It’s been a bloody fun week here at Game Rant, publishing Mortal Kombat-related features and our review. However, it hasn’t been all fun and games – since there’s also been plenty of Mortal Kombat news circling the Internet following the launch of the highly anticipated title.
Two days ago we reported that Mortal Kombat DLC will be arriving “pretty soon” and now we’re getting an update on further ways NetherRealm intends to service the title post-launch – rebalancing fighters without a patch.
Speaking with Eurogamer, MK series creator Ed Boon revealed that, as a result of a new technology, the team at NetherRealm can adjust gameplay and fighter mechanics without having to package the adjustments into a patch, DLC update – or, in the case of the Street Fighter series, an entirely new retail game.
“In Mortal Kombat we have a system where we can make adjustments to the special moves and balance things out even after the game has been released.
If an infinite were to come out, or a character is too powerful, we can make adjustments and address those things immediately.”
There’s no denying that, back in days of the local arcade, infinite juggle combos were a reality that players had no choice but to deal with – a frustrating but, at the same time, staple of the arcade experience. The ability to make changes on the fly certainly gives Mortal Kombat a leg-up on other online fighters (at least in terms of removing frustrating exploits) – though, given that Mortal Kombat has rarely been a balanced option for tournament-loving gamers, it’ll be interesting to see if Boon and Co. and take advantage of their new tech and establish MK as a premiere competitive franchise.
As to the magic (or sorcery?) behind the tech, Boon remained tight-lipped:
“It’s something that’s built into our system. We can do it without having players have to download a patch. That’s something we’re very excited about. We can monitor what things players may have an issue with and then correct them as needed.
That’s the new technology we developed for this game. We’ve seen other fighting games, including our own, have characters we wish were more balanced, more powerful or weaker. So we devised a system that lets us modify the rules of the game, dynamically.
You could think of it as a mini-update, but it’s done in the background.”
If you’re worried that NetherRealm is going to be on an endless witch-hunt that will ultimately leave Mortal Kombat a balanced but totally bland experience, the developer was up-front that creating a entirely balanced game would be an exercise in futility:
“Balancing a fighting game is always very challenging. I don’t think there is any fighting game that was ever made where every character is equally powerful. The nature of special moves and the damage the characters have, it’s physically impossible.
Even Street Fighter IV, when it first came out, the Sagat character was insanely powerful and the Guile character was very weak. When they released Super Street Fighter IV they tried to balance it out.”
Tweaking the game on the fly is definitely a plus in the faceless online-multiplayer/post-arcade era – since the rules of toe-to-toe sportsmanship no longer apply. Back in the arcade, when people were actually pouring money into the machines (instead of putting the money up-front for a retail game), if a player exploited an infinite combo over and over, without letting their opponent recover, the winner would have earned dirty looks – not respect. It was an unspoken bond, the better player would win-out but rarely would they elect to do so in a dishonorable way – since they were face to face with other players. In the arcade, it was less about winning and more about showmanship – one of the reasons that MK became so popular (given the series flashy moves and finishers).
However, in the anonymous world of online play, where people are downright evil to each other, exploits could very-quickly sour the multiplayer offering. It’ll be interesting to see where NetherRealm draws the line with the balances – so that Mortal Kombat allows room for hardcore experimentation without allowing game-breaking exploits.
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Mortal Kombat is available now for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.