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Opinion

Why You Should Be Worried About Mortal Kombat

Self-fulfilling fatality?

Interpreting the portents, omens flashing across the sky like bolts from Raiden the Thunder God’s hands, Mortal Kombat’s imminent release could herald something of a misstep for the evergreen franchise.

Don’t get me wrong, NetherRealm Studios is definitely on the right track with the new Mortal Kombat. By recapturing the essence of the classic MK titles, the developers have made a bold statement and clearly want to be taken seriously. The problem is, their execution seems to be a bit flawed when compared to the competition. This is especially true seeing as they are targeting hardcore fighting fans.

Let’s use Street Fighter IV as an example: Capcom had the benefit of location tests and an arcade release to receive feedback from fans; Capcom held several fightclub events giving gamers hands on time with SFIV leading up to its console launch; Super Street Fighter IV received the same treatment and the developers even provided highly detailed change notes for every character in the game.

There is a well defined bond between the developers and fans and this usually results in a better game. After all, there’s only so much strict internal testing can do. Some people just know how to break games and play them in unpredictable ways.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3 might be an even better example. There is no arcade release for that game, and yet, fans are still given hands on time well before the game’s release. I’ve played MvC3 at a couple of events over the last year and both experiences were quite different. The game was clearly a development in progress at the time, yet Capcom seemed confident enough to give media, fans, and pro gamers a chance to play it. You can tell that feedback directly influenced the development of MvC3 and that was only possible thanks to Capcom’s transparency.

Seeking fan feedback isn’t just a Capcom design philosophy. Namco’s Tekken series is another franchise that fans helped shape for the better. Just look at the arcade release of Tekken 6 and compare it to Tekken 6 on the PS3 or 360. Despite sharing the same name, the console version is based on an updated arcade release that was a result of direct feedback and it shows. There’s no doubt that Namco’s upcoming fighting games will be no different. If anything, community insight might be more influential than ever before.

Mortal Kombat is easily the most important game for the franchise in recent memory, and yet there doesn’t seem to be much desire for direct fan feedback. I saw a live demo at E3 and I was easily impressed. However, I only saw what the developers wanted me to see. It was flashy eye candy with the devs using simplified controls to show all the crazy combos.

The first public demo for MK9 was at PAX last year, and though the response was generally positive, it lacked substance since there’s only so much time one could play. Seeing as Mortal Kombat releases in April, it’s alarming that we still know so little about the game. Not seeing in depth discussion from hardcore Mortal Kombat players could be a problem if you’re looking for significant information.

I’ve been listening to the MKast on YouTube for months now and it’s nice to see NetherRealm Studios giving insight on gameplay mechanics and answering questions. There’s even some new footage thrown in as an added treat. While this is undoubtedly good fan service, it still doesn’t address the larger concern regarding broken gameplay. Will Mortal Kombat be balanced? We have no idea. In fact, we can’t even form opinions based on previous footage since those tweaks weren’t implemented at the time.

Should we really trust the developers just because they make claims of balance and deep fighting mechanics? Of course not. At least, not with their current reputation based on recent MK titles. Seeing as Mortal Kombat is one of the five games featured at Evo 2011, the biggest fighting game tournament in North America, NetherRealm should be embracing the fighting game community while actively seeking its input.

Interestingly enough, it was revealed that NetherRealm Studios have the power to make gameplay tweaks without the need for a patch. In theory, this could eliminate infinite combos and change attack properties for the better. However, we can’t just be expected to believe in such an easy fix without seeing it in practice. If it works as intended, this could be a revolutionary feature for the genre.

Unfortunately, it looks like we’ll just have to wait and see, and that’s really such a shame considering the amount of hype Mortal Kombat has generated. Hopefully it will be worthwhile.

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27 Comments
  1. tonyyeb
    Member
    Since: Aug 2010

    By definition of the games title, you should always be worried by any ‘Mortal Kombat’!

    Comment posted on 02/02/2011 at 10:03.
    • Kovacs
      Member
      Since: Dec 2009

      FINISH HIM!

      (Just getting it out of the way)

      Comment posted on 02/02/2011 at 10:10.
      • tonyyeb
        Member
        Since: Aug 2010

        “You weak pathetic fool!”

        Comment posted on 02/02/2011 at 11:18.
      • Delriach
        Member
        Since: Jul 2009

        Your soul is mine!

        Comment posted on 02/02/2011 at 11:22.
    • Darksidesystems
      Member
      Since: Aug 2010

      I call dibs on “Get over here!”

      Comment posted on 02/02/2011 at 12:08.
  2. 3shirts
    Member
    Since: Aug 2008

    The last MK game I really enjoyed was 3. After that I found them to be too bland and cliché.
    I don’t hold out much hope for this one to be honest

    Comment posted on 02/02/2011 at 10:13.
    • topshot09
      Member
      Since: Nov 2010

      Same here after trilogy it kinda went downhill, although I did enjoy shoalin monks.

      Comment posted on 02/02/2011 at 10:24.
      • ARUMIR Sympozium
        Member
        Since: Aug 2009

        Shaolin Monks was insane…. there as to be a another like it in the MK universe

        Comment posted on 02/02/2011 at 10:27.
  3. SpikeyMikey23
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    It’s a Day 1 purchase for me. Love MK, especially the ps2 version of deception. i dont play fighting games for long periods, normally a quick blast or an hour max so hopefully it will have enough to keep me entertained during my bouts.

