Title: Mortal Kombat X
Platform: PC, PS4 (reviewed) and Xbox One
Developer: Nether Realm Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros
Release date: April 14th 2015 (Worldwide)
Family Focus: Click here for more information.
Mortal Kombat X picks up two years after Shao Kahn has been defeated once and for all. This is the perfect opportunity for Shinnok to resurface. The villain is back invading Earth Realm with his crew of warriors, including now “deceased” Earth Realm fighters and past tournament winner Liu Kang and Kung Lao who are now under the spell of Quan Chi. In order to stop Shinnok’s shenanigans, a strike team led by Hollywood pretty boy Johnny Cage distract Shinnok long enough for Raiden to grab the evil doer’s amulet in order to trap him inside it and stop this madness. This process allows Quan Chi to escape to live another day and carry on his evil plans. Fast forward to 20 twenty years later, thanks to the help of Kotal Kahn’s former right hand woman, D’Vorah, Quan Chi manages to free Shinnok from his prison.
First of all, let’s get this out of the way: Mortal Kombat X won’t convert new players, but it will keep longtime fans happy. Unlike other fighters such as Dead or Alive, where newcomers can button mash their way to victory, it won’t work here. Although Very Easy and Easy difficulty modes will open the doors to new players, anything else above will require a level of dedication in order to survive. However, returning players will feel right at home and be able to pick up where they left off with 2011’s Mortal Kombat.
Players can choose among the game’s 29 fighters. The roster mixes faces old and new, even throwing in a few existing fighters with a new twist. Each fighter has 3 different fighting styles which all have different attacks and styles. NetherRealm also brought back the brutal X-Ray attacks; which can be used to get out of a sticky situation. And obviously, at the game’s forefront are Fatalities and Brutalities.
Character wise, some classic characters, such as Baraka and Sindel, are missing from the roster and it’s puzzling knowing that you get to face them during Story mode. The aforementioned classic fighters would’ve made a better addition than Kotal Kahn (which is a slightly lesser annoying version of Shao Kahn) or Jacqui Briggs (which is basically a female version of Jax). Also my other problem is with the controversial upcoming downloadable characters. Paying $30 to access characters already on the disc, as proven by your interaction with them through Story Mode, is a pretty cheap move. Having the opportunity to unlock them via the Krypt would’ve been a nice touch.
Both on and offline, the game is jam-packed with content. Offline features a Story mode- albeit shorter than MK9- Single Fight, Tutorial, Practice and Towers. While both Story Mode and Single Fight are pretty self-explanatory, Tower Challenge is your standard MK experience where you climb up the proverbial ladder while taking on 10 opponents in a row, with the final opponent being the game’s end boss Shinnok. There’s also a “Test your luck” Tower where matches are peppered with random modifiers. Modifiers are basically “traps” during a match. It can either be your health is slowly being drained or missiles targeting both fighters. Although it adds a bit of challenge, it tends to be more annoying than anything else. Players looking to spend sometime playing MKX offline will find the content pretty thin and limited.
Online content, however, is where it gets interesting. Along with the traditional standard 1v1 match, it also features a few Tower modes with a twist. Living Towers features alternating towers where players can tackle various challenges, with each Tower featuring different combat modifiers to make things interesting or very frustrating. There’s also a Tower Challenge mode where you can take on a special Tower and once you’ve cleared it you can challenge one of your friends from your list.
The Living Towers are randomly generated towers on an hourly and daily basis along with a Premier tower that players can tackle for additional Koins. Each fight will feature different modifiers to make things a bit more challenging. Some fights will also feature special Challenges which, when completed during the bout, will grant a Koins bonus at the end of the match. Unfortunately, during my time with the game, it did happen on a few occasions where no Towers were available.
