Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance Preview

E3 2002: Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance Impressions

After four years of speculation and on-again, off-again rumors, the next-installment to the Mortal Kombat series was finally shown to the world in playable form at E3 2002. Although the version of the game was from an earlier build, Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance was primed for the spotlight at Midway's booth.

Graphically, the game is gorgeous. The screenshots do not do the game justice. Each and every stage had a spectacular effect happening in the background. Spilling waterfalls with men paddling along side, green souls flying into an eerie rotating soul chamber, a palace with the soul chamber extending through its roof and into the sky, a small tornado whisking up sand, sizzling pools of acid, mounds of flaming hot coals licking statue faces, and a man ferociously pounding a MK dragon drum are all examples of the game's immersive, dare I say scenic, stages. The stages are still limited to mostly round shapes with force-fielded boundaries on some. If a fighter gets caught up in a barrage against the wall, they can quickly spin out of attacks by hitting the up or down buttons. There are also plans to have characters run up the wall and over the opponent in order to evade corner attacks.

On the character side, all of the models have some type of realistically flowing clothing, hair, and/or (*ahem*) body parts, reacting flawlessly to each and every movement. On the build at E3, the only implemented character damage feature was blood streaming from the fighter's face and down the contours of their body. Once more features of the character damage system are in place, there should be a lot more to talk about.

The gameplay system shown at E3 was limited to only basic and weapon attacks. The game's combo system mixes standard ground hit sequences and pop-up aerial sequences. Gone are the regular means of popping up characters, as the standard uppercut is no longer present. There are, however, similar moves in each fighting style that would either pop the opponent into the air or slam them down into the ground, bouncing them into the air. Primarily, once an opponent was in the air, a wide range of lunging attacks juggled the opponent for around three hits, until either a fighting style changed or a final attack was made. Combos that use multiple fighting styles reward players with increased damage infliction.

Each character has the ability to attack five different ways; furthermore, each fighting style has its own separate attacks for each attack button, making it somewhat difficult to keep track of which button was assigned to what attack when changing fighting styles. The development team is still debating whether to standardize attacks throughout all fighting styles.

Weapons in the E3 build were immediately accessible once a player changed into their fighter's weapon fighting style. This is contrary to the slow and deliberate manor weapons were drawn out in MK4. One of the major quirks in MK4's weapon system was the slow weapon draw times which allowed opponents to easily counter attack, often forcing the weapon to be dropped. The quicker change to weapons puts a stronger emphasis on their use and will speed up gameplay. The E3 build also had extremely powerful weapons, but would be toned down once more gameplay balancing took place. The version at E3 conveyed a basic understanding of what direction gameplay was being taken, but did not truly represent what the final gameplay system will be like. Every aspect of gameplay will be tweaked come the final version of the game; however, from what was shown, MK fans can let out a sigh of relief that the gameplay still has elements that are true to form in previous games.

Finally, the game's new button scheme and multiple controller layouts for each system is a new area for the MK team. Gone are the standard punch and kick attacks from past MKs. For now, the game features five attack buttons, a block button, and a fighting style toggle button, which changes styles in a linear order. Since each system's controller features four main face buttons, this leaves the fifth attack button, reserved for big attacks, on the PS2 and GameCube controller's shoulder buttons and on the recessed black button on the Xbox's controller 'S'. Fortunately, the game allows for every controller buttons to be fully customizable to any preference.

While the version shown at E3 sparked tons of excitement, many of the basic mechanics were not implemented like projectiles and fatalities. A true and honest opinion on the game cannot be reached by what was available in the E3 build. Anything and everything in the game can and will be changed before the game is released. We hope we get a chance to play a more complete and more representative version of the final game at a later date. For the time being, the E3 build of Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance laid a solid foundation for things to come.

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