These changes were apparent as we played the game, moving back and forth and using block to try and get the opponent to commit to risky moves and then punishing them. Just like in Street Fighter. Historically these two franchises have been each other's opposites, so seeing this development is very exciting. This doesn't mean Mortal Kombat has lost its unique charm, as the X-Ray feature has been replaced by Krushing Blow, which is triggered if you time an attack perfectly. Time stops, the camera zooms in, and you get an opportunity to follow up with combos from a punch that normally wouldn't allow for this.
Speaking of time, it was something of a hot potato at the reveal event. Geras was introduced as a time traveller and time-manipulating villain. We were also shown a returning Baraka, and Kronika who appears to give Shinnok his body back. Time travel may not sound like the most exciting of themes, but as Ed Boon stepped onto the stage to announce that we could see plenty of older characters return, the potential of the time travel concept becomes apparent. Is this going to be a situation like the one with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate where we get pretty much every character imaginable and the kitchen sink? The character selection screen in the build we got our hands on had 25 slots, where seven were filled by Baraka, Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Sonya Blade, Raiden, Skarlet, and Geras. A number that, compared to other recent fighting games, seems a bit low. There is reason to hope for 28 or 30 characters at the time of launch, and perhaps there's a bit of deception involved.
What is more troubling is the sheer number of attacks, especially seen in the light of the new so-called amplified moves. These have their own unique inputs, unlike in Mortal Kombat X where you make a special version of an attack simply by tapping the block button, which means there is a huge amount of moves to memorise for each character. Truly huge. Thankfully, this is not the finalised implementation of these amplified moves. It remains to be seen if it changes. As the three-part energy bar has been removed, the same goes for breakers, and these are replaced by various forms of block moves, Kounter and Flawless Block, something that requires more time with the game to master than we were afforded at the reveal event.
The overall impression of the game is, however, incredibly strong, and there is still time to perfect things. Netherrealm Studios, under the leadership of Ed Boon, is known for listening to its fans and there is already a bunch of constructive criticism coming out of the reveal event. As we've mentioned, it felt a bit strange to be rewarded for not doing anything, compared to the old energy bars, and the vast amount of attacks is overwhelming. The visuals, animations, response time, and overall game experience are, however, top notch. If you're a fan of the series there's every reason to expect something spectacular. If you're not that familiar with the series, but know fighting games in a broader sense, then this could end up being a great entry point. There's still some time to go until April, so Netherrealm has time to polish the last few details ahead of launch.
We still don't know how things will look on the Nintendo Switch, but wouldn't it be neat if Sub-Zero made an appearance in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate?