Mortal Kombat X – Review
PC, PS4, Xbox One
The journey that is the Mortal Kombat series has been anything but smooth sailing. In fact it’s been one with many trials and tribulations. In the early days it seemed like the MK name was simply too big to fail with each new title bringing even more success. Sadly for Midway though it all came crashing down when series fatigue set in and budgets started shrinking, the result of course were sub-par titles that diminished the name ever further. All seemed lost when Midway went belly up and no news of further titles was anywhere to be seen.
Then, out of nowhere, Ed Boon and his cronies teased us with the 2011 Mortal Kombat release and further delivered a title that completely revitalised the series and gamers everywhere were treated with bone crunching fatalities and blood splattering to the awe of cheering crowds. Yes, MK was truly back and four years later the same team are bringing us a direct sequel that was almost sure to deliver.
The story shoots us forward and back over 25 years but initially picks up shortly where we left our heroes at the end of the 2011 reboot. Choosing such a time frame has clearly given the designers room to leverage in a bunch of new and wonderful characters, a welcome addition considering they could have easily stuck with the fan favourites and somehow tied them into the plot. The story itself revolves around the return of an evil Elder God, Shinnok, resurrected by Quan-Chi and his attack on Earthrealm with the ultimate goal of corrupting Earths essence, the Jinsei. During the story mode you’ll be introduced to the entire roster of 26 selectable characters (except Goro), their origins and their motives, although it’s not as long or good as the prequel, a lot of care and thought has gone into this mode, a feature severely lacking from so many fighters out there.
Can we speak about the characters a bit though? What’s truly remarkable is just how personalised each individual is. You would expect with a roster this big for a few similarities and monotony to seep into the character design, but many hours in, it’s readily apparent that everyone has their own unique feel and look. Jax is big and bulky and smashing people with his metal arms makes a satisfying *clunk* sound that is reminiscent of a metal pole smacking an elephants backside. Johnny Cage is the same wise cracking narcissist we all know and love and his daughter (Cassie) is a splitting image. If there’s a point to be made here, it’s that every time you pick a new character, the game feels like a new experience. For added depth, every character has your choice of three variations, and each drastically change the strategy and capabilities of your chosen character. This helps add a lot of diversity and longevity to the enjoyment of this title and the team behind it should be commended for it.
But how does this actually work as a fighter you may ask? Quite well, but you need to know exactly what you’re getting into here. There are a bunch of little improvements that have been added since MK9. Delayed or fast wake ups really mess with your opponents timing, juggles require more disciplined timing and combos are less straight forward than previous titles. Combo timing on the other hand is significantly different from the other fighters out there. A succession of buttons with identical timing will pull off a combo, however you’ll often find your inputs are ahead of your hit confirmation and sometimes it can feel like you’re button mashing your way to the next move before its even hit. The upside of this is that if people over commit with a combo and you block it, it gives you a lot of room to punish. The bad news of course is that it can happen to you just as easily. All the combos can be seen in the main menu, along with a feature that we’ve never seen before in a fighter … frame data! Before now, in order to get such information, you’d be required to venture online and find websites that are dedicated to providing said information. No longer is this needed and we hope that it’s a must have feature in every fighting game that gets released from this moment on … we’re looking at you Street Fighter 5.
There are various tower modes such as classic, endless and survival. Making a return again are match modifiers which aren’t meant to be taken seriously but offer some fun and often hilarious gameplay changes. Online net code is a mixed bag though and whilst we didn’t notice any terrible lag, it’s being widely reported that there is work that needs to be done on this and we’re hoping the developers are already trying to fix any issues.
On a sour note, you’ll notice some in game purchases that can be accessed from an in game store. For a set amount you can unlock all the Krypts in the game, a feat that otherwise requires a significant amount of ‘koins’ that are earned from playing the game. The worst purchase options however are the easy fatality tokens. For five dollars you can get 30 easy fatality tokens which allow the player to simply press block and one other button to pull off a fatality. When we first saw this we thought it was a joke, it seems so out of place and irrelevant we can only hope it was some stupid exec at the company who had a dummy spit and threatened to pull the games funding if it wasn’t included. None of this changes the game or makes it worse but it left a bad taste in our mouths, like eating a delicious five course meal only to be served a McDonald’s 30 cent ice-cream for desert.
The latest Mortal Kombat truly has something for everyone. There are enough changes and additions to keep it serious on the eSports scene; however it’s doubtful we’ll see it over taking Street Fighter 4 as the current king. There’s a significant amount of content here that will keep even the most dedicated gamer busy for weeks to come and it looks absolutely stunning. As well as the return of gruesome fatalities you can also perform a brutality when your opponent’s life bar is flashing and you land a specific special move. There’s so much icing on this cake it may as well be pure sugar. It’s a must buy for fighting fans and it is certainly worth considering for even the slightly curious gamers out there.