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Mortal Kombat X Review

From humble beginnings in the age of arcades to modern day gaming systems, Mortal Kombat has come far. Once seen as one of the best fighting games in existence, the series took a nasty turn for the worst with many mediocre and subpar releases over the past 2 decades. Thankfully, Mortal Kombat X seeks to change all that, and boy does it put up a spectacular fight.

Mortal Kombat X Review

introduction

When the original Mortal Kombat was released in 1992, it already gained a bad rep for the unprecedented violence and gore included in the game which resulted in it being banned in several countries. Luckily, that didn't deter the developers from adding more blood to every new release. Looking back at those pixelated red splatters, and it's hard to believe that they caused such a fuss. However, Mortal Kombat X takes things a few steps further and this time around the outrage might just be justified.

At its core though, Mortal Kombat X is still a simple arcade fighter, very much like the original. Gone are the 3D mechanics that made us hate so many games in the series. In Mortal Kombat X you'll enjoy all the gorgeous visuals that come with a 3D engine, but none of the gameplay drawbacks that made many of their games stumble.

NetherRealm Studios has pulled off quite the parlor trick here and in essence, this could well be the best Mortal Kombat game ever made.

kontent with a "k"

This portion of my review is slightly bittersweet. In one hand Mortal Kombat X comes with a fantastic array of amazing new content but on the other, it's also missing a lot, mostly old characters I've come to know and love.

First, let's look at what's included. NetherRealm Studios have seen fit to introduce a number of new characters to the roster. Kotal Kahn is the new ruler of Outworld and has been modeled to resemble a tribal leader from the ancient Mayans. Several of his henchmen have been included in the game too such as the gun-wielding Erron Black, the insect queen D'Vorah and the Troll/Goblin duo Ferra/Torr. On the human side, you'll find Cassie Cage, Jacqui Briggs, and Takeda, the children of Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade, Jax and Kenshi respectively. There's also Kung Jin, cousin to Kung Lao.

Mortal Kombat X Review. Sub Zero looking good, as always.

A few more new characters have joined the game in the form of Tanya, Tremor, Bo' Rai Cho and Triborg, the latter of which is supposed to be a combination of the old cyborgs, Sektor, Cyrax, and Smoke. Furthermore, you'll also find a few additions from other franchises such as Leatherface, Jason Voorhees and the Alien and Predator duo. However, as can be expected from modern day games, these last few are not included in the base game and can only be unlocked by purchasing additional DLC's.

Furthermore, there are 14 architectural beauties where you'll find yourself fighting to the death, ranging from a temple to a city in ruins to a marketplace in Outworld. You will also be able to unlock various additional content including alternate skins for the various players, concept art, soundtracks, and of course more Fatalities and Brutalities.

Now for the bitter aftertaste. An alarming number of beloved Mortal Kombat characters are not available, even as DLC, despite many of them making an appearance in the story mode. Some of the missing faces include Baraka, Kabal, Smoke, Sektor, Cyrax, Noob Saibot, Rain, Motaro, Nightwolf, Jade, Shang Tsung, and Sheeva. Sure, some of these characters were killed in past games but then again, so was Liu Kang, and he still managed to make the cut.

Finally, we come to the biggest sore spot for me. Mortal Kombat, despite its many faults, has some legendary trademarks. One of these is arguably the most iconic theme song ever created, and as you may have guessed, it does not make an appearance in Mortal Kombat X.

Mortal Kombat X Review. An epic fight between the Human Crocodile and Thor

Gameplay

In my early days of gaming, I owned a Sega Genesis Console with one of my all-time favorite games, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. I don't dare think how many hours I spent annihilating my opponents in those pixelated arenas, but I can tell you that it was some of the best times I had as a kid. Since then though, the Mortal Kombat series has struggled to live up to its legacy. I owned 2 more iterations of the series since, Mortal Kombat 4, the first in the series to incorporate 3D fighting and Mortal Kombat Armageddon on the PS2. After suffering dreadful disappointment at the hands both I'd all but given up on this previously incredible franchise.

Enter Mortal Kombat X… Simply put, Mortal Kombat X clawed its way out of the deep dark hole its predecessors dug. This is an arcade fighting game in its purest form and it can definitely fist it out with the best out there.

With the exception of Kotal Kahn, whom I found a little difficult to get used to, every character I tried was a breeze to play and whenever I chose someone new I was cracking spines with surprising ease in no time. The majority of the moves at your disposal are incredibly easy to perform and for the hardcore fighter, there are also some additional techniques that will take many hours of vigorous button mashing to master. In addition, each character has 3 fight modes that come with their own abilities which makes taming each of them even more of a conquest.

