Mortal Kombat

23 Oct

The latest iteration of the iconic fighting series, “Mortal Kombat,” was released earlier this year and aptly titled: “Mortal Kombat.”  MK fans have been referring to the game as Mortal Kombat 9; a more appropriate title might be The Real Mortal Kombat 4 as this game channels the energy and player roster of MK3, and has returned after over a decade to 2D.  The series began pioneering a 3D fight system with Mortal Kombat 4 in the arcade in 1997.  It is likely that creator, Ed Boon, didn’t want his series to look outdated among his 3D arcade peers like Tekken and Dead or Alive.

MK4 did offer some interesting additions in the way of characters and weaponry (not including dickhole Quan Chi, shown above), but the gameplay was rather shaky and it also created a rift in the home console accessibility.

I would love to know what is going on here…especially riiiiiiight here ^

As the series progressed, the controls and graphics tightened up and by the time it hit XBox, they had even added a story/campaign mode geared towards getting the player acclimated to some degree with all characters.  “Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance” and “Mortal Kombat: Deception” absorbed countless hours of my adult life (though I’m still awful at fighting games).  The myriad unlockables and hidden secrets in these games were another treat.  You unlocked a concept art drawing of Scorpion. Ok, cool.  You unlocked Ermac’s alternate costume. Sweet.  You unlocked Cyrax as a playable character.  Shit, really?? Awesome!

By the time that “Mortal Kombat: Armageddon” came out, the series was getting a bit tired and needed a face-lift (although, I have to say that the entire character roster and create a character option was fun).  “Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe” wouldn’t have been my first choice.  The game is actually relatively enjoyable, but there just seems to be something wrong…

“The Joker wins…FATALITY.”

Bizarre.  They actually reassigned this fatality to Shang Tsung in MK9.

It turns out that going back to the basics was actually just what the series needed.  “Mortal Kombat” offers a fresh approach to what made the series so good to begin with: the classic characters (sorry, no Hsu Hao), the classic boards (which have been creepily updated), the classic special moves (who needs weapons?), Test Your Might (the only part of the game where you are supposed to button mash), pit fatalities (acid bath?  ah, thank you), the Ladder (w/ Shang Tsung, Goro and Shao Kahn waiting for you at the top).

What have they added?  They added a Story mode that actually follows a coherent story-line and has better voice acting than the acting in the original movie (exclusive of this little treat: Johnny Cage vs. Goro).  They kept the two-player tag mode, but this time you can play a Tag Ladder with a buddy.  The Challenge Tower will keep you busy for hours with over 400 challenges to complete for koins.  The Krypt of unlockables seems to be even vaster than it’s predecessors. The XBox Live downloadable package ($15 a la carte) has some interesting extras including Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger as playable characters; very strange, but interesting nonetheless.  I heard a rumor that Nemesis from Resident Evil may be released as a playable character.  They added X-Ray attacks so that the player can see exactly how brutal a special move can be from a medical standpoint.  At first, they seem really cool, but I honestly feel that they tire quickly and disrupt the gameplay.  Check out Scorpion face-punching Johnny Cage.

Oh, and Shao Kahn got a girlfriend…and I see her way too often – Shao Kahn’s slut.

The game has an above average playability for well-worn territory and it’s a hell of a lot of fun reintroducing friends who were huge old school MK fans to the series.  At times, the gameplay can seem a tad slow (not Corky’ed or anything), but it does leave one furious, especially when you miss getting a crucial move off on Shao Kahn.  The fighter roster is also lop-sided as it has always been in the series. In this game, Jax, whose moves deal an incredible amount of damage, would’t have a prayer of getting a move off on any character with speed or a teleporting attack.  He’s been there since II, figure out how to level the playing field.

I have to say though, they really covered all their nostalgia bases…even TOASTY!

Rating: B+

In a movie market flooded with reboots, I wasn’t surprised to learn about “Mortal Kombat: Legacy,” a series of 12 1/2 minute internet shorts by director Kevin Tancharoen which began a few years ago.  He was able to option a movie deal more recently and the movie is currently listed as “in active development at New Line” on IMDb.  He seems to want to do for Mortal Kombat what Christopher Nolan did for Batman.

Mortal Kombat: Legacy Episode 1

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