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Under the Hood: Mortal Kombat: Tournament Edition Fight Stick for PS3

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Under the Hood: Mortal Kombat: Tournament Edition Fight Stick for PS3

Post by CraZoY on March 12th 2011, 6:12 pm

Posted by Sid Shuman // Senior Social Media Specialist

I’m a simple man. I like my arcade joysticks rigid, my buttons
concave, and my fighting games streaked with bodily fluids. So I jumped
at the chance to go hands-on with the Mortal Kombat: Tournament Edition
fight stick at the Game Developers Conference.
Designed as a tribute to the gory glory days of 1990s-era arcade
fighters, this authentic American-style fight stick will ship with
Mortal Kombat: Tournament Edition on April 19th for a cool $149.99.
This stick feels like the real deal — no surprise given that developer NetherRealm Studios helped design the cabinets for the classic arcade Mortal Kombat
games. Connected via a USB cable, the unit is big and burly with a
sturdy, substantial feel and some serious heft. A thick memory foam pad
cushions the bottom of the unit, enabling comfortable knee-top play
(though it’ll work just fine propped on a coffee table, too). A sliding
metal latch enables the top to flip open, revealing a neat internal
wiring array as well as a capacious cavity that will accommodate games,
accessories, and anything else you manage to cram in there. No severed
body parts, please.

Mortal Kombat arcade veterans will immediately recognize the
baseball-bat-shaped joystick and concave buttons — an iconic American
design that Ars Technica gaming editor Ben Kuchera has cleverly dubbed the “superhero”
(“because it’s a bat and a cave”). The stick itself has a tighter,
springier feel compared to the looser action of ball-topped
Japanese-style sticks that are widely available on the PS3. Joystick
design preference can be a touchy topic with serious fighting fans: Some
players will always prefer the raised buttons and looser feel of the
Japanese-inspired fighting sticks, while others will appreciate the
distinctive feel of this American-style stick. Like many things in life,
it ultimately comes down to personal preference.

With the fight stick resting comfortably on my knees, I tried out an
updated version of Mortal Kombat that included a plethora of characters
you won’t find in the PlayStation Plus demo.
I played as Jax, the metal-armed military brawler; Sektor and Cyrax,
the twin cyborg ninjas that annihilate foes with plasma nets and guided
missiles; Kano, the wily thug who licks his knives clean between fights;
and Baraka, the ghoulish mutant with lethal arm blades. I also tried
out the newly revealed Challenge Tower,
a single-player mode that pits the player against a gauntlet of
increasingly bizarre and difficult challenges in order to earn currency
to unlock secrets and new content.
I played the game in the PS3-exclusive stereoscopic 3D mode, which
plants the characters in the foreground and adds layers of sprawling
depth to the colorful backgrounds. Mortal Kombat’s 3D implementation is
clever because it the characters are rendered in 2D, which means that
the action is playable whether you’re wearing 3D glasses or not. For
more details on the 3D mode, catch up on my preview of the PlayStation Plus demo.

What I didn’t see was the Big Bad himself, final boss and tournament
overlord Shao Kahn. “Shao Kahn is ridiculous,” Creative Director Ed Boon
told me at GDC. “We knew he had to be hard,” he said, revealing that
his difficulty pushed the studio’s battle-hardened game testers to the
brink. “Shao Kahn’s gotta be somebody you’re afraid of, he’s gotta have
that crazy fear presence from the old games.” Shao Kahn’s famous
rumbling taunts have also made the cut, and there are more than ever by
Boon’s estimation. “He’s got all the old taunts, and a bunch of news
ones too.” Feel the wrath of Shao Kahn!
Also missing in action was Kratos, the PS3-exclusive character who
needs no introduction. Next week, we’ll be checking in with the team of
Sony Santa Monica Studios, creators of God of War, for their thoughts on working with NetherRealm Studios to bring Kratos to life in the arena and how Mortal Kombat served as a major influence for their game development careers.
Until then, let us know what you think of the demo! Who’s your
favorite character so far? What’s your best juggle combo? Let us know in
the comments!


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