NetherRealm showed off Shang Tsung, the first DLC character for fighting game Mortal Kombat 11 – and he’s fantastic fan-service.
The evil sorcerer has a few fantastic costumes. First up he appears in young Shang Tsung form. Brilliantly, he has an old man costume, too. This skin harkens back to Shang Tsung as he appeared in the first Mortal Kombat game, all those years ago.
And finally, Shang Tsung has a skin that makes him look like how he appeared in the wonderful Mortal Kombat movie from the 90s. Of course, Shang Tsung in Mortal Kombat 11 is played by Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, the actor who played him in the movie, and a wonderful job he does too of reprising the villainous soul-stealing boss.
The skins, then, are fantastic fan service. But his moves make him standout as a unique character when it comes to playstyle, too.
Shang Tsung, whose snake stance is a nod to Mortal Kombat 3, can fling fast-moving skulls as a projectile, as you’d expect. Ground skulls are back, and look great for space control.
Transformation plays a big part of Shang Tsung’s gameplay. In the It Has Begun! variation, he can transform into Ermac and use his lift move. Here, you can transform into Reptile for a great slide. Shang Tsung can also use a scroll to cast a firewall, which he can place in front or behind his opponent. If it’s amplified, it’ll start moving towards his opponent.
Other abilities of note:
Shang Tsung’s forward throw only does 100 damage, but it grants him 40 points of life back.
Soul Steal sees Shang Tsung morph into his opponent for about six seconds (amplify for more time). This means he has access to 10 Crushing Blows, twice as many as any other character. The downside is if he does one of his opponent’s crushing blows, it’ll do 50 per cent less damage. And you still need to meet the requirements of the crushing blow to use it.
Corpse Drop sees Shang Tsung call in a bloated corpse to fall on top of his opponent. Amplify it to explode the corpse as a low hit with massive radius and big damage. This is great for zoning.
Shang Tsung can transform into Smoke to absorb and punish a projectile. If you amplify the transformation move, it absorbs normals. Do this twice for a crushing blow.
He can transform into Rain to do his Round the World kick from Mortal Kombat Trilogy. This kicks his opponent off screen, then they come back the other side of the arena (according to the lore, they’ve literally gone around the world). Shang Tsung can’t combo off this unless it’s amplified. It also has a crushing blow – the requirement is to cancel it then hit with it right after.
Soul Warp does a little bit of damage as Shang Tsung swaps places with his opponent. The obvious set up would be to use it to get out of the corner.
Oh, and here’s Shang Tsung’s second fatality. Spoilers: it’s not for the faint of heart.
Overall, Shang Tsung looks like a great space control and zoning character – up there with Cetrion, according to NetherRealm. He doesn’t have great mixups or combos, but can keep out with the best of them, and his interesting traps mean he’ll probably be a lot of fun to play.
And, well, just look at those skins!