Posts tagged #mk9

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Review

Note -This review is mostly an edit of my earlier IGAU: Demo Impressions article. Since this is a fighting game, the review format will be slightly different than other reviews. Sorry this thing is so late. I've been forgetting to post it. :P

Nearly a year and a half ago, Netherealm Studios revealed that their next game wouldn’t be Mortal Kombat 10. Instead, they chose to pursue a project which would completely abandon their beloved franchise. Most fans (including myself) were disappointed with NRS’ decision… until we saw actual gameplay of Injustice: Gods Among Us, a brand new fighter that featured famous DC superheroes as selectable characters. The footage looked pretty similar to Mortal Kombat, but the fighting game community all wondered if it actually played as such.

Being a fighting game fan and having put a considerable amount of time into fully learning MK9, Injustice has some similarities, so I’ll be comparing it mostly to that game. However, it’s a completely new game with mostly new mechanics, so there are a lot of things which work differently.
Console Differences: I purchased the PS3 Battle Edition and later got the Xbox 360 standard version, so that’s all I really have to go on. The Xbox version is superior, which doesn’t really surprise me, as MK9 was the same way - both Injustice and MK9 being developed for the 360. The graphics on the 360 are slightly better and the PS3 version has a sometimes quite noticeable lag on some stages. This usually happens on stages which have a lot going on in the background. The Xbox version also has significantly better load times. The PS3’s, however, are atrocious. Unfortunately I can’t comment on the Wii U version, though I assume it’s probably closer to the PS3 since it’s also a port.

With all that out of the way, let’s break everything down:

Controls:
In MK9, you controlled the character with 2 buttons mapped to punches and 2 buttons mapped to kicks (similar to Tekken). There was a dedicated block button (which was also used to enhance special moves), a throw button, and supers/X-Rays were done by pressing block and the 2 kick buttons (or just both triggers on a gamepad). Injustice uses a very different setup which is more akin to Street Fighter’s, but slightly simpler. There are 3 attack buttons: Light, Medium, and Hard. A fourth attack button, called “Trait,” (or “character power”) is used as a character-specific move which can do things such as change fighting styles, or in a specific case such as Batman, summon floating mechanical bats which can extend combos.
Blocking is now done by holding back (or down, while crouching) and is one of the hardest things to get used to when coming from MK9. The button that used to block still enhances special moves, but is now pressed during the special’s animation, as opposed to simultaneously. Another button (R1 on PS3, RB on 360) is dedicated to interactable objects in the various stages which can be used to inflict damage on the opponent. One example is a garbage dumpster that can be picked up and thrown. These interactables deal high amounts of damage, can be used during combos, and are unblockable, so the only way to get around them is to move out of their path. Each character interacts with these objects differently, so character-specific strategies on different stages will probably come into play heavily in a tournament setting.

Mobility:
This is perhaps the most initially noticeable difference when compared to MK9. Injustice feels a little bit stiffer. Personally, I don’t really have a problem with it, but it will affect spacing and zoning options over the life of the game. Previously, to get through an opponent’s zoning attempt (i.e. spamming projectiles to force you to move forward), the player could dash-block in order to close space, but now, since dashing forward is highly unsafe, severely punishable, un-cancelable, and you have to hold back to block, new methods will have to be figured out. One method is simply to walk. Walking in MK9 was viable for some characters, but dash-blocking was the quickest way to close distance between you and the opponent. Jumping is also a way to get in, but is also very risky. In this game, if the opponent anti-airs you, you could be looking at a severe amount of damage. Some characters can do anti-air combos in the 40% range. Once people get used to the new mechanics, however, this will become much easier to deal with.

Combos:
Combos work pretty much the same as in MK9: Each character has a set of chain combos (usually 3 button presses that lead into popups) which are “buffered” before the attacks actually land and can be chained together to extend damage. Something new to Injustice is the concept of “wall bouncing.” By holding back and ‘X,’ (PS3) or ‘A,’ (360), the character will charge the attack and when released, hit the opponent, bounce them off the corner of the screen, and leave them airborne for more combo potential. These moves can be extremely hard to time during combos (the timing is different on nearly every character), but highly effective once you get the hang of it and very necessary to get a higher damage percentage. These wall bounces, when in a corner, can also send the opponent through the wall, which transitions into a different part of the stage, all the while causing damage.

