E3 2010: Mortal Kombat (Impressions)

by: John -
Mortal Kombat is back. I mean, it’s really, really back. Those that thought the last one was watered down or moved away from the core of what made Mortal Kombat great will be happy to know that it’s going back to what it does best; deliver the violence.

Say goodbye to 3D fighting as Mortal Kombat is going back to its 2D roots. The side scrolling action gets enhanced by 3D models as well as some camera movement when moves are pulled off. But, when you are controlling the action, it never strays from being a 2D fighter. Compare it to Street Fighter IV where 3D models and environments were done just for show while the action was contained in a 2D plane.

The graphics seem similar to those of Deadly Alliance and Armageddon but, of course, increased in quality. The environments shown were some classic arenas such as the living forest and Shao Kahn’s coliseum but fully rendered in 3D and with many animations happening in the background.

Only eight warriors were in the demo version but one of the selections available said DLC meaning that we should expect new warriors to be available as downloadable content. So, when the full roster is announced and your favorite fighter isn’t on the list, there’s a chance he/she may appear in the future.

One of my major complaints in the since Mortal Kombat 3 was the use of dial-a-combos. What I loved about the first two games was that those that were skilled enough could pull off combos with the right timing and right moves chained together. None of the combos were pre-wired so it took some practice and skill to do them. Great news as the new Mortal Kombat is going away from the pre-made combos and going back to allowing you to discover what moves can be used together at what time to generate multiple hits. Well, there’s still one three or so hit combo that gets initiated that I’ll talk about later but that’s it.

There’s now a meter at the bottom that fills up as the game goes along. At certain points, you can pull off an alternate to one of your special moves. For example, Sektor has rockets he can launch but he can expend a portion of his super meter to make the rockets heat seeking. Every character’s super move will also have an alternate variation as well so that should add some great variety to the game.

If you happen to fill the super meter up to the maximum, you can pull off an X combo that will show off each hit and also show the inside of the victim’s bones and organs taking punishment. It was pretty awesome to see an X-ray view of Sub Zero’s face where his skull was being shattered by a punch of the spine of Scorpion being broken by a knee. All the characters have their organs and bones modeled in full so that you can see each unique fighter’s internals being busted up with these super combos. I think the one I saw that I felt the most was Johnny Cage where he did a strong punch to the groin and you get an X-ray view of the muscles inside taking a pounding. Yeah, it hurts just thinking about it again. These combos elicited a pretty rousing reaction from the crowd inside the theater.

Another complaint of past Mortal Kombat games was that some of the characters were just color swaps of another. They made them more unique as the series went on but with the new Mortal Kombat, each character has unique poses and animations. Some simple things such as walking are now different for every character and each character also has a unique ring entrance and winning animation. I was shown a few of these and the few I checked out were all well done.

There’s now a two vs. two modes so like Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, you can have some tag team action. Whether it’s just your partner coming in to do a quick special attack or switching completely, you can initiate the tag in mid combo as well giving you even more strategy on when the bring your buddy in.

Fatalities though, are back in a major way. Since the internal body of each fighter is modeled, you can get some pretty gruesome and detailed fatalities now. When Nightwolf splits a head in half or Kung Lao drags his opponent across his spinning blade hat, you’ll see organs, muscle, and bone that mimic medical science books. Blood, and plenty of it, will be spraying around. Rather than talking about the specifics as words just don’t the visual evisceration of your enemy, I will just say that it’s definitely not for the squeamish and that the fatalities all looked incredibly painful.

I was really happy to get a chance to catch a glimpse of the next Mortal Kombat. I mean, it was one of the few games on the show floor that I really got into after watching a few demonstration fights and the fatality montage. I loved how the game’s going back to its roots and I have very, very high hopes for the new Mortal Kombat after what I saw.
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