When the first Mortal Kombat came out in 1992, E3 didn't even exist. If it had I would have been eternally jealous of those who were there to see it first. As is, I was there last week to see the proper rebirth of the franchise that dared to compete with the power of Street Fighter. So I don't have to worry about that.
First things first, if you ever thought Mortal Kombat
s 1, 2 or 3 were awesome then you, my friend, are in for a treat. Hopefully the rest of the world will care too, but to hell with them. Mortal Kombat 3
First off the game looks and plays a lot like MK3
, with the return of 2D fighting as well as the rushing and long combo strings - but things have sped up significantly since the last real MK
. So far the sillier finishing moves like Bablities and Friendships haven't been verified, but the Fatalities are back and are better than ever.
The newly-formed developer, NetherRealm Studios, showed me a clip highlighting all of the Fatalities for the characters that have been announced so far - and I wish I could remember more of them, but it was the last 20 minutes of a five day E3 marathon.
The one I do remember, and you may have seen this online, is Kung Lao's. The man with the second coolest hat in all of MK
(Raiden still owns the Number 1 spot) slams said hat into the ground leaving it, rather ridiculously, spinning in place like a table saw. He then proceeds to grab his hapless opponent by the legs and drag him through it, splitting him like so many James Bond villains have tried and failed to do.
It's incredibly satisfying to see, and it does an excellent job of illustrating the incredible detail that has gone into rendering every bone and organ in the bodies of all of the characters. When one sets out to make a 2D fighting game, like those we haven't seen in over 10 years, on today's hardware, what does one do to take advantage of all that extra horse power? Render every possible bit of the human form so as to better show it being ripped to shreds.
Thankfully all this hard work hasn't just been saved for the end of the round. Another major change to the game is the addition of a super meter that allows for some spectacular combos. These usually end in two to three especially powerful hits, where the skin of the victim is virtually peeled back so you can see all the bones cracking and breaking with each impact. It's like The Matrix
if The Matrix
was directed by Eli Roth. Brilliant. It's the sort of thing that I'm sure they would have put in the very first game if they could have, but it was oh-so worth the wait.
As if those “minor” tweaks weren't enough to pique your interest, the developers have gone one step further and added in tag matches for good measure. They operate much like other tag battle systems - players can call in the extra player for a quick hit, which is especially useful for combos. You can tag out of course, or you can choose to do a tag hit where the entering character comes in swinging. I'm not sure what balancing measures have been taken to make me ever want to not come out swinging, but here's hoping they have a good plan for that.
Just as a nice little extra touch, all of the characters have unique special animations as they exit the screen. Nightwolf, for example, holds his axe in the air rather melodramatically, and teleports off in a blue light from above. A bit cheesy and it may wear thin, but it's just one of many things that they are doing to help build up the characters in the minds of the players. Something terribly important to the brand and a damned good and fun idea as well.
So, Mortal Kombat
with all the best bits of the original three, a few new bits cribbed from the best fighters since, and spectacular new graphics and speed. I for one am thrilled. I'd have loved to have gotten some hands-on time, but as is I just managed to squeeze in 15 minutes for the live demo right before they kicked us out of the convention center. The new (fantastic, I hope) Mortal Kombat
is due out Q4 of this year with DLC characters, fatalities and costumes likely to follow shortly thereafter.