New features:
Along with stage transitioning and interactable stage objects, come a couple of new features. One particularly interesting change from traditional fighting games is the lack of “rounds.” Much like the classic Killer Instinct, there are now 2 life-bars present which, after the first one is depleted, pauses the match briefly and puts the characters back to neutral ground. One thing that makes this a little odd is the fact that there is an extremely low “comeback factor.” If your opponent still has 1.5 life-bars and you only have .5, your chances of winning have gone down to about 15%. Especially if the player in the lead has more meter. This is manageable, sure, but it’s going to take a huge amount of skill to do so. The clash system, which takes the place of MK9’s combo breaker system, allows the player to spend 2 bars of their super meter to stop the opponent’s combo. This can only be done when you are down to your 2 nd life bar. Once executed, the match goes into a fancy animation, the characters say something witty to one another, and the players’ respective super meters are displayed. From here, the players “bet” their meter in an attempt to win the clash. This can range from gaining back health to dealing damage, depending on how much meter the players bet. For 1 bar of meter, you can push away an opponent if you’re blocking their attacks. This can kind of relieve some block pressure and stop your opponent from constantly being all over you. Needless to say, meter is highly important in this game and, just like MK9, should be used wisely.

Content:
Several modes and content exist for both the serious and casual player. For the tournament-goer, there is a robust practice mode which puts MK9’s to shame. Here, you can record your flashy combos, set and record the computer A.I. to different actions in order to practice setups and punishes, and check out frame-data (which you can also do in the pause menu during a match), etc. And for the casual player, there exists tons of unlockables such as concept art, challenge battles, and several other nifty elements to entertain. For anyone looking for a challenge, you can try out the S.T.A.R. Labs which offers mini-games that play out under a series of unfortunate conditions (such as, “fight Cyborg while dodging falling meteors). These become more challenging as you go along.

Online:
The online, while a bit better than MK9, still leaves a lot to be desired. The netcode is still not as good as games like SoulCalibur V and Tekken Tag Tournament 2, therefore there’s some noticeable input lag. It’s a shame, since there are some really interesting features such as an online practice mode that can’t really be realized because of lag. Hopefully, there will be some way that NRS can patch this to make it better.

For the fighting game enthusiast, this game was developed with the entire fighting game community in mind, as opposed to just MK players. The more you play, the more this becomes apparent, but there is definitely enough familiarity that MK players shouldn’t have a whole lot of problems getting used to it. It’s going to be interesting to see how the top players in the MK tournament scene measure up to the ones who will be crossing over from the various Capcom fighters such as Street Fighter IV and Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. For the casual player, Injustice offers a ridiculous amount of fun. With the stage interactions, single player features, a decent story mode, and tons of unlockable content, players will find themselves busy for quite some time.

Final Score: 9/10

-Josh
Screenshots will be added at a later time.

How To Play Mortal Kombat (MK9)


Since I need more people to play Mortal Kombat with, I’m gonna create a tutorial on how to get started playing the game. I’ll introduce you to fighting game terminology, strategies, combos, and general fighting basics in what I hope will be the easiest guide you’ll ever read.




Button Layout:
First off, we’ll need to explain the controller and the normal button configuration. I’ll be referring to the buttons in numbered format so things will be a little easier to understand. This button setup applies to both the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game.

360/PS3 – Number which applies to both consoles (and most non-Capcom fighting games)
X/Square – 1
Y/Triangle – 2
A/X – 3
B/Circle – 4
Forward - F
Back - B
Down - D
Up - U
Block – BLK (Right Trigger)
Throw – (Right Bumper)
X-Ray – (Left & Right Trigger Simultaneously)
JiP – Jump in Punch (pressing 1 or 2 while jumping toward an opponent)
JiK – Jump in Kick (pressing 3 or 4 while jumping toward an opponent)
NJP – Neutral Jump Punch (pressing 1 or 2 while jumping straight up)
NJK – Neutral Jump Kick (pressing 3 or 4 while jumping straight up)
Dash – Press ‘Forward’ twice and your character will dash forward. This is effective in juggle combos (keeping the opponent in the air) and Dash Blocking. Dash blocking can be used as a safe way to move toward your opponent faster than either normal dashing, jumping, or walking. To dash block, press FF, BLK, F, BLK, F, BLK, F, etc. After the initial dash, you only need to press forward once in between blocks. You’ll know you’re doing it properly when you see your character scoot across the screen at an extremely fast rate.

