, with blood staining clothes and environment, torn skin, even missing eyeballs and exposed ribs by the end of a match. By the end of the round players finally get to see how much damage has been done, just in case they missed it during the intense fighting sequences. The presenter told us that the damage shown on a character reflects unique moves performed in the match, and therefore will be different every time. Also, as a character takes a hit and his or her health bar decreases, there is a blood “splatter” on the health bar, further solidifying and animating Mortal Kombat’s M rating.
Developers have included two big additions to the newest Mortal Kombat. First, players can now perform a special “X-Ray” mini-combo. This combo will enter a quick animation sequence that shows the actual damage being done to the opponent’s skeleton and muscle, dramatizing bones breaking and organs being crushed in deliciously gruesome detail. Each character will have their own custom X-Ray attack, adding more depth to the game. Second, there are now tag team battles in MK. You will now have the option to either call out your partner for an assist, swap places with them passively, or swap places aggressively and damage your opponent in the process. Up to 4 players will be able to battle tag team, either with two players teaming up in the new “Co-op Arcade Mode,” or compete against another team online, effectively creating what Ed Boon is calling “the most extensive online experience ever seen in a fighting game.”
Both of these two new additions will zap some of your character’s energy, another new feature in and of itself. A character’s energy is charted in a 3-part bar in the bottom of the screen, and energy builds up as you fight through the match. As energy accumulates, a character’s specials become stronger and more effective. For example, Reptile’s acid attacks grow in size and Sektor’s missiles become heat seeking. And once the energy is at full capacity, the player can perform the previously mentioned X-Ray combo. Overall, these new additions expand gameplay in a way that will likely be appealing to both MK veterans (and newer players alike) since it doesn’t take away from classic gameplay elements in a drastic way.
I should mention here that there is as of now no word on how many characters there will be in the new Mortal Kombat, or if any new characters will be added to the game. I can confirm, however, that the demo featured Reptile, Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Johnny Cage, Mileena, Nightwolf, Kung Lao, and Sektor. Since Mortal Kombat isn’t slated to hit shelves until sometime in 2011, more characters will likely be released in the coming months. Also, I should remind readers that it was announced on Tuesday during Sony’s press conference that Mortal Kombat will be 3D compatible on the PS3, a very exciting development for the franchise. It will also be available on the Xbox 360.
Now, to announce what all MK fans have been waiting for: fatalities are officially back. Each character once again has a custom fatality to be performed upon victory at the end of a match. However, it is unclear as to how a player can “Finish Him” and whether or not it requires button memorization like past games or this time a much simpler input will suffice. Each fatality will be as bloody and gruesome as can be expected in a Mortal Kombat title. The full length fatality demoed for us was Mileena’s which showed her throw daggers into Kung Lao’s chest, saunter up seductively to him, then rip his head off of his body and bite his face open. We also were treated to a montage of fatalities, and each one was as bloody as Mileena’s. My personal favorite was Kung Lao’s, who spins his hat in the ground then drags his opponent by the feet into the spinning blade, splitting the opponent in half down the middle. Each fatality is blood, disgusting, and just plain epic.
It is so exciting to see Mortal Kombat’s return to an over-the-top, brutal fighting game. A mature (M) rating and 2D fighting will undoubtedly please veteran MK fans, and the new fighting elements like tag team and X-Ray combos look to freshen things up a bit and expand one of the most popular fighting games of all time. Expectations were high for the new Mortal Kombat, and it looks like it may meet and possibly exceed them altogether. Gamers of all kinds will find something to love, whether the new gameplay mechanics grow on veterans or newcomers comfortably make their way into the series thanks to a new “organic” combo system. Keep an eye out in the coming months for more Skatter Tech updates on Mortal Kombat as more information is released.