Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Why Mortal Kombat's change is necessary

This can never change though.I can’t think of too many franchises in need of a fresh start, well not nearly as much as Mortal Kombat. With overly stale installments and the total collapse of parent company Midway, it’s painfully obvious that the legendary series has been in trouble for quite some time. But with a recent unveiling of what seems to be Mortal Kombat’s new direction, this perpetual dilemma could be drawing to a close.

 It’s no secret that Midway flat lined and sold its once seminal, highly popular Mortal Kombat franchise to Warner Bros. last year. Despite the new owner, with how bland and derivative the series had become, one would assume that the glory days were long since passed for Ed Boon and company. However, recently a video has surfaced showcasing a completely different take on the Mortal Kombat universe. As a matter of fact, it’s so unique that it’s anything but typical Mortal Kombat. Whether that’s tough to swallow relies solely on your affiliation with the games, but like it or not, no one can deny the need for change here.

Sure we don’t know exactly what this “trailer” means yet but being released merely a week away from the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) practically screams the intentions. Mortal Kombat, responsible for copious amounts of blood, the ESRB, and over-exaggeration at its finest is finally getting an overhaul. This presents a tough choice, and if the new home for Mortal Kombat is to be successful then they must choose their destiny.

 Ah, uppercuts that make people explode. No more. What I mean is, Mortal Kombat is dead. It has been for some time. Ever since Mortal Kombat 4, characters have been forced into what could conceivably be called a story. As awesome as being thrown into a “soulnadoe” sounds on paper, it’s just downright stupid. Almost as stupid as killing off main character Liu Kang and bringing him back as a zombie. Almost as stupid as characters named Bo Rai Cho, Kobra, and Mokap. Almost as stupid as pitting Scorpion against Superman in a duel to the death. It’s nonsensical, inflated, and is further exacerbated by the clunky and stiff animations of each and every fighter. That being said, the charm of the fantastically morbid tones of violence is intoxicating. What other game allows you to freeze your opponent, pull his head off, and shatter their body by flinging their head directly through it? None. But if Mortal Kombat is to succeed, we as the fans need to realize that enough is enough and tuck away our world destroying grenades.

 Fists of RAGE! Mortal Kombat has always been about exaggeration, multiple rib cages bouncing around after a massive death-dealing explosion, being uppercut through solid concrete, but no more. This new video depicts our favorite characters with their trademark abilities albeit humanized. You won’t find Scorpion ripping his mask off to reveal a brightly burning skull ready to incinerate his opponents. Reptile may look like an abomination but that’s because of a rare skin disease. Baraka wasn’t born with swords in his arms; this guy actually put them there. You might find yourself crying foul here, but you must look at the picture in a panoramic view. Mortal Kombat has gone nowhere. Fantasy powers and ridiculous plot devices worked at first, but this reboot will give us what we really need; a totally new take on the series in realistic form. Ice grenades are great and morphing into a dragon to chomp down your opposition is immortal, but retiring these things is the best thing for everybody.

 Baraka is a Tarkata. Now he's human.The realistic approach can still convey the motif of violence and gore, and more importantly it brings with it a creepy, dark atmosphere I’ve only found compelling in Twisted Metal Black. The characters and stories in that game were so messed up you simply had to keep playing. Having this unknown mechanic practically manifest in the laps of the designers is incredibly exciting. Not only does it give the creators room to mold an intense environment around each character, it also allows them to give us a true, deeply violent, disturbing story. How will game mechanics and functions be implemented? It’s all still very much up in the air.

It can be hard to let go of something you’ve been tethered to for so long, and as ridiculous as it may sound, the positives finally outweigh the negatives. We’ll all miss freezing and electrifying dudes with just a touch of the hand, but all this paves the way for some of the biggest change a legendary series has ever seen and ever needed. Bring on the humanized Mortal Kombat. I won’t settle for anything less than outstanding. 

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  1. I agree it needs a reboot, but not a complete overhaul in mythos and ridiculousness. They need to pull a Capcom and make it play as tight and efficient as their old 2d efforts. The forced depth of the 3-D forays is what killed it for me, they should restrict movement to 2D plane again, obviously it worked with SF4. Hell SF4 became and still is one of my favorite fighters ever, almost instantly. They recaptured the magic. Maybe Boon and crew could look to that as inspiration.

  2. Too true and it's funny because the actual game they announced is going to do just what you said.