Buttons 1 & 2 are both punches, while buttons 3 & 4 are kicks. If I were to explain how to perform Sub-Zero’s freeze move, I would say “DF3.” This would mean that you would kinda roll your thumb from down to forward, then press “A” on the 360, or “X” on the PS3 pad.

Note: Personally, I prefer using a PS2/PS3 pad for playing MK. There are a wide variety of arcade sticks made especially for fighting games (even one specifically for MK), but my opinion is that the game plays better on a normal gamepad. It’s really all a matter of preference. Some are more comfortable using a stick, others a gamepad. The 360 controller’s directional pad is atrocious for fighting games, so I use a converter that allows me to use a PlayStation 2 controller on the 360. You can pick one of those up for about $40 at this website: www.etokki.com



Now that you know the button layout, let’s move into some basics:
All the characters in the game have special moves such as fireballs and other moves that are done by entering specific commands like Sub-Zero’s freeze mentioned above. Throughout most of this tutorial, I’ll probably be referring mostly to Sub-Zero since he’s the character I know the best and is, in my opinion, the easiest character in the game to use.

Let’s look at a few of Sub’s special moves:

DF3 (Freeze) – Sub creates a ball of ice projectile that travels along the screen and freezes the opponent, leaving them open for a combo, or free hit.

BF4 (Slide) – Sub slides across the screen, knocking the opponent down when it hits.

DB1 (Ice Clone) – This is probably Sub’s best move. He creates a clone of himself that, if touched, puts the opponent into the same frozen state as his freeze projectile.

You might be asking yourself, “If Sub-Zero has a projectile that will freeze you, why not do that over and over again?” And here we get into some fighting game principals! If you’ve ever played a fighting game with your buddies, they might sometimes use projectiles constantly just to annoy you. They’ll stay across the screen firing projectile after projectile which will frustrate you, forcing you to learn some specials just to be able to compete with them. While to the uneducated this might seem “cheap,” it is actually a tactic called “zoning.” Zoning is a term that is used when a character uses his projectiles over and over in an attempt to force you into trading projectile for projectile, or jumping over them in which he or she can hit you while you’re in the air (anti-air). But again, “Why not just do that all the time?” Simple answer: Projectiles are usually unsafe at certain distances. If you jump over the projectile and are at close enough range, you can do a JiP and start a combo, effectively punishing your opponent’s zoning game.

The word “unsafe” is a term you’ll hear quite a lot when talking about fighting games. This means that if you block a move that is unsafe (such as a projectile), you are at an advantage and can “punish” your opponent for throwing that move out there. Not only are certain special moves unsafe, but some normal moves are as well.



The five big fighting game terms:
Safe – Moves that, when blocked, put you at advantage
Unsafe – Moves that, when blocked, put you at disadvantage
Punish – What you do when the opponent throws out an unsafe move.
Advantage – You can react before your opponent can, allowing you to block or throw out another move or set of moves.
Disadvantage – You cannot react before your opponent, therefore opening yourself up for punishment.

Most fighting games are based around these terms. It’s been my experience that once you learn these, learning the rest will be a piece of cake.



The Main Screen:
During a match you’ll notice your basic HUD (Heads Up Display) which presents you with both character’s life bars at the top and their respective “Super” meters at the bottom.


  1. Life Bar:
    The life bar is located in either the top left, or the top right of the screen, depending on which side you are on. Green on the bar indicates your remaining life, but when you see red, it means that you’re taking damage. As combos connect, the red on the bar will all stay consistent and there’ll be no breaks in between, meaning that all the hits of the combo are connecting and the opponent cannot block between them. This is important as you create combos, to know that your combos will connect during a match.
  2. Super Bar:
    This is the absolute most important thing in the game and the basis for MK9’s fighting system. As you look at the super bar, you’ll notice that the entire bar is divided into 3 segments. Over time, the segments fill up, until the entire bar is filled. You can spend these segments for either enhanced special moves, breakers, or an X-Ray.


