Mortal Kombat 5 for XBOX
Midway is bringing the next installment of its popular fighting series to the Xbox. Question is... does anyone even care? Details inside.
Mortal Kombat 5. You either jump at every spec of info released or cringe every time you hear its name. Despite this love/hate situation, there's quite a bit of anticipation surrounding Ed Boon's classic [hopefully] in the making.
Mortal Kombat 4 dared to be different, but ended up being more of the same. Boon insists that this will not be the case with MK5. Following in the footsteps of Soul Calibur, MK5 will feature a much more elaborate weapon system this time around. Certain levels will feature platforms that you can jump on and off of, adding a new dimension of play. New juggle combos are also being added, as well as more of the traditional button-tapping combos. In addition, Test Your Might, among other mini-games from the past, will return. A new button layout is being implemented to accommodate the said changes.
Character models for Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Jax and Raiden (remember when they used to spell it "Rayden"?) are complete, but only Scorpion is definitely returning. However, with Scorpion around, you can expect to see Sub-Zero, says Boon. Boon commented two years ago that MK4 was not the last we've seen of Liu Kang, but at this point he won't commit to his return. In an effort to finally break away from the endless character clones, Tanya and Jarek will likely be replaced with their original incarnations (Sindel and Kano) or completely new characters. Expect Fujin to gain a few new moves and don't be surprised if you see Kabal and Cyrax on the select screen either.
In a recent online chat with Ed Boon, he revealed that the MK5 team had a discussion about the possibility of a new finishing move: Suicide. The idea would be to sacrifice yourself before your opponent could finish you off. This has been a dream of many MK fans for years. Imagine playing as Cyrax, and just before Scorpion burns you to a crisp, you blow yourself up, ruining his grand victory. However, due to the controversial nature of such a finishing move, it is very unlikely that it'll ever see the light of day on a home console, especially the V-chipped Xbox.
Mortal Kombat 5 uses a new graphic engine tentatively being referred to as Rampage. Rampage is based on 3dfx's current line of Voodoo chip sets, allowing for some impressive, never-before-seen graphic effects. Most notable is the addition of visible damage on your fighters during battle. As Scorpion uses his sword to viciously attack Sub-Zero, flesh wounds can be seen all over his body. It'll be interesting to see what Namco and Tecmo come up with for their respective fighters to match or beat MK's new graphic offerings.
Unfortunately, as with anything in life, after receiving the good, you inevitably receive some bad. Midway has still not signed on with Sony, Sega and Namco's joint venture into the world of online arcade gaming and has no plans to do so anytime soon. Since Midway recently pulled out of the arcade industry, even if MK5 manages to find its way into arcades, it certainly won't be connected online, meaning that you'll still be stuck playing the same game junkies you see every Saturday night.
In addition, Ed Boon says he will not be offering online play on Xbox either, due to the fact that the "kind of speed you would need for a fighting game isn't currently available." Boon apparently doesn't feel that broadband is fast enough. Tell that to the development team behind One Must Fall: Battlegrounds. That game promises online multiplayer with up to eight fighters at once when it is released on the PC and possibly Xbox next year. If they can do it with eight, why can't Boon do it with two?
Disappointments aside, I'm still as excited about MK5 as I was last year. Or the year before that. Or even the year before that. Thing is, I, and many other MK loyalists (believe me, they still exist -- MK4 sold more than a million copies on PlayStation and N64) have been waiting for MK5 longer than we've been waiting for just about anything. It may be a low profile title when compared with the mind-blowing Metal Gear Solid X or Munch's Oddysee, but every rehash released has still sold more than Tecmo's much-praised Dead or Alive series, and I have to give Midway a lot of credit for that.
Mortal Kombat is the one and only fighting game created by Americans that actually made Japanese developers jealous. It's the only fighter to sell more than two million copies in one month. And it's the fighting game that made Street Fighter Alpha, along with the many other copycats out there, possible. Believe it or not, there was no such thing as an extensive button-tapping combo system until MK3 came around. I find it strange that everyone claims to hate that system because it makes it easy for button-mashers to be cheap, yet they have no problem using it in Capcom's Vs. series (and to be perfectly honest, every person I have ever played in Marvel Vs. Capcom button-mashed. The same cannot be said for MK3).
To me, MK5 on Xbox feels like the way things should be. Although it won't make the Xbox's launch, it's ironic that the American-made fighter that invented and changed so much is going to be on the American-made game console that's set to do exactly that. I think Xbox is going to be a bit of a "Mortal Kombat" for the industry, shaking things up a bit and make the competition cower in fear. If Ed Boon can recapture what he once had with MK, jaded or thrilled, Tekken-loyalist or not, we [the gamers] as a whole, are in for a treat. And that is one treat I don't want to miss. Let's just hope that when it finally arrives, it's not artificially sweetened like Mortal Kombat 4.
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Wonders how long it'll take Ed Boon to finish Mortal Kombat 6.