Review by Ollie The Magic Bum
The very first Mortal Kombat absolutely blew my mind when I first played it in the arcade. The sight of the iconic Sub Zero spine rip was unheard of at the time. Each punch and kick you landed on your opponent sent puddles of blood flying in every direction. Flash forward almost 25 years, and we have a character literally eating the opponents organs and another character putting out a lit cigar on an opponent's snapped throat. Suddenly Sub Zero ripping out someone's spine seems incredibly tame...
Mortal Kombat X is the first in the series on the new generation of consoles. It's a 2D fighter, following in the footsteps of the reboot of the series on Xbox 360. I personally prefer the 2D style to the 3D style several Mortal Kombat games employed in the PS2 era. Mortal Kombat never worked as well in a three dimensional environment. Some actually argue that the 3D games were low points in the series. The controls are very smooth and responsive. I felt that the previous game in the series felt clunky, but this one feels very much the opposite. Combos are much easier to sustain as well.
MKX has a good amount of characters to choose from. Most of the fan favorites of the series return, but a few notable characters didn't make the cut, most notably Noob Saibot, Smoke, and Jade. The characters introduced in this iteration of Mortal Kombat are all interesting and have compelling backstories. They don't feel rushed or out of place at all. One thing that is disappointing about them is that they generally only have one extra costume, while other characters have three or more. Each character has three variations, each offering certain unique strengths and special moves. The problem with this is that some of the variations are clearly superior to the others, often rendering 2/3 choices useless or completely impractical. It's a nice idea to make it seem like there's more characters than there really is, but it doesn't feel especially polished.
The story mode of Mortal Kombat X is really nothing to write home about. Following in the footsteps of previous games, the story can get convoluted and hard to follow. There's really nothing to say about the story: NeatherRealm didn't exactly reinvent the wheel when creating it. They did add some QTEs in the cutscenes to give you a sense of more control over the story, but the consequences are minute and really don't have much bearing on anything aside from some unlockable Kombat Kard (your in-game profile badge) icons and backgrounds. All in all, it's an average offering.
Fatalities are obviously back, and this time they're more brutal than ever. Also returning are Brutalities, but not in the way they were in previous installments. They're now special moves that when used to finish the fight, act as mini Fatalities. It's a great way to finish your opponent off and prevents the game from getting stale. Faction Kills are also a new feature. Think of them as the lite version of Fatalities. Each faction in the game has several faction kills associated with them, each unlocked as you level up your profile by winning fights. Quitalities are the final new match-ending feature, designed to embarrass jackasses online that quit the match early. To sum it up, if you quit, your head explodes. Hilarious and to the point.
Tower challenges offer players more of a classic Mortal Kombat feel. There are several variations of them. The first of them is the classic tower. It gives you 10 opponents, ending with Goro and Shinnok. It's in the same style of the arcade modes we've been accustomed to in the older games. Endless tower is just that: an endless challenge, at least until you lose. Survivor tower is the same thing, except you don't regenerate health inbetween fights. Living tower challenges are a new feature. An hourly, daily, and weekly challenge are offered. The weekly challenge unlocks special Kombat Kard content and generally is themed around a character. The hourly and daily challenges generally have modifiers on them (such as missiles raining down from the sky or the entire screen being flipped upside down), making them more interesting or difficult to complete.
The Krypt makes a return as well, becoming more interactive in Mortal Kombat X. It is where you spend your Koins, which are amassed by winning fights and completing certain challenges in game. You navigate through the Krpyt in a first person view, giving it a much different vibe than the rest of the game. Several small puzzles must be solved to unlock all areas of the Krpyt. They're nothing difficult, but they do tie in the character's special abilities to what's in essence a mini game very well. The most annoying thing about this mode is the jump scares that await you randomly.
The online portion of MKX is the meat and potatoes of the game. You're offered the choices of both ranked and player (unranked) matches. Whether playing ranked or unranked, the game types are pretty much the same. King of the Hill is my personal favorite mode to play with. The one drawback of online play is the shaky netcode. Some matches play very fluidly, while others are beyond unplayable. The matchmaking leaves a bit to be desired as well. I'm very often matched up with players I have no hope of competing with. Either they didn't take into consideration any sort of skill-based matchmaking or the feature is just broken. It's not a deal breaker since you can always back out, but it does suck that it negatively effects your record.
Mortal Kombat X is a great game and a refreshing take on the series. Graphically, it hasn't ever looked better. It feels more like the classic games, but is deep and plays like a modern game. For fighting game fans, it's a definitely a game to check out.
Product Release: Mortal Kombat X (US, 04/14/15)
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