  • 1 Bar - Enhanced Move: Enhanced moves are performed the same way as normal special moves, but you press block at the same time as the button command. For example: Sub-Zero’s enhanced slide is done by inputting, BF4+BLK.  Press back, forward, and then 4 and block at the same time. Enhanced moves usually have different properties and should be used for different situations than normal specials. Sub-Zero’s normal slide, while costing absolutely no meter, only knocks the opponent down. The enhanced version of the slide goes under the opponent, and flips them into the opposite direction. Since Sub-Zero’s playstyle involves keeping the opponent in the corner, this is an effective move if Sub needs to reverse positions and get the opponent where he needs him to be.
  • 2 Bars – Breaker: If you have 2 bars for meter built up, you can perform a combo breaker. After the second hit of an opponent’s combo connects with you, you can hold Forward and press BLK to break their combo, pushing them off you and allowing both characters to return to neutral ground. Characters DO NOT take damage from breakers.
  • 3 Bars – X-Ray: A full super meter means that you can perform an X-Ray move. X-Rays are mainly used as unbreakable damage, usually dealing around 35% damage to the opponent. When I say unbreakable damage, I mean that the opponent cannot break a combo that ends with an X-Ray, or break during the X-Ray.



How To Build The Super Meter:
You can build the super meter by both taking damage and using special moves. You also build meter while hitting an opponent that is blocking. Rush-down (characters that need to be close to be effective) characters (Johnny Cage, Kung Lao, etc) build meter very quickly when they get close – since a lot of their moves will usually be blocked - and zoning characters (Kenshi, Noob-Saibot) build meter when they use moves like their projectiles. You should always pay attention to how your character builds meter the best and how your opponent builds their meter. You can always crouch to avoid most projectiles, but you have to take into account the fact that your opponent is building meter while they throw them at you. Watch and pay attention to both your opponent’s meter and yours.

Yet again, the super meter is the most important tool in MK9. A well thought out breaker can turn the tide in a match, as well as an enhanced move at the end of a combo to cause a little bit of extra damage. Use the meter wisely. Don’t just throw out an X-Ray at random. It could be blocked, leaving you with no meter and the opponent able to get you into a combo that you don’t have the meter to break. X-Rays should only be used if you absolutely need the unbreakable damage, or if your character builds meter quickly. As tournament player Tom Brady/Bill Menoutis says, “The meter at the bottom of the screen is more important than the meter at the top.”

Moves That Have Armor:
Another important feature of MK9 is armor. Some enhanced special moves have armor that allows the player to absorb a hit(s) and go through an opponent’s combo string. This can be used in several different ways. If the opponent is pressuring you (hitting you with several strings while you block, trying to open you up to take damage), a well timed armored move can break their pressure and put you both back on neutral ground. Armored moves are also a good way to get through zoning attempts. If Noob-Saibot is constantly throwing out shadow clones at Sub-Zero, one way he can get through the barrage of projectiles is to use an enhanced slide. Sub will absorb one of the hits (still taking damage), but he will go through the projectile, hitting Noob.

Wakeup Moves:
Most special and enhanced moves in MK9 can be used as ‘wakeup moves.’ These moves allow a player that has just been knocked down to get up quickly with a move. Be careful, though: Opponents will attempt to bait your wakeup moves so that they can block and punish. Be wary of this tactic, as it can dramatically change a match.
Wakeup moves also have ‘invincibility frames.’ This means that the opponent cannot hit you while you are performing a wakeup move. To perform a wakeup move, simply input the special move command like normal, just as your character is about to get up off the ground after a knockdown.
Another wakeup tactic is rolling backwards. Sometimes, rather than doing a wakeup special, a roll back might be in order. To roll backwards, simply hold back as your character is getting off the ground after a knockdown.

Throws:
Throws are very important. Throws always take away 12% of your opponent’s life bar and can be a good tool when it comes to positioning. To throw an opponent, press the throw button (or 1+3) while holding the direction you want them thrown. If you use a zoning character, throwing the opponent into open space is mostly the best option. Most rush-down characters are more effective if their opponents are thrown in the direction of the corner. Crouching always avoids throws, if your character is either blocking, or crouch blocking, you are always at risk to be thrown.
While extremely hard to time properly, throws can be broken the moment the opponent grabs you before the throw. Throw breaking is also a guessing game. You have to guess which way the opponent is going to throw you. To break a throw that will send you behind the opponent, press either 1 or 3. For a forward throw break, press either 2 or 4.

