PAX 2010: Mortal Kombat Hands-On Impressions

NetherRealm Studios is making a big effort to take Mortal Kombat back to the good old days of fatalities, lots of blood and fast 2D fighting. “Old skool,” with a “k” we assume, is how MK producer Hector Sanchez described it to us today at PAX.

Phil Owen and I interviewed Sanchez, and then got a chance for a little hands-on time. I was Scorpion, and Phil was Sub Zero.

MK is unapologetically 2D, and beautiful. The character models are the most detailed, sophisticated models ever in an MK game. The characters will accrue “damage detail” over the course of the match, which gets more severe as you take a beating. The blood ages in MK. And even if you’re winning, you will get bloody, since your opponent’s blood will splash on you.

Speaking of blood: Because of the lack of blood in MK vs. DC, Sanchez told us that NetherRealm is going extra bloody for the new Mortal Kombat. They’re going to overcompensate to make 100% sure there’s enough. I was pleased to hear this.

I was also pleased to hear that fatalities are coming back in a big way. There will be no “friendship” fatalities here. Every character will have “at least” two fatalities, with more on the way in future DLC packs.

Super Meter – X Ray Moves

As old skool as the new MK is, there are some new features. Each character has a “Super Meter” at the bottom of their screen. The Super Meter has 3 tiers, which fill up as you fight. Tier 1 enables you to unleash a super-powered version of one your regular moves. In regular mode, Johnny Cage’s Green Bolt move is…regular. If you have tier 1 of the super meter filled, hold block while doing the button combination, and Cage’s Green Bolt will be super-powered, firing off three bolts in unison that pack a mean punch.

The second tier of the Super Meter triggers a “Breaker” move, which is like a reversal that breaks your opponent’s momentum.

The third and final tier of the Super Meter enables the “X Ray Move.” To trigger this, push RB + RT (when you’re in range), and you’ll unleash an extended, brutal combo animation with an x ray view–so you can see exactly what bones you’re breaking of your opponent’s. Each character has their own individual X Ray Move.

Tag Team Mode

When you’re playing in tag team mode, you can swap in your secondary player at any time. When you swap in your homie, you can have them do an Offensive or Assist move. An Offensive tag-in move is what you would think–a flying kick, punch, etc. An Assist move is designed to assist you in a further attack. For instance, Nightwolf’s Assist Move is a pop-up, which will allow you to continue the move and juggle your opponent.

Final Word

Mortal Kombat is smooth, fast, bloody and familiar. You should be able to pop right in, pick your favorite old skool character and start fighting. Things should be mostly as you remember them. Back + Back + X triggers Scorpion’s spear move, and Down + Back + A triggers his teleportation move, for instance. The new Tag Team and Super Meter systems add a new layer of strategy to the fighting, combining for a nice mix of the old and new.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about Mortal Kombat (how it plays online, how all the different characters play and balance, etc.), but on the surface it looks like it’s definitely on the right track.

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