jheti: Inara from Firefly, by Angiefaith. (mortal kombat)
[personal profile] jheti
I have the Tournament Edition and this thing is fucking gorgeous. I got a call from the lady of the house, "What is this thing? It's like a...a two foot by one foot by eight inch box; it's huge."

Oh, yes, yes it is huge.



For one player, there is a glorious full cabinet-top style controller that works seamlessly with the 360. (You know what, I realized recently that I'm an X-Box gamer to the bone, and I like it that way. I may have mainlined Lady Gaga at around the same time, and it may or may not have been life-changing. Anyway.)

What I can't seem to convey to you is the sheer scale of this thing. It's like owning a chunk of an upright arcade cabinet, all slick rubberized particle board with a smooth resin top, polished to a high sheen. It actually rests on a small cushioned bottom, so it won't scratch up whatever it's sitting on--which is good, 'cause it's huge, and it weighs about twelve pounds. It's gorgeous and responsive and it feels right. Everything about it is beautiful and amazing. Pushing the little gold-chrome dragon symbol slider lock to the side allows you to open the lid and actually remove the game from inside. The wiring for the controls is visible through clear plastic casing screwed to the lid; very cool. Speaking as someone who spent an entire summer driving through swamp without air conditioning in one of the hottest years on record to acquire a working upright NBA Jam with intent to refurb it--I love the look, feel, and quality of this device. It doesn't feel like a reproduction. It's solid and real and if I had two of them and a solid piece of particle board, I could wire a working upright unit from the result with some patience and a solder gun. And it would work and feel right.

The arcade feel is there even without it, though. This game feels big and bad and sick-nasty vibrant in a way it hasn't in years. It is a solid return to what was amazing about Mortal Kombat and MK II in the arcades.

Highlight reel. I will seriously try to rein myself in and just. Talk about the game now.

Characters that you can actually be excited about! The MK II roster, plus some favorites from later games, are all here. Boon knows what we want and other than making all the girls naked, he's not really fucking with us about it anymore.

I found myself actually wanting to play as everyone. The first thing you notice is that everyone looks cool. Even if the girls are standing around in their underwear. They still look cool. And then you pick them to play with, and everyone handles like a dream. Especially Scorpion and Sub-Zero, who are iconic but usually clunk around a little on the back end or have a slight...top-heaviness to their game?

That is gone. Scorpion is now smooth on the uptake and Sub-Zero is a legit stone cold bastard to be terrified of again.

Jax and Johnny Cage, in particular, are amazing this round, which surprised me. Their move sets have undergone subtle tweaks that make them effective characters. Sonya's vest is ridiculous but oh my god she is fun to play. I love the new arc kick move--she just goes bounding across the screen at this wicked quarter-circle angle that's flatly impossible in real life, wham, IN YOUR FACE, SON.

Playing in more detail reveals all the effort that Ed and Co. put into the gameplay this round. You can grab the controller and just pound each other to bloody, bruised, outfit-destroyed pulp with your super moves, or you can execute a clean, strategic game built entirely on basic attacks and still win.

The thing that proves it, for me, is that girls can now win a girl-vs-boy match without relying too much on special moves. The play mechanics are so well-balanced compared to previous iterations that you can literally have a good time as anyone on the roster, including Stryker, who no longer looks like he got hit in the face with the Bad Cop No Doughnut stick.

Fast, facile gameplay on the top layer hides an intricate timing and pressure/psych-out system of play beneath. The breakers have been streamlined, the timing has been tightened on the air throws/air play system, wake-ups are actually useful now, and every character has something unique about their style.

There is only one style per character, and it's tailored to them and balanced for their strengths. Broken down by whom I've had a chance to play with or as:

Kano looks like a dirty cheating powerhouse and I can't wait to play more with him. Hnngh.

Baraka is a sick fucker and still such a pimp. Dragging a little slow compared with Deception, but the power and good, even range with a few cheap grabs? That's still there and it's
perfect.

Liu Kang is my boy from back in the day and he's been retooled very well; handles light and ferocious and has a few tweaks that make the hang-time on his flying kick even more phenomenal. He's. So much fun to just zip across the screen. He looks amazing again, and I love "hang time" characters, so.

