Mortal Kombat (2011 video game)
Cover art featuring Scorpion and Sub-Zero
High Voltage Software (PC)
|Publisher(s)||Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment|
|Director(s)||Ed Boon (creative, engineering, gameplay)
Steve Beran (art)
Alan Villani (engine)
Richard Carle (audio)
Dominic Cianciolo (cinematics)
|Producer(s)||Shaun Himmerick (executive)
Hans Lo, Adam Urbano
|Designer(s)||Paulo Garcia, John Edwards (leads)
Dan Forden (sound lead)
|Programmer(s)||Alexander Barrentine (systems lead)
Jay Biondo (gameplay lead)
Jon Greenberg (graphics lead)
Gavin Freyberg (engine lead)
Adisak Pochanayon (principal)
|Artist(s)||Cayenne Mandua (characters lead)
Dave Pindara (environments lead)
Carlos Pesina, Tony Zeffiro (animation leads)
Joshua Slingerland, Todd Keller (cinematics leads)
Matthew Gilmore (FX lead)
Taaron Silverstein (UI lead)
Pav Kovacic (art lead)
|Writer(s)||John Vogel, Brian Chard, Dominic Cianciolo, Alexander Barrentine, Jon Greenberg|
|Engine||Unreal Engine 3|
|Release date(s)||PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360
|Media/distribution||Blu-ray Disc, DVD, PlayStation Vita card|
Mortal Kombat is a 2.5D fighting game with 3D graphics and the ninth main installment in the Mortal Kombat series. It was developed by NetherRealm Studios (formerly known as Midway Studios) and published exclusively under the Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment label in 2011. The game was released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 systems on April 19 in North America and on April 21 in Europe. A 2012 PlayStation Vita port was released on May 1 in North America and on May 4 in Europe.
Although set directly after Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, the game focuses on the earliest period in the Mortal Kombat series, the trilogy of Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat II and Mortal Kombat 3. The storyline involves the divine protector of Earth, Raiden, attempting to change the aftermath of the events of Armageddon by contacting his past self as he faces defeat at the hands of the evil Shao Kahn. The game also features a return to the gameplay style roots of the Mortal Kombat series, with fights taking place in a two-dimensional plane but with characters and levels that are rendered in 3D.
Upon release, Mortal Kombat received positive reviews and won several awards for fighting game of the year. It was also a commercial success, selling more than two million copies in just the first month. Due to its very violent content, the game was banned in Australia and South Korea as well as being indexed in Germany; the Australian ban was lifted in February 2013 and was released on May 1.
Principal gameplay involves one-on-one fighting in a single 2D fighting plane (at 60 frames per second), although characters are rendered in three-dimensional fashion, the intent being to give depth and range to portrayals of various projectiles. Unlike previous Mortal Kombat games, four buttons on the game controller represent attacks and are each linked to a corresponding limb.
A new feature is the "super meter", which can be charged by various actions during battle such as performing a combo or getting hit by the opponent. The super meter can be charged to three levels, with three special actions available. A single level can be used to deliver an enhanced version of one of the character's special attacks; two levels can be used to interrupt a combination attack, and the full three levels allow for the delivery of a special attack called an "X-ray move". During this attack, the camera provides an internal view of a defending character and shows bones and organs being broken or ruptured.
Extra features include the ability to play as multiple characters during the course of the story, a Fatality training mode (allowing players to practice executing finishing moves), the Challenge Tower, tag team fighting, and an online mode. The Challenge Tower mode is a single-player option includes 300 specific challenges of various difficulties providing currency rewards upon completion; players have the option of using in-game currency to bypass other difficult challenges, completing them later. Amongst the various challenges are "Test Your Might" (rapidly pressing buttons and using specific timing to destroy blocks of varying difficulty), "Test Your Sight" (following an object hidden under a cup or skull and revealing the object after a shuffle), "Test Your Strike" (destroying a specific block in a stack) and "Test Your Luck" (battles with certain conditions, such as no jumping). The four-player tag-team feature is an original feature, allowing two players to play together. Characters can suddenly appear on-screen and perform "assist attacks" or "special entry attacks" while the second character disappears.
The online mode includes a "King of the Hill" option, where up to eight players can act as spectators and play the winner of a fight. Spectators may also rate the fights and use the "forum" to determine how to perform various combos or moves observed during a fight. A single-use online pass is also included with the game which is mandatory to access the online components. Online passes are also available from the PlayStation Store and Xbox Live Marketplace.
