Let’s get one thing out of the way: Mortal Kombat is an ultra violent fighter that is unrivalled when it comes to its over-the-top gore and violence. NetherRealm Studios handles this violence in such a way that you can’t fail but be impressed with the creative yet disturbing ways that the series puts such awesome power into player’s hands, enabling them to finish off opponents with style and leave them a bloody, gory mess.
Mortal Kombat’s visceral finishers have always been a staple of the series but given the power of current gen hardware, they have never looked so real than in Mortal Kombat X. The graphics do a good job of showing off better lighting, particle effects and texture models that are a rise above what we’ve seen in Mortal Kombat 9.
Beads of sweat trickle down your selected character, cloth and clothing physics are top notch, and the backgrounds are nothing short of amazing. Mortal Kombat X also takes a page out of Injustice Gods Among Us book as backgrounds are now interactable. Characters can spring off walls to avoid being cornered or even – during one particular stage – hurl a poor lady towards your opponent as a human projectile. That said, it would be nice to see more of these gorgeous backdrops as there are only 13 stages to fight within.
Also missing are the beloved stage fatalities which have seen the cutting room floor it seems. However, there is no shortage on how to end opponents. With two fatalities per fighter and many brutalities, which require you to perform certain tasks to achieve them and faction kills (which we’lll cover shortly), there is definitely no shortage on how to have your opponent meet their untimely demise. And, with a silky smooth 1080p, 60fps, Kombat feels quicker and more responsive which will definitely appeal to hardcore fighting fans that rely on solid framerates to pull off their crazy combos.
What impressed me the most about this game is how intricate and entertaining its story mode is. Mortal kombat X’s story takes place after the events of Mortal Kombat 9 and spans 25 years into the future, allowing for new characters to be showcased as well as highlighting some franchise favourites like Johnny Cage, Scorpion and Sub-zero. It’s cool to see these long time franchise leaders with a few years under their belt. Considering the timeline, new fresh faces like Cassie Cage, Jacqueline Briggs and Takashi Takeda take center stage as the offspring of some of our longtime favourites. Characters like Devorah; an insect like fighter with tentacles for weapons and Ferra/Torr; a bulking brute with a loud mouth lady on his back, are welcome additions to the roster as well.
NetherRealm has gone out of its way to tell a coherent, entertaining story that is unheard of in the fighting games genre. Mortal Kombat X’s story is a love letter to fans of the franchise but also a great experience for newcomers of the series too. The story lasts close to 4-5 hours and will allow you to be invested and care for the fighters you would have otherwise had no attachment to.
Mortal Kombat X’s most defining feature are its character variations. Each fighter this time around has three variations you can choose from. Each unique variation comes with its own move set and visual differentiation to set them apart. Opponents can now choose which variation best suits their play style. One particular variation of a character may bode well against another opponent’s chosen variation. It gives these characters depth and allows for strategic decisions to be made right from the character select screen.
What you will notice when you first boot up the game, is that you will be asked to join a faction. There are five distinct factions to choose from: The Lin Kuei, The Brotherhood of Shadow, Special Forces, The White Lotus Society and The Black Dragon. When you choose a faction, your goal is to gain points for your particular club in order to claim supremacy over rival factions.You gain faction points in all areas of the game. Doing so, allows you to unlock special goodies such as online banners and icons and also the ability to unlock the all new faction kills which are specific fatalities pertaining to each faction. Towards the end of each week, a faction will be crowned champion and bragging rights will undoubtedly ensue. I personally chose the White Lotus Society as I want to fight for a noble faction representing noble causes. It’s definitely a neat addition to the game and it increases that competitive spirit and makes you eager to want to rank up amongst your peers.
The towers are an upgrade from Mortal Kombat 9’s challenge tower. Players can now choose different towers dedicated to different things such as the ‘test your might’ tower, which is an homage to Mortal Kombat’s earlier games. The ‘test your luck’ towers, which have fighters battling each other while different random modifiers are also at play, with rockets randomly firing, no jumping, disabled X-rays, etc… I found this tower to be the most fun because of the amount of modifiers activated at one given time. This causes utter mayhem during matches and it makes everything so unpredictable. There’s the ‘endless tower’ which pits you against endless opponents to see how far you can go, and also the ‘survivor tower’ which causes your health bar not to regenerate between opponents to see how long you can survive. The ‘Klassic tower’ is for those looking for traditional kombat and wanting to climb the tower to reach the final boss and seeing the ending of a character’s specific story. The most interesting of all, are the ‘living towers’ which are updated with challenges daily and even hourly. These specific towers increase the replay value of the game dramatically as they will constantly be offering new and exciting challenges for players.
The online modes seem similar to MK’s last outing with one vs one modes and king of the hill, but surprisingly the tag mode is omitted this time around. A surprising omission, but considering the sheer amount of content within the game it was only noticed once while exploring the online options. The net code seems to have been improved upon from previous games but still isn’t completely where it should be, at least not yet. Matches started off smoothly enough but around 25% of matches showed signs of stuttering and lag. Considering the game was just released, this could be something minor due to the influx of players online…hopefully.
The Krypt has made a welcome return as well. Players can use "kurrency" obtained from the game to open up tombs and unlock extra content such as fatalities, character skins and concept art. This time around, a few jump scares occur while navigating as enemies pop out of nowhere prompting a quick time event which grants more kurrency when completed successfully. The Krypt may not be as large as previous games but it’s nice to see its return as completionists and fans alike will enjoy unlocking it’s secret treasures.
NetherRealm seems to have done the impossible by improving upon 2011’s fantastic reboot Mortal Kombat and making an already great game even greater. The amount of care and precision that has gone into making this game should be commended. With some nitpicking issues such as fewer stages, no stage fatalities and lack of a tag mode, these are minor annoyances in the shadow of a truly great game and one that you should definitely not miss. Mortal Kombat X is a game that should appeal to many with its robust story mode, character variations, routinely updated challenges and unlockables. Oh, and let’s let’s not forget the awesome DLC on the horizon consisting of Jason Vorhees, Tremor, Tanya and Predator!
Congratulations NetherRealm, you have most likely created 2015’s fighting game of the year.