Here's the problem with that plan: Mortal Kombat is very good. The 15-minute meeting I had with the game turned into an hour of simply playing it and talking about it, concluding with the PR folks prying the arcade stick out of my hands. Here's why I fell in love with this bloody return to form.
Fighting games usually reserve their fun for multiplayer, but Mortal Kombat will have a number of ways to play solo. There is a fatality training mode so you can practice the ultra-violent finishing moves, as well as the Challenge Tower, a series of 300 challenges that will teach you how to become a master fighter while throwing gimmicks and new gameplay ideas at you.
During one challenge you'll have to throw grenades into a moving bucket, which teaches you how to aim the explosives. In another, you'll be forced to beat a particular character and then finish with a fatality. In others you'll simply have to master a series of moves. Test Your Might challenges are back, as well as Test Your Sight, which is sort of like a shell game but with human heads.
Test Your Luck is a new idea, featuring a slot machine-like device that offers up random challenges. For instance, the slots may spin to pick a character to fight, and then disable jumping, and then take away special moves. It feels almost like mutators from the older Unreal Tournament titles, but in a fighting game. You'll never know how the match will play out. Some will be harder than others, but it's always fun.
Well, almost. Screw Baraka. Seriously. I wish I could fail at doing Sonya's fatality at the end of the challenge, but I couldn't beat the ugly mutant. There's nothing greater than not being able to lose the second part of the challenge because you're so busy failing at the first part while the PR reps around you are looking for some way to praise your utterly terrible performance. So there's that.
You earn coins while playing the game, and you can use these to skip challenges if you become stuck, but I was also told there is a reward for finishing all the challenges.
When you fail, the game takes half a second to load before giving you another chance, making the grind much more pleasant. This is a mode that keeps things interesting while teaching you the skills to play the game better against actual people, and that's a good thing. You'll enjoy some chances more than others, but there are hours worth of content to enjoy.
At Warner Bros.' GDC hospitality suite, as well as Sony's lounge, I was able to play the game on a 3D television, and the effect was very satisfying. The fighters were set to zero in the 3D space, so there was no blur if you watched people fight without glasses. The objects in the foreground, as well as those in the background, were given multiple levels of depth. Mortal Kombat is already a dark, bloody game, so the added dimness from the glasses was less of an issue.
The forest level featured multiple levels of scrolling behind the characters, making the level come alive and feel like something akin to a real-world setting. The 3D was understated but effective, and I was able to play for around a half an hour without much eye strain. I'm not saying you need to run out and buy a 3D television, but if I ever do decide to take the plunge, this will be one of the first games I'm putting in to impress my friends.
The 3D setting is only available in the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
Against your friends!
The game features expressive animations for all the characters, and the fighting itself is snappy and satisfying. It simply feels good to play, especially if you were a fan of the past games. I was sworn to secrecy about some of the characters we saw in the latest build of the game—and by "sworn" I mean there was a multipage legal document signed saying our lives were forfeit if we say [redacted] and [sorry folks] are in the game—but we were also told that if you had a favorite character in Mortal Kombat 1 through 3, it would most likely make the cut.
The game is easy to pick up and play, helped along by moves that aren't as complicated as games that use the Street Fighter-style controls, and a move list accessed by pausing the game. If you get beaten on for long enough, you'll be able to pull off an "X-Ray" attack by hitting both trigger buttons, unleashing a combo that ends with you breaking multiple bones in your opponent's body. Yes, it's easy to do, but your opponent can also see it coming and counteract the move. It's not about moves that take practice to pull off, but the tactics needed to make sure they're effective.
Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a great game, but the number of things happening on-screen at once can be overwhelming. Mortal Kombat is easier on the eyes, with a more "realistic" art style. It's not that the game is competing with what Capcom does with fighting games, it's just a very different way of designing a fighter, and it's good to see Mortal Kombat come back with such a strong entry into the series.
This is supposed to be something of a return to form, a reboot for the fighting game series, and that's exactly what it feels like. It will make you remember why you loved the game to begin with, while offering all of the polish and features expected from a current-generation game. I wasn't all that excited about the game when I walked into the appointment, but I walked out completely jazzed about it, and the press was buzzing about it throughout the Game Developers Conference.
The game will be available in a $150 "Tournament Edition" that comes with a slew of goodies, but the real prize is the arcade stick that should be a real treat for anyone who grew up loving American arcade games. The stick features a bat-top design, the buttons are concave, and the controls are nice and stiff. It feels very different from the Japanese-influenced Mad Catz sticks while maintaing what feels like the same level of quality. If you grew up playing Mortal Kombat in the arcades, this stick will bring that experience to your home. [...]
The devil don't change
There are going to be some people who still don't like Mortal Kombat, and that's fine. This has never been a game for everyone. During the show, Sid Shuman from the official PlayStation Blog challenged me to a few rounds of the game and I showed up at the Sony lounge to play. There were a few more people who showed up, put on the 3D glasses, and watched the carnage. The trash talking was thick, the rounds were close, and I had my ass handed to me in all three matches.
It felt like old times, back when Mortal Kombat was at its peak. It's good to see the series get a game that's this much fun to play, even if some of the fighting game snobs are going to sneer at it. Me? I'm going to be too busy ripping my friends' spines out when the game is released on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on April 19.
Original article can be found here