Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mortal Kombat

April 2011 - Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat is an upcoming fighting game in the Mortal Kombat series. Developed by NetherRealm Studios (formerly known as WB Games Chicago), it is the ninth installment in the series and the first to be published exclusively under the Warner Bros. label.

The story begins after the events of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, but then returns to the period in which the first three games - Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat II and Mortal Kombat 3 - occur. Due to a plot twist (the character Raiden now having knowledge of the future), the events of this time are slightly altered.

Mortal Kombat is the first title in the series to include 3D graphics with gameplay solely on the 2D plane (2.5D). The developers have also stated that this is the first game in which they are making a conscious effort to create deeper gameplay for more dedicated players of the series and of fighting games in general. Mortal Kombat was officially announced on June 10, 2010, accompanied with a debut trailer showcasing the new presentation and new gameplay features. Mortal Kombat has a projected April 2011 release on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 systems. A PC version has also been posed as a possibility.

In terms of gameplay, the developers have intended for Mortal Kombat to be accessible to the casual player, so that the casual player could not be removed from the experience of the game because of its complexity and so that it could promote a back and forth where the gaming experience could be more "engaging for the player" rather than one-sided. With this in mind, the developers have also stated that they intend to focus on the hardcore player by creating new features in the gameplay as to create a deeper fighting experience. Coupled with the new features, the developers have stated that they are bringing in experts on the fighting game genre to help develop a more balanced game. Ed Boon, Mortal Kombat co-creator and creative director of Mortal Kombat, has also stated that they created Mortal Kombat with programming "hooks" that will allow to easily fix post-launch gameplay issues.

Primary gameplay for Mortal Kombat is one-on-one fighting that the series has done over the years and runs at sixty frames per second. The new Mortal Kombat's gameplay is featured on a single 2D fighting plane, which was the second most-requested feature by Mortal Kombat fans for a new title, behind a more violent presentation for the game. Despite being a 2D fighting game, the characters will be rendered three-dimensionally giving Mortal Kombat a 2.5D appearance. This 2D fighting plane, according to Electronic Gaming Monthly, will make the characters' various projectiles more effective in the game as opposed to the other titles in the series.

Unlike previous Mortal Kombat fighting games, there are four attack buttons that each represent a corresponding limb, a concept better known for its existence in the Tekken franchise. A "super meter" was added to enhance the gaming experience, which can be charged by various actions during battle such as performing a combo or getting hit by the opponent. The super meter can be charged to three levels which if used up will either enhance a special attack, interrupt a combo, or cause the attacker to perform a super combo called an X-ray move. During these X-ray moves, the camera will zoom in and will show an inside view of the character who is being attacked while bones and organs are broken or ruptured.

Some modes that have been confirmed are the online mode, the Tag-Team fighting mode, and the Challenge Tower. The Online mode will: include a King of the Hill option, where up to eight players will be able to spectate on fights and play the winner; include a rating system where spectators can rate the battles after it is over, and act as a "forum" to find out how to perform various combos or moves they see while spectating a fight. The four player tag-team feature is a completely new to the series, where two players can choose to play together. During a tag-team fight, characters can briefly come in and out of the stage and perform "assist attacks", or can perform "special entry attacks" where the tagged character can enter the stage while attacking and remain in the combat while the other character jumps out. The Challenge Tower mode is a single player option, that Ed Boon described as "similar to an arcade ladder". It will include specific challenges of various difficulties providing currency rewards upon completion; players will have the option of using up some of this in-game currency to by-pass the more difficult challenges.

Developer Ed Boon describes the game as an altered re-telling of the events of the original first three Mortal Kombat games (MK, MK II, and MK3).

...Raiden is about to be killed by Shao Kahn, and just before he delivers the last blow, he [Raiden] sends a mental message to his earlier self, so the camera rewinds back to Mortal Kombat 1. The Raiden from back then gets a message and he doesn't know what's going on, but he knows something bad's going to happen, and the game spans Mortal Kombat 1, 2, and 3, retelling the story with an enlightened Raiden, and he's changing the course of things, so everything you've seen happen before – Liu Kang winning, the guys turning into cybernetic ninjas, are changed around, so you might see a character become cybernetic who wasn't before, and so you see a different version [of events].

Hector Sanchez confirmed the chronology in an interview:

The story begins with Raiden, just when he is about to be killed by Shao Kahn in the events that happen after Armageddon. In a last effort, he sends a message to himself in the past, in the era of "Mortal Kombat", the first game. The rest of the story follows that Raiden's past and shows him trying to understand the visions and messages he gets from himself in the future and trying to prevent the events that lead to destruction of all realities.

