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Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks
Scheduled release date: Fall 2005
Publisher: Midway
Genre: Action/Brawler
Number Of Players: 1-2

The Mortal Kombat series has certainly enjoyed resurgence in popularity as of late. Just like it did in its heyday, the series has spawned an offshoot that attempts to add an adventure element to the formula. Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks is on the show floor, and I spent quite a bit of time with it, enough to beat the entire demo.

The game currently features two playable characters – Liu Kang and Kung Lao, who for some reason (explained in a FMV sequence that you can’t hear) have to go around and kill lots and lots of people. The combat, or should I say, kombat, is simple, with one button handling quick attacks, another does powerful attacks, and other buttons are for jumping, blocking, and modifiers. As you progress through the demo, pounding similar looking bad guys into submission, you can pick up weapons to slice people in half, throw them through walls to uncover new areas, and of course, perform fatalities. In the demo, performing a fatality was as easy as following a short pattern of button presses that appeared on screen, but I would imagine you’ll have to memorize them in the finished product. Liu Kang’s fatality showed him uppercutting his opponent’s head right off his body, and then kicking it soccer style into the headless corpse to blow it up. Along the way there were familiar faces seen fighting in the background, like Scorpion and Johnny Cage. The demo ended with an encounter with Baraka, who’s quite nasty and has a penchant for setting people on fire. His finishing move involved him impaling you with spikes and then flinging you into a fiery pit, where you burst into flames.

The graphics were decent, but showed quite a bit of aliasing, which is a problem that many games have when they are being displayed on high definition televisions. There were tons of smoke and fire effects, and the animation looked pretty smooth. The levels weren’t anything to write home about, but I only got to see a small portion of the game.

Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks doesn’t look like it’s going to be a terribly deep game, but its simplicity was part of what makes it enjoyable. Tearing through the levels with a friend, slicing people in half and performing fatalities should prove to be a satisfying experience. If you would like to check out the trailer, click here.

5/19/2005   Aaron Thomas