At one point in time, Mortal Kombat was a Corsicana product.
That's a very true statement, back from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s. Corsicana housed Midway Home Entertainment, once located off of South Business 45, where the Cook family's Tradewest video game company once operated, and then later off of Main Street in the old Navarro Mall. Midway, and the business of playing Mortal Kombat, was one of my very first jobs.
A lot has changed since Mortal Kombat debuted in 1992. The ultra-violent fighting game dominated the arcades and home video game consoles. Midway wanted a piece of this action, and once it acquired Tradewest in 1994, it started publishing video games under its own label. By the late 2000's however, Midway folded and its assets were acquired by Warner Bros, rebooting the series in 2011 with the series' ninth entry, simply titled Mortal Kombat.
While the average person knows the controversial series for its bone-breaking fighting and gruesome "Fatalities", the series also houses one of the most complex and well-developed storylines for any fighting game. For a brief recap, after a catastrophic defeat for the warriors of Earthrealm, the thunder god Raiden sends a psychic message back to his earlier self in an attempt to avert disaster. With this newfound knowledge, the younger Raiden attempts to circumvent previous mistakes... only to change the course of the heroes destinies, and in many cases, make things worse.
That's where the story Mortal Kombat 11 picks up. Raiden is himself corrupted by the events of the previous game, resulting in a darker and more harsh protector of Earthrealm. For dealing in elements outside of his authority, the architect of time, Kronika, is enraged with Raiden, and plans to personally remove him from the timestream so his meddlings will never take place. This will involve merging past with present, and bringing back a few old heroes and villains in the process.
The story is a true highlight of the series, bringing the story to life in a true cinematic fashion with professional quality voice acting. Having followed and having been a part of the series for so long, there is a sentimental attachment to the characters for me, and seeing 1990's versions and attitudes of characters mix with their present day counterparts has been a nostalgic revisit. The story even has some great moments of personal sacrifice and heroism, and its presentation is effective, and at times surprisingly moving.
Sentimentality aside, the series never loses sight of what has made the series such a mainstay: Its brutal violence and gore. I remember upset parents calling into Midway's support lines, angry that their 8-year old-kid was ripping body parts off of video game characters. What upset them back then was cartoony and over the top. The current level of violence, even mid-fight punches and kicks, would probably make those parents of yesteryear's heads explode upon seeing what the characters do now. I'll give the same advice that I gave back then: This has never been a game series for 8-year-olds.
As a gamer, the fights are solid and well done. The characters still retain their plethora of signature moves, and they make the most of the interactive backgrounds. Of course, popular mainstays like Scorpion, Sub-Zero, and Sonya Blade still make up the main roster, but the new characters such as Kronika, Geras, and Cetrion are a sight to behold. There are even a few celebrity actors participating in the game, ranging from real-life fighter Ronda Rousey as Sonya Blade, and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Shang Tsung (who coincidentally played the same character in the 1995 film).
With any Mortal Kombat, game, there are plenty of secrets and unique fighting modes, and this game is no different. Players will be able to sort through various customizable costumes and movesets, and whether players choose local or online play, they can challenge the Towers of Time for special missions and items, or raid Shang Tsung's Krypt for extra bonuses (or perils).
As a fighting game, Mortal Kombat 11 is another top-notch entry from Netherrealm Studios. The Mortal Kombat series needed time to breathe and fully develop new installments, and the extra time given has allowed creator Ed Boon and his team the opportunity to deliver the type of game that fans (and the series itself) deserves.
It's strange to think that the Mortal Kombat series was once as much a part of Corsicana lore as cherry ice box cookies from Collin Street Bakery or Old Mexican Inn's "orange dip". I reflected on that as I went to Monday's release party for the game at the local Gamestop, and how that video game title changed my life the way it did. But over twenty years later, the calls of "Get Over Here" still ring through my television's speakers, and in those moments, I'm that 19 year old kid answering a "Gamers Wanted" ad at Navarro College all over again.
"Flawless Victory" indeed.