When most people think about “Mortal Kombat“, they think about gruesome game play that pushed video games to their limits with it’s violence, and showed just how much people enjoyed mutilation. The “Fatality” is easily one of the most memorable moments of gaming history, marked by it’s now common initiating phrase, “Finish Him“.
Mortal Kombat defined a genre, and Mortal Kombat 3:Ultimate is still considered the Mortal Kombat game by many, hardcore fans; adored throughout the world and is held as one of the milestones in gaming and fighting game history with it’s plethora of advanced techniques and strategic (broken) gameplay.
Mortal Kombat 9 (Or “Mortal Kombat” on the game cover) sets to move Mortal Kombat backwards to its roots, and what really made people fall in love with the series. But so far, from what I’ve seen; they’ve attempted to create depth and specific combos, improved graphics, enhanced back story for all characters, and new, inventive systems of combat like the “X-Ray” moves; so much thought went into this game…. but sad to say it looks like like an EPIC FAIL.
-[ Deception ]-
The first time I laid eyes on this new Mortal Kombat was when Screw Attack showed it off on their website. At first, I wasn’t too excited because MK’s track history since MK3:U was met with repeated failure (Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, Mortal Kombat: Deception, Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe, etc, etc.) after the forgivable failure of Mortal Kombat 4, since it was their first time trying to go 3D. However, I was pleasantly surprised when what I saw wasn’t crap at all, it actually looked… dare I say it? Good.
(This is the preview video I saw by Screw Attack)
From the trailer, I was actually pretty hyped because I thought the Fatalities were good, that the game play looked solid, and the graphics were amazing. They brought back some returning favorites such as Kung Lao, Sektor, Scorpion, Sub-Zero, and Mileena. Seems some of the old stages (Including the Pit) made a triumphant comeback and brought nostalgia along with it. All these things reminded me of the first three games, which made this trailer more enjoyable.
X-Ray attacks looked devastating and crippling; it seemed as though the Fatalities were back and even more brutal than ever. Mileena ripping off someone’s head and then chewing at it mercilessly; the sight of Kung Lao‘s hat in the ground as a buzz saw while he dragged Sub-Zero in half; even Reptile force feeding acid to an unlucky competitor. These beautiful elements drew me in, and left me craving for more of what Midway had to offer the “rebirth” of this game.
I was waiting on more and more news from Mortal Kombat. I was especially impressed when Ed Boon said that this would be an M Rated game as they were disappointed with Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe (As they should have been) and planned on returning the game to it’s blood6 roots. Though, what I found soon after this killed all hope I had for the game; and it’s sad that those feelings only increase with each new trailer and bit of information they announce about the game. Unfortunately, a good trailer doesn’t make for a good game or a good character (In reference to the Sonic the Hedgehog trailer for Super Smash Bros. Brawl).
-[ Fail Game Play]-
In this trailer we are able to see things such as X-Ray moves, the 2v2, and other dynamics such as combos and the overall game play. One thing I have to say is that the graphics are very nice, they did good with updating them to the graphics that we expect for a next generation console like the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3. Though, at the same time, you have to wonder if the emphasis and expertise lied solely on presentation and not how the game was actually played.
The characters didn’t seem to flow correctly at all; if they were in the air vertically and you began to punch them, it seemed as though the character immediately went horizontal with no transitional animation. This seemed to be a repeated problem through so many attacks; though, I can understand with them wanting to try and get as close to the popularity and style of Mortal Kombat 3: Ultimate, but they have to realize that this is a modern gaming console and modern gamers, and we have very modern expectations of a fighting game made in this day-and-age. Look at Street Fighter IV when it first made it’s debut, it reminds you a bit of the classic Super Street Fighter II; but with so many new things added to it, it allows you to remember those days but realize that it’s a whole new game altogether. A good updated game has beloved elements of old with a new school flavor.
X-Ray moves are a very nice addition and good in thought; but poorly executed and does not visible damage to anyone. Reptile “breaking” Sektor’s neck should make his neck slump over to the side, and also the damage they take is a little extreme. I am guessing that it’s just because this is a preview build, but the meter they build is also ridiculous quick, meaning that it wouldn’t take anything to build up to an X-Ray attack, and that it could be used multiple times during the course of a single match.
Even in this Sub-Zero Trailer showing off some of his moves and his combo possibilities; they just look slow and plain and stale, there’s no “Pizazz” to any of his combos that make you go, “That was sick!”. It’s slow, bad animations, and seem draggy and not thought out very well. The guys in this video said that, “Custom Combos” were the route they were trying to go with this game; and it seems as though they all begin and end similarly, meaning that it’s not a huge variety at all. This drastic variation also reminds me of when they added different stances and even weapons to the fray, along with stage Fatalities in order to try and create depth and more interesting play which resulted in failure. This game would not have looked so plain if they actually attempted to utilize this in MK9 and made devastating combos which required you to change stances while you fought (think of it as Gen from Street Fighter IV).
From what I can tell; the most beloved games of all time, including in it’s own series (MK3:U) are all games that are fast paced and have advanced techniques (Super Smash Bros. Melee, Marvel vs Capcom 2). I get no nostalgia from the days of old looking at this snail-speed game play, or the changes in Scorpion or Sub-Zero’s stances, or how they are reminding me how they butcher the Mortal Kombat name.
-[ Character personalities and back story ]-
I’m not talking about the graphics, I’m talking about the design and overall concept and personalities that make up the characters themselves. As you can see, over the years they have crafted certain personalities and traits of their characters that we all have known; but often these things change from time-to-time. I cannot fault Mortal Kombat for their storyline simply because most fighting games (With the exception of the King of Fighters and BlazBlue) simply do not have a superb storyline. It’s often a jumbled mess with barely anything to comprehend or understand, more often than not it’s just an excuse to take up space on the disc to try and have more “content” for the fighting game. However, they’ve completely re-wrote some of the stories and designed some of the characters to not look a lot like themselves, for instance: “Character Vignettes” have appeared that tell a bit about the character and their background, and shows off a bit of their game play and why they entered the Mortal Kombat Tournament originally. They’ve already have a few, some characters being Scorpion, Sub-Zero, and Mileena. Which stay pretty close to how they originally were, though, it appears as though a few things were altered and changed.
You see with the Sub-Zero Vignette, it says that his older brother was “Unjustly murdered”, which makes no sense since in the Scorpion Vignette it clearly says that himself and his entire clan were murdered by Sub-Zero; but if you remembered correctly, Quan Chi murdered Scorpion’s entire clan, which you find out in Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, so I’m guessing this has something to do with this, I’m hoping. Though, it does appear they at least did a good job with this part.
Mileena seems too playful, especially since she doesn’t seem very psychotic in any other game; she has a “Juri Han” type of element to her, which might have been attractive if she didn’t have the worse looking mouth ever. To me, she always seemed more like the deadly, sexy assassin type with the killer mouth if you ever got a chance to see it. Though, they kept the fact that Shang Tsung created her by the wishes of Shao Kahn.
From what I can tell, the game is retelling the story from the very beginning, stopping any holes that might have been left and removing unnecessary things. Though, makes me wonder when we are going to see Liu Kang, since he was a major part of the Mortal Kombat storyline, especially if Johnny Cage is in (and he looks ridiculous by the way).
Overall, I originally started off trying to ridicule them; but it seems as though they’re actually doing a solid job of revamping the storyline and putting together all the new things that happened through the other Mortal Kombat and creating a brand new “Canon” storyline that doesn’t completely change any of the old characters too vastly, and gives a more in-depth look to them.
-[ Final Thoughts ]-
My final thoughts, I guess I would have to say that I am skeptical. Mortal Kombat started off as a very promising series and eventually it just started to wane into nothing but a laughable fighting franchise. This game sets to try and remedy all of that; especially with the failure that was Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe. In retrospect and graphics, they may have did good, but the proof is in the game play and how it all comes together as a whole.
The storyline looks pretty good and thought out, which is what I was hoping some games would do like Street Fighter IV. They have kept up from everything it appears they said was canon after Mortal Kombat: Mythologies Sub-Zero after Quan Chi was added. Even the Fatalities look brutal and superb (Especially the Kung-Lao buzzsaw one).
Crappy game play so far is turning me off from this game, and anyone who picks it up should be weary. Though, it is quite possible that the game play will get faster and more promising (Think Marvel vs Capcom 3 on this) after people have actually learned the game, more combos, shenanigans, and mix-ups. I think it’s safe to say though, that I will be picking up this game only after I see it played at a high-level, and if it seems fun and fast at that point, it’ll be a definite buy; until then, they have to prove themselves as worthy of my hard earned cash once more.