The latest toe-to-toe battle in our ongoing Video Deathmatch Nerdfight showcase throws two of gaming’s most revered franchises, Mortal Kombat and Mass Effect, into the ring for what is sure to be a brutal, bloody, and very, very M-rated confrontation that might just end with one of its participants plummeting to their deaths onto a bed of spikes. In the MK corner, we have Donell Tucker, and in the ME corner, we have Jake Gaskill. Put the little ones to bed, grab a bio-enhanced mop, and let’s do this thing. FIGHT!
Donell: To start this Nerdfight I would like to quote from a powerful and deadly wizard named, Shang Tsung. He once said to Lui Kang, “Your soul is mine,” Sorry to say this Jake, but Mortal Kombat will own Mass Effect’s soul by end of this Nerdfight. But where shall I begin this brutality? Oh ya! Mortal Kombat is the most controversial game in history. It’s the reason why we have a rating system in the first place. Mass Effect may be rated M for mature, but Mortal Kombat is rated M for “My God This Is Mature.” How can you rip the spine out of your opponent and not think this is the greatest franchise ever? With brutal fatalities, simple, but yet complex fighting mechanics, and deep storylines that created the Mortal Kombat universe it shall surely win. The Mass Effect franchise is still young and needs more time to grow up before it can even compete for best franchise.
See how Jake counters after the break.
Jake: Whoa, whoa, whoa! Dial down the hostility a bit, pal. Sheesh. Clearly, playing hours upon hours of Mortal Kombat has turned you into a hate filled, contentious, and bloodthirsty maniac! What a ringing endorsement of the game’s “brilliance.” No one wonder the ESRB felt compelled to step in in the early 1990s (spurred by MK, yes, but also by other high profile games like Doom) and slap some ratings on these murder simulators. Obviously, they were worried that kids would be exposed to the high narrative arcs and deep emotional journeys players were experiencing by tearing off people’s arms, kicking them into giant meat grinders, and vomiting acid in their faces. What a truly inspiring and admirable contribution to the artistic evolution of video games!
Donell: So having intercourse with blue aliens, mad prisoners, and emotionally damaged soldiers is truly an artistic evolution of video games? Kids can learn from Commander Shepard that pimpin ain't easy. Look, I understand that Mortal Kombat has a vicious side to it, but what it taught to the youth was about surviving. It’s kill or be killed. These fighters don’t want to fight violently, they are forced to battle in this deadly tournament. Picture this for a moment, your realm is in danger of being taken over by the Netherrealm and the only way to save it is to fight your way to freedom. I understand that Commander Shepard has the same goal when fighting against the Reapers, but apparently he has enough time to sleep with a few women or men on the way. I say business before pleasure.
Mortal Kombat has nine fighting titles, two adventure games, a cartoon show, a TV show, and two movies under its belt. How many games or movies does Mass Effect have? Don’t worry I’ll let you think about it. In the meanwhile, I’ll explain the backstories of all 63 Mortal Kombat characters to you. Let’s begin with Nightwolf...
Jake: Nightwolf, please! Sure, like many gamers, I’ve sunk countless hours into various MK games over the years, but never once in all of those years did I ever think to myself, “If ever there was a game that could/should be used to tout the artistic potential of the medium of video games, it would be this one, because many of the defining works of film and literature tend to include depictions of people being viciously sawed in half with razor-brimmed sombreros.” And do you really want to use Christopher Lambert's Mortal Kombat from 1995 as a reason why MK is better than ME? Since when did sheer the volume of games and game tie-in projects become the key factor in determining a franchises worth. In that case, let’s just shut down this whole contest and hand the crown to Pokemon! (That squeal of joy that was just heard around the world was Nikole Zivalich, in case you were wondering.)
Donell: First off, the original Mortal Kombat movie was great and Christopher Lambert played Raiden perfectly. Secondly, this is a competition about franchises and you must judge on quality and quantity to be considered the best franchise, so volume does count. With over 63 characters all having backstories, which creates a larger universe than Mass Effect, Mortal Kombat creates this alternative world that people seem to love all over the world, even Kratos (a character from a better franchise than Mass Effect) is joining the Mortal Kombat team. If you swear your allegiance to Mortal Kombat now, Mass Effect will be spared and you will be able to join the realm of Mortal Kombat.
Jake: Mass Effect represents one of the finest achievements, from its design to its character development to its story, the medium has ever seen, excruciatingly long elevator rides, planet mining, and vehicle sequences aside. BioWare has not only created a universe filled to the brim (and not the absurdly deadly kind) with characters, stories, and relationships that pull you in and are deeply meaningful and affecting on a level rarely seen in any medium, let alone video games. Each member of Commander Shepard’s squad becomes a family member over the course of the games, and you form genuinely emotional attachments to them (even if your sole motivation is to hook up with them), which adds a whole dimension to the game’s satisfying and deep combat since the fate of your friends hangs in the balance with each new battle you enter.
Donell: I’ll give it to you that Mass Effect has a deep storyline connecting you, the player, with your squad members creating this feeling of teamwork and emotional attachment. However, that’s boring, because talking your way out of tough situations with your squad members is no fun. Fighting in a two round match to the death will let you see the true colors of your characters and that is more entertaining than having dialogue.
Jake: You’re right. Romeo and Juliet would have been so much better if instead of blathering on about the tragic circumstances preventing them from realizing their love they would have just punched each other into vats of acid and stabbed each other with arm blades!
Seriously, what’s most important/impressive about Mass Effect is the fact that the relationships you forge, whether for good or bad, have long reaching implications that vary from player to player, and thanks to ME’s save file integration system, your successes and failures in one game are carried over into each subsequent game, creating one seamless experience that spans the course of hundreds of hours and is unique to each individual player. And we haven’t even seen how the events of the first two games will influence the progression and ultimate conclusion of Mass Effect 3. For as excited as people are for the new Mortal Kombat, the anticipation surrounding ME3 and what that game promises to deliver, largely in terms of how it will bring to a close one of the most enthralling game narratives of all time, are all the evidence you need to determine which of these two franchises reigns supreme.
Donell: Save your pity for THE WEAK! Mass Effect is a great game, but it’s not an incredible franchise. In 1992 Mortal Kombat rolled out on arcade and it was explosive. It shaped the gaming world as we know with M rated games. They proved that shock value can give you an edge in the gaming market. After 18 years, it still brings more then just a bloody game, it brings people together. Especially since the new Mortal Kombat will be at EVO 2011, the biggest fighting tournament in the world, as one of the line-up titles, it shows that the franchise is loved by hardcore fighting fans and casual gamers alike. Mortal Kombat is a bigger and stronger franchise than Mass Effect. And with that, I have two words for you, “Finish Him.” Let Mortal Kombat do its finisher on Mass Effect.
Jake: Oh, go Fatality yourself. Normandy out.