June 15 was a remarkable day for Kamidogu, as we attended our very first E3 Expo
held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. After spending an agonising couple of hours waiting for the show to begin, we joined the crowds as they poured into the South Hall to see what NetherRealm Studios
had come up with. Standing immediately in front of the entrance was the now famous Mortal Kombat castle, complete with a giant television showcasing the teaser that had fans begging for more. Atop the castle hung a giant Mortal Kombat logo, while the sides were adorned with hanging skeletons and doors lined with skulls.
Through the front entrance we stepped into a dimly lit chilled dungeon, where we were greeted by another giant television. After taking our seats, series co-creator Ed Boon began his live presentation of the game, narrating as it moved along. All we have to say is that if you thought the teaser trailer was amazing, just wait until you see the game in person.
Ed started by demonstrating the classic one-on-one mode, which saw a total of eight playable characters fill the top of the select screen (Scorpion, Mileena, Reptile, Sub-Zero, Kung Lao, Johnny Cage, Nightwolf and Sektor). The real surprise in this build was the detail, that of which far surpasses the teaser trailer we have all seen so far. Ed described the blood, which now has ultra-realistic properties. Blood sprays depending on the attack, meaning if Scorpion slashes his opponent in a circular motion the blood sprays in a curved fashion. Other advancements include proper bodily damage, which have been expanded to include actual lacerations in the skin. Not only do the characters lose blood whilst doing battle, they can also stain each other. Blood from your opponent can spray onto your kombatant, and stay there for the remainder of the match. The longer it stays exposed, the more it decays and turns darker.
Perhaps the biggest improvement to the franchise is the introduction of a new three-tier Super Gauge. Though its official name was not disclosed, it fills up as your kombatant is attacked or is defending from attacks. The first level, dubbed Super Move, allows your kombatant to perform a stronger version of any of their special moves. Not only is this a way to gain the upper hand on your opponent, but you can choose when to release the attack. You are therefore able to deal a quick attack with increased damage, or charge your move longer for a deadlier attack. Should you not use your Special, your gauge will continue to fill until it reaches a lightning bolt, which is the well-known Breaker. By this stage you are able to perform a single combo breaker to save yourself from a giant string of attacks. If you are feeling brave and do not need either the Super Move or Breaker, continue to fend off attacks until the gauge is full, at which time you can unleash your x-ray attack. With a dual button press, you can unleash a deadly attack on your opponent, dealing high damage and inflicting extreme pain as highlighted by the kombatant’s visible skeleton and muscle structures. This build had much better detail, meaning we saw muscle tissue being manipulated and bones cracking or breaking completely.
Ed later moved to the two-on-two mode, which is surprisingly more enjoyable than the aforementioned. Working similarly to other tag team games, players select two kombatants and are able to switch between each at will. The thing that sets this apart is the option to incorporate your awaiting character in the battle at hand. You can choose to either have your reserve character pop on the screen and perform a special move before dropping out again, or you can opt to have your current character swap out while your reserve enters the ring with a special move. Choosing this route instead of the normal swap in/out will require you to use the first part of your Super gauge.
At the end of the presentation, Ed showed off an unrated video showcasing many of the game’s Fatalities. Let it be known that nothing was held back this time around: torsos can be ripped off, but they do so now with sickening detail. Not only is the blood realistic, tendons and muscles can be seen stretching before finally tearing under pressure. We’ve never been prouder to call ourselves Mortal Kombat fans.
It was later that we were invited backstage for an exclusive hands-on demo with the game. Not only did we meet the likes of Hector Sanchez, Hans Lo and Steve Beran, we were allowed to play the game for as long as we wanted against each other. The biggest change we noticed was the button configuration, which has departed from the more familiar numbered system. Buttons are now labelled FP, BP, FK and BK (Front Punch, Back Punch, Front Kick and Back Kick respectively). This new system has expanded gameplay further by allowing the stringing together of incredibly complex combos, making you wish you had kept a Breaker handy.
Our final treat came when we were shown a 3D trailer of the game. After putting on the special 3D glasses, we watched in awe as the entire game popped out of the screen and made Fatalities that much more satisfying. The 3D feature will definitely make its way to PlayStation 3 consoles when the game is released Q2 2011, and is set to change the way we enjoy the game. Will the same be available for the Xbox 360 as well? Who knows, only time will tell.