Reptile has gone from a pit of suck with a few powerhouse maneuvers to being a solid mid-grade player with slightly less powerful moves overall, but a range and speed that better suit them. Also, he doesn't look idiotic anymore, which is nice.

Johnny Cage is an amazing amount of fun. The writers went out of their way to really give him a personality in this one, and it shows in everything. He's obnoxious, but you want to like him for all that. In terms of play, they fixed the lag on his special moves and reduced the "punishment zone" on blocked special attacks in general, making him more ferocious and giving him a chance.

Plus, the Nutcracker move is back, and it's more hilarious than ever.

Yes. I am secretly still twelve. I've stayed this young by drinking unicorn blood. But that's a topic for another post.

Jax is harder, better, faster, and just a little weaker in terms of raw power, but on the plus side, he's playable now. They've also toned down some of the...antics. He now behaves believably like an Army officer off-duty. Which has been a sore complaint for me, for years. Jax is finally getting a little respect.

Sonya Blade got a storyline tweak and a power retool, and she is fast, fun, and solid to play. There is something incredibly satisfying about just. Slamming her elbows into someone's face, boom boom pow.

Okay, so. STORY MODE.

STORY MODE.

STORY MODE.

I've lost four hours of my life to this. I regret nothing. If this were a show, I would watch it in a heartbeat. I. Don't want to spoil anything, it's that amazing. Story mode has long been one of the weakest things about this series, and once again Ed and Co. did their homework and gave us something phenomenal, gave us something we've been waiting for and it works.

It is so much fun to play. It's like participating in that awesome feeling you got when the lights went down in the theatre and the dude screamed "MORTAL KOMBAT" and the cheesy techno kicked in at top volume.

Pretty much almost cried. It is that awesome.

I LOVE YOU, WARNER BROS. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, THANK YOU FOR BEING AMAZING AND LETTING THE GUYS AT NETHEREALM DO THEIR THING. I LOOK FORWARD TO BUYING EVERYTHING MK THAT YOU WANT TO SELL ME.

I mean this entirely without irony and with the kind of gleeful anticipation that I didn't even feel on my first date. Just. So you know. By comparison.

GUYS GUYS GUYS THERE IS A TAG-TEAM MODE and it is so much fun I can't describe, this is that game we were talking about one time in the comment threads? It's pretty much exactly like that!

The Challenge Tower is the coolest way to get rid of stupid tutorial mode I've ever seen. Some of them are doofy, others are frustratingly hard, but it pays you a shitload of coins, which you're going to want if you want to have access to every single Fatality.

You know you want every single Fatality. If you don't want every single Fatality, you are playing the wrong game.

Oh, speaking of: the gore is really dialed up this time. Bruises and scrapes and super moves that show off exactly how and where bones are shattered. In one stage, there are literally fountains of blood that the characters can stand under.

The Fatalities are sick, but by comparison are not as bad as I expected. At least, not so far.

Two of the four (!!) sections of the Krypt/Nekropolis are so nasty I can't even look. It's helpful to have a friend or relative with no sense of squeamishness nearby so you can still get all the loot. The Misery Meadow or whatever the hell that is? Plays to my slightly mean sense of humor real well, but it's probably still gross.

Yeah, basically every part of the Kryptopolis that's not the standard headstone part in the very beginning? Hella gross.

I don't know if you can turn the blood level down, because I never bother to do it. Gore has been integrated into the user menus and into certain effects in the game and mini-events and, look, basically the visual design team realized their original core audience is pushing thirty and still frustrated about their lives, and it's like they gave us a big bloody pillow to scream into. Made of guts.

Big squishy still-warm hug, guys; c'mere.

I find this powerfully cathartic, personally, but yeah. Parts of it squick me some. The Internet generation? Won't even blink.

Tl;dr it deserves that Mature rating.

OH OH OH THEY BROUGHT BACK TEST YOUR MIGHT.

THERE ARE SO MANY OPTIONS AND THE STUPID FETCH QUESTS ARE NO LONGER COMPULSORY except if you want them Fatalities, ya'll.

Oh there will be more entries, oh yes.
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jheti: Inara from Firefly, by Angiefaith. (Default)
jheti

August 2012

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