By Sam Coles:
Mortal Kombat X is out soon so I thought I would go over the 22 year history of the series and how far the series has come over the couple of decades.
The team that gave birth to this gory figher consisted of four people two programmers, an artist and sound designer at first. Their first idea was to do a movie tie in with the John Claud Van Dame based on the film Bloodsport, but due to Van Dame’s busy schedule they couldn’t get him to commit. So they decided to make a new game, but they had a character that was a spoof of Van Dame in the form of Johnny Cage.
Mortal Kombat (1992):
In 1992 Mortal Kombat hit arcades in North America and ported to 16 bit consoles a year later. The game had digitised sprites which involved getting real actors/martial artists and film their movements and put them in game which added a realistic look to it. It wasn’t a new concept because games such as Pit Fighter used the same technique. The stand out for this title was the blood when you hit someone and was one of the most violent games at the time, also a person with experience could pull off a finisher known as “Fatalities”. This game stirred up a lot of controversy in US because at that time they didn’t have an official age rating bored for video games, so the ESRB (Entertainment Software Ratings Board) which gave game developers more leniency to have adult themes in games was born.
Mortal Kombat II (1993):
The idea for the sequel was to make everything bigger and better and they’d delivered, by having more characters, more fatalities and more stages. Each character this time round had two fatalities and they added stage fatalities where you could use the environment to butcher your opponent. They added more characters to the roster such as Reptile being a playable character rather than a secret fighter as he was in the first game; they also slipped in secret characters such as Jade, Smoke and Noob Siabot which is the surnames of the creators Ed Boon and John Tobias backwards. Mortal Kombat II was everything that a sequel should be bigger and better, but it would be another two years before we see the next instalment.
Ultimate/Mortal Kombat 3 (1995):
Mortal Kombat 3 when it first came out was missing some major characters such as Scorpion and Reptile and was the only game in the series not to feature the Thunder God Raiden. They made an updated version of the game in the form of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 which included more characters and for the first time you could fight as Jade and the made up Ninja ( at the time) Ermac were made available for this game. Fans of the series had a love and hate relationship with this game because they were not a huge fan of the run button and combo mechanics because in the past there wasn’t really a combo system in MK games. But is it a bad game? No! It changes up the formula by adding the combo system and it gave it some strategy of what combo to use and when to use it. This would be the last Mortal Kombat game to be in 2D.
Mortal Kombat 4 (1997):
Mortal Kombat 4 was the first game in the series to be fully 3D with its character models and environments so the fatalities could be as graphic as never seen before and was the goriest fighting game for the time. This again stirred up public outcry because this game was still had a release in the arcades, which made them think that this should be the last one in the arcade so they can focus on home consoles. The gameplay of Mortal Kombat 4 is like Mortal Kombat 3 but in 3D with additions like being able to draw a weapon mid fight or throw objects at your opponent that are scattered throughout the arena.
The guys at Midway took a break from the one on one fighter for a bit as we wouldn’t see another proper Mortal Kombat game until 2002. They decided to take a stab at a couple of adventure games one called Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub Zero and Special Forces. These games are regarded as the worst Mortal Kombat games in the series because of their terrible controls and horrible graphics and just bad gameplay in general so we wouldn’t another adventure game from them until 2005.
Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (2002):
They returned with a new game in the franchise in the new millennia with Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance which was released on PS2, Xbox and Gamecube. This game was great a game improving on the 3D elements and getting to grips with the current gen systems of the time. They decided to scale back to just one fatality these fatalities were gruesome and showed off what the systems were capable of rendering at the time with broken limbs severed heads the list goes on. There was a greater focus on story this time round with added cutscenes and a dedicated konquest mode where you go through the story and try and stop the Deadly Alliance which consists of Quan Chi and Shang Tsung. Each character this time round had a two sets of martial arts they could switch on the fly in mid fight which was a cool addition because you could combine the two in combos as well as your weapons.
Mortal Kombat: Deception (2004):
Mortal Kombat: Deception ran on the same engine as Deadly Alliance but with some graphical improvements and added characters with some returning old faces such as Baraka and Liu Kang but in zombie form. They improved Konquest Mode because this time you could fully explore all the realms that you only read about in the bios of characters, you could also interact with the locals and characters from the series. It was my favourite Mortal Kombat game out of the PS2, Xbox and Gamecube generation with its crisp graphics, excellent character roster and the fact the game had two fatalities. A added element to this game were Hara-kiri’s which gave you the chance to finish yourself instead of the victor which gave you the ultimate victory.
Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks (2005):
The guys at Midway took another stab at the action adventure genre and this time they got it right. Think of this game as God of War set in the MK universe but you have the two player co-op and you can perform the iconic fatalities, brutalities and multalities where you can kill multiple characters at once. The games story takes place during the events of Mortal Kombat II so you’ll be traversing Outworld to fight your way to Shao Kahn, this game is very difficult like God of War and is not for the faint of heart.
Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (2006):
After a year of the launch of the Xbox 360 we were expecting an Mortal Kombat game on it, but Midway wanted one more throw down on the PS2 and Xbox (No Gamecube this time) so they decided to bundle every single Mortal Kombat for the final battle to stop Armageddon. Due to the over whelming amount of characters in this game they no longer had unique finishers, this time you had to create your own fatality and decide your opponent’s fate. This game had a ton of content with the returning Konquest mode which was in the style of a decent 3D beat’em up, a fun but bizarre go karting game, Kreate a fighter and online play. After this game we wouldn’t see a proper Mortal Kombat title until 2011 and yes I’m not counting Mortal Kombat Vs DC get over it.
Mortal Kombat (2011):
After the somewhat disappointment that was Mortal Kombat Vs DC Universe with its child friendly approach, well as child friend you can get with the series, Netherrealms the new and improved studio made up of the original members who worked at Midway decided to give the series a re-boot on the Xbox 360 and PS3 with the game just titled Mortal Kombat. It brought back the classic style of 2D fighters with tight controls and gorier than ever fatalities. With its reputation it was banned in Australia, Germany and South Korea so the gore was turned up to 11. Unlike most fighting games on the scene for the time Mortal Kombat actually bothered to include a fully-fledged story mode rather than having ending cutscenes in arcade mode. The story takes place during the first three games in the MK universe because Raiden reverses time when the world is at the brink of Armageddon, so this was a great plot to show that the series has re-booted itself.
Mortal Kombat X(2015):
So here we are with Mortal Kombat X which is out in a few weeks on the 8th generation of consoles with its story mode continuing 25 years after the events of the last game. The game has up the ante with its violence, gore and x-ray moves by taking advantage of the PS4 and Xbox One. The game seems to have a great focus with its story and online mode with a online war where you join different factions and it determines who is victorious by the amount of fights players have won within that faction. Mortal Kombat X will be released on the 14th of April 2015.