Anti-Air:
If your opponent is jumping toward you, you have a few options. All characters have a built-in anti-air move in the uppercut (D2), but some characters like Johnny Cage have fast enough jabs to, when properly timed, start a juggle combo. Sub-Zero can use his Ice Clone (DB1) as an anti-air. This particularly comes in handy if the opponent has just knocked Sub down and is jumping in for more pressure. Sub can use the Ice Clone as a wakeup move and anti-air the opponent, leading to a full combo.

The Combo System:
MK9 uses what most people refer to as a “dial-a-combo” system. This means that if you input 2,1,4~Slide with Sub-Zero, you do it all at one time, regardless of what is happening on the screen. Doing this, will send Sub into a full combo rather than inputting each individual command for each individual hit. With games like Street Fighter, you input each command in real-time as it’s happening on the screen. The only combos in MK9 that don’t follow the dial-a-combo system are combos that require you to dash and juggle, or juggle combos in general.
MK9 also uses a “create-a-combo” system. This system lets you create your own combos as long as the strings you use will link with others. A list of each character’s strings can be found in the move list on the pause menu. Go into training mode and try ‘em out!

Canceling Into Special Moves:
For the longest time, I had trouble figuring out what this meant. Canceling into a special move is quite simple, actually. One of Sub-Zero’s combo strings is 224. During this combo, Sub will punch once, hit with a sword made of ice, then do a roundhouse kick, sending the opponent away from him. If I were going to cancel this string into a special move, I would simply press 22, and then do a special move. Examples: 22~Freeze (DF3), 22~Slide (BF4), etc. All canceling really means is that you use a special move to end the string instead of the last input. Simple enough?

Hit Levels:
All moves in MK9 have different hit levels that effect where the opponent is hit and what happens afterwards. These are divided between High, Mid, Special Mid, and Low. High attacks will whiff (miss) crouch blocking opponents, Mid attacks will hit characters that are crouch blocking and usually cause them to be popped up off the ground, leading to a possible juggle combo, special mid attacks register to the game as high attacks, but will actually connect vs. crouch blocking characters, and lows connect against characters if they’re blocking while standing. Also, remember that all jumping punches are considered mid attacks. You must block those standing. Knowing these hit levels is a key factor to success in MK9.
By knowing the hit levels, you can do what is referred to as a “mixup.” Mixups are combo chains that have more than one optional hit level to end the string.
For example: Remember Sub-Zero’s 2,2,4 sting? The first hit is high, the second is a special mid, and the fourth is also a high (H,SM,H). If you cancel the string with a slide, the hit levels change to H,SM,L because the slide is a low attack. If you see that your opponent is constantly blocking high, try canceling the string into a low attack such as the slide to knock them off their feet. Also, 224 can be done as 222 (H,SM,M), which ends with a mid attack. This way, when your opponent starts expecting the slide after 22, they’ll crouch block on that hit, allowing you to end the string with 2 rather than the slide. This is why it’s called a mixup. Your opponent must guess what hit level you’re going to choose as your attack.

Hit Boxes:
Certain characters in the game have different hit box properties. Hit boxes are what the game uses to recognize a character as being hit or not. Think of it as if your character had actual boxes around him on different parts of his or her body. You may have one on your head, shoulders, torso, feet, etc. Characters like Kung Lao, Jax and Mileena all have low hit boxes. This means that when they crouch, certain attacks that hit mid and special mid might whiff. Always keep in mind what characters you’re fighting against and keep in mind what their hit boxes properties are. It may be the case that you have to change up different combos depending on the character you’re fighting.

Pressure:
Here’s the part of the game that’s extremely difficult to get down. Not only is it something that takes practice to learn how to implement effectively, but it also takes practice to learn how to get out of properly when your opponent is pressuring you.
I once heard pressure referred to as “hunting for damage.” That is, indeed, the perfect way to describe it. You are hitting your opponent with the starters of combo strings to see if they’re blocking and also trying to get them to counter what you’re doing so they’ll take the hit and you’ll get some damage off of them, or a full combo.

