Preview: Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks (PS2, XB)

Publisher: Midway / Developer: Paradox Development / Genre: Action / Release Date: Q4 2005

Mortal Kombat is a franchise we all know. It may not be the best fighting franchise ever, but there is little doubt that it is the most prolific. With controversy always surrounding this gory and violent series, Midway has announced that it’s time to add a new chapter to it all, and this time with a whole new twist on things.

Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks. Currently slated to be released on the Playstation 2 and the X-box, Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks will fall into the action/adventure genre departing from most of the series, which has usually been a collection of fighters, with few exceptions. It will have both single player and multi player modes as you will be able to explore places from the past and present of the Mortal Kombat Universe. Midway seems intent on delivering the goods, as early information already reports many Mortal Kombat classic characters to be a part of the game such as Liu Kang, Kung Lao, and Baraka. The main focus is on Liu Kang and Kung Lao, but there’s also talk of Sub Zero appearing as an unlockable secret playable character.

Shaolin Monks seems to be geared towards long time fans of the series. So far Midway have hyped the inclusion of classic environments like the acid pit, the living trees stage, and the various pits from previous Mortal Kombats. They’ve also promised intense puzzles and action sequences during game play as well as a fleshed out and an intricate storyline that should expand upon the Mortal Kombat universe even further. The announced modes thus far include a single player and a cooperative multi-player mode; however, no online capabilities have been announced as of yet. The possibility certainly does remain open since this title will see a release on the X-box and PS2, both of which are “online friendly”.

What really is interesting is the new RPG style elements that will be introduced with MK: Shaolin Monks. To unlock new techniques for your character you will have to gain experience points as you go through the game’s levels. The levels themselves will feature battle against multiple enemies at the same time, which promises to deliver fresh content for fans of the long time fighting series.

Also new will be so-called “cooperative fatalities” or team fatalities. The name says it all I suppose. When you’re playing with more than one person the whole gang can do some pretty damn gory stuff to your hapless opponents. And off course all the aforementioned environments will be interactive, so fear not you diehard gore fans: you will STILL be able to impale and dissolve people at your leisure.

MK: Shaolin Monks is really a big game for Midway on several levels. Mortal Kombat is their cash cow, and any time a company tries to branch out a series like MK there is always a bit of apprehension. At this juncture it’s too early to make any kind of determinations about MK: Shaolin Monks as only a few concrete details have been released other than the appetite wetting ones regarding the plethora of fatalities, classic characters, and interactive environments. Interestingly enough Midway is handing the development reigns to Paradox Development, which (in an ominous sign) has been responsible for such “titles” as Backyard Wrestling and X-Men: Mutant Academy.

Currently scheduled for a September 2005 release we still have a ways to go before this one hits the street. As more information becomes available we will have it for you here at Inside Pulse.