Mortal Kombat Hands-On

Blood--and lots of it--abounds in our first hands-on with the latest in the long-running fighting franchise.

If you liked the gore and abundant ultraviolence of the earlier Mortal Kombat games, then we've got good news for you: The new Mortal Kombat is one of the bloodiest games we've ever seen. Even if you weren't particularly fond of the blood but just liked the games for their fighting style, then you'll have plenty to look forward to with this latest entry in the franchise. According to series creator Ed Boon, the new Mortal Kombat will be a spiritual successor to Mortal Kombat II and III, which will be music to the ears of longtime fans.

According to Boon, this reinvigorated Mortal Kombat will focus on providing deep mechanics for veterans, an accessible combo system for all newcomers, and a strong return to the mature-rated violence and fatalities for which the series is best known. Boon says the team is aiming for a dark and gritty look, and in terms of story, the new game will take place after the events of Mortal Kombat Armageddon but will have some time-travel elements in place. Thus, all of the characters you'll see will be classic ones from the first three games, with many of the locations also hailing from early in the series. In the E3 demo that we managed to get hands-on time with behind closed doors, there were eight playable characters: Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Mileena, Johnny Cage, Sektor, Nightwolf, Reptile, and Kung Lao, with Boon saying he's aiming for roughly 26 characters overall in the final game.

The first thing you'll notice about Mortal Kombat is that (just like the reboot that gave us Street Fighter IV), the game looks familiar yet strikingly impressive at the same time, thanks to the visual upgrade modern consoles can provide. The characters themselves are nicely detailed and sport damage to their clothes in real time (as well as showing open wounds as the fight progresses). Blood will even splatter and eventually congeal on you and your opponent, turning darker in color as the match progresses. The stages, too, are looking good. Some familiar levels we saw--such as The Pit from the original and The Living Forest from the first sequel--have plenty of animated sections and loads of character.

Speaking of character, the fighters themselves seem to sport their familiar move sets and abilities, meaning series veterans (and even folks who haven't played a game in the series for years) should be able to quickly get a grasp of the game's basic mechanics. The developers, though, aren't just pumping out facsimiles of what has been done before. The game's fighting system will apparently allow you to create custom combos, That is, it will give you the ability to experiment and string together your own set of moves. We've been told that the timing of moves will be open enough for players to be able to connect their favorite attacks together, although we'll have to get more time with the game to see how this affects the overall balance of Mortal Kombat.

Probably one of the biggest changes (at least for anyone who hasn't played the game in many years) is the addition of a multilevel power bar that can be used for several different purposes. Performing souped-up versions of your regular special moves takes up one section of the bar, and this is done by simply holding down the block button as you input the command. For example, Sub-Zero's ground freeze will normally only have an area of effect directly in front of the frosty ninja, but if you power it up, the frozen area will extend across the entire screen.

You can also pull off a breaker move, which will automatically interrupt an opponent mid-combo, which costs two whole sections of your bar. But if you manage to hold off and get three full sections, you'll be able to pull off an X-Ray attack. These devastating attacks (we saw one that took off almost half a bar of health) will result in a gruesome combo sequence, with the camera zooming in for close-ups that reveal the bones breaking and organs exploding inside your opponent's body (as can be seen in the game's reveal trailer). A couple of X-Ray attacks we saw were bloody indeed: Reptile, for example, will grab an opponent's head; stab his eyes with two sharp, clawed fingers; break his neck (in slow motion); and land a devastating punch to the midriff that breaks the rib cage into tiny pieces.

But an even bigger addition is the ability to have tag-team matches in the style of Capcom's vs. series. Mortal Kombat will have a dedicated Two-Versus-Two mode (as well as the traditional solo matches), and you'll be able to swap out characters on the fly during a fight. If you've played a Capcom vs. game recently, then you'll know what to expect: Characters will perform an attack as they swap in (leading to interesting combo opportunities), and you'll also be able to call them in for a quick assist attack move. Unlike the Capcom vs. games, resting characters won't regain any health, although the game's developers said that issue was still yet to be fully decided upon. Swapping characters have their own unique animations, so they won't simply jump out of the way when summoned out of a fight. Mileena, for example, gives a loud hiss and rolls away, while Johnny Cage makes a throat slit move before leaping away.