"Raiden is about to be killed by Shao Kahn, and just before he delivers the last blow, Raiden sends a mental message to his earlier self by saying that he must win, and the camera rewinds back to Mortal Kombat 1. The Raiden from Mortal Kombat 1 then gets the message and experiences a premonition. The game then spans Mortal Kombat 1, 2, and 3, retelling the story with an enlightened Raiden, who has changed the course of events. Eventually, everything the player has seen happen before — Liu Kang winning, Lin Kuei turning into cybernetic ninjas, has been altered. You might see a cybernetic character who wasn't before, and a different version of events."
Following the events of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, both the forces of light and darkness have been wiped out, with only the thunder god Raiden and Shao Kahn remaining to represent their parties. A severely weakened Raiden is about to be killed by Shao Kahn, but casts a last-minute spell on his now-shattered magical amulet, directing it to contact his past self with the vague message "He must win".
During the events of the first tournament hosted by Shang Tsung, the past version of Raiden sees visions of the future courtesy of a now cracked amulet. Raiden comes to the conclusion that fighter Liu Kang is to win the tournament and save Earthrealm from Outworld. Pivotal characters such as Johnny Cage, Sonya Blade, Jax Briggs, Nightwolf, Kitana, Jade, and Sub-Zero are introduced, the latter being murdered by the hellspawn Scorpion. In time, Liu Kang remains the only Earthrealm champion, and succeeds in defeating Shang Tsung and the Shokan Prince Goro. However, Raiden's amulet continues to deteriorate, a sign that future events remain unchanged. Disappointed with Outworld's defeat, Shao Kahn orders Shang Tsung's execution, but relents when the sorcerer suggests holding the second tournament in Outworld. Raiden initially refuses, but is forced to relent when Shang Tsung threatens to unleash Outworld's armies upon Earthrealm.
As each of the Earthrealm warriors are subdued in kombat, Sub-Zero's younger brother Tundra and his friend Smoke arrive in Outworld to kill Scorpion, who is also fighting in the tournament. They are pursued by cybernetic Lin Kuei assassins, including Sektor and Cyrax, who attempt to take them back to Earthrealm for automation. Raiden attempts to change the timeline by rescuing Smoke from his transformation, but as a result, Tundra is automated in his place. Also during this time, Kitana uncovers the existence of Mileena, a mutant clone of herself crafted by Shang Tsung on Shao Kahn's orders. Infuriated by the betrayal, Kitana defects from her father and joins the Earthrealm warriors. In the final round of the tournament, Raiden once again tampers with the timeline by substituting Kung Lao for Liu Kang, the original winner of the Outworld tournament, as the champion of the second tournament. Shao Kahn, however, kills Kung Lao in combat, with Liu Kang retaliating and mortally wounding the villain. Raiden notes the timeline is still unaffected as his amulet continues to deteriorate.
Healed by the sorcerer Quan Chi, Kahn enters into an alliance with the Netherrealm and resurrects his wife, Sindel. In doing so, they nullify the ward that prevents Kahn's access to Earthrealm, initiating a full-scale invasion. Joined by fighters Kurtis Stryker and Kabal, the Earthrealmers attempt to stop Kahn, although many of them are murdered by Sindel, who had been vastly empowered by the souls extracted from Shang Tsung's body, thus killing the sorcerer. Nightwolf, however, sacrifices himself to kill Sindel. Raiden confronts Quan Chi and, learning of the alliance with Kahn, he realizes that the message "He must win" refers to Kahn himself — if he is allowed to merge Outworld and Earthrealm, he will be punished by the Elder Gods for a violation of the Mortal Kombat code for taking a realm without winning the tournament. Liu Kang, however, blames Raiden for the death of their allies and attacks an approaching Shao Kahn. In an attempt to change history, Raiden accidentally kills Liu Kang. Grief-stricken, Raiden "surrenders" to Shao Kahn. The Elder Gods intervene, restoring Raiden's strength which he in turn uses to defeat and punish Kahn for breaking the Mortal Kombat code.
