The Mortal Kombat series has gone through many changes over the years. Its roster steadily exploded; its 2D digitized characters gave way to polygonal models; and its gameplay followed suit, moving into a three-dimensional plane. Its characters went toe-to-toe with some of DC Comics' superheroes. But for the ninth game in the fighting series, Mortal Kombat is returning to its roots with gameplay that harks back to its arcade days and a reimagining of popular characters and backgrounds. We spoke with Paolo Garcia, lead designer at NetherRealm Studios, to get a better idea of what to expect from the new Mortal Kombat.
GameSpot: It seems that fighting games are experiencing a resurgence in popularity. Why do you think that is and how has that influenced the development of Mortal Kombat?
Paolo Garcia: I think fighting games are more popular again partially because of the video game industry's huge growth in recent years and because so many more households have broadband Internet now. Social networking and video-sharing sites have made it so fans can get an e-mail directing them to a cool combo video or easily search for videos like that, which in turn has piqued a lot of gamers' curiosity and given them something to aspire to.
GS: The series has such an enormous roster of characters and such a rich backstory. How do you go about deciding which characters to use and why just focus on MK 1 through 3?
PG: The team wanted to start at the beginning again with this game and create a way for us to include new and interesting stories featuring people's favorite characters while still bringing in some of the magic of the arcades of the '90s. We have been working to make everything in the latest Mortal Kombat feel like a flashback, from the overall look, environmental feel, gameplay, story, and player roster. We wanted people playing to think, "This takes everything I loved about Mortal Kombat and displays it with current technology."
GS: Was there any inclination to create brand new characters for this game or were you always planning to go with returning characters from the start?
PG: We wanted to return to the original Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat 2, and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 characters from the beginning. We have tinkered with the idea of having a small number of non-original characters in the game and might have some surprises in store for players.
GS: What are some of the lessons learned from previous MK entries that affected the design process for the latest game?
PG: The biggest lesson we've learned was planning for the tweaking of moves after the game ships. We prepared for this from the beginning of the current game's development and have built most of the gameplay around adjustable values. This will allow us to adjust some things, if needed, after the community gets its hands on the game. We also wanted to give fans features and game elements they have been asking for, which is why we have a strictly 2D fighting plane and a return of classic moves, like Sub-Zero's ice clone, Cyrax's net, the classic version of Scorpion's teleport punch, Reptile's force balls, and lots of other cool things that players will discover as they go through the game.
GS: This Mortal Kombat will feature a dedicated Tag mode. How does this complicate things on the development side? Does balance become an even bigger issue?
PG: Tag Team mode does scale up complexity of the player's available attack and defensive tools exponentially, but we were aware of this and preparing for it from the beginning. A lot of planning and reworking of those tag abilities have gone into what players can and can't do.
GS: Obviously, people get a kick out of seeing fatalities, but can you explain what actually goes into creating these events for the game? We're assuming it's more than just "Now, make that guy's head explode!"
PG: We have had several fatality brainstorming sessions. People will pool together fatality ideas they've been holding on to, and we work together as a group to weed out the best ones, come up with the ideal ways to go about creating the assets needed, and figure out how to implement them into the game. There is a good amount of trial and error as we figure out what can work. That being said, there are also several of them that are just spontaneous--a team member's "Eureka!" moment that just works.
GS: Finally, Mortal Kombat has endured for all these years and remains a popular series. What do you attribute that to?
PG: The Mortal Kombat franchise has enjoyed huge success over the last 20 years in gaming and other entertainment mediums because of the rich story and the fun factor. The games are so much fun to play with friends or on your own. Another big factor is the expertise of the team currently working on the game--many of whom have worked on several of the Mortal Kombat games going all the way back to the beginning. There is a lot of great passion for the franchise at NetherRealm.
Liu Kang, Ermac, and Baraka have recently been confirmed in a new gameplay video on IGN! I've been waiting for a quality, current generation MK game and it'll finally be here in a few months.
Well, MK has sucked pretty bad for years now. I dont know how this is one of the "most" anticipated games of 2011 but I guess we will see how it is. I dont hold out much hope for it.
The over-the-top X-Ray crap just ruins the game for me. It doesn't look like they've done much to improve their animations or models either. Go back to digital actors like the originals! They'd look REAL with today's tech. Mortal Kombat just doesn't belong in this art style.
I have no doubt this will be the best 3d MK game and possibly in the same league as the classic MK's...Can't wait!!
Hell yeah just seein these pics bring me back to the old days of playing Mortal Kombat 3 just to perform Fatalities.
I got the feelin 2011 is gonna be an amazing year all around. *cough* especially for the PS3 *cough* So many great games on the horizon.
oooh really really really can't wait any more "Choose Your Destiny" "Excellent" "Finish Him" i was love that sound :)
Omg I can't wait till MK comes out!!I'm so excited. I really hope they put Havik in this game, that would be awesome.
I like the idea of sticking with what people loved, and just adding the technology. Some companies do too much, and it can ruin the game if you do that.
I hope the bring in Human smoke its been ages since we got to get to know him as a person ,subzero we know and also scorpion we know give us smokes back story