And then, of course, there are the fatalities. The ones we spied during our hands-on session were truly brutal and are sure to elicit disgust from the squeamish and delight for those more macabre minded. Mileena's fatality, for example, sees her throw her sais into an opponent's feet, locking him or her into place before ripping off his or her torso. Reptile grabs open an opponent's mouth, spits acid into it, punches a hole in his or her stomach, and rips out his or her intestines. Sektor slices an opponent's upper body into several pieces, before individually targeting him or her with missiles to destroy him or her even further. Words don't do justice to the level of gore on show here, so you'll have to trust us that these moves are pretty extreme (either that or watch some gameplay videos).

Mortal Kombat is looking extremely promising at this early stage, offering series devotees and lapsed fans plenty of reasons to check it out. Boon also hinted that the game would contain plenty of hidden secrets, something that has been a strong part of the series since day one. We're looking forward to finding out what these secrets are--as well as just getting more hands-on time to see how balanced the gameplay is--so keep it locked to GameSpot for more soon.

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RandolphRam

Randolph Ramsay

Randolph is the managing editor of GameSpot, and needs more time to play games.
Mortal Kombat (2011)

Mortal Kombat (2011)

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375 comments
sajtail
sajtail

My only worry is that this game might do a Left 4 Dead 2 and get censored for the Australian release....

xXpainXx123
xXpainXx123

omg dis game is gonna be awsome, it will be a must buy 4 me cant wait 4 it 2 come out

grey_fox1984
grey_fox1984

I'm iffy on this one; I would love if they brought a bigger focus to timing your attacks and predicting your opponent's and less of a heavy focus on special moves; but at the same time, that would make it feel less like Mortal Kombat. I think I'm biased and that SFIV has ruined me for every other fighting game.

mdmbuzz
mdmbuzz

Sub-Zero will be the original evil sub zero from mk1 (noob saibot) i read it on ig

punisher781
punisher781

this is looking awesome Sub-Zero is looking like the MK vs DC version I hope they include Cyrax he is cool

FiddleJohnny
FiddleJohnny

Haha got to love Kung Lao's hat! It was awesome in Shaolin Monks. Although I think we have to agree that Scorpion and Sub Zero are the coolest characters in the MK series.

gamespot2DBOne
gamespot2DBOne

and also i somehow have trouble imagining a HAT that can "Cut"like a chainsaw

gamespot2DBOne
gamespot2DBOne

whats wrong with having another mk vs dcu when it can be better executed?

tigerlegend76
tigerlegend76

This game sounds awesome! Just hope it isn't banned or watered down for the Australian release...

advanracer
advanracer

HEY.."Deadliest Warrior" the video game!! NICE... i like the Xray View...nice!! Nothing like witnessing Internal Injuries...after your attack. I LOVE IT..

DCHotboy
DCHotboy

NEW BREATH OF FRESH AIR FOR MK...AFTER MK4 THIS SERIES TOOK A TURN FOR THE WORSE I MEAN EVERY MK GAME AFTER 4 SUCK'D SO BAD THAT I BROKE THEM. I THINK THAT THIS WILL BRING MK BACK TO PROMINENCE AND FIGHT'N GAME DOMINANCE!!! REPTILE WINS!!!

Andynor1
Andynor1

This game is going to breake me and my girlfriend up. For sure! :D

Oozyrat
Oozyrat

The game looks great!!! P.S - Is there going to be a create a character?? I enjoy creating things in games (as long as the rest of the game doesn't suffer from it.

