My experiences with Mortal Kombat have always been a rocky road. While I did play the original at a friend’s house, the first game I owned and consistently played was Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 for the SNES and it was fantastic.
And then all the 3D ones came out…
Mortal Kombat 4 was okay, however Deadly Alliance, Deception, Armageddon, they were all bad games overall, a few good things about each, but the overall fighting wasn’t as good as the originals were. So after everyone was left disappointed from the following release of Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe, it was time for a change.
And boy did we ever get one!
We were back to the 2D style of fighting gameplay, while retaining the upgraded graphics of that current generation. We had gone back to basics, but at the same time evolved. Gone was the tedious 3D fighting system and in return we got the original fighting mechanics that made the series legendary, y’know…aside from all the blood and gore. The game also added in a new addition, X-Ray attacks. These were absolutely brutal additions to the fighting series, essentially a fatality without killing the opponent and it could be easily pulled off, unlike fatalities which require you to remember a combination of inputs, which I constantly fuck up. So the series was back at full strength and had even more added into it.
My favourite part of this game though was the new story mode the game contained, wrapping the “plots” of the first three games of the series into one cohesive plot. For someone who was so interested in the series, but didn’t really understand the story because it required me to beat the game many times with various characters (and I suck at fighting games), this was huge for me, it allowed me the chance to properly understand the narrative of the story of this illustrious franchise by participating, rather than reading a long-ass Wikipedia plot summary.
The story mode also makes several changes to the Mortal Kombat timeline which are very interesting. The idea of Kung Lao being killed far earlier, Sub-Zero being the new Cyber recruit rather than Smoke and many others really let the fanbase know that this series is going through a changing period and a good one at that. Of course, the end of this story really opens your eyes to the reality that this series is not going to be going through the motions again, everything from here on out would be different, as Mortal Kombat X would later prove to us.
Of course, the most notable part about the redo of Mortal Kombat was that the traditional fatality system was back after Armageddon’s absolutely stupid “Create-A-Fatality” concept they had. And with the new graphics, the fatalities only got cooler and grosser, just take a look at how Mortal Kombat X made them even better after only a couple years! Notable ones like Kung Lao’s pull through his spinning hat, Noob Saibot’s “wishbone” body pull apart, and Sheeva literally pulling the skin off her opponent were proof that if you didn’t get it yet, you knew the original and good parts of the series were back in full force, without anyone holding back.
Mortal Kombat’s reboot was one of the most necessary and needed reboots at the time it came out and thank god it was released in the state it was. To have a game that bridged new fans into the old and brought the old fans back into the newest games of the series is a tough task to take on and the team at Netherrealm Studios were up to the task and completely it successfully with flying colours. And after the also solid release of Mortal Kombat X, which brought for the first time children of past characters into the game, it’s so refreshing to see the game moving forward instead of taking two steps back as they did with the PS2-era games.
I’m curious though if any of those characters will return as well. I’d love to see characters like Kira, Motaro, Nitara and Onaga somehow brought back in, but under the much better written narrative of this new Mortal Kombat storyline.