The Kolumn: Issue #10

Posted by Holygrail on September 17th, 2006

The Future of Mortal Kombat

A future that will hold many many changes and who knows, even a few surprises. Heres a surprise, FOCUS ON THE FIGHTING. Shock horror I know. For all the wonderful new additions in the MK universe (Konquest, Mini-Games, Weapons, Death Traps and now Air Kombat) the MK team has dilly-dallied and avoided the biggest weakness in the series – the art of fighting. Before you read any further, yes I am a fan of MK. Hell I wouldn’t be an admin or have spent countless hours documenting new info into game guides and over analyzing every new screen shot I can find. I am also not a disillusioned fan – I’m not about to jump ship with the impending arrival of MKA.

However, I’m not stupid.

I know what else is out there and I know how MK is regarded in the wider world outside my own head – MK is a joke. And I don’t mean this is in the context of the use of humor through out the various games – in fact this is one area where MK shines. No MK is the butt of all fighting jokes for one simple reason: The fighting itself. Now before you get on your fanboy high horse and scream “SHUT UP MK IS DA GR8ST EVA!!!!111” I’ve thrashed out on “other” fighting series such as Dead or Alive, Soul Calibur and the various Capcom titles so I don’t say this without having something else to compare it too. And if you are one of those who would yell out the above phrase, stop reading now. Oh that’s right, you would have stopped reading about a paragraph ago.

Now that the average intelligence has been raised, we can look at the issue at hand. You all know what I’m talking about. And if you don’t, you need to widen your horizons and play some other fighting games. Ever since the beginning, MK has had a very stop start feel to it. As for the furor of “having a block button” – best invention ever. Capcom are the ones who have it backwards if you ask me. (pun intended) If you’ve ever seen a match between two high level players, you’ll see how it is a case of attack, block, sidestep, block, attack, combo, breaker – it all just feels very after the fact and hashed together. I’m not saying I could do better, but then again I don’t get paid too. Watch a game of two veteran Dead or Alive players and you’ll feel like you’re watching a movie. And that’s not talking about the graphics – it’s all about the animation. The fault lies not with Carlos Pesina, but rather with the linking animation from a standard stance to a kicking action. Talk about choppy…

But its not all doom and gloom.

The thing that gives MK greater lasting power than it’s rivals is how it has ‘spread it wings’ so to speak. Two movies (ok, so one movie, one abomination) with a third in the works, several “side” games (with varying degrees of success), action figures and all manner of other merchandise. When’s the last time you saw a Street Fighter adventure game or a Soul Calibur action figure? Yes, MK is very much the Microsoft of the fighting game world. Not necessarily the best and people love to hate them, but it sure has got the public attention.

Which then leads us to the post-Armageddon MK era.

Personally I think the “mass death” of characters is a good move. Am I the only one who finds it ridiculous that Ken and Ryu are STILL in every Capcom game? And whilst the MK equivalents in Sub-Zero and Scorpion will no doubt make an appearance post-Armageddon, they have plausible explanations for it – Scorpion is undead and the Sub-Zero name will be passed from one generation to the next. Other stalwarts such as Raiden are immortal anyway. This giant graveyard means that no more will we hear about “Shao Kahn lusting for power” or “Reptile looking for a new master” or heaven forbid, “Liu Kang is the Mortal Kombat Champion”. Over it. In future MKs I’d like to see the storyline be more interwoven and tightly integrated into not only the characters bio, but the endings as well. Whilst progressing up the single player ladder, have a cutscene or two thrown in there to flesh out just why character 1 hates character 2. With technology being the way it is, I’d like to see animated endings – done perhaps using the ingame engine much like MK4. The time for pictures and text has passed.

What else does the future hold? Well the third MK movie for one thing. This has the potential to revitalize interest in the series, or crush it completely. However the signs are better than average with the re-signing of Chris Lambert. The rumor suggests that there will be a Shaolin Monks II of some description. Despite the obvious continuity issues its story presented, I thought it was a breakthrough game (particularly given the previous efforts of MK:Special Forces and MK Mythologies) and proved that MK can make an impact as something other than a straight fighter. For my money, I’d like to see a similar style game but give the focus to two other characters, central to the MK story. The most obvious combination would be Scorpion and Sub-Zero but they’ve had more than enough press. How about a Kitana/Mileena combination? MK: Edenian Bitches. OK so the title sucks but you get the idea. I’ve always thought MK could branch out and take the “evil” path, giving players the ability to fight for the powers of darkness rather than always end with a “happily ever after” storyline. Now that I think about it, they sort of did this by having the Deadly Alliance as the victors leading into Deception but ce’ la vie.

As for MK8 itself – well who knows. None of us predicted the complete facelift that was Deadly Alliance compared to MK4. With the power of the next-gen consoles (well, we assume the PS3 is powerful but seeing as it will never get released…) and the rapid increase in technology combined with the promise of a chapter in the MK story, it would appear that the future of Mortal Kombat is looking decidedly upwards.