Player will have the ability to play as multiple characters during the course of story. The developers also stated that in the past the story had been ignored in favor for gameplay "action", but that this will change with this chapter of the series, with the plot being significantly more substantial than predecessor Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe.

Ed Boon stated in an interview with IGN that there will be a focus on characters from the first three games (Mortal Kombat, MKII, and MK3), claiming "If you have a favorite character from those games, you're probably going to see him or her in the game." There will apparently be a roster of roughly 26 characters overall in the game.

The developers of the team have stated that the characters have been designed with the intent to make each character unique. With this idea, the developers have given the characters their own individual stances, victory poses and Fatalities as opposed to previous games. Lead designer John Edwards has gone on to say that certain characters are differentiated by speed and playstyle, as in some characters are power oriented and do not need to perform combos while others will be grapple oriented. It has also been stated that no characters will receive shared animations.

Mortal Kombat producer Shaun Himmerick stated that the internal and external character design took about "two months to ten weeks", citing individual characters like Mileena and Reptile, who have unique facial structures, and robotic characters who have cables instead of tendons, were opposed to character design in earlier titles and took, "about six weeks".

The development team also confirmed at GamesCom 2010 that every character would have two fatalities, each with the ability to perform stage fatalities. According to Ed Boon there will be fifty to sixty fatalities included in Mortal Kombat. Seventeen playable characters have been revealed to date, being Cyrax, Ermac, Jade, Jax, Johnny Cage, Kitana, Kung Lao, Mileena, Nightwolf, Raiden, Reptile, Scorpion, Sektor, Shao Kahn, Sindel, Sonya, and Sub-Zero.

The character Kratos from the God of War series is available as a playable (in versus mode only) character exclusively on the PlayStation 3 version. Boon stated that the Mortal Kombat team felt Kratos would "fit perfectly" into the Mortal Kombat universe.

Mortal Kombat was first hinted at by Ed Boon in January 2009, shortly after the release of the previous game in the franchise, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. In a November 2008 interview, Boon stated that he believed Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe's performance would reflect upon what features what would be put in "the next game". On June 18, 2009, Boon confirmed on his Twitter page that they were performing motion capture for the game and that it would not have superheroes in it. Dan Forden was also expected to return as the music composer for the game.

In late 2009, Boon stated that the franchise was going back to its bloody origins and the production team were aiming for a "Mature" rating, contrary to the "Teen" rating attained by the previous game. He even questioned "going too far" and showed concern about crossing the limit to "Adults Only" rating. Mortal Kombat was officially revealed on June 10, 2010 with a release for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in 2011. A trailer was released on that day, which showed the game returning to a 2D plane of fighting and also showcased other new features including a tag team mode. On August 31, 2010, a teaser trailer for the game surfaced on IGN, entitled "Shadows", for the PlayStation 3 version. It includes one of the new tracks from the band Disturbed's latest album, Asylum, titled "Another Way to Die".

On September 28, 2010, a countdown was revealed to be on Mortal Kombat's official website, shown to end on Monday October 11, 2010. The words, "Kombat Begins In..." were placed above the countdown. After the countdown ended, a link to the Facebook page was added to the page. A Facebook application was also released that showcases a small, newer teaser trailer for the game. On October 4, 2010, an "Environment Bio" of the Mortal Kombat arena, "The Pit", was released stating in-game backstory as to the creation of "The Pit" as well as showed the evolution of the stage through the years. A similar video was released on November 12, 2010, this time about "The Living Forest", giving background information on the level and its evolution through the Mortal Kombat titles. On October 19, 2010, a new teaser was released, in the form of a character profile for Scorpion. On November 12, 2010, another character profile trailer was released, this time for Sub-Zero.


Mortal Kombat is available for pre-order in three different editions: "The Standard Edition", "The Kollector's Edition", and "The Tournament Edition". The Standard Edition consist of a copy of Mortal Kombat. The Kollector's Edition consists of: a copy of Mortal Kombat, Sub-Zero and Scorpion figurines, an art book, and a downloadable content skin, dubbed a "Mortal Kombat Klassic costume". The Tournament Edition is the same as the Kollector's Edition but instead of having figurines and an art book, it consists of a fight stick controller. Preordering at the retailers, GameStop, Best Buy and Amazon.com allows for the acquiring of classic Mortal Kombat skins and Fatalities for Scorpion, Sub-Zero and Reptile, respectively. Additionally, Xbox 360 owners who preorder any version will receive Mortal Kombat-themed costumes for their avatars.

