Fans of the fighting genre have long been clamoring for Mortal Kombat to return to its roots. We’re thrilled to report that not only has the series made a triumphant return to the gritty, blood and gore filled combat that made Mortal Kombat one of the best fighting franchises of all time, but it’s better than ever.
Round 1… Fight!
Gone is the weak, style-switching gameplay from the past few installments and in its place returns the classic 2D plane fighting that you know and love. Just because it’s full of nostalgia doesn’t mean it’s lacking innovation. In fact, Mortal Kombat is full of new surprises that are going to take the series to new heights. There is an all new “super meter” that fills as you battle your foe. The meter has 3 different levels for you to build up. The first is for super moves – which are slightly more powerful versions of standard special moves such as Sub-Zero’s freeze and Reptile’s acid spit. The next level is the breaker, which can be used to save your ass when you’re being pummelled by an opponent’s combo. Using it breaks the combo, giving you a chance to retaliate. Lastly, there are all new devastating X-ray moves. X-ray moves are powerful attacks that will actually slow down the combat while you perform the attack and zoom in to an “x-ray” window, allowing you to view bones shattering from the intensity of the attack. Very cool stuff.
X-ray moves also show off the game’s attention to detail. If you perform an X-ray move on Reptile, you’ll notice a reptilian skull. For Sektor, there was wires and metal instead of bones. There is also visible damage on combatant’s clothes, gashes, and torn eyelids. Any type of brutal injury inflicted upon you or your opponent will be represented on your character.
All the special moves you know and love are back. The combo system is simplistic, yet complex. It’s extremely open – so a regular jump kick or punch can be combined with special moves and other regular attacks to perform combo strings. These can completely decimate your opponent as we witnessed a 13-hit 63% damage combo that one of the developers performed.
There is a single player ladder much like Mortal Kombat games of old, along with versus. The newest spin on versus mode is the fact you can select either one on ones or two on two tag team matches. Players can tag in and out their selected fighters at will. There’s simple tags which just swap the two fighters and then there is a “tag swap attack” which has your player on reserve hopping into battle mid-attack. You can also call on your reserved fighter to do a “tag assist” which will have them briefly hopping on screen to perform a special move before they jump back out of sight.
The game features classic stages from past games. We saw the Deadpool, the Pit, and the Living Forest. These aren’t just rehashed versions from old games. There’s tons of detail added. In the background of the Pit stage, you can clearly see players in the back fighting their hearts out. Oh, and you can uppercut your opponent down onto the deadly spikes below.
Series staple fighters are back in full force. Although only a few were shown – Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Nightwolf, Kung Lao, Mileena, Sektor, Reptile and Johnny Cage – they didn’t even account for 10% of the character selection screen. It also seems that the roster may actually be endless, as there was a slot in the character selection screen for DLC characters.
During our hands on time with the game, we found the gameplay to be a flawless victory; smooth as can be and easy to pick up and play. Despite being so simplistic, we performed deep combos, juggles and more. Best of all, we actually performed a Fatality with Scorpion. Fatalities are back and gorier than ever. Long time favorite fatalities have been altered to be even more brutal, all while still providing a nod to fans of the old school Mortal Kombat games.
Mortal Kombat is due for a release next year and was easily the best game we played at E3 2010.