After killing Kahn, Raiden vows to rebuild Earthrealm with survivors Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade. Quan Chi is then revealed to be an agent of Shinnok, who intends to take advantage of the chaos and the elimination of Kahn to conquer both Outworld and Earthrealm in the name of the Netherrealm, similar as in Mortal Kombat 4.
In a November 2008 interview, Ed Boon stated that game sales for Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe would dictate what features would appear in "the next game". During 2009, Midway Games Chicago had filed for its bankruptcy and was purchased by Warner Bros. Interactive. This led the game to be developed by NetherRealm Studios, becoming the first installment in the series to be published exclusively under the Warner Bros. label. On June 18, 2009, Boon confirmed on his Twitter page that developers were performing motion capture for the game and that it would not feature superheroes. Dan Forden was also expected to return as the music composer for the game. In late 2009, Boon stated that the franchise was returning to its bloody origins and that the production team were aiming for a "Mature" rating, as opposed to the "Teen" on the previous game. Boon also showed concern about content being classified under the "Adults Only" rating.
Mortal Kombat was officially revealed on June 10, 2010 with a release for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in 2011. It was revealed at the Sony E3 press conference that Mortal Kombat would be 3D compatible, and Boon said that in dealing with the 3D capability, more attention to detail was required so as to not obstruct the gameplay. Boon said that the extras mode from previous games ("The Krypt") had returned with an "elaborate and sophisticated unlocking system" and put "the other games in the series to shame." He also said they intended for Mortal Kombat to be accessible to the casual player and more "engaging", with experts on the fighting genre consulted. New features were created to create a deeper fighting experience. Some mild humorous elements were also included, such as the Babality finishing moves. At the time, Boon said that the production team were considering a PC port of Mortal Kombat as "there seems to be a market for [PC games] in Europe."
Mortal Kombat runs on a heavily-modified version of the Unreal Engine 3, similar to the engine used by its predecessor, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. Developers recreated the entire fighting engine so that it was restricted to a 2D plane of fighting, with senior producer Hans Lo stating at gamescom 2010 that the change from 3D gameplay to 2D was advantageous for Mortal Kombat, as it increased graphical detail for characters and arenas and improved gameplay speed. Another new mechanic is the inclusion of "blood physics" (blood loss is portrayed as being more natural and being clearly visible on characters or surroundings). Developers stated that online gameplay for Mortal Kombat would be a main priority, declaring interest in capabilities to link the player's progression feed to their accounts held on social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter, and recreate the feel of socializing with players in an arcade.
According to Dave Pindara, one of lead artists for Mortal Kombat, environments were developed to create active objects and effects such as "scripted cinema events", "dynamic lighting effects" and "characters and objects that animated and reacted to the fights." Arena development began with 18 arenas, but development of environments with different times of day and original arenas related to the plot scaled up arena development to roughly 30 arenas. One unique feature is included with each stage such as "The Desert" which has a "sand tech", allowing for realistic sand motion during characters' interaction. Dan Forden, lead sound designer, said the intent was to create a "cinematic game audio experience". Sound effect design included use and enhancement of the "bone-crunching audio design" of previous titles and, while the "dynamic experience" was vital, small details such as the "rustling of fighter's clothes" and background sounds were also included. Music for each stage was similar to previous games but with "a completely new arrangement".
Boon said that there was a focus on including characters from the first three Mortal Kombat games and that "if you have a favorite character from those games, you're probably going to see him or her in the game." The game's developers stated that the characters had been designed with the intent to make each character unique - each having his or her own individual stance, victory pose and Fatality with no shared animations. Lead designer John Edwards said that characters are differentiated by features such as power and speed. Producer Shaun Himmerick said that the internal and external character design required "two months or ten weeks". Boon said that an exclusive character was planned for the Xbox 360 version, but "unfortunately, the circumstances didn't allow us to make a 360 exclusive."
On April 5, 2011, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and NetherRealm Studios announced Mortal Kombat was finished and ready for mass production, with pre-orders having gone "gold". In February 2012, developers stated there were no immediate plans for a PC version, but were also "gauging interest". Ed Boon hinted on his Twitter account that a Mac version may be released. Despite Boon's April 2012 declaration that a PC version would not be coming at all, it was announced on May 22, 2013 that a Komplete Edition of the game would be ported to Windows, to be release on July 3, 2013.