Development of Mortal Kombat began directly after the release of Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. Being the first Mortal Kombat title to be announced exclusively under the Warner Bros. label, the Mortal Kombat developers wanted to target what the fans of the series wanted to be included in a next generation Mortal Kombat game. The Mortal Kombat developers created Twitter accounts and visited forums to research what fans wanted for a new Mortal Kombat game. While researching, the developers discovered that the most wanted features for a new Mortal Kombat were: a return to an M-rated game with blood and violence; a deeper fighting engine and Fatalities. The developers decided that these features were what they were going to proceed with into the game. When asked about the influence of Warner Bros. on Mortal Kombat, Boon called it, "nothing but positive" stating that Warner Bros. wanted to give NetherRealm Studios enough time to release a quality game that the team would be comfortable with releasing.

Development of Mortal Kombat's Fatalities took place in "Fatality meetings" where MK team members would show Fatality concepts to the rest of the team. If the concept was well received then the team would pursue putting the concept into the game, however some concepts would not go through if they were considered disturbing by the team.

Mortal Kombat runs on a heavily-modified version of the Unreal Engine 3, similar to the engine used by its predecessor, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. For Mortal Kombat, the developers created new mechanics to the series to create a more immersive experience. To create a deeper fighting engine, the developers recreated the entire fighting engine so that it was restricted to a 2D plane of fighting. Senior Producer, Hans Lo, stated at Gamescom 2010 that the change from a 3D styled gameplay to 2D gameplay was advantageous for Mortal Kombat, saying that it "frees up the processors" and listing improvements that were able to be made to the game such as increased graphical detail in both the characters and the arenas as well as being able to increase gameplay speed. Another new mechanic for Mortal Kombat is the inclusion of "blood physics" in which blood that the characters lose during a fight behaves more naturally as opposed to previous games, where the blood flies off and lands on the opponent or the ground. The arenas have been created with at least "one unique feature." Specifically stages like The Desert will have a "sand tech" which will allow for a more realistic motion of the sand while characters move through it.

It was revealed at the Sony E3 press conference that Mortal Kombat will be 3D compatible, and Boon stated that in dealing with the 3D capability, more attention to detail was required so as to not obstruct the gameplay. In an interview with Kotaku, Boon claimed that the extras mode ("The Krypt") from previous games will return and have an "elaborate and sophisticated unlocking system." Mortal Kombat includes multiple unlockables, said to put "the other games in the series to shame." In a Game Informer interview, Ed Boon stated that the development team plans to include some mild humorous elements such as the "Toasty" joke feature from previous games and Babalities as examples. Boon also stated that the production team are considering a PC port of Mortal Kombat as "there seems to be a market for [PC video games] in Europe."

Downloadable content

The development team of Mortal Kombat plans to have downloadable content (DLC) for the game. Some examples of potential DLC have been downloadable characters, arenas, and Fatalities. For downloadable characters, they plan to use the DLC capability to give players characters never-before seen in the series or characters that appeared in Mortal Kombat 4 and later. Ed Boon has been cited as explaining that the DLC will not be locked code contained on the disc where players will have to purchase codes to unlock the DLC. The development team rather plans for players to download the actual character data. The development team has gone onto say that the immediate issue that arises with downloadable content on Mortal Kombat would be the ability for players who do not have the DLC to battle those who have downloaded the DLC. One idea put forward to fix this issue would be that all players will be able to download a free character so that players "get everything" but the developers have continued to say that the solution to this issue is yet to be found.

Online capability

The developers of Mortal Kombat have stated that online for Mortal Kombat would be a main priority, which GamePro editors called a "smart move", and in January 2010 a screenshot of Ed Boon's personal PSN ID was published, which suggested that online testing of Mortal Kombat was underway. The development team stated interest in linking the online gameplay with capabilites to link Facebook and Twitter updates to game progression such as match results online. The developers want to use these online capabilities to recreate the feel of socializing with players in an arcade.

PC Magazine called this iteration of Mortal Kombat one of the most anticipated titles of E3. The 2010 E3 showcase version received the Best Fighting Game of E3 and Best Stage Demo of E3 awards by GameSpot, and the Best Fighting Game of E3 award by GameTrailers. GameSpy called Mortal Kombat the "Fighting Game of Show" in their "Best of E3 2010". Game Informer rated Mortal Kombat the Best Fighter of E3 2010 and also rated Mortal Kombat eighth in their "E3 Hot 50" calling Mortal Kombat "...the most violent game ever made..." Mortal Kombat was also nominated for Best Fighting Game of E3 2010 in the Game Critics Awards, but lost to Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds. At PAX 2010, Mortal Kombat was awarded "Best of Show" by Destructoid.

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