Return to Mortal Kombat

Rewind to 1993.

I was obsessed with Mortal Kombat. I went to the Arcade weekly and dumped quarters into the Mortal Kombat machine. The controls were stiff, the hit detection was poor, it was pretty basic, but the character sprites were like real people, and, unlike Street Fighter II, another favorite of mine, there were Fatalities. At the end of a match, a big “Finish Him” would flash on the announcer would yell “Finish Him.” The winner had mere seconds to enter a button combination that would mutilate their opponent. After the below screen, Kano, the character on the left, rips the heart out of Raiden’s chest and holds it up in celebration.

Mortal Kombat II came out quickly after the first installment in 1993. Each character had multiple fatalities, and also friendship, where your character shows a nice gesture to the opponent, and babalities, where your button combination turns the opponent into a cute little baby. MKII was awesome and remains my favorite video game ever. I even still have the poster that came with my SNES cartridge up at my parents’ house. [Those are Dom’s Friends DVDs; I don’t condone the purchase of those things.]

Mortal Kombat 3 came out in 1995, and they really stepped up the fighting engine. They added a button and pre-programmed combinations. This installment, in its many iterations (i.e. Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, Mortal Kombat Trilogy — which is my favorite Playstation game ever), had my attention for the most years., and, after that, my interest waned.

I played MK4 for Nintendo 64, and I hated it.

I played MK Deadly Alliance when my brother, Dom, got it for Gamecube, and it was daunting to learn how to use the characters.

I’ve basically stayed away from Mortal Kombat for the better part of 13 years.

Earlier this year, Warner Bros, who recently purchased the franchise, announced they were developing a new Mortal Kombat game. It came out in May, and, my God, is it great.

In terms of gameplay, it goes back to the roots of MKII. Each character has individual special moves and can put together combinations. The combos are not preprogrammed like in MK3. Everything is based on where the characters are on the screen; you can juggle, crossover, and combine combos. The possibilities are endless. I’m a little miffed with the way the buttons are mapped on the standard Xbox360 controller; the punch buttons are on top and kick on the bottom, akin to Street Fighter. Classically, MK buttons have been punches on the left, kicks on the right. Ohh well.

You get a bar that fills up as the match progresses. As you block special moves or perform special moves, it fills quicker. There are three levels to the bar. You can perform enhanced moves, breakers, and X-ray moves using this bar. An X-ray move is a special throw that, if successful, puts the action into slow motion while you witness bones crushing via an x-ray view. It is awesome.

I have much to learn about the gameplay mechanics, but what is blowing me away is the story mode. I don’t want to spoil it because it is glorious, but the setup is that Raiden must change reality, and must go back in time and alter the events starting at the original Mortal Kombat. Many things get explained, even things that a MK geek like myself had no idea about.

Everything about this game brings it back to basics. With the addition of new characters via downloadable content, especially interesting entries like Freddy Krueger, the game will expand and leave hours and hours of things to learn.

I highly recommend picking it up if you own an Xbox360 or PS3. It is fantastic!


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