5 Ways To Improve Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat is a great game, but it’s not without its flaws. I’ve been playing nonstop since its release and I’ve noticed a few problems. A couple of these issues were already mentioned in our review, but the overall impact is important enough to mention again. In order to make Mortal Kombat even better than it already is, I have come up with five ways for NetherRealm Studios to improve the game. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait for a sequel.

Let players change their controls outside of the main menu screen

Simply put, there needs to be a way to change your controls while at the pause screen. As I mentioned in the Mortal Kombat review, it doesn’t make sense why you can’t do this. The only way to change the controls is to exit back to the main menu. It’s time consuming and inconvenient (especially for the competitive scene). It’s an odd oversight since you can change your control presets at the character select screen and at the pause menu. All NetherRealm needs to do is include the control config option in both of those menus. That’s it. Problem solved.

Add a proper playback/record option in practice mode

This is another issue I mentioned in the review. For most fighting games, practice mode allows you to record specific actions and have player 1 or player 2 act out those commands. This allows players to study the game and test what works and what doesn’t. It’s an essential feature in fighting games for anyone that wants to step up their game.

Mortal Kombat has a playback/record function in practice mode but it almost serves no purpose. Recording works as intended and gives you sixty seconds to work with. That’s more than enough time. During the playback, however, you can’t do anything. You can only watch everything as it happened when you recorded. The only real use this has is to record combos. I used it to analyze the AI to get an idea of what certain characters were capable of, but that can only go so far. There needs to be a way to assign the training dummy to do whatever you want.

A player that goes by the name WorstGiefEver uploaded a video that discusses the two issues mentioned above in great detail. He also points out a flaw in the way inputs are displayed in practice mode. Definitely check it out:

Give players more options in King of the Hill mode

If you aren’t aware, King of the Hill is Mortal Kombat’s take on the traditional spectator mode found in most fighting games. It’s actually pretty neat. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way to invite players after a session has already begun. This is a problem if you get disconnected (which happens a lot) or if other players want to join at a later time. There’s no reason why you should have to quit your current session and start a new one just to invite more players to a private game.

All NetherRealm Studios needs to do is allow the host to invite players at any time. It’d be even better if other players in the lobby could do the same. We should also be able to skip our turn and kick players out of a lobby (if you’re the host). Why are these basic options not available?

Increase server stability

The Mortal Kombat servers are very inconsistent. I have logged into the game numerous times only to find that chat rooms are mysteriously missing at random. Repeatedly logging in and out seems to be the only way to fix this issue. It’s even worse when you have to wait five minutes for matchmaking to find an opponent. And then there’s the lag. Having input delay is bad enough but sometimes it’s absolutely ridiculous. It even happens when you’re playing against people with a perfect connection status. The problem is at its worst when playing King of the Hill. Sometimes matches will stutter constantly or have a two second input delay. Most of the time you won’t even get a single match in because of frequent disconnects. Needless to say, you’ll have problems more often than not.

If I set up a 1-on-1 match against a friend and it works just fine, I’ll somehow have connections issues if I play that very same person in King of the Hill. It’s even worse when challenging the player through the public chat rooms. Let’s say you were playing King of the Hill in private matches but wanted to move to a public setting due to the broken invite system. You would think that setting up a chat room would make things easier, right? It turns out that public matches will give you even more problems even if you’re playing with the same people as before. Why is there a sudden increase in connection issues?

NetherRealm needs to do something about the servers. This might be the most difficult issue to fix since everyone has a different internet setup. There’s clearly something wrong, though, and it goes beyond user based differences. The official MK website has a forum topic dedicated to lag issues. Hopefully the problems are fixed sooner than later.

Stealth updates need patch notes

NetherRealm has the ability to make tweaks to the core mechanics of Mortal Kombat without the need of a formal patch. All you need to do is start the game while connected to the internet and you’ll receive changes automatically. This isn’t just a theory or an empty promise. NRS has already made changes by tweaking the properties of certain moves for some characters. Infinite combos have been eliminated without notice as a result.

While it’s groundbreaking that such an ability even exists, this poses a problem. Players should know what changes are being made to the game. As you may remember, there was an update for Marvel vs. Capcom 3 that nerfed Sentinel and fixed some other glitches. It would have been nice if Capcom actually released patch notes to coincide with the update so gamers didn’t have to vigorously test every single character in search for changes. They did listen to the community, however, and provided patch notes for the very next update. Was it that difficult to do? I doubt it.

[drop]This brings me back to Mortal Kombat. People are only going to notice changes if it happens to characters they use. Someone recently noticed that one of Smoke’s combos deals 4% less damage if you’re up to date. This is important to know, yet we aren’t told until someone says “wait a minute… it wasn’t like that before!” That’s actually how I noticed that Sindel was changed. Before the launch of the game she was able to cancel out of her Back Kick into special moves. This gave her some interesting combo possibilities. Apparently, it also allowed Sindel to do an infinite combo.

I only learned this because I was discussing the issue over at the Test Your Might forums. They also just found a game breaking parry glitch that needs to be fixed ASAP. Basically, if you crouch block immediately after hitting a successful parry, you will automatically parry the next attack as long as its not a low attack. This glitch even extends to Johnny Cage’s X-ray, which essentially allows you to do the move over and over again without the use of meter.

There’s another problem with stealth updates but it only affects the Xbox 360 version. For whatever reason, the changes made to the game are not saved to the console. Concerns about this were brought up on the Shoryuken forums so I decided to test it out for myself. If you play Mortal Kombat while not signed into Xbox Live all of the changes are gone. It doesn’t matter if you already received a server update in the past. This isn’t an issue for the PS3 version since there is a save file dedicated to stealth updates. As long as you have that file on your PS3 all of the changes will remain intact even if you’re not signed in (you can even copy the file to another PS3).

