Game of the Year 2011: Best Series Reboot

by Scott Nichols

Best series reboot: Mortal Kombat

Franchise reboots are often treated as second class games or unimaginative cash-ins, but a good one is exceedingly difficult to pull off. It’s usually the result of either a series that has grown stale from sequelitis (see the newly announced Tomb Raider) or a series that has had too few sequels and is in need of a comeback (XCOM and Syndicate, I’m looking at you). For me, 2011 had two standout reboots that really nailed what developers should strive for: Rayman Origins and Mortal Kombat. Now, because of my general preference for platformers, I’d say Rayman is the better game, but Mortal Kombat is by far the better reboot. I was never really a Mortal Kombat fan; the bloody payoffs were only entertaining for so long before the realization set in that it was just too stiff and overly-mechanical with its reliance on memorized combos. But this year’s Mortal Kombat has finally won me over. Most special moves are easy to pull off and can fluidly chain into one another in any combination, which is my ideal fighting formula. Sure, all of the signature blood and guts are there, but for the first time I feel like Mortal Kombat is a truly mechanically sound fighting game even if its gory presentations were to be stripped away. There is also much to be said of its story mode, which has set a new standard for fighting games in its presentation. While the fighting mechanics rebooted the game series, the story mode essentially rebooted the cheesy films, adding much-needed and often ridiculous context to each fight. The moment Jax challenged Johnny Cage to a fight because he simply wouldn’t shut up is utterly brilliant. The best franchise reboots can keep the old fanbase happy while bringing in new players, and as a recent convert I can attest to Mortal Kombat doing exactly that.