Tag Archive: scorpion

Back when the game was first announced, if you told me that “family” was going to be one of the key themes of Mortal Kombat X, I’d have looked at you like you had two heads. This was the franchise that 7-year-old me lied to his parents about the level of violence in order to get the game for home consoles. This was a series built on the decapitated heads and severed limbs brought about by countless arcade players with nimble-enough fingers to pull off some impossible Fatalities. I never thought something as wholesome as “family” could fit into Mortal Kombat.

But leave it to the developers at NetherRealm Studios to turn even this concept on its head. At GDC 2015, I learned that Johnny Cage would return as a playable character in Mortal Kombat X, and I briefly got to go hands-on with him in the first chapter of the game’s story mode.

I’ve always enjoyed playing as Johnny Cage, but part of his charm as a character has always come from his interactions with his beloved Sonya Blade, since she acts as a grounding force for Johnny’s over-the-top bravado. To my delight, she was present throughout many of his cutscenes, too. It’s always nice to see one of gaming’s earliest power couples reunited (and doesn’t CageBlade sound infinitely more badass than Brangelina?). Throw daughter Cassie into the mix, and you’ve got the whole Cage bloodline present and accounted for here.

As the story begins, Shinnok, the fallen Elder God and master of the Netherrealm, tries to invade Earthrealm. Among Shinnok’s army of winged, fire-breathing demons are the reanimated, undead bodies of Sindel, Kabal, Stryker, Jax, and others controlled by Shinnok’s necromancer disciple, Quan Chi. As the world goes to hell around them, Johnny, Sonya, and Kenshi take a helicopter toward Raiden’s temple (where Shinnok is focusing his attack) in the hopes of possibly ending this war at the source—but, as you can imagine, things don’t go according to plan.

Mortal Kombat X’s story mode plays out similarly to Injustice: Gods Among Us. You’ll control a character for several fights that clump together as a chapter; that moves the story forward, and you’ll then take over as another character on the roster. This way, players can become familiar with multiple fighters if they’re new to the series, as well as experience the story from multiple points of view.

In Johnny’s case, his chapter consisted of four fights before I switched characters—or I would have, but the demo ended before I found out who would pilot Chapter Two. Johnny’s signature moves like the Shadow Kick and Green Flame were present and accounted for, and I even got to try out some environmental hazards, such as jumping off a wrecked car to close the distance on a far-away Scorpion and deliver a jump kick.

The game looked like one of the best new-gen titles yet, with each level providing an exquisite amount of detail. Whether it was Raiden’s temple or a destroyed city street surrounded by crumbling buildings, Mortal Kombat X looks nothing short of gorgeous. How it plays might be another story, however.

For example, I was a little taken aback that Johnny Cage felt slower than I remembered. I adapted by the end of the demo and delivered some solid combos by the time the chapter was over, but I don’t know if Johnny’s just gotten slower due to his age or whether the game as a whole is a half-step off, since I only got to play as him in the demo. Of course, it’s also difficult to judge based on only four fights.

Aside from this, it felt really good bashing people’s faces in, and I couldn’t help but get more amped up for the final game, where I can mess around with some Fatalities and Brutalities. Since we had only a limited amount of time, however, I only pulled off an X-ray maneuver.

In regards to the little bit I saw of the actual story, I’m also curious to see where all that goes. Kenshi and Jax were confirmed as appearing in-game during my playtime (Kenshi in cutscenes, Jax as one of Johnny’s opponents), and their kids are playable characters, too. There’s also Kung Lin being related to Kung Lao somehow, and even Scorpion has a fatherly relationship with Kenshi’s son, since he trained him. From what I saw, there seems to be a stronger emphasis on character relationships in the story here than in any previous Mortal Kombat game.

I imagine I’ll get some sort of payoff once I get to play the entire story mode come review time, but for now, this theme of “family” in Mortal Kombat X’s story is an intriguing one. It could serve as a welcome continued evolution of the series, or it might end up as an overplayed premise that makes the experience more cheesy than cool. As someone who’s been a fan since that very first chapter back in 1992, though, I think giving these longstanding characters more depth can only be a good thing.