New to the Mortal Kombat franchise is the Faction mode. Seeing as you’re asked to join one of 5 factions once you begin your venture in the MK universe, everything accomplished online is tallied up and added to your Faction’s score in a global friendly competition. Through Faction mode, players have a few additional modes to tackle such as Invasion Boss, Invasion Tower and War Tower. Unfortunately, the availability of those modes is based on “random invasions” meaning they are available intermittently. This leaves a sour taste in my mouth as it feels like Mortal Kombat is an incomplete half-assed game. NetherRealm want players to invest, yet most modes aren’t available.
The Krypt is back! It lets you walk around a cemetery-like area where you can spend Koins to unlock things such as costumes, concept art, music tracks, fatalities and brutalities. Sadly, no characters can be unlocked through the Krypt. Nether Realm missed a huge opportunity with the Krypt here by not having hidden characters for players to unlock.
Although music and concept art piece are a nice little touch for die-hard Mortal Kombat fans, more casual players will find it disappointing having invested so much time playing the game only to be rewarded by music or concept art. Everytime I went roaming around in the Krypt, I was hoping to unlock Fatalities and Brutalities but each time I ended up being rewarded with a concept art or a music track, I felt cheated and bummed out.
And what would be a Mortal Kombat game without interactive environments? One such scenario is when a fighter is cornered; hitting the shoulder buttons will have the fighter leap from the wall and over the opponent to avoid being pummeled. Another scenario allows players to pick up an innocent bystander and throw it on his opponent. It is actually worth a few chuckles.
The game looks great and is a huge step up from 2011’s Mortal Kombat. Fatalities and the gruesome X-Ray moves look as intense as ever. Although, they are generated through cinematics instead of actual gameplay. Although differences can be subtle, when about to execute an X-Ray attack or Fatality, you’ll see the game switch from gameplay to cinematics; very noticeable and somewhat surprising.
The game suffers from minor glitches such as during story mode, when about to empty your opponent’s health bar (or having yours being emptied), the last hit will make the game freeze for about a second; signaling the end of the fight; which somewhat breaks the flow of the fight. Audio wise, the game’s score is pretty enjoyable but will be drowned out by the “ooffs” and “ahhs” from hitting and getting hit. It also is very forgettable.
PS4 owners lucky to also own a PSVita will enjoy the game’s Remote Play functionality. The stream/transition is smooth and flawless thanks to its new 60fps update. The only issue is the lack of additional triggers on the Vita, however X-Ray moves can be easily pulled off by tapping the top right and top left corner of the screen simultaneously.
Mortal Kombat X is a great fighter. Although it won’t fully convert newcomers, it is a bit more approachable than 2011’s iteration and will feel less punishing for those who want to dip their hands in the virtual world of Mortal Kombat while long time fans will be pleased and feel right at home. Despite that, MKX is one example of an incomplete game. Faction mode only appeared for me about three times in the week I’ve played the game and although Goro and Tanya were on disc, having to pay to play as them is a huge bummer. Additionally, while the Living Towers provide randomly generated challenges, hardcore players might find it pretty repetitive pretty quickly.
That being said, I strongly recommend Mortal Kombat X to long time fans only or hardcore fighting games fans looking for something new to master. It just feels like an unfinished game as often Living Towers and Faction Modes are not available. Once the Mortal Kombat X craze fades, it’ll basically be a half game.
What Rocks! :)
- Raiden’s X-Ray Move is electrifying
- Fatalities are back in a big way
- Enjoyable story mode
- Content filled Krypt
- Funny Arena Interactions
What Sucks :(
- God-damn QTEs
- No characters to unlock in the Krypt
- Some weak unimaginative fatalities
- Still not for the newcomers
- Combat can feel slow/sluggish
- Story mode is very short
- Having to wait/pay for new content is a bummer
Mortal Kombat X is rated M for Mature. Why? Well it’s obvious, but for the sake of clarifying things: Intense violence, blood and gore, partial nudity and strong language. Fatalities are extremely violent as they show beaten fighters ripped apart or torn to pieces; while X-Ray attacks show an opposing fighter’s insides being crushed.