    Oh and welcome to the new guy ;)

    Comment posted on 02/02/2011 at 10:14.
    • Delriach
      Member
      Since: Jul 2009

      ;) Hi

      Comment posted on 02/02/2011 at 10:33.
      • SpikeyMikey23
        Member
        Since: Jul 2009

        ha, I say new, you’ve been registered the same amount of time as me :P

        Comment posted on 02/02/2011 at 10:34.
  4. jayjay119
    Member
    Since: Apr 2010

    Mk have followed a lot of fan feedback with this game too. The series lost its allure when it moved to 3D. Like 3shirts said, the last good one was Mk3. Fans have been crying out for ages for a more solid fighting system and a return to the 2(.5)D plane of viewing and that is what NR are giving. Capcom doesn’t need fan feedback for SF considering every game is just a prettier version of the one that came before, and Tekken 6 was just god awful on consoles, the story mode had been done away with for that stupid campeign mode thing which is not what a fighting game is about. If anythign shouldn’t be used to describe how to do a brawler, it’s Tekken 6.

    Comment posted on 02/02/2011 at 10:18.
    • SpikeyMikey23
      Member
      Since: Jul 2009

      agree, shujinko from deception and his shitty little story annoyed the crap out of me. Still finished it though ;)

      Comment posted on 02/02/2011 at 10:19.
      • jayjay119
        Member
        Since: Apr 2010

        Wasn’t as annoying as Taven and what’s his face from Armageddon though!

        Comment posted on 02/02/2011 at 10:27.
    • Delriach
      Member
      Since: Jul 2009

      Scenario Campaign mode aside, I think Tekken 6 had the best gameplay of the series. I just don’t understand the motivation behind having the awful story mode. Such a useless mode…

      Comment posted on 02/02/2011 at 10:31.
      • jayjay119
        Member
        Since: Apr 2010

        I didn’t like it to be honest, that bounce function was way to overused it was irritating, the load times were attrocious and Azazel was needlessly, annoyingly difficult.

        Comment posted on 02/02/2011 at 10:46.
  5. Crazy_Del
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    I LOVE MORTAL KOMBAT, call me sad I don’t care day 1. I still got MK2 in the PS3 and deception and Armageddon on PS2. Also got MK vs DC. Despite the reviews, it doesn’t stop me I find it enjoyable to play with a friend or on story for a wee quick bash ’em up.

    Comment posted on 02/02/2011 at 11:09.
    • Delriach
      Member
      Since: Jul 2009

      ;) There’s nothing wrong with loving Mortal Kombat or even MK vs DC. As long as you find it enjoyable then that’s all that really matters in the end. I don’t imagine that you’ll be disappointed by MK9.

      Comment posted on 02/02/2011 at 11:21.
      • Deathbrin
        Member
        Since: Aug 2009

        MK DC is quite cool, liked the story alot. Had some excellent fierce fights online and lots of fun in offline 2P. They say RAGE spoils the game for honest competition though, i kinda agree.

        Comment posted on 03/02/2011 at 19:24.
    • SpikeyMikey23
      Member
      Since: Jul 2009

      I LOVE MORTAL KOMBAT ;)

      Comment posted on 02/02/2011 at 11:21.
  6. scavenga
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    I was hard core into Mortal Kombat on the Sega Mega and PS1, and have bought every title since, even though I haven’t spent as much time learning every combo and fatality as I did in the beginning.
    I have no doubt I will love this new one to bits, and have a vague feeling I’ll be going old school again, learning all the tricks and moves.

    Comment posted on 02/02/2011 at 11:22.
  7. Grey_Ghost13
    Member
    Since: Aug 2009

    Going by your last point about being able to tweak without patching, it sounds like they might be prepared to release a flawed version of the game and post support improve it. Which could go either way, some may love the support and others will resent the fact it was a unfishied release.

    Comment posted on 02/02/2011 at 11:29.
  8. Dange
    Member
    Since: Jan 2011

    really want to like this game, and for it to be a return to form. Hopefully they wont let us down.

    Comment posted on 02/02/2011 at 11:33.
  9. Jambo
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    Fond memories of the first two in the arcade and Master System (I know) and Anthology(?) on the PS1, last one I played as the 3D one on XBox which was a fun game but broken, particularly by Reptile.
    I generally am not good enough at fighting games to ascertain balance but even I can tell that MK has never managed this well!

    Comment posted on 02/02/2011 at 13:43.
  10. Hecatom
    Since: Jan 1970

    i just wanted to pint that the location tests its a practice that almost all the japanese fighting game developers do for their games, not just capcom or namco, this includes, SNK, Arc System Works, Examu, etc
    hell, even Tecmo will do location tests for the new doa on 3ds

    Comment posted on 02/02/2011 at 18:03.
    • Delriach
      Member
      Since: Jul 2009

      Yup, you bring up a good point. Originally I was going to write that but I decided not to for some reason. Looking back, I really should have since it was my original intention. Good thing we have you in the comments section though ^_^.

      Comment posted on 02/02/2011 at 18:25.
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