Mortal Kombat Has Become Its Own Worst Fatality
By Gwendolyn L. Spelvin
Mortal Kombat has outlived its own life expectancy, and should do players a favor and finish itself.
For a franchise that has had a limited release on the PC platform, Mortal Kombat disappoints at every turn. Not only is it a bummer that you have to have the warp drive engine from the Klingon Bird Of Prey to run it without feeling as if you’re in a space-time continuum vortex, but the previous entries that debuted exclusively on consoles were absolutely shitty ports.
Let’s call a spade a spade here. Midway going bankrupt in the franchise’s infancy has haunted the series more than the current developers of the series cares to admit. After all, the life ownership of the series has changed hands more than the average hard core gamer changes controllers. Nothing is to be had from all this constant juggling act except a fighting game without true roots to hold on to and call home.
It doesn’t help that the franchise is bought and sold on the strip like a call girl to the highest bidder every other odd year or so.
In the Mortal Kombat heyday, the series was the end all and be all of the fighting genre. It was daring, militant, bold; the macabre and gratuitous violence went into dark places not even its peer group would dare venture into. Characters were plentiful as were their unique moves, and the comprehensive storyline was hard to resist. The crème’ de la crème’ was always the fatality moves, which are now synonymous with the franchise.
Yet times changes, and in the case of the Mortal Kombat series, not for the better.
There are a lot of fingers to point as to why the franchise went to hell; the easiest finger point would be at the owners. Any fan of the series knows that every new owner of the franchise took it upon themselves to wipe the slate clean in development and etch their unique mark in the Mortal Kombat universe, to the detriment of the players and the history of the series.
Such changes were never gradual but static. Episodic adventures were integrated into the fighting model, which didn’t work well for either genre. Extra finishing moves became silly; that babality and friendship era was absolutely ridiculous and unnecessary. The storyline became jumbled as too many characters were added to the roster, and the fate of the existing characters were at times left ambiguous with deaths and resurrections. Villains became less interesting and overall, the fighting mechanics suffered.
Luckily for the PC platform, many of the low points of the franchise were never ported, like Mortal Kombat: Sub-Zero Mythologies, Deadly Alliance, Deception, Shaolin Monks, and Armageddon.
However, PC players are now stuck with the new generation of the series that is almost parallel to an off season of All My Children. The storyline has expanded, and not in a great way. Former heroes are now villains. Iconic horror characters from film and other video games are now licensed into the universe without rhyme or reason.
Contrary to popular opinion, there is no plausible way that Freddy Kruger, Leatherface, Jason Voorhees, Predator, Alien, or Kratos should be in the Mortal Kombat universe. There is enough going on with the interdimensional struggle of the existing characters, clones, and the like without doing unnecessary crossovers that do absolutely nothing to progress the franchise outside of shameless plugging of other branding.
Adding insult to injury is this new “brutality” finishing move. For all intent and purpose it is no different than a fatality and operates in the exact same way. It would be awesome, had it not been watered down to the lowest common denominator and given the generic touch on any character with slight differences but identical outcomes.
Another gimmick for the franchise equates to another epic failure.
Let’s step out of the fresh feelings about the wayward story progression for just a minute. While it is an improvement that the PC platform is now considered for newer Mortal Kombat entries, the graphics requirements are unrealistic, requiring way too many specs to run efficiently. No one cares about anti-aliasing or shading when you are in the midst of battle. Most players are too concentrated on beating their opponent than marveling in the beautifully stunning background.
Sometimes more is less, and the original Mortal Kombat worked for its simplicity; since then every developer has went out of their way to be completely over the top for bragging rights. Now that newer entries are on the PC, these new graphic intensive specs box out the causal player that does not have a gaming rig, but a regular old computer or laptop.
Who cares about a chained up rhino and other sudden background “ambiances” when you are getting your ass kicked by licensed characters with chainsaws and other weapons? It’s not like you can use all this extra background movement in your battle strategy outside of being distracted by it, now can you? Not everybody can afford to go get a top of the line graphic card to play this, or can install a graphic card if they are off desktop.
All in all, Mortal Kombat reminds PC players how it isn’t a good look when the last platform left behind waits damn near twenty years for relics of the past to hit their controllers and even then, they aren’t even worth the wait.