The lights are on
Bryan Vore and I had the opportunity to play Mortal Kombat X against each other today, and it lived up to our expectations. With six characters and three stages available, NetherRealm’s fans have reason to be excited for the 2015 release.Bryan: Right out of the gate I had to try out the new character, Cassie Kage, after I heard she’s the daughter of Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade. I was interested in seeing how both of their styles blended together and complemented one another. With the new character variations, fighters can take on one of three specializations that result in different movesets and looks. I chose the Cage-focused abilities, which outfitted her in his trademark aviators.Mike: I wanted to start with someone familiar and went with Scorpion. I opted for the Hellfire variation, which gave him a projectile fireball. It’s important to note that there are core abilities common to all three specializations. For instance, Scorpion will always have his teleport and spear. Scorpion also has a sword-focused Ninjitsu style and one called Inferno that can summon a minion.Bryan: It took a sec to get back in the swing of things, but it wasn’t long before I discovered Cage’s nutshot ability and abused it on Mike at every opportunity.Mike: I can take the abuse, but it’s Cassie’s X-ray that left me feeling a little weak in the knees.Bryan: After maxing out the meter, she does a quick strike to initiate the X-ray, pulverizes her opponent’s nuts (they explode like overripe fruit), smashes his skull with the butts of two pistols, and finally shoots him point blank in the eyes. It’s awesome.Mike: Unless you want to have kids afterward. Ouch. Thankfully, Scorpion is no slouch. We’ve seen his new X-ray in the gameplay video, and it’s not quite as jarring (thanks to an absence of testicular torture). One of the things I noticed as we were fighting on the docks was the inclusion of Injustice-style interactive moments. Unlike that title though, NetherRealm has made the projectiles blockable (yes, Mortal Kombat does use a block button) and the interactive backgrounds are more often about traversal than damage.Bryan: Match two took place in the snow covered forest first shown in the announcement trailer. I wanted a home field advantage so I chose Sub-Zero with a specialization that allow me to create a large ice shield. His various specialties alternately cause either his mask, gloves, or medallion to glow. It was much easier to pick up his moves as a familiar character, namely the classic freeze blast.Mike: I went for D’vorah, the bug lady from the gameplay reveal. I opted for her swarm style, though I was tempted by her poison variation that does damage over time. She has come great reach with her spider legs, and her swarm is similar to Scorpion’s ground flame, except it pops up an enemy. Her swarm option also gives her exploding bug grenades. I expect that fans of Sindel from MK9 will gravitate toward her because of unexpected attacks from her spider legs (which surprise like Sindel’s hair). Bryan: I had a hard time dealing with all those creepy spider legs and the swarm caught me off guard quite a bit, but I somehow came up with the victory and got a chance to perform Sub-Zero’s fatality. All of these were simplified for the demo to make it easy on us, thankfully. Sub-Zero freezes his opponent’s torso, punches it out, reaches in and breaks the spine, then uses the bones as handles to rip the entire body in two.Mike: I spoke with Ed Boon, who told me about something his team is calling Gore 3.0. Sub-Zero’s chest punch and Scorpion blowing a hole in an enemy’s torso can be replicated by designers anywhere on the body. Boon promises that there will most certainly be a fatality that removes the center of a fighter’s face. Our last fight was a battle of the bigguns. I selected the Master Blaster like Ferra/Torr, a combination of a hulking Hodor-like brute and a small woman (she’s not a child, whew). The cool thing about this duo is that Torr can’t throw Terra or swing her unless she gets back on his shoulders after a move. She can also be knocked off, limiting utility, which is an interesting balancing technique for the hulking brute.Bryan: My final fighter of choice was some kind of sun god named Kotal Kahn. He had a throwable spikey disc, a shield move, and a throw that could pluck your foe out of the air. When I happened to connect with that last one, it was my proudest moment of the demo. He also could create a vertical beam of light that would add to my health and drain an opponent’s. It remains onscreen for several seconds and serves as a great distraction/trap.Mike: That was battle of titans, and it came down to a couple of well-timed tosses of Ferra across the Outworld Market stage. Her fatality was pretty tame at first, as Torr stunned Kotal Khan so that Ferra could jump on him, dig her knives in, and drag down. It wasn’t until the two halves of the body slumped to the ground, spurting blood with brains and guts exposed that it hit home as a Mortal Kombat fatality. I absolutely loved playing this early build, and I know there are more surprises in store as the game gets closer to 2015.