E3 2010: In-Depth Preview of Mortal Kombat

Back in the early 90's there was only one reason that I continually frequented my local 7-11: Mortal Kombat. It was one of the first titles to feature brutal fighting along with digitized blood and the infamous finishing moves that killed your opponent known as "fatalities". Over the years and many sequels, something seems to have been lost in the mix with the franchise I loved so dearly in my youth. For starters, the series began to get overcomplicated with 3D movements, weapons you could pick up in the environment and side step dodging. It seemed like the moment Mortal Kombat entered a 3D world that it was no longer that much fun. Some people were great at adapting to the new movements and mechanics, but the rest of us were left in the dust. 2008's Mortal Kombat vs. DC was an interesting concept but it went so far as to get a teen rating and neuter the graphic violence and fatalities to the point that many were outright laughable. Where had my Mortal Kombat gone?

It seems I wasn't alone in this thought process because it was recently revealed that the newest Mortal Kombat gets rid of 3D environments and returns to 2D fighting at its finest, much like the recent Street Fighter IV did. The first three Mortal Kombat games are clearly the inspiration, with most moves, characters and environments coming directly from these titles. While the game itself plays in 2D, the world is created in beautifully rendered 3D models so that it really feels like a fresh Mortal Kombat. It has also sped up quite a bit from the days of even combo-rich Mortal Kombat 3 with battles rarely coming close to the 90 second time limit. You can cram a lot moves into a short period of time, with combo management and air juggling having a strong presence. There's also a new gauge that allows for larger and stronger special moves, combo breakers for when you're stuck in the corner, and new x-ray hits that don't disappoint. So far the confirmed characters in the game are: Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Sektor, Mileena, Nightwolf, Reptile, Johnny Cage and Kung Lao, but I'm fairly certain that we'll see series staple Liu Kang and in the background of one of the levels was a red-headed Sonya and chained up Kitana.

These new features and throwback to the classics is all good and well, but I'm betting what everyone really wants to know about are the fatalities. So how are they? They are spectacular. Just as the original stirred up a ton of controversy when Sub-Zero ripped off an opponent's head, spinal column hanging down, the new fatalities are sure to get parents concerned. This new batch of fatalities are super gory and even a tad on the realistic side, which made them look even more disgusting. Of the various fatalities we saw, I can say that Kung Lao's spinning hat move teased in the trailer above was the craziest, plenty of others had a very similar effect. Throughout the demo I couldn't remember a single moment where there wasn't a smile on my face because after all these years, the Mortal Kombat I had grown up with was finally back. There were groans, laughs and plenty of applause to the point that I can't wait for this title to hit store shelves.

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