The 8 Ball 6.10.14: Top 8 Mortal Kombat Characters
Posted by Marc Morrison on 06.10.2014
From Sub-Zero and Cyrax to Kitana, Scorpion and more, 411's Marc Morrison counts down the top 8 Mortal Kombat characters of all-time!
Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball. With E3 currently going on, everyone is busy with all the announcements and events there. Still, a few of us manage to hold down the fort here. I decided to choose Mortal Kombat characters due to the recent Mortal Kombat X trailer that was shown. Also, I kind of just like Mortal Kombat characters. It's kind of a fluffy topic, but Mortal Kombat has been around for over 20 years and has built up a decent roster of characters. Let's begin:
8. Sonya Blade
As arguably the female face of most of Mortal Kombat, Sonya is usually considered one of the more popular characters. That said, I never really liked playing as her in the old games. Her energy rings were just a basic projectile (with no good knockback), and most of her early moves were pretty situational, and were only useful at certain times. Once she got her "Kartwheel" move though, she became pretty useful. That move allowed her to get up close to an opponent, with a nice multi-hit attack, that could be combed into one of her more situational moves (like the leg grab). She's not my favorite female character in the game, that's a bit later, but she's better than the likes of Tanya or Kira.
As the resident speedster of the Mortal Kombat world, Kabal tends to only have the one useful move, the Raging Flash (or Nomad Dash in MK2011). He runs right at the opponent and if he catches them, on the ground or in mid-air, they get dizzy leaving them vulnerable for a few seconds. This is highly useful, but can be dodged around if you get good at it. Aside from this, his other moves, the gas blast and saw blades, can be good moves to play keep-away with, but that's it. He's not as versatile as some "capture" characters later on, but can be effective if you know how to use him.
I tend to be a fan of "trapper" characters, ones that can cause your enemy to be disabled so you can set them up for a combo, or another move. Cyrax is good with this with his trademark green net he shoots out of his chest. His bomb moves are great at harassing players who like to stay away from you when fighting. His teleport isn't as offensive as Sektor's or Cyber Smoke's, but can still be good to get out of a cornered situation. His "bomb punch" thing in MK2011 is also great due to it bouncing the enemy up, letting you try his air throw, or to throw another net out. Plus, he does the Charleston, so he is cool in my book.
There aren't a lot of high-level female characters in Mortal Kombat. About the top of the group is Kitana, Sonya, Jade, and Milena. I already mentioned Sonya above, with Jade I just don't like her moveset. Her little "projectile dodge" thing is her only notable feature, and it can be easy to get around. With Milenna, it requires a bit of timing to get used to her, mainly her charged up projectile attack. Also her roll and teleport kick can leave you really vulnerable when they are blocked. Kitana doesn't really have a lot of weaknesses, aside from her fan list needing to be close to catch people with. Her fan throw is a good, all-around projectile. Her "flying punch" attack, something she shares with Sonya, is a bit more useful since you can couple it with the air stun. And both her "pretty kick" and "cutting fan" moves are nice, multi-hit moves that can either start, or end a combo quite nicely.
Here is where the real popular characters start coming into play. As one of the biggest characters in the franchise, Sub-Zero has been a character in every single MK game, even headlining his own (admittedly bad) spin-off game. He's iconic, so much so, that even non-video game players could usually pick him out if need be. His freeze, slide, ice clone and ground slide are all good at tricking your opponent and setting them up. More than his move set though, I actually like the general story arc of the character. Going from kind of a clone of the original Sub Zero into a fairly noble hero (in the original timeline) was a nice story for him. Then, getting roboticized in the altered timeline was a drastically different outcome for his character. Still, he did eventually turn good, and against his evil brother Noob Saibot and survive, so here is hoping he can pop up in the new game also.
Smoke is an odd choice, but I think an increasingly valid one. Back in the MK3 days, he was essentially a melding of Scorpion and Sektor, having Scorpion's spear and teleport punch and Sektor's teleport uppercut, creating quite a powerful character to contend with. However, it was in MK2011 where I think he really came into his own. The first of which is, you actually saw his personality some. Both Cyrax and Sektor's characters were expanded in the later MK games, but Smoke's really wasn't. Also, his moveset (due to not being a cyborg) got altered a lot into something unique. His projectile allowed for some tricky combos to be utilized, if it hit right. And his projectile-counter move could lay havoc to characters like Liu Kang. He still keeps his spear also, which makes him annoying to deal with when fighting him, and fun to use when playing him.
Yep – a character actually made it on this list that is from past Mortal Kombat 3. Who would have thunk it? Here's the thing, almost every single character past MK3 (or UMK3) is completely worthless, a joke, or just boring. Nitara, Darrius, Ashrah, Reiko, Fujin, Dairou, Hotaru, Kai, Mavado, Taven, Tanya, and lest we forget, the scintillating character of "Jarek". Yeah…anyway. The only real characters who were interesting were Frost, just because she looked cool, and Kenshi, because he was badass. While he does share similar moves to Ermac, the telekinetic slam and toss, he has additional moves like the telekinetic flurry and telekinetic slash (for ranged attacks). I also like the unpredictable nature of his attacks, most characters it is easy to telegraph what they are going to do, but with Kenshi, you have to be on your toes when facing him.
1. Chameleon and Meat
Derp and bigger Derp
How could it NOT be Scorpion, let's be honest? He's the most iconic character of the franchise, with his trademark spear, teleport punch, yellow outfit and "Get over here!" when he chucks his spear out, are well known to all. While he hasn't had as much personal growth as Sub-Zero, or perhaps Smoke, the character has evolved over the games nicely from a generally evil character, to something almost approaching semi-good. In MK 2011, he actually was trying to be decent, it was only the machinations of Quan Chi that screws it all up. Scorpion is still the premiere character of the franchise, for sure.
The Better Half with Liana K
No Liana list for this week. She's at E3 covering it for 411mania, so expect some news stories, or preview/columns from her coming up from the event.
Take your pick really, but probably no one is picking characters from the later generation MK games. Liu Kang, Kung Lao, Sindel, Johnny Cage, Raiden, Stryker, are all pretty valid. Some characters like Sheeva, Kano, or Rain are no one's favorite though.
The General Roundup
As usual, I'll try to respond to a few of the comments from last week: I'm not sure if I would consider N+ a survival game. Or if I did, I'd have to start lumping stuff like Super Meat Boy or Spelunky into that as well. FTL does kind of share that idea, but you have to pay attention to more gameplay systems then just survival. The way State of Decay handles things like time is completely weird to me. It's a neat idea, but the actual practice doesn't work that well, when half of your supplies are gone the next time you load up a game. Oregon Trail (and the sequels/derivatives) are all good survival games, especially the balance between food, health, pace, and supplies. I don't know if I'd also call Fear Effect a survival game, just based on the fear mechanic. If that was the case, Indigo Prophecy would fit that criteria as well.