Mortal Kombat: Armageddon
12th Jan 2007 | 10:31
One thing that we've never fully understood about Mortal Kombat is the fact that nobody ever actually stays dead. After six games, we can count the actual deaths on one hand: Johnny Cage turned up in a cemetery for a bit, Scorpion managed to finish off Sub Zero for a couple of weeks, Liu Kang spent an entire game as a zombie and after being exploded into rubble kept Shao Kahn on the back foot for almost a year. In Outworld, having your upper torso eaten by a dragon or being sliced in half with a razor sharp hat's not much worse a torn ligament in the Premiership - you might be out of action for a while, but you'll come back stronger.
Will this change in Armaggedon? Midway will only say that this time all bets are off, nobody's safe, and a lot of people are going to die in Mortal Kombat's last appearance on current-gen systems. What we do know is that every character's back, in a bust-up for the one mysterious object that can control the fate of the world. And we do mean every character: from nearly-man Kung Lao to tutorial character Shunjinko, the entire crew from every game - no matter how unpopular, useless or dead they were - is back.
Bosses Shao Kahn, Goro, Kinatoro and Moloch appear as playable characters, though they'll have a different fighting system, giving them less agility but more powerful moves. MK: Deadly Alliance bonus character Blaze returns as the main villain, this time sporting a ninja-style faceplate and steroid-case muscles. Even ping-pong-ball-covered goon Mokap joins in the fun, becoming our number one pick for 'character we'd most like to see popped like a meat balloon.' Finally, there's new character Taven, the equivalent of Deadly Alliance's Shunjinko. Together with his brother Daegon, he's been sent to Earth-realm to uncover the weapon that'll allow one of them to defeat Blaze. Rather than simply wander round picking fights like in Deception, though, the improved Konquest mode comes with its own fighting system, loosely based on the one in MK spinoff Shaolin Monks. Puzzles are basic and attackers stupid, but highlights include a sledgehammer that pulps attackers with one swipe. Of course, there's still plenty of opportunity to fight the main characters - here, the action changes to traditional side-on Kombat.
But you don't really care about that, do you? You want to hear about the Create-A-Fatality mode. Simply double-tap the pad in a certain direction and hit any button, and your character will kick things off by hitting his opponent in the spuds or gouging his eyes. From then on, you're got decreasing increments of time to add as many moves as possible, before finishing off with a double-tap and the actual 'Fatality' button. Should you knee him in the face and pull out his brain? Slip a sword up his chuff and yank out his internal organs? Or slice off one of his arms, hit him around the face with it, pull out his lungs, cut his torso in half and stamp on his head? Don't worry, traditionalists - characters still have moves related to their own skills, so Scorpion and Sub Zero will be able to incorporate burning and freezing into their combos, while Bo Rai Cho'll probably have some sort of acidic puking move. It looks good - let's just hope some of them actually stay dead this time...
Gravity? What's that?
One element that has made the cut from quasi-sequel Shaolin Monks is the 'aerial rave' move. After you've nailed another character with a juggle, you can follow them into the air, nail them with a preset combo, and - hopefully - knock them into a gigantic fan.
Kreate A Kharacter
Infinite lady ninjas... on tap
Custom characters might be the norm in fighting games these days, but the new Mortal Kombat pulls it off with aplomb. The basic system's similar to Soul Calibur 3, letting you pick a character style - Geisha, Ninja or Samurai, for instance - then tweak them to look like the superhero, ninja or minor female celebrity you're after. The impressive bit, though, is the move system - you pick a base style (Karate, Eagle Claw, Tiger Crane or whatever) and then change whatever move you like for your own unique combos. For your second style, you pick a weapon and do the same again. Hammer-wielding crane Christina Aguilera, anyone?
The third Mortal Kombat movie has become tangled up in the ropes
Oh, it was going to be brilliant. After MK: Annihilation tanked at the box office, the studio suits had big plans for Devastation: they'd get Christopher Lambert back, they'd build a theme park in Florida where people could watch it being filmed... and more importantly, they'd rehire Bridgette Wilson as Sonya Blade. But Hurricane Katrina knocked things off track, and now Devastation's in pre-production hell, being filmed in Thailand, with only Chris 'Scorpion' Cassamassa to return from the original cast. It's not all doom and gloom, though - take consolation in that it's being directed by a man called 'Mink' and written by the magnificently-named Drew McWeeny. Can't wait!]
New minigame announced!
Don't get too excited... it's only karting
For months, Midway have been hinting at the new, secret online multi-player mode that's set to replace Puzzle Kombat (quite fun) and Chess Kombat (incredibly confusing). Would it be multi-player fighting? Some sort of MMORPG? Erm, no. It's... Kombat Kart!
This works pretty much as you'd expect - twelve of the Kombat characters race each other round eight tracks, snarling and grabbing boosts. There are death-traps on the tracks - the gigantic rollers are a favourite - and each character's got their own special power (Raiden's is lightning, Jax's is a giant bomb), but the weird thing is... there aren't any other weapons. At the moment, this makes things feel massively unbalanced - if you're Mileena, for instance, you've just got a shield, so you've got no way of shooting people - and a bit rushed. Still, they've got time to fix it, so we're looking forward to giving it a try.
We speak to Ed Boon, the MK mastermind
He's been with Mortal Kombat since it was 2D, he named Noob Saibot after himself (Boon backwards) and he's one of the nicest men you'll ever meet - even though he spends his days watching people getting their heads ripped off. It's Ed Boon!
You've got every character ever in Armaggedon. Any favourites you felt were neglected that deserve another chance?
I always liked Kabal. But I thought Stryker was neglected - he was a cool character, he had useful moves, but nobody seemed to pick him. My all-time favourite, though? That's still Scorpion.
How are the boss characters going to work? Presumably they aren't going to have the same move set?
Well there are characters that we are still balancing because they are so huge. It's a different game playing with those characters as opposed to playing with the tiny Liu Kang, but they'll be slower and not as agile, so it all works out.
How difficult is it to balance the created characters so that they fit in with the game's cast?
Well, they tend to be a bit tougher than the normal characters because you can assign them whatever moves you like, within reason - but there will be lobbies online where you can't use them. Or where you can only use created characters. So everyone should be happy.
Back in the day, Mortal Kombat caused uproar. Did you ever feel like you'd gone too far?
It was edgy back then because there were no age ratings so kids could buy the games, so parents were worried. These days, though, we can do pretty much whatever we like.
Seriously, though: it's called Armaggedon. Is everyone going to die?
The story's going to end, but I don't know that we'll kill every single character off. A Mortal Kombat without Sub-Zero would be like a Street Fighter game without Ken and Ryu. But certainly, we would like to close as many chapters as we can and characters as possible - and that may involve some people dying...
This is the last MK we'll be seeing on current technology. Do you expect it to provide some sort of closure?
Yeah, everybody's in it, and they're all fighting each other, so it'll let us provide a sort of end to the series. Then we can start work on the next generation...