Also, in MK9 when you or the opponent is hit while blocking, you take “chip damage.” This cuts normal hits down to a small percentage of their actual damage, but you still take damage. For characters such as Johnny Cage and Kabal, this is where they actually acquire most of their damage. Sometimes you can get a good amount of damage by pressuring, but mixing that up into a throw. With Cage, you could perhaps do F33~Throw because the opponent might continue blocking, thinking that you’re going to continue with your pressure.

To get out of an opponent’s pressure, you can attempt to poke out during the string. Usually, poking out is done by performing a character’s D1, D3, or even D4. Kitana has one of the fastest D1s in the game, so it’s extremely hard to pressure her.

Examples Of Combos and Strategy in MK9:
Here, I’ll give some examples of combos in the game, using Sub-Zero as an example. Keep in mind: All combos should be used in a situational manner. Meaning, don’t just throw out any old combo. Always have a reason for doing what you’re doing. While giving these combos, I’ll explain the reasoning behind them. Also, no, I did not create these combos. These combos and strategies are things I’ve learned by both playing against human opponents and watching high-level, tournament play. Keep in mind: All combos are notated as if your character is facing right.

Let’s start with an easy one -
214~Slide: This is one of Sub’s bread ‘n butter combos. It’s not very high damage, but it is effective for a little damage. What’s really effective is the next combo…

JiP,214~X-Ray: This will take 50% of your opponents life bar. Only use this combo for the unbreakable X-Ray damage and if the opponent DOES NOT have a breaker. It should be used mainly to end a round. There’s a little trick to getting the X-Ray to land properly. Sub’s X-Ray can be charged by holding down both triggers, or 3+4+BLK on a stick. The X-Ray will not hit until you’ve released the buttons. In order to get the X-Ray to connect in this combo, you must charge the X-Ray for a spit second before you release it.

Here’s a bit more complicated one –
22~Freeze, backup, JiP, 214~Slide: This is Sub’s absolute best open space combo. Your entire goal while playing as Sub-Zero is to push the opponent to the corner and keep them there. This combo pushes them a good chunk of the way there. Also, let’s take a second to talk about hit confirming.

Remember what I said about mixups? Usually when doing that, you’re actually confirming off of the first few hits what you want the final hit level to be. If the opponent blocks the first 2 hits high, then you can try going for the low slide.
You can do something similar with Sub-Zero’s ice clone. The timing is tricky with the 2,2 string, but it can be done. If you see that the opponent has blocked 22, quickly hit 4~ice clone. This will push Sub back and create an ice clone that the opponent now has to jump over, or armor through in order to get to you.

“So I’ve thrown out a clone and the opponent jumped into it. What do I do now? Uppercut?” Actually, you can do a full combo to get a whole lot more damage than a 12% uppercut. This also applies to any time an opponent is frozen in the air.
Simply walk up to the opponent and -
NJP, DASH, B12, 212~Slide

Stagger State:
One thing I haven’t touched on is the stagger state. Several characters have combo enders or moves that leave the opponent briefly staggered. This can lead to more pressure, a throw attempt, etc. The main thing it does is shut down their wakeup game. When put into this state, the opponent is automatically at a disadvantage, leaving you to decide how it is you wish to proceed. Again, since Sub’s playstyle is based on getting the opponent into the corner, using his stagger ender is a great tool. After you’ve frozen a standing opponent (either during a combo, or from a naked freeze), try this –
JiP, B121: This will leave the opponent standing and you can continue pressure or throw. One good tactic is to immediately try –
212~Freeze, DASH, DASH, 2,2~Slide: This pushes the opponent nearly all the way to the corner if started at mid-screen. The 212 part can actually be rather easily hit confirmed into an ice clone if the opponent is blocking.



