Mortal Kombat: Deception First Look

We dissect the trailer for the latest installment in Midway's classic fighting franchise.

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Mortal Kombat: Deception is the recently announced sixth installment in Midway's Mortal Kombat series. This long-running franchise is arguably one of the most pivotal entries in the fighting genre because of its mature content and heavy use of blood. Over the course of several arcade and console installments the series continued to evolve but lost a bit of focus as it moved forward. Fortunately, 2002's Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance brought the franchise back up to fighting form with impressive graphics, a new fighting system, and a generous helping of blood. From the looks of the trailer for Mortal Kombat: Deception, the franchise will be maintaining the momentum started with Deadly Alliance and will offer plenty to look forward to. After obsessing over every frame of the trailer and cross-referencing the images with the press release, we now offer some thoughts on the upcoming game. (It's not likely we'll be the only MK fans doing frame-by-frame analyses in the coming days.)

As with every installment in the series, our first viewing of the trailer had us looking out for which fighters we recognized. The heavily edited clip and the grainy filter used to give the piece a nicely gritty look made it a challenge to single out everyone, but we feel pretty confident in naming a few folks. Baraka is back in all his toothy, blade-wielding glory. Three ninjas in the clip, each bearing one of the three colors from the classic MK ninja rainbow, make it pretty obvious some old friends are also returning. The first two ninjas appear to be Scorpion and Sub-Zero, and it looks like they're sporting fashionable updates of their classic looks. The third ninja, clad in red, is what we would certainly like to hope is Ermac. Mileena is also back, in what appears to be two purple outfits. While a variation on her original togs is in the mix, a new Jennifer Lopez-inspired ensemble is also on hand. It should be noted that both outfits appear to possess powerful magical properties, as they hang tough to Mileena's junk real good, even in the midst of combat. We also caught a few flashes of other characters who were harder to identify. A very brief flash of a battle between two characters toward the end of the trailer shows what could be Nightwolf; it's a stretch, we know, but we could swear we see deerskin boots and a tomahawk. As for the second fighter, clad in white with a funky hat, we're not sure. The color scheme is wrong for Raiden, unless he's gotten a makeover, which is possible. The last potential member of the cast--which we'll admit is a long shot, but we'll throw it out there anyway--could be Shao Kahn. During the dramatic cuts in parts of the trailer, a very Shao Kahn-like helmet appears several times. We never actually see him in action at all, so we may be stoking the sure-to-be-busy rumor mill, but we'd like to think that we know our skull-shaped metallic helmets pretty well.

The next topic for obsession is the gameplay. The trailer backed up some of Midway's press releases and showed off hints of the new gameplay elements slated for inclusion in the upcoming game. The most dramatically displayed element was the interactive environments. Based on the CG clip and the snippets of gameplay, it appears that the environments will feature a few types of functionality. In addition to being the standard Dead or Alive 3-style multitiered environments, it looks as though the environments will be large enough to have different areas that the fight can spill into and will also feature objects you can send your foes smashing through. Some stages also appear to have the potential for some very nasty drops. One arena, set atop a large pillarlike structure, looks tailor-made for some deadly falls. We caught two elements in the levels that should keep battles interesting. The most striking is what appears to be level-specific fatalities. The end of the clip shows Scorpion juggling a hapless Baraka into two very spiky pillars that did some unpleasant business that we heard but didn't see. The more subtle element may be tied to these new fatalities, though we're not quite sure just how it fits into the fighting system. This element is a green square that we noticed on the playfield before the move occurred, and this square was also visible in the brief glimpses we saw of some of the other arenas. From what we've seen in the snippets of gameplay, the combat system appears to be a mix of armed and unarmed combat similar to the system in Deadly Alliance. Of course, fatalities are back. The trailer showed tantalizing glimpses of a few choice fatalities from our icy-blue ninja, which seem poised to follow ably in the footsteps of such classics as "rips out spine" and "punches head off."

As for the arenas you'll be duking it out in, we saw precious little of these environments, although we did pick out what appeared to be six different areas. We already briefly touched on an arena set atop a large pillar in the midst of an abyss. You can see mountains and a temple in the distance. Another arena with a similar theme is set atop the roof of a building during a rain shower. Yet another arena appears to be set in a good old apocalyptic wasteland, complete with bodies on pikes. The last few areas we saw offered a change of pace from the unholy locales. A factory, complete with the pool of flaming hot lava you always seem to find in them, was briefly shown. The interior of a castle, which seems to have troublesome floors, was on display as well. The most intriguing of the areas shown has a nice Hellraiser touch in the form of bodies apparently swinging from chains. We'll be curious to see if the corpses wind up being interactive during combat.

All told, the trailer for Mortal Kombat Deception, although brief, certainly offers enough tidbits to get fans worked up. The roster of characters revealed covers most of the right bases (personally, we'd like to see Sheeva and Stryker), and the level of violence is right where we'd like it to be. The interactive environments seem like a good new addition to the fighting mix as do the level-specific fatalities. Once you factor in the other bits of information revealed in yesterday's Q4-financial-results conference call, where Midway's president and CEO mentioned online play for both the PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions, as well as some of the modes in the game--such as conquest and adventure--you've got a slick new entry in the series that should prove that the Mortal Kombat franchise is back on a promising bloody track. Look for more on the game before it ships for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox this fall.

For Midway's official company line on Mortal Kombat: Deception, check out the game's announcement. To see the exclusive first trailer for the game, visit our media page.

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