Let's face it, Mortal Kombat can be a great fighting game, but there's only 1 real reason you'll play this instead of Street Fighter, the Fatalities. In all my years of playing the series, I never managed to perform any of the iconic finishing moves hidden in the game. This time though, you have a list of "easy fatalities" which can be performed by pressing only 2 buttons. You still have your more complicated finishing moves in the form of additional fatalities as well as brutalities but these will need to be unlocked in the Krypt which we'll get to in a bit. However, while the easy fatalities are simple to perform, they do cost you a token, more of which you also unlock in the Krypt.

But for those who can't be bothered to put in the effort of unlocking all of those, feast your eyes on the below video which includes all the finishing moves in Mortal Kombat X. Just remember, once seen, it cannot be unseen.

mk:x all finishers

Game Modes

Story

Mortal Kombat has never been known for its storytelling. Early games had just enough of a backstory to make an Asian man with a mullet kicking away at a yellow ninja seem like a plausible scenario, and the storylines that evolved from there were didn't help matters. And let's not forget those two monstrosities that slithered out of the dark corners of a Hollywood latrine in the 90's.

Mortal Kombat X has continued this trend by torturing us with a shoddy story, bad voice acting, and cringe-worthy dialog. Lines like "Our gratitude is wide like the ocean" is just one of many that had me bury my face in my hands.

Without giving away too much, the story revolves around the elder god Shinnok who, with the help of the sorcerer Quan Chi, escaped after being imprisoned by the rest of the elder gods and is now out for revenge. Obviously, the elder gods can't intervene, because that'd just be too easy, so it's up to the old gang to save the day again. Only, our heroes aren't up to it anymore. Johny Cage and Sonya Blade are too old, Jax, Kitana and Kung Lao have been corrupted by the forces of evil and now fight for the dark side, and Liu Kang… Well, he's dead, at least he used to be, but now he's back and fighting for Shinnok too. I really don't know.

Mortal Kombat X Review. The story is just interesting enough to keep you from skipping the cut scenes.

Anyway, it's up to the new generation of earth's heroes to take up the gauntlet. And so we meet Cassie Cage, Jacqui Briggs, Kung Jin and Takeda. Ultimately, it feels like the developers created these new heroes from Earth Realm just so they could replace the previous generation with younger versions of themselves without feeling too guilty. Admittedly, Takeda is a rather spectacular character and while the others play very well, I do feel that this avenue was just an easy way out for the writing department.

In addition, the story mode gives you just enough time with each character to learn their basic moves before switching to someone else, and you cannot even perform fatalities. I forced myself through the story mode but I was all too happy to be done with it.

Towers

This is the classic Mortal Kombat we know and love. Select your fighter and work your way up a tower of opponents, leaving a trail of blood in your wake. If you manage to defeat them all, you are treated to a short payoff animation for each character.

There are various towers available.

  • Klassic – Don't mess with a winning formula.
  • Test your luck – Similar to Klassic but adds randomized gameplay modifiers.
  • Test your might – Break a random set of objects.
  • Endless – Keep going until you lose.
  • Survivor – Similar to Endless, but your health bar carries over to the next match.
There are also living towers which are updated periodically as well as tower challenges you can set up yourself and challenge your friends with. 

Mortal Kombat X Review. Conquer the tower to reign supreme.

Multiplayer

At the start of your journey, you are tasked with selecting one of 5 online factions to represent. Each victory earns points towards your faction which helps them win seasons. This doesn't limit your character selection or provide you with any unique content making it seem that this all has the same sort of relevance as the Hogwarts House Cup.

The 5 factions are as follows:

  • Lin Kuei (Leader: Sub Zero)
  • White Lotus (Leader: Raiden)
  • Special Forces (Leader: Johnny Cage)
  • Black Dragon (Leader: Kano)
  • Brotherhood of Shadows (Leader: Quan Chi).
Additionally, there is the King of the Hill which is a social training mode where you can chat with other players online, fight and even rate performances.

Krypt

The Krypt is not so much a game mode as it is a colorful way of unlocking the game's hidden content. Here you walk around a graveyard and various caves and unlock content by breaking gravestones or spiderwebs. Each bit of content you unlock costs a number of gold "koins" which you earn by winning matches. The cost of each unlock gives you an idea of what's inside but you never really know until the prize is revealed, making the Krypt kind of like a box of chocolates.

Mortal Kombat X Review. Just one of the many artworks to be unlocked

Design

It needs to be noted that the designers at NetherRealm Studios have done an exceptional job, mostly. The arenas are truly breathