Hands-onMortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance

We take a look at an updated build of Midway's upcoming fighting game.

Earlier today, Midway held an event in Las Vegas to display much of its upcoming lineup. The star of the show was Midway's upcoming fighting game, Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. Rather than continue the game's long-running storyline, MK: DA starts over from scratch, bringing a new fighting system as well as new and returning characters along the way.

The gameplay in Deadly Alliance is heavy on fighting stance changes. Fighters can easily change between different stances, which govern what happens when you push any of the attack buttons. Each character has two unarmed stances and one weapon stance. Johnny Cage, for instance, uses jeet kune do, one other unarmed style, and also packs a set of nunchaku, giving him some moves that look a somewhat similar to Maxi's in Soul Calibur. Scorpion packs a heavy broadsword that is slow to attack, but deals out a lot of damage. Whereas characters in Mortal Kombat 4 were almost identical to one another--only their special moves truly set them apart--this new game is striving to make each character play completely differently. Even the classic Mortal Kombat uppercut isn't in every character's arsenal, though each character will have some form of launcher attack to open up juggle combos. One alternative is a pop-up attack, usually displayed as a downward kick that bounces the victim off the ground and back up into the air for more abuse.

The moves lists in the new MK look like something you might see in a Tekken or Virtua Fighter game, rather than an earlier MK. The emphasis is on combo strings ranging from around two to six hits, and each of your character's three styles is given its own page, usually with around 16 or 17 attacks each. Only a handful of special moves were in this six-character build. Scorpion's spear is in, and looks as gruesome as ever. He can also cause fire to shoot out of the ground, burning unblocking opponents. Johnny Cage has the classic MK uppercut, though the twist here is that he does the splits immediately before doing it. Kung Lao has a kick special that links three flying kicks together. Bo Rai Cho is a rotund addition to the Mortal Kombat mythos who starts out using drunken fist style. He has a few different specials, including a triple flip kick. Raiden was in the version shown, but he didn't appear to have any special attacks in place. Some special moves can only be done in a particular stance. Johnny Cage, for example, can't do some of his specials when in his nunchaku stance.

The game will use five different attack buttons--the fifth button will only be used for throws and reversals. A style change button cycles through your three styles. Midway continually focuses on the concept of custom combos that involve multiple styles when talking about the game, but we haven't seen anything like that just yet. Like previous entries in the series, there's also a button reserved for blocking enemy attacks.

Graphically, MK is on par with modern fighting games, such as Tekken 4, Virtua Fighter 4, and Soul Calibur 2. The animation used in the game is really smooth, and the game runs at a nice, solid frame rate. The backgrounds are also ornately detailed.

Mortal Kombat wouldn't be Mortal Kombat without fatalities. While they weren't in the game yet, Midway did briefly show off a teaser of what's to come. Sub-Zero's fatality has him reaching into the lower back of his opponent. After feeling around a bit, he then yanks out the victim's entire skeleton. Each of the game's 21 characters will have one fatality.

Like Midway's sports games, MK will have a player profile feature. This lets you store your win/loss record, as well as costume configuration. As you play, your profile will earn "kombat kurrency," which is used to unlock backgrounds, special costumes (such as Johnny Cage's tuxedo), secret characters, and more. The game will also have special features-like content, including a making-of video, the music video for the game's theme song, Immortal, and a "History of Mortal Kombat" video.

Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance is scheduled to hit shelves on November 22, or as Midway is calling it, "Fatality Friday."

Written By

Jeff Gerstmann has been professionally covering the video game industry since 1994.

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