Spider blood…spider blood…radioactive spider blood

The Amazing Spider-Man marks Beenox’s third Spider-Man game in as many years, after 2010’s Shattered Dimensions and 2011’s Edge of Time. But unlike the Quebec-based developer’s previous representations of everyone’s friendly neighborhood wall-crawler, this title marks a return to classic form for Spidey, as Beenox finally takes a shot at inserting Marvel’s webhead into an open-world New York City.

Taking place immediately after the events of the alternate-universe movie from which the game draws its inspiration, Amazing Spider-Man sees Spidey once again saving the city from a cataclysmic threat—and he’ll need to forge unusual alliances in order to overcome the hurdles thrown his way. And that’s all I’ll divulge; while the game spoils elements of the movie, I won’t ruin anything when it comes to the plot. Just trust me when I say that whether you’re for or against this Spider-Man relaunch, the Amazing Spider-Man spins an intriguing tale that features lots of entertaining callbacks from the wall-crawler’s history that’ll have old-school fans cheering—yet it still stays true to the new universe that the folks at Sony Pictures created for the film.

The most marked difference in Beenox’s open world comes from the camera angle; it pulls in tight on Spidey as he swings through a beautifully rendered digital Manhattan. This up-close, personal feel really imparts the proper sensation of swinging at high speeds through the concrete canyons. Unfortunately, when Spidey moves into indoor areas—such as when he infiltrates labs or goes deep into the sewers—the zoomed-in camera becomes a hindrance, as it makes wall-crawling and combat much more difficult.

And speaking of combat, that element sees an overhaul as well, as it takes a page from Batman: Arkham City and offers Spidey a new counter system. But instead of wavy lines appearing above enemy heads à la Arkham City, they appear above Spidey’s noggin as an indication that his Spider-Sense is tingling—and using the wall-crawler’s inherent super-agility to pull off impressive combos definitely feels rewarding. But the zoomed-in camera makes it difficult to see where all the enemies are at a given time—and to know just when you’re in or out of trouble. As a result, using Spider-Sense really becomes necessary, as many enemies like to lurk just off-camera.

Another new addition to Spidey’s arsenal is the Web Rush maneuver. Old-school fans will immediately see similarities to the Web Zip move from older Spider-Man games, but the Web Rush is interesting because you can pull it off just about anywhere, anytime—the game’s engine calculates, in real time, how Spidey would naturally get from Point A to Point B. Sure, the animation makes it look like he’s floating instead of actually using his superagility, but indoors, Web Rush is critical—and outdoors, it makes gathering the game’s 700 collectibles much easier.

Yes, I said 700 collectibles! That, unfortunately, is another downside here. Literally every corner in Manhattan is littered with digital comic-book pages, and if you’re a completist like myself, you’ll go insane trying to collect them all. I appreciate that these pages unlock some digital versions of key Spider-Man comics from which the game draws its inspiration, like the first appearance of Iguana (Spectacular Spider-Man #32) or the first appearance of Rhino (Amazing Spider-Man #41), but the bevy of collectibles, along with a plentiful amount of side missions similar those seen in older Spidey games, comes across as clutter that almost gets in the way of the story the game tries to tell.

Still, this is certainly a well-polished Spider-Man experience, and it’s rare that a movie game actually doesn’t suck. The story is intriguing, web-swinging is enjoyable, and you honestly can’t fault Beenox too much for cramming in so much content—after all, we’re usually complaining when it’s the other way around. I will warn you again, though, that you’ll probably enjoy the story a bit more if you actually see the movie first, which means you’ll have to wait at least another week before playing the game. It’ll be worth the wait, though—all Spider-Man fans will enjoy this novel, twisted take on one of comics’ most iconic heroes.

SUMMARY: The best Spider-Man adventure in years isn’t quite what it should’ve been. Developer Beenox actually crams too much into the package, cluttering what could’ve been a landmark tale for Marvel’s wall-crawler. 

