Mortal Kombat is back, and it’s bloodier than ever! The ninth entry in the main MK series comes out April 19 for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, and it’s shaping up to be one of the best fighting games of the year.
Similar to Capcom’s approach with Street Fighter IV, Netherrealm,(the studio behind the new MK comprised of series creator Ed Boon and former MK staff members) is targeting old fans of the franchise.
The difference between SF and MK is that Boon isn’t targeting the hardcore gamers, but the casual ones instead. The rationale behind this approach is that many modern fighting games are too difficult for most and the creators aim to make the game more accessible to everyone. So the good news is that even if you suck at fighting games, there’s a good chance you will still like MK.
The gameplay is similar to the original MK trilogy and is strictly 2D, with characters rendered in 3D. Familiar faces return like Liu Kang, Sub Zero, and Johnny Cage, along with others for a total character roster of 27. God of War action hero Kratos is a bonus character for PS3 owners. Future downloadable characters will be released to pump up the roster. So far Scarlet Lady(a red ninja cut from MK II), Kintaro(a boss also from MK II), and Kenshi(a new blind character) have been confirmed.
The plot takes place between the first three games where characters time –travel to alternate events in the past to save the future from Shao Kahn. The gameplay is similar to the early games and classic stages like “the Pit” return, as do the infamous fatalities. Although it is similar to the old games, the core gameplay has been tweaked.
The controls resemble a four-button Tekken-style approach, and the game is lighting fast. You can make your own combos or use preset commands. Special attacks from later MK games called super meters that have three levels of techniques are a new addition to the franchise.
If you save your entire super meter, you can perform X-ray attacks that are similar to the fight scenes in Romeo Must Die. NetherRealm rendered all of the character’s bones and internal organs so that when you unleash these moves you will see necks snapping, ribs shattering, and other bone-crushing moves. Each fighter has their own unique X-ray animation and special attacks. Also, your character will take real onscreen damage in addition to losing lots of blood.
The online mode includes King of the Hill, where two players battle it out while spectators watch and a first for the series four-player tag-team combat similar to Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 where you can perform assist attacks or start a combo with one character and finish it the second.
A new single-player mode called Tower of Power features 300 unique challenges, such as battling without your arms, fighting zombies in a graveyard, playing slot machines, and many more. Krypt Mode makes a return and grant players rewards for completing challenges. Also, a new mode lets you practice fatalities at your own pace.
The fatalities are so gruesome that MK got banned in Australia. Some will make you squeamish, like Mileena throwing daggers into her opponent’s chest, then ripping off the head and devouring the flesh from the skull. Kung Lao puts a saw blade hat on the floor, slicing his enemy in half. Reptile vomits poison into a character’s mouth and then splits their neck. Others are humorous, like throwing opponents into a tree to be devoured, running them over with a car and positioning their faces next to a speeding train.
If you can’t get enough MK, then check out the new web series MK Legacy that debuted last week. The web series features high production values and fleshes out MK’s back story and characters.
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