For decades, developers have been figuring out how to make their 2D images look 3D. But when the new Mortal Kombat arrives, PS3 owners may experience the series' return to its 2D roots, supported with genuine 3D tech.
Ed Boon, co-creator of the franchise, recently told Eurogamer TV that "We've been working on stereoscopic 3D, getting the game to work with the layers that makes 3D look so great, and so far the video that we've gotten is really impressive."
Introducing 3D technology will require double the framerate of what is already a faster paced version of the Mortal Kombat series. With more speed, more intricate combos, and a robust online system, MK9 may well be the first of its kind to be taken seriously amongst competitive circles.
While the entire game will be presented in 2D, everything will be rendered in 3D - from the more obvious elements necessary for combat, to the more trivial things, such as warriors taking on a beast in the background.
In addition to that strain on hardware, Executive Producer Shaun Himmerick recently told us that one of the larger challenges has been "trying to model the entire body inside as well as the tag team feature."
MK9's most powerful move, the X-ray attack, shows the internal damage being done during a brutal combo. With unique insides for characters (Reptile, Sektor), additional players in tag-team mode, and the X-ray attack able to be pulled off whenever enough power is available, a lot needs to be ready to go at any time.
"Our guys have done a lot of amazing tricks with loading and swapping back and forth, and tricks with the memory that I couldn't possibly explain," says Himmerick.
So with MK9 doing so much new already, why the decision to introduce 3D technology mid-development, and how much could it really benefit a 2D game? Continuing his interview with Eurogamer TV, Boon says "It's a lot more immersive. You really feel like you're inside the fight more. With our fighting we have a lot more of a 2D fighting field, but the 3D visuals really complements that a lot."
Mortal Kombat 9 will be out on PS3 and 360 in 2011, but NetherRealm Studios is only working on 3D for the PS3 version. What do you think - should this feature be a high priority? With computer-generated graphics manipulating the layers, 3D gaming can be more impressive than 3D TV.
But having seen Mortal Kombat 9 played, gameplay rarely interacts with the foreground or background, aside from fatalities, or kicking downed players into the background in a tag-team match. How much of a good thing can this be?