E3 10; Mortal Kombat – The PS3 Attitude Preview
Mortal Kombat was at its prime back in the 90’s when the series was in 2D. You already knew that though. A few of the 3D iterations were actually pretty good, but the magic just wasn’t the same. I always thought that Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe got more hate than it deserved, especially from people that never even played the game. Sure, it couldn’t be taken seriously due to some broken gameplay mechanics but it was still fun.
This new Mortal Kombat is very promising. Instead of taking the series to a direction that nobody cares about, the developers are going back to what made Mortal Kombat so great. And no, we’re not just talking about excessive amounts of blood and violence (although that helps). It’s the gameplay that matters and that’s exactly where this game delivers.
At E3 I was able to attend a developer walkthrough and I really couldn’t stop smiling all throughout. This situation reminds me of SEGA and Sonic 4. Fans were crying for a classic sidescrolling Sonic game since the series went 3D. It took forever, but now we have it. The same goes for Mortal Kombat. It’s great to see that the series is once again relevant. The timing couldn’t be better. Thanks to Street Fighter IV the fighting game scene is growing rapidly and there’s much excitement for what the genre has to offer. Don’t be fooled into thinking that klassic Mortal Kombat is just a gimmick. This is really the best thing to happen to the series in a long time.
The first thing I noticed is the roster. There’s about 26 characters to choose from, eight of which were unlocked for the demo. There’s even a slot for DLC already. Many of the iconic fighters you’d expect from the series will be in the game. For the E3 build we got to see Scorpion, Reptile, Johnny Cage, Sub-Zero, Kung Lao, Mileena, Nightwolf, and Sektor. For the most part, each character’s appearance should be familiar to fans. Although it should be noted that Reptile has his more beastly look in this game.
In terms of gameplay, everything seems to be a lot faster now. Despite the 3D visuals, characters are locked to a 2D plane. There is no sidestepping or anything like that. As you can imagine, there’s plenty of new gameplay mechanics to learn. Many of which revolves around the new Super Meter. There are three levels to a Super now, and just like in Super Street Fighter IV you can use it in more than one way. You can now do an enhanced version of a character’s Special Move by using one level of the meter. The properties of the move will change and you can use this to your advantage. In the demonstration we were able to see a super version of an uppercut special technique. Not only was there an additional hit, but the opponent was left in a juggle state.
When you have two portions of the super meter charged you can do a Breaker. It’s exactly as it sounds. If you’re getting whooped by another player you are able to break the combo instantly. It’s a nice way to save yourself from taking massive damage. The animations for a Breaker seem to be unique for each character. The result is always the same though. The opponent on the receiving end will fall to the ground and space between both characters will be created.
If you really want to destroy your opponent you’ll want to wait until your Super Meter is completely full. Doing so will allow you to perform a devastating X-Ray technique. These moves are absolutely insane. A series of attacks will be done to your opponent and each strike that hits will be shown up close in X-Ray vision. You’ll see bones breaking, organs exploding, and a whole lot of awesome. We can’t imagine these moves ever getting old, especially since each character’s X-Ray technique is unique.
Now, there is some cause for concern. The X-ray attack does a lot of damage, possibly too much damage. If you’re skilled enough, you can combo into the X-ray move to decimate opponents even further. From what we’ve seen, it’s possible to do a combo that deals about 60% damage. Hopefully there won’t be any issues with broken gameplay this time around. That would just be a shame.
Also demoed was the new Tag Team gameplay. It reminded me more of Tekken Tag than anything from the Capcom Versus series. It’s definitely not as chaotic as Marvel vs Capcom 2. There are two ways to swap characters in Mortal Kombat. The first method is the standard tag out when you’re standing still. The character leaving will do a character specific taunt before they leave the screen and that’s it. Alternatively, you can swap to your partner mid combo and continue on with the beating seemlessly. You can’t do this freely though, you’ll need to expend one bar of your Super Meter. Just like in MvC, your inactive partner can assist you by performing their special technique during battle.
What’s interesting about this Mortal Kombat is that combos seem to be less predetermined and specific. The developers really want gamers to create unique combos. We’ll have to wait until we actually get our hands on the game to see how true that is. The fatalities are easily some of the best the series has to the offer. The brutality is at its finest and the animations are much improved. Words can’t do the fatalities justice. Watch the video above and see for yourself how awesome they are. Notice that characters stay damaged throughout a match and the blood just keeps piling on. Your opponents blood can even stain you!
Many of the stages shown so far are fan favorites (such as The Pit). The great part about each level is that nothing is ever static or boring. You’ll see characters in the background fighting, a person in chains being dipped into acid, and so much more. This is all happening as you’re playing the game and it really adds to the experience. The action itself is silky smooth and never skipped a beat.
Mortal Kombat is expected to release in 2011. Just based on the developer walkthrough alone I was extremely impressed. Mortal Kombat doesn’t just go back to its roots, it expands the series in a great direction. The result is a glorious comeback that fighting game fans and anyone with an interest in gaming will easily appreciate. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t get any hands-on time with the game. Expect even more impressions from us as soon as that happens.