Corner Traps:
Sub-Zero is the king of corner trapping. By setting up an ice clone in front of a downed opponent while they’re in the corner, Sub has eliminated all of their options except for 2: Jumping out and armoring through the clone. If they attempt to jump out, Sub is at just enough range to use his 22 string as an anti-air, which against some characters (depending on their hitbox size), can make them fall back onto the clone, freezing them, and allowing Sub a full combo. After the combo, Sub can end the combo prematurely by canceling into another ice clone and the trap starts all over again.
Some characters can get out of this trap by armoring through, but there is a way to get around this. One way is to simply block. Another is this –
214~Freeze, 4, 222: This will splat the opponent on the ground and give Sub enough time to put up another clone before they can get out a wakeup move. For example: If Kung Lao decides to wakeup with an enhanced spin which advances forward, has armor, and can go through the clone, Sub has enough time and space between himself and Lao that he can block the advancing spin and punish, sending Lao back into the corner and set up for another corner trap. If a character such as Kabal uses a wakeup ground saw, the move pushes him forward, which will freeze him immediately. If Kabal tries to use an enhanced nomad dash to get through the clone, just like in the situation with Lao, Sub has enough distance to be able to block and punish accordingly.



The Ice Clone:
While Sub-Zero may not be the best character in the game, the ice clone is definitely the best move. Since it’s primary use is anti-air, the best way to get someone to jump into it, is to bait them into it. Make them think you’re going to advance forward, then immediately pop out the clone. This will sometimes trick the opponent into trying to jump across you, but instead they get frozen and leave themselves open for a full combo. Sub can also use the ice clone during a jump, which can lead opponents to believe they can catch you in the air, when in fact, they’ll be eating a mid-air clone.
The ice clone can also be used a shield. If Sub pops out the clone while in mid-screen, he can use the shield to advance, shut down characters with teleports by moving and also sit behind it and trade projectiles. DO NOT trade projectiles with Sub-Zero. If you trade and the freeze hits you, you are asking for a full combo. People who know what they’re doing with Sub can trade with the fastest projectiles due to expert timing. You have to ask yourself, “Is throwing out an 8% damage projectile worth eating a 30% combo?”



That’s about all I have. Hopefully you’ll be able to use this knowledge to get good at the game and perhaps even branch out into other fighting games. I can’t take credit for all that’s here, though. Again, most of this is knowledge I gained by playing against friends, sitting in training mode, and going to a major tournament. Also, for those of you that want a more in depth look into each individual character, check out Tom Brady’s Living Guide. It’s available as an app on the Android Marketplace and on the Amazon Kindle for only $2.99. The info provided in there is definitely worth more than that.
Also, though the online is terrible, my gamertag on Xbox Live is Tang94, so hit me up if you want to play some laggy MK9. If you want to play some nearly offline perfect MK9, hit me up on the PlayStation Vita. My tag there is DarthTanger.

Peace out everybody!

-Josh

Mortal Kombat (2010) - Review (Xbox 360, PS3, PS Vita)

In April of 2011, Netherealm Studios released a remake/reboot of the immensely popular fighting game, Mortal Kombat for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. The game was fairly well received by fans and critics alike and sold approximately 2 million copies in its first month of release. For this reviewer, Mortal Kombat, or MK9 as most people refer to it, the game would become a constant in his Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and now Playstation Vita’s disc drive/card slot.



I began playing Mortal Kombat back when the original game was released in the early 90’s, so yes, I’m a fan. Unlike most people, the violence and fatalities were never what appealed to me about the franchise. Instead, I was drawn to the backstory of the game. Also a fan of Jean-Claude VanDamme movies such as Bloodsport and Kickboxer, the similar story in MK was right up my alley. Instead of relying on the simple concept of a tournament, MK threw a unique spin on the concept by adding in such things as different realms that exist alongside our own (Earthrealm). The story in a nutshell: Shao Kahn, the leader of Outworld, is determined to take over Earthrealm by use of the Mortal Kombat Tournament. If he wins, Kahn is allowed to invade and rule. Raiden, an “Elder-god” is charged with gathering up Earthrealm’s strongest warriors in order to defend our world. We don’t find out about Shao Khan until MK2, but that’s the story of the franchise all the way up until the most recent reboot.


Mortal Kombat also included, in my opinion, a more colorful cast of characters than fighting games such as, say, Street Fighter. A few in the franchise have been palette swaps - a process in which developers recolor the same character to produce a new character with different moves – as with Street Fighter, but MK’s characters were finely crafted into the story and were always presented as distinct individuals rather than mere recolors.