  • THE GOOD: Best web-swinging mechanics in years.
  • THE BAD: Way too many collectibles and side missions clutter up the main experience.
  • THE UGLY: Rhino, Iguana, and Vermin cross that line in a three-way tie.

SCORE: 8.0

The Amazing Spider-Man is available on PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, 3DS, DS, PC, and iOS. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox 360. 

Get Over Here!!

Something that has littered much of the Vita’s launch has been ports of popular games from last year that could easily make the transition. And fighting and racing games are typically the easiest of the easy for the bunch. So, I admit, when I heard Mortal Kombat was coming to the Vita, I just shook my head and figured “here we go again”.

But Ed Boon didn’t want that. And seeing an opportunity to play around with some new technology, wanted to make sure that there was something that made this version of Mortal Kombat a little special and differentiated it from it’s console brethren from a year ago. So at GDC, we were able to go hands on with Mortal Kombat for the Vita and the handful of new features were just enough to actually make the short list of Vita titles I’ve been excited for.

A lot of what made last year’s console Mortal Kombat great in the first place remains like the tight combat and story mode. But now there are special Vita-centric challenge towers that utilize the touch screen, like a fight where blood splatters on the screen with each hit and you have to wipe it away to see, and special new mini-games modes to go along with classics like Test Your Might. We were also told of an expanded ‘Krypt’ to show off some behind the scenes of the development of the Vita version.

The challenge tower was the first thing we looked at and to go along with the blood splatter mission, there was also a mission where you had to catch falling ‘koins’ by tapping them before they hit the ground and a juggling contest where you would tap missile launchers to bounce a falling ‘kombatant’ around and keep them from hitting the ground. The promise of even more missions and another challenge tower promises a lot more longevity to this new game. Not to mention one mission where you can play as Shao Khan…

The next thing we looked at were the two new mini-games: Test Your Slice and Test Your Balance. Test Your Balance takes advantage of the Vita’s built-in gyroscope and has a character balancing over a pit filled with blades, acid, or some other instant kill trap. Not only must you balance your character for a certain amount of time, but random body parts from previous balancers who failed will be thrown at you, trying to knock you into the pit below and adding an interesting challenge to this game that was a lot of fun.

But what was most surprising was Test Your Slice, which is basically Fruit Ninja, but with a Mortal Kombat flair. Instead of cutting fruit, you’ll be slicing apart brains, hearts, and skulls just to name a few body parts. There are also a few characters’ heads with special abilities, like Sub-Zero’s freezes the stage, thrown in as well. Just make sure to avoid the bombs. This, too, was a lot of fun and made great use of the Vita’s touch screen.

The most impressive part of the game though may have been the local connection we ended up trying out. Not a hint of lag with the inputs impressed me more than any other multiplayer feature for a Vita game to date as I used my preferred Sub-Zero to best my opponent’s Noob Saibot in three rounds. And what was really phenomenal was I then pulled off Sub-Zero’s classic beheading/de-spining Fatality by using the touch screen. Yes, Fatalities are easier than ever now as with a quick simple rubbing of the screen back and forth over my opponent and his head was my latest trophy for my wall.

All in all, this was easily the most impressed I’ve been with a Vita title to date, as even though it’s a port, it offers enough new features to keep old fans happy and hopefully brings in even more newcomers with its portability. And we can’t forget that it also features PS3 exclusive roster character Kratos and all the DLC characters as part of the package so I can’t wait to really put this fully through its paces when it releases sometime this Spring.

And if you want, the reveal trailer is embedded below for your convenience. FIGHT!

Originally Published: December 28, 2010, on Youtube.com/CGRUndertow

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe for the Xbox 360 from Midway and Warner Bros. Interactive.

Originally Published: November 22, 2010, on ClassicGameRoom.com

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed Mortal Kombat: Armageddon for the Wii, the final game in the MK storyline that features all 64 characters.