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Finish Him! A Mortal Kombat Fatality retrospective (part 2)

The Shacknews Mortal Kombat Fatality retrospective continues with the rest of the series' 21st century entries, including Mortal Kombat X.


If you missed it, check out part 1 of our Mortal Kombat Fatality retrospective.

Earlier today, we looked at the first half of the Mortal Kombat franchise and its rich history of gore, blood, and dismemberment by checking out its Fatalities. Now we take a further look at Mortal Kombat in the 21st century, where the franchise tows the line of irrelevancy before bouncing back to, once again, capture fighting game fans' imaginations with a full library of vivid finishers.

Let's continue the look into Mortal Kombat's Fatalities, culminating with the next installment in the series that's set to arrive this Tuesday.

Mortal Kombat: Deception (2004)

The sixth installment of the Mortal Kombat series represented another new frontier for Ed Boon and company. The game would make the jump online, offering online play for the first time. It would also introduce new features, such as stages laden with insta-kill Deathtraps, as well as re-introduce some favorite characters.

Meanwhile, Midway Games was looking to bring Fatalities back from the depths of Deadly Alliance. The Fatality count was restored to two per character, along with a Hara-Kiri suicide move that could be used to spoil a winning player's fun. The Fatalities, themselves, prove to be a pretty good return to form, not only offering up some classic violence, but also showing a level of visual polish not yet seen in the 3D era of the series.

Memorable Fatality: Deception was the lone game where Noob Saibot and Smoke teamed up to become a tandem character. But it was the Smoke half of the duo that provided the keen finisher, as the cyborg would go invisible before dismembering his opponent. Now you see him, now you're dead!

Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (2006)

By this point, just about everything in the Mortal Kombat series had been done. There was nowhere left for the series to go in its current form, so Midway Games made the tough decision to end the whole thing. Not only would Mortal Kombat: Armageddon mark the final game in the PS2/GameCube/Xbox generation, it would mark the end of the Mortal Kombat story as everyone knew it.

On the surface, that would indicate that Midway would save the best Fatalities for last. Sadly, that was not the case. Instead, Armageddon contained a Kreate-A-Fatality feature that replaced character-specific finishers. It was a pale replacement and one that largely fell flat with fans of the series that wanted to see the current series go out on a high note.

Memorable Fatality: None. Even if custom finishers were given the Ultimate Fatality label, there was only so much variety that Kreate-A-Fatality offered.

Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe (2008)

Players may have considered Deadly Alliance or Armageddon to be the low point for Fatalities, but Midway brought another contender to the plate in 2008. Fans were not prepared for this strange crossover that would bring the Mortal Kombat fighters in direct conflict with the superheroes and villains of the DC Universe. In several ways, this game represented many steps forward for the MK franchise. The Story Mode, for example, would pave the way for narrative in not just the Mortal Kombat series, but in fighting games, as a whole.

Unfortunately, one area that this game did not push forward was Fatalities. Due to an edict from DC Comics and parent company Warner Bros., finishers had to be toned down to the point that this would become the only Mortal Kombat game to boast a T rating. DC did not want ultraviolence anywhere near its characters, an idea that this writer considers laughable, given that the comics of this time period featured scenes like Max Lord shooting Blue Beetle point-blank in the skull, Wonder Woman retaliating by killing Lord in cold blood, and Black Adam literally punching a hole through a teenage superhero. Still, the situation was what it was and the result was violence, but nothing that truly felt like "Mortal Kombat" violence.

Memorable Fatality: The Joker fit like a glove in the Mortal Kombat environment, to the point that his Fatality was the best one of the game. However, for the sake of keeping the T rating intact, this finisher was actually censored in the North American version of the game. Yes, Mortal Kombat had its violence censored. Europe, on the other hand, got the Fatality in its full glory.

NetherRealm actually did attempt to do right by its fans later down the line by including an altered version of this Fatality in its entirety in the next Mortal Kombat game, by having Shang Tsung transform into a malevolent jester and demonstrate what he learned from the Clown Prince of Crime.

Mortal Kombat (2011)

Four years ago, the time came to officially reboot the Mortal Kombat franchise and it was a new beginning in just about every way. Midway Games had officially become NetherRealm Studios, working under the Warner Bros. umbrella. The story had started anew, with an amulet that Raiden discovered altering the entire course of the series' history, Star Trek-style. And with this new opportunity to start over came a new lease on life for Fatalities.

With new Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 hardware to play with, not only did the violence in Fatality levels rise, but so did the creativity. It was no longer enough to have showers of bones and limbs. These new Fatalities were more grounded in reality, while also displaying some clever new ideas. Yes, NetherRealm had come up with new and creative ways to dismember your opponent. With a foundation now set, the studio has shown no signs of looking back and will only use advancing technology to make finishers more violent.

Memorable Fatality: This was the hardest one to narrow down, because 2011's Mortal Kombat really does have some of the coolest Fatalities in the whole series. And while this may seem like a cheat to use a DLC character, Kenshi's first Fatality really was one of the more creative ways to put an end to an opponent, fully exercising the 3D camera, his telekinetic abilities, and of course, slicing his opponent in two, because why not?

Also, NetherRealm deserves extra brownie points for bringing back Quan Chi's Mortal Kombat 4 Fatality (still one of the best to ever grace the franchise) with a little twist.

Mortal Kombat X (2015)

And finally, there's the long-awaited Mortal Kombat X, which is set to arrive tomorrow. This looks to be a culmination of everything the studio has put together for nearly 25 years. Arguably, no aspect of the game has shown more growth than Fatalities. Even the 2011 effort showed something of an over-reliance on decapitations. But Mortal Kombat X appears to even out the violence, focusing just as much on organs and other body parts.

Some of the Fatalities are so over-the-top violent that it's even had some people wondering if NetherRealm has gotten too violent. So in essence, the studio is now at the center of the "violence in video games" debate again, bringing the Mortal Kombat series full circle.

Memorable Fatality: While this writer hasn't seen all of MKX's Fatalities just yet, the clear early winner is obvious. Give the Oscar to Johnny Cage for this spine-tingling finisher. Not only does it exercise NetherRealm's newfound sense of creativity, it also fits in perfectly with Johnny Cage's actor persona. It's hard to find anything better than what's down below.

Did we miss any Fatality favorites? Let us know in the comments. Mortal Kombat X arrives on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One tomorrow.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
  • reply
    April 13, 2015 12:00 PM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Finish Him! A Mortal Kombat Fatality retrospective (part 2)

    • reply
      April 13, 2015 12:29 PM

      So bloody...not that i mind...but damn.

    • reply
      April 13, 2015 12:54 PM

      Awesome, you know though I still have a soft spot for MK2 its my fav and has the best fatalities other than MKX which is juts insane.

      Man when I first saw Shang Tsung suck himself into a body then it inflated and then exploded I was like "holy shit!" it was amazing. Pretty much all of the MK2 fatalities are amazing, Raiden electrocute explode, Subs frozen grenade, mega Toasty, Mileena eat then spit out bones, like you said in the other article the Kun Lao hat cut in half, Jax arm rip, etc etc man there where just so many rad things.

      Stage fatalities where also a big one in MK2 the spikes on the roof was a classic.

      All MK2 fatalities awesome this game will always have a special place in my heart

      MK2 was ground breaking and one of the best sequels I love the game to death its in the top 10 best sequels for sure.

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