MachShot
MachShot

I hope we can understand Rayden this time around. A-la-li-ma-paaaaay!

irishdude199210
irishdude199210

26 characters, not much is it. i mean armageddon over did it but it should have around 35 anyway.

badboy780
badboy780

the only thing this mortal kombat needs is brutalities and anamalities

penpusher
penpusher

This game looks brutally awesome :D @SlayerOfEvil keep it in the mod forum eh? no one likes a whiner and you have to keep in mind gamespot is also inhabited by children (not many but meh)

01-cannon-mpc
01-cannon-mpc

This might be the first Mortal Kombat game i buy lol. =P

BonsaiMagpie
BonsaiMagpie

Is this back to the 2.5d gamestyle? Admittedly some of the older games were crap but i liked the full 3d environement in which to fight.

SlayerOfEvil
SlayerOfEvil

Did these noobs delete my comment? haha.... the idea of a MK **SEXUALITY** move where I quote: "a girl character could jump onto her defeated enemy and twist off his head with her you know what!..." to add onto Fatalities like I suggested, too mature for Gamespot?? lol.. for an upcoming game that's supposed to UP the maturity level to the extreme!? AND.. c'mon, gotta love that fataility from MK2 where Milena swallows her defeated opponent & spits out his/her bones. SeXxay! ;P Anyway like I said, looks like the real Mortal Kombat is back and better than ever!!

StJimmy15
StJimmy15

suuhhweeet! This is gonna be soo much better than that stupid toned down DC vs MK.. (which could have been good, but why would we want to see gory, over the top suphero fatalities?!)

solidniko
solidniko

owch cut from the balls first WITH A HAT

BloodyViperPRO
BloodyViperPRO

At last a real MK game I dont need to play that pice of crap of MK vs DC univers :)

cjcrashoveride
cjcrashoveride

Didn't they do that X-Ray hit thing in the Fight Club game?

metalkid9
metalkid9

Mortal Kombat finally got "resurrected".

mosamania
mosamania

i want it noooowww.. just give me this demo i will keep playing till the full game comes out i promise ;(

Matthew-first
Matthew-first

The punch moment that shows which bones are goin to break is gr8 :D

Ljiggaman
Ljiggaman

when does the demo come out?!?! I need to play this game!

solar-panelz
solar-panelz

I been a fan since mk 2 on the Genesis, even though mk vs dc was a letdown it still had a decent story...after reading this and watching the stage demo this game will be EPIC!!

BigBoss-Clone
BigBoss-Clone

I'm waiting, i hope they do a good job with dis

BigBoss-Clone
BigBoss-Clone

I'm waiting, i hope they do a good job with dis

darknes99
darknes99

finally they returned what was best in MK, congratulations Eddy Boon

Wam11
Wam11

this should be the best yet

CaRD0N
CaRD0N

Another example of a franchise that needs to die gracefully. Add the MK cast to Sonic and Lara Croft. MK was edgy in the early/mid 90s because it was cutting edge stuff. Those days are long gone with the rise of 40 hr games and sandbox style play.

Ceraby
Ceraby

o_O Woaaah you can get cut in half by a hat! woo hoo! =D

126189
126189

I think he does, like the very old Mortal Kombat which they had in arcades in the early 90's

cryofax
cryofax

Digital? Everything about a computer game is digital. You mean 2-D Sprites?

Mkeegs79
Mkeegs79

I wish it was all digital. That would be very bring me back to the good ol' days and it would be impressive to see what they could do with digital characters at this time.

gamespot2DBOne
gamespot2DBOne

yes this is good news ,but where is mk vs dcu 2 ???

rezpatriot
rezpatriot

Gamespot you said too much, I wont even need to play it after your description I'll just watch the fatalities and gore on youtube.

chaldoboy14
chaldoboy14

Nice to see a developer that actually remembers its past games and what made them good. Sure they were taking MK in a bad direction with Armageddon and DC (well DC was good, but not a true MK game), but they jump back up and redeem theirselves by bringing back the MK's that everybody loves and remembers most, and pretty much remaking it with today's technology, and adding a lot more too it. I'm so excited for this, I hate having to wait until Spring of 11, but it's absolutely worth it, day 1 purchase without question.

will-jc
will-jc

Isso sim é mortal kombat

bjkthe619
bjkthe619

OMG spring of 2011, WHY??? from the videos they've shown they seem like they got the game pretty much done. I WANT IT NOW!!!