After 8 games, spanning across nearly every console from arcade to original Xbox, Mortal Kombat began to run out of steam and popularity over the years due in part to changing game mechanics. Rather than keeping the traditional 2D gameplay, MK, starting with MK4, adopted a similar play-style popularized in 3D fighting games such as Dead Or Alive, Virtua Fighter, Tekken, and Soul Calibur. This proved to be unpopular with fans of the series, so a change was in order. The team at Netherealm decided to create a game that went back to its 2D roots and in April of 2011, the completely barebones titled, Mortal Kombat was released.


I always enjoyed fighting games, but was never actually good at them. I was also vaguely aware of the fact that there was a scene in which people actually played fighting games in a competitive tournament setting. After watching several tournament matches online, in an effort to learn some simple combos to perform, I figured that actually taking the time to learn the game and play it competitively wouldn’t be a complete waste of time. I spent hours, days and months in the game’s training mode learning combos and strategies for use against another human opponent. Doing this, I was compelled to dip my toe into the tournament scene in March of 2012 and took a trip about 3 hours away to Atlanta, Georgia and ended up placing 33rd out of 127 at Final Round, a major tournament (which means the winner actually gets a pretty decent amount of money for winning).


Now why did I just give a “life story” of being an MK fan and one-time competitive player? Because I’m about to give the most honest review of a fighting game that one will ever get! Bold words, I know.


Next time you go into a store to buy a fighting game, ask yourself, “Why do I want this? Do I want it to play around within the game’s single player modes? Do I want it just to have some sort of party game to have fun with friends? Do I want an online fighting game? Or do I want to actually learn the game and be good at it?”


“I want to play Mortal Kombat’s single player modes, Josh!”
 MK9’s single player modes are quite good, actually. The player is given the option of playing a ladder style mode in which he or she will face computer controlled opponents at varying levels of difficulty, culminating with fighting the last boss, Shao Khan. There is also a challenge tower mode in which the player climbs up yet another ladder in which they are presented with progressively more difficult challenges. These challenges are usually presented as mini-games such as fighting a character with no arms, only using special moves, etc. The Vita version offers even more challenge tower levels and features for single player that aren’t present in the console versions.


“I just want the game to have fun with friends, Josh.”
 This is what versus mode is for. The game offers 1v1 combat, as well as a tag-team feature that allows the player to control either 2 characters at once, or 4 players controlling 1 at a time. The fighting mechanics are simple and smooth enough to be accessible to players that just want to have fun with the game in a casual setting.


“I want to beat people down online!!!”
 Good luck. The console versions of the game have terrible netcode that makes it impossible to play the game online with the same fluidity as playing offline. Also, the player will be met with frequent disconnects, rage-quitters and unnecessary trash talking from people who actually don’t know how to play the game, but are able to exploit the game’s bad netcode to put the match in their favor. The Vita version, however, has nearly perfect netcode and is much closer to offline play.


“I want to get good at the game, go to tournaments and win some money!!”
 And here we get into what the game was designed for. MK9, while having issues, is one of the simplest fighting games to pick up and be competent. That’s not to say you will be instantly good. You actually have to put in hard work, research and practice. It also helps to play offline with players who are either already good at the game or are trying to be good at it as well. I played the game in training mode and with friends for nearly a year before I felt comfortable enough to enter a major tournament. But if competition is your goal, MK, and most fighting games, contain tools in-game that will help you become a more competent player. Just remember, you will never get better at the game and able to stand toe-to-toe with other well-versed players by playing against computer opponents.


In closing, I strongly recommend this game. It’s a great game and can be played with lots of different goals in mind, but the game really shines if you take the time to learn it and be good at it. If you’re trying to decide on which version of MK9 to get, it really depends on what system you have and nothing else. The Xbox360 and PS3 versions are pretty much identical, but have terrible online. The Vita version has some extra features, costumes for characters and better online, but takes a slight dip in graphics quality to maintain a smooth, 60 frames-per-second and identical fighting mechanics to the console versions on the handheld.


Basically, if you like fighting games, or are attempting to get into them, you can’t go wrong with Mortal Kombat. On any system.
Posted on May 27, 2012 .