I have some fond memories of the Mortal Kombat franchise starting from running into the arcade cabinet at a local grocery store of all places and admiring its cutting edge digitalized graphics and fantastic gore, quickly followed up by the obsessive, glowing buzz it gained from most of my then-8th grade compatriots. Soon after there was a lot of hanging out at local arcades as well as tracking down the various home console releases of the first two games with my friends. By the time Mortal Kombat 3 was released I had already developed a solid aversion to fighting games thanks largely to a mixture of the whole arcade/fighting game scene locally and my own lack of fighting game ability – really, most of my countless hours spent playing the console ports of MK 1 and 2 consisted of little more than me acting as a kind of moving punching bag for one of my much more skilled best friends. Great fun, that. (For the record I sucked at Street Fighter 2 as well. ;))
“”For a good time… don’t call Mileena.”
Still, I wasn’t being sarcastic about the fond memories. That was more than 15 years ago and I view those years in particular with a ton of nostalgia. So yeah, even if the MK games weren’t some of my favorites I still have a soft spot for them. I picked up the N64 port of MK 4 at some point, and I dabbled with some of the later games including Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. I can’t say I was greatly anticipating the 2011 Mortal Kombat but I was definitely intrigued by it. Fortunately unlike the last several MK releases this one had apparently actually lived up to its claims of returning to its roots and managed to become a better fighting game to boot by further diversifying and rebalancing its various characters.
I spent some quality time going through the story mode, some of the character ladders including the co-op ladders, and of course playing around in versus mode. Does it live up to the hype? Sure! If you never liked MK for its fighting system you might and I stress might be able to appreciate it a bit more now… but if it was the silly characters, over the top gore, dumb setting, or skimpy outfits you found objectionable then not much has changed – all of the stuff that appealed so strongly to my middle school peers and I is still intact if not even turned up a notch or two. The female character’s outfits are even more ridiculous, the gore… fatalities especially, even more gruesome. It’s the complete package. The biggest improvement there has got to be the story mode. I laughed along when I heard some of the podcasters I listened to scoffing at how many writers the game had credited well before its release but it actually does a surprising amount of fleshing out of the silly Mortal Kombat backstory. It essentially re-tells the plots of the first few games and the movie. It’s still dumb, sure, but unfair 2 vs. 1 matches and some annoying boss fights (suck it, Shao Kahn) aside it was great fun to play through.
“My main character – an Inquisitor Cleric.”
I’ve started winding down my WoW time lately for various reason and have instead started playing around with Rift. My brief synopsis: it has nice graphics, a cool class mechanic, and some other goodies but only really does one thing completely new to the genre: not suck. Well, let me explain… Rift’s mechanics are very much inspired by World of Warcraft (I’m being nice, guys) but unlike most of the MMOs that have come (and gone) since the success of WoW Rift actually not only barrows a ton of goodies from it but does so well. It’s very polished from the get go and the vast majority of little features and design tweaks that have helped WoW either become successful or stay successful over the years are already there. It’s so annoying to hop into a new MMO and come across problem after problem that have already been solved in other games. A lot of the time these are eventually patched out but… come on guys, why not just fix it from the fucking beginning? That’s Rift.
It’s about as good as you can expect from a WoW clone that aspires to be little more than a WoW clone. The setting and backstory are somewhat interesting but don’t appeal to me much personally but really, I’m almost totally done with this type of Everquest inspired theme-park MMORPG anyway, currently subscribing to the “if I want WoW, I’ll play WoW” mentality. I’ll still play around with Rift (and WoW) for a while but I doubt I’ll make any serious commitment to an MMORPG again until the release of Star Wars: The Old Republic… not that it is necessarily all that far off… nor may it do much to change the WoW formula itself, sadly. That said I’m very much interested in whatever Trion Worlds does next – they definitely seem to be an above average MMO developer so far.
“It might look like I’m winning but there’s about 500 more marines not in the shot…”
I’ve also wrapped up the adventure mode of the Xbox 360 version of Peggle Nights – no surprise there, it’s still great, simplistic pick up and play fun. Finally, I’ve been playing some Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War: Dark Crusade again, just dabbling with the Necrons in skirmish battles since I’ve been considering returning to playing tabletop 40k again and am learning towards putting together a Necron army. Thank god the table top game and Dawn of War’s RTS mechanics are nothing alike because I’ve yet to win a single damn game as the Necrons. 😕