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The evolution of Shang Tsung and Reptile

Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe (2008)

Above: That’s not Reptile on the right, but he’s green, so eh

When the Mortal Kombat characters teamed with DC’s stable of superheroes for a T-rated punchfest, it was Reptile’s turn to sit one out while his former master went toe-to-toe with the likes of Batman and Captain Marvel. With a new look that was sort of an amalgam of his MK3 and Deadly Alliance appearances, Shang Tsung turned out to be pretty well adapted to MKvsDCU’s more streamlined, combo-heavy action. He still couldn’t transform into other characters – not during regular combat, anyway – but he did return with a few new moves.

In addition to his old fireballs and the Soul Steal, he could now blast a jet of fire into the air…

… which would then come crashing down on his opponent’s head, sort of like Sub-Zero’s ice-geyser move from MK3.

Additionally, he packed a slide move that would enable him – once his opponent was knocked over – to launch them skyward with a well-placed kick.

In the interest of confusing opponents (or just dodging their attacks), he also had a long-overdue teleport move, which let him slip behind them with just enough time to punch the backs of their heads.

What’s a little strange, however, is that Tsung actually had two teleport moves. In addition to the aforementioned “Hot Escape,” he could switch bodies – or, more accurately, positions – with his opponent.

Above: Well, that accomplished a lot. It probably would have accomplished more if we’d actually had temporary control of Green Lantern when it was over

Fatality-wise, Tsung’s status as a soul-stealing wizard gave the developers license to create some (relatively) kid-friendly Fatalities, like the one where he strangles the souls out of his opponent before stomping on his or her back…

Or, more interestingly, turns into his opponent before stealing their souls.

Above: Man, why couldn’t we have done this during the fight?

Mortal Kombat (2011)

At last, we’re at the final entry – as well as full-circle back to the beginning. In rebooting the franchise, the new Mortal Kombat gives us two varieties of Shang Tsung – a slightly younger and more vital version of the old man from the first tournament, and a revamped younger version who’s similar to the one seen in Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe. He seems to have kept a lot of his moves from MK3, and while he can’t transform into every character again, his Soul Steal now allows him to temporarily take on the form of his opponent, which seems like an acceptable compromise.

Reptile, meanwhile, has gotten a complete redesign once again, this time taking into account both his reptilian species and his hidden-ninja origins. He’s smaller and faster than before, and carries himself like he did in his crouching, scuttling MK4 incarnation.

Also, in sharp contrast to his original appearance, there’s nothing particularly secretive about his participation in the first MK tournament this time around – in fact, he’s one of the first fighters called to face players at the beginning of the new MK’s story mode. As for how he and Shang Tsung will actually play, well, we’ll find out when the game ships next week.

Apr 14, 2011

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After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.