Mon 23 Aug 2010
Like Street Fighter before it, Mortal Kombat is returning to its roots. The upcoming entry in the long-running series—appropriately titled simply Mortal Kombat—is 2D and violent: don't expect the Teen rating that accompanied the DC crossover from two years ago. We recently had a chance to go hands-on with it and found the game to be a solid return to form for the beleaguered series.
The game is a team-based fighter, so you'll be able to choose two different fighters and swap between them at any point during the battle. Only a small part of the roster was available at the demo, but it included plenty of returning favorites like Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Cyrax, and Reptile. The controls feel very familiar, and in fact many of the moves—like Cyrax's net and Scorpion's infamous spear—require the same button combinations as in previous games. In a lot of ways it feels like MK2, only with modern visuals.
And those visuals make a huge difference. The game utilizes the same 2.5D style found on games like New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Super Street Fighter IV. So while the actual game is rendered in 3D, the fighting takes place across a two-dimensional plane. The background I got to fight in appeared to be a haunted forest, with animated trees, a rolling fog, and several unlucky bodies hanging from the trees. There was quite a bit of depth to the background and the small details were almost enough to distract me from the fight.
While MK vs DC was a fun fighting game, many long-time fans were turned off by the toned down violence. Those fans have nothing to worry about with this game. Blood gushes from pretty much every attack, and it's red (unless you're fighting Reptile, who bleeds green), gooey, and not censored in any way. Certain attacks will cause the action to slow down, zooming in so you can revel in its brutal glory. You'll actually be treated to an x-ray view of the damage, so you can see bones crack beneath a fist or foot.
Fatalities also make a return. The only one I was able to see involved Cyrax slicing up his foe before kicking him to bits, but I was assured that all the rest will be equally violent. It's also great to see just how beaten up the characters get. As the fight unfolds, each attack leaves a mark, so by the end each character is a bruised and bloody mess. It makes each punch just that much more satisfying.
From the quick glimpse I had, it seems like the new MK will be just what series fans are looking for: a gloriously violent return to form. It doesn't feature anything particularly new or innovative, but it packs a gruesome, visceral punch. The game will be coming to both the PS3 and the 360 early next year.