This is important for the competitive scene since you’re not always going to have internet access. At the very least, the Xbox 360 version needs a save file for all the changes. Perhaps this is an unintended glitch? Whatever it is, it’s something that needs to be fixed, especially since the official PDP tournament in May is being played on the Xbox 360.

Stealth updates are new to fighting games and there needs to be as much transparency as possible. It’d also be nice if there was an indicator that told you exactly which version you were playing (like BlazBlue CS). That way people know if they’re playing the most up-to-date version of the game or not. Of all the improvements mentioned so far, this might be the most important since it directly affects gameplay in more ways than one.

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28 Comments

  1. Edit: I think Del deserves a bit more respect than that. Please read TSA’s terms and conditions with regards to spam comments – Dan

    • Not good, not good at all o_O

      • I would like to know what he wrote in his comment
        “if” he wrote first, then why are you people so mad at him?
        I read one of the staff writing first (a while ago) and it was totally ok.

    • And how do you feel now that you’ve said it? Did you even read the article, or have anything constructive to say about it? Well done for being the first person to comment on an article (if indeed it even warrents congratulations), but it would appear you’ve wasted that comment.

      • i did read the article i alwayd read the articles. am i really getting crap for this? if so i will happily request it be removed.

      • Ok, sorry for my irate reaction. Just think that being first to comment isn’t a comment in itself.

      • dont get me wrong stupid me for posting it, i saw no post’s and took advantage of somthing i always found funny. clearly i was wrong and had no intention of disrespecting anyone or the hardwork that went into this article or the video to match.
        i have already mailed to ask for a removal of the post and a suitible punishment be given to me such as tempory post suspension.

        i want to appologise to everyone who may have been offended by my comment.

      • Listen, it’s okay. Don’t worry about it. TSA prides itself on being a bit different from the usual gaming site insomuch that the whole “first” and “meh” comment fiasco is not tolerated as it adds nothing to the discussion. It does say that in the policy below.

        You apologised, which is a lot more than most people do.

        Moving on.

  2. I’m loving the game… on the PS£ so haven’t taken it online yet, however it has given me the chance to play thru the offline game which i have almost cracked…. on the last tower challenge (300) i’ve manage to get all the way to shao kahn and knock off half his energy before crashing to the floor…. i need some tips on this one. my control pad has nearly flown out of my hands thru the window and into the street…. however, as frustrating as the game can be, it is stunning. and to have kept smashing thru it is a testament to the last ability. cant wait to take it online.

    • XD

      Who are you using? Some characters will have a better time than others. Smoke, for instance, can really lame the AI out if you use his teleport and smoke bomb correctly. For Kahn, get as far back as possible and react to him throwing his weapon at you with a teleport. Then repeat. It should work.

      • yeah i had been using smoke, and it did seem to work, i was almost untouched until i got to mileena then she knocks mostof my lifebar down. i nearly got there but i turned off the PS as i was starting to get proper pee’d off… when i turned it back on again, and tried the same technique, it was as if the AI was expecting this and blocked every attempt…. thanks for you advice:) will try again!

  3. Great stuff Del. I just broke out MK myself this morning, went through some of the tutorials to try to get myself back into the way of fighting games. I don’t remember having so many problems being fast enough o_O

  4. Nice read. Do you think these improvments would ever see the light of day? I definitely wanna get MK at some point, but with Portal to get and Brink just round the corner, I can’t see it being any time soon.

    • I have a feeling that we might see some of these improvements if there’s enough of a push. I’m almost certain that NetherRealm will fix the Stealth update issue for the 360 version eventually. Hopefully sooner than later.

      The control config and practice options might not happen. They aren’t absolutely vital to all types of players, but they are pretty crucial for a specific audience. I really hope they do something.

  5. I think Shao Kahns fighting technique should have been altered a bit, just to make the fights more enjoyable/less annoying. I seldom bother fighting his spamming ass, and rather quit to the main menu to start a new ladder with a different fighter.
    That’s my one peeve for MK9. What an awesome game!!

  6. MK is still relevant? HM, I thought it dies with Genesis…

  7. I too, am loving the game thus far. However in regards to your first idea about changing the button config I could see them having left this out on purpose so that it doesn’t take up loads of time online. Changing presets only takes a second but someone umm’ing and ahh’ing (great English there) about which button should do what would really slow down the online multiplayer.

    • That’s an interesting point. For online play it wouldn’t be wise to include such an option. Outside of that though, it’s really inconvenient. As an offline only option would be ideal.

      When I first played I had to go into practice mode, test buttons, exit out, change buttons, go back to practice mode, test buttons, repeat. The layout for MK is… unique to say the least. It’s weird because you can change buttons for most fighting games at the pause screen.

  8. Good suggestions Delriach. I guess some of these things you just assume would be in fighting games these days, so thanks for pointing them out. I am quite impressed that they can ‘stealth update’ MK now to rebalance or tweak ‘broken’ characters.

    I’m actually getting my chance to play the full game tonight and have been looking forward to it since the demo. Got to watch the football first though.

    • Yeah, it’s easy to take some of them for granted until you noticed it’s gone. I was really shocked that you couldn’t kick people out of lobbies or even invite them once the session had already started. That is a huge oversight imo. It shouldn’t be too hard to fix either.

  9. intresting article cant say mk seems suitable for torney play its a good game but an awful fighter(my opinion)

  10. Hopefully getting this at the weekend, been playing the demo to bits. I’ve beaten all the characters on expert with each character by now…

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