Mortal Kombat X Preview - Games Weekly

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Mortal Kombat X Preview

Mortal Kombat has been around for a long time, so we’ve brought back classic characters that people love,” explains NetherRealm’s marketing games manager Brian Goodman during our hands-on with the iconic fighting game, “but we’re always looking to be innovative, so we’ve brought in new characters, too.We’ve got Cassie Cage, the daughter of Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade, which might give you some ideas about where we’re going with the story.

It’s a curious start to the presentation we’re used to mostly ignoring the story of fighting games; after a few iterations, it gets hard to justify the countless tournaments that somehow make up the bulk of the game’s story. Yet, Mortal Kombat always manages to wrangle a pretty good story out of its eclectic cast of fighters and it always helps when new faces are added to the roster. “D’Vorah is [another] new character. She’s a human/insect hybrid that has control over insects and some really incredible moves,” explains Goodman as we see the humanoid wasp thing stab at Scorpion with a set of four sharp, articulated insect-legs unfurling from her thorax.

Goodman then selects Ferra Tor and proceeds to make the combined characters perform a move that sees returning combatant Sub-Zero sliced in half from skull to crotch. It’s all, instantly, very Mortal Kombat. “Ferra Tor is actually two characters in one: a giant beast (Ferra) who has a psychotic lady (Tor) on his back who commands his moves.”

Next, Goodman moves onto Kotal Khan, whose imposing tribal design makes us think he’s something to do with Shao Khan and his tyrannical dynasty. “Kotal Kahn is a new Outworld fighter who we’re keeping quiet about right now so we don’t give away too much of the story,” Goodman teases though the Outworld hint adds credence to our Shao Khan theory. One thing we noticed as we got to play the characters ourselves is that none of the new cast seem to have the depth of the
returning characters whether that’s because we’re not used to them we’re not sure, but we hope when we get to learn the intricacies of each fighter, we’ll come to see their true depth.

“ We’ve brought back the X-Ray moves from Mortal Kombat 9 because they’re too cool not to have”
Each character now comes with three base variations,too (perhaps another reason we couldn’t fully extract each of their unique movesets). Depending on which version of the fighter you choose, different abilities and super moves will be nerfed or boosted. “The first innovation we have [in Mortal Kombat X ] are ‘character variations’, which give you three versions of each character when you select them.

Each variation has the same basic moveset, but whichever one you choose offers unique special attacks, abilities and strategies. For instance, the Ninjitsu Scorpion variation gives him swords to use, while Hellfire Scorpion gives him more fire-based moves, and Inferno Scorpion makes use of a demon that can be called-in during the fight.

“You can see visually which version you’re using,” Goodman continues. “If your opponent is using Hellfire Scorpion, you know that because of the flames that are running and licking up his arms. All of the variations have these visual indications. If you’re fighting against CryoMaster Sub-Zero, you can see ice covering parts of his body. When you pick a variation you must stick with that for the whole fight: you can’t just keep switching variations to match the situation you find yourself in.”

It’s an interesting conceit to bring to the franchise, and one that’s sort-of been trialled before in Deception, where you could cycle through different weapons mid-fight. Balancing fighting games is hard enough as it is, so we’re eager to see what the full 18-character roster will fell like once you’ve discovered how each variant of each kombatant plays.

Mortal Kombat X seems like an incredibly ambitious deviation for NetherRealm combining all the elements that made the reboot successful with more of that irresistible Mortal Kombat über violence that made the game successful in the first place.

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