Release and marketing 
On August 31, 2010, a teaser trailer "Shadows" debuted on IGN, featuring a track "Another Way to Die" from the band Disturbed's album Asylum. On September 28, 2010, the slogan "Kombat Begins In..." appeared with a clock counting down on the Mortal Kombat official website, the countdown ending on Monday October 11, 2010. At the conclusion of the countdown, a link to the Facebook page was added to the website and an accompanying Facebook application was also released that showcased a teaser trailer for the game. On October 4, 2010, the "Environment Bio" trailer of the Mortal Kombat arena, The Pit, was released to explain the in-game backstory on its origins and evolution. Similar videos featuring The Living Forest, the Deadpool, and Kahn's Coliseum were released afterward, also explaining background information on the stages. In a similar fashion, character profile videos were released for Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Mileena, Liu Kang and Raiden.
On March 8, 2011, a demo version of the game was released for download globally, initially exclusively for PlayStation Plus members. The demo (an arcade ladder with single- or two-player capability) showcases four characters - Johnny Cage, Mileena, Scorpion and Sub-Zero - and the stages The Living Forest and The Pit. In April 2011, Playboy models Jo Garcia and Brittney Palmer (dressed as Mileena and Kitana, respectively) promoted the game in a sponsored vlog advertisement. In April 2012, two live-action cosplay trailers featuring Rachelle Glover (Kitana) and Danni Levy (Mileena) were released; they were later combined into one commercial video titled "Fight Anywhere".
In May 2011, Performance Design Products sponsored the inaugural National Mortal Kombat Championship in Las Vegas. Mortal Kombat was also internationally represented in the 2011 Evolution Championship Series (Evo), by being recognized as a "main tournament fighting game". Mortal Kombat was also the only game during the Evo finals in which eight game characters were represented. Professional gamers Justin Wong (winner of the PDP championship) and Carl 'Perfect Legend' White (the Evo 2011 champion) spoke positively of Mortal Kombat's place in future tournament events.
Retail versions and downloadable content 
Mortal Kombat was available for pre-order in three different editions: Standard, Kollector's Edition (includes a copy of the game, art book, Sub-Zero and Scorpion figurine bookends and a downloadable content (DLC) skin, dubbed a Mortal Kombat Klassic costume), and the Tournament Edition (includes a fight stick controller instead of the bookends and art book). A European version of the Kollector's Edition was also released, which includes the game, art book, a Scorpion & Sub-Zero figurine, a Steelbook case and downloadable skins.
In the United States, pre-orders at retailers Toys "R" Us and Wal-Mart were provided with classic Mortal Kombat skins for Kitana and Mileena, modeled after their Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 appearances. A classic Jade skin (also using her UMK3 model) was also included with preorders of Mortal Kombat or Mortal Kombat: Annihilation on Blu-ray (both released April 19, 2011). GameStop, Best Buy and Amazon.com also participated in preorder bonuses and included classic costumes and Fatalities for Scorpion, Sub-Zero and Reptile respectively. Mortal Kombat-themed costumes were also provided for the owners of Xbox 360 avatars who preordered any version of the game.
Netherrealm Studios released the Klassic DLC pack (containing the classic outfits and Fatalities that were exclusive to pre-order deals) on June 7, 2011. Downloadable characters include Skarlet (a red female character based on a rumor about Mortal Kombat II), Kenshi (first introduced in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance), Rain (first seen in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3) and Freddy Krueger from the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. A free compatibility pack is available alongside each character that contains "klassic" skins for two characters and is available to all players. A "Season Pass" available to Xbox 360 users offers the first four DLC characters together at an overall discounted price. Warner Bros. is one of the first game companies that introduced the concept of season pass - a long term, pre-paid, post-launch downloadable content plan.
Komplete Edition 
On January 9, 2012, Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment announced the Mortal Kombat: Komplete Edition, which was released on February 28 in North America and on March 2 in the United Kingdom. Described as "a content-rich version", it features the game and all downloadable content released for the game. The North American release also includes download codes for the album Mortal Kombat: Songs Inspired By The Warriors as well as the 1995 film Mortal Kombat (via PlayStation Store or Xbox Live). The European release does not include download codes for the film and soundtrack.
PlayStation Vita port 
The PlayStation Vita version of Mortal Kombat, released on May 1 2012 in North America and on May 4 in Europe, includes all the features from the Komplete Edition, and adds new costumes and a new Challenge Tower that are not available in the console versions. The Vita version includes touchscreen controls for finishing moves and other exclusive features.
