It's been a long time since I've had any interest in Mortal Kombat. When it first arrived on the scene in 1992, I was taken in by its absurd violence and digitized characters, but Street Fighter II was still my go-to game for serious competition. It simply felt better match to match, move to move. Fluidity is something I value in a fighting game, and Mortal Kombat was simply too stiff for my liking. I would still play it with friends from time to time, but it was always at their behest, and this is a trend that's continued throughout the years, even with the highly praised Mortal Kombat reboot in 2011.
For the first time in a while, I'm ready to give Mortal Kombat another shot. After experiencing Mortal Kombat X first hand at Gamescom, my suspicions based on the initial gameplay videos are confirmed; Mortal Kombat X is the most fluid entry in the series to date. This is great news, because I've always had an affinity for the comic-book-esque setting and visuals, and now I might actually enjoy playing in that world as well. Granted, some of the best Mortal Kombat players have been able to seamlessly string together combos in past games for years, but it comes far more naturally than ever in X, even for a relatively inexperienced Mortal Kombat competitor such as myself.
I'm also intrigued by its character variation system, which grants you three different styles to explore and master for each character. Though it has different implications, in that it doesn't remix gameplay systems, it reminds me of the "Ism" system from some of Capcom's fighters, including Street fighter Alpha 3 and SNK vs. Capcom 2. It's good for variety, but more importantly, it might make a character who would otherwise end up on the sidelines interesting enough to give a chance. For instance: Scorpion players get to choose from a version of the character that fights with a sword in each hand (Ninjutsu Scorpion), one that emphasizes fire-based special moves (Hellfire Scorpion), and another that gives him the power of voodoo-like control over an off-screen demon who stabs at enemies from above, below, and behind. While fundamental skills persist between character variations, there are distinct strategies and movesets to explore if you're a serious Mortal Kombat competitor.
What Else is New?
Mortal Kombat X isn't being developed specifically for jaded "kombatants" such as myself. If anything, it's made for the hardcore Mortal Kombat fan, and sure enough, they have plenty of new things to get excited about.
If fatalities are your thing, never fear: Mortal Kombat X continues the tradition of dismemberment and dissection of unlucky fighters, and the samples shown at Gamescom indicate that NetherRealm Studios will deliver new flavors of brutality to satiate your twisted tastes. In particular, Scorpion's handling of Sub-Zero at the show was particularly unsettling. It begins commonly enough with lance through the belly, but Scorpion's attention quickly moves to Sub-Zero's face. With blade in hand, Scorpion lops off the front half of Sub-Zero's head, which slowly slides away, allowing his brain to slither out of his skull and his tongue to writhe free from the shackles of skin and teeth. It's no doubt a disgusting and shocking display, which sounds bad, but it's also what Mortal Kombat's known for, and what many of its fans crave.
In addition to series mainstays, there are also a handful of new characters to explore, including Cassie Cage, the offspring of classic Mortal Kombat characters Johnny Cage and Sonia Blade. Cassie's an unmistakable combination of her parents' looks and fighting styles, which might mean she's the only member of the cage family that'll make an appearance unless there are plans to pit father or mother against daughter. Joining Cassie is D'Vorah, a creepy hybrid of human and insect, and the duo Ferra and Torr, a fiendish female and her massive, brutish subjugate.
With only eight of 24 character slots filled, there are still many characters for NetherRealm Studios to reveal. Most recently, we received word earlier this week that the Australian cyborg Kano is joining the fray, putting the number of classic and new characters at an even split. When Ed Boon was asked by a fan earlier this week if that trend would persist throughout the rest of the roster, he simply replied: "seems accurate."
While it's hard to predict what sort of new characters might appear, if you were going to choose a stable of classic characters to bring back, whom would it include? Let us know in the comments below.See more coverage of Gamescom 2014