Prior to the game's release, Techtree listed Mortal Kombat as "one of the reasons for people to own a gaming console in 2011", with PC Magazine and 2D-X editor Jeffrey L. Wilson claiming this was one of the most anticipated titles of E3 2010. The E3 2010 showcase version of Mortal Kombat received the Best Fighting Game of E3 and Best Stage Demo of E3 awards by GameSpot, and the Best Fighting Game of E3 award by GameTrailers. Later, Mortal Kombat won several Game of the Year type awards for the best fighting game of 2011; some of them are listed in the table on the right.
Reviews for Mortal Kombat were very positive. GameZone's David Sanchez considered describing Mortal Kombat as "a fitting reboot for the series" to be an understatement, as "while offering plenty of nostalgia" the game is also "a major step up for the series". Andrew Reiner of Game Informer called it "the best Mortal Kombat yet." According to Mark Waltron of GameSpot, "over-the-top, bloody, and bursting with content, Mortal Kombat is a return to form for the franchise." IGN's Ryan Clements called it an "amazing" game that "combines the novelty of extreme violence with a great fighting engine." Neidel Crisan of 1UP.com stated it "has simply set the standard for future fighting games to follow." Eurogamer's Matt Edwards was more critical of the game, but added that "to judge Mortal Kombat harshly simply because it isn’t the equal of BlazBlue or Street Fighter IV on a technical level would be unfair to what the game does right." Brett Elston of GamesRadar was also more cautious in his review, stating it is "a successful sequel that both reboots and redeems the wayward series, though it’s not a flawless victory."
Mortal Kombat's gameplay was generally well received due to its balance, violence and use of what GameTrailers called a "classic 2D template". Reiner wrote that "the only area where Mortal Kombat feels antiquated is in its AI." Waltron praised the game for having "one of the most in-depth story modes to grace a fighting game." Crisan compared it to "watching a full length CG movie", and said that while "incredibly corny, it's also oddly addicting" due to its over-the-top plot. One complaint concerned the shifting levels of difficulty in the game's story mode, described by Clements as forcing the player "to fight cheap tactics with cheap tactics." According to Elston, "character balance, inconsistent detection and a stingy coin reward system drag down an otherwise bloody good time."
According to Ed Boon, during its release month, Mortal Kombat sold two million copies between both PlayStation 3 and Xbox versions. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, publisher of NetherRealm Studios’ Mortal Kombat, reported that Mortal Kombat had sold close to three million units as of August 2011. According to Warner Bros., this covered the cost of the entire Midway asset acquisition. One year after the game's release, GameZone's Sanchez stated that Mortal Kombat has still remained "the best fighter currently on the market," calling it "today's greatest modern fighter" and "one of the most compelling fighters to come along in years."
The PlayStation Vita version of the game was also well received. Dan Ryckert of Game Informer wrote that this is "the most complete version of Mortal Kombat available," while Brett Zeidler of Destructoid hailed it as "a perfect example of keeping the best graphical fidelity possible and including an already astronomical amount of content." According to Walton, "despite a few control issues" regarding tag team combos, "Mortal Kombat on the Vita is every bit the great and gruesome fighter as its console counterparts." Steven Hopper of IGN recommended this "great port" for those who did not play the original release enough.
In February 2011, the game was refused classification by the Australian Classification Board due to "violence that exceeds strong in impact". Warner Bros. unsuccessfully appealed the decision to the Classification Review Board, who ruled "the impact of the violence in Mortal Kombat is higher than strong and thus could not be accommodated within the MA15+ classification." The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service listed the game as a prohibited item and the Australian Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor asked to be briefed on the Mortal Kombat decision, citing "public disquiet on the issue". In 2012, the Vita version of the game was banned in Australia as well. A spokesperson for Warner Bros. commented: "We felt that because of the Vita's size, the smaller screen would minimise the impact of the violence in the game and we felt it might fit within the MA15+ category. Obviously, the Classification Board of Australia did not agree." The ban for all versions of the game was lifted in February 2013 due to the introduction of the R18+ rating and was released on May 1, 2013. The game was also indexed in Germany by the Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons due to "drastic representations of violence" and was banned in South Korea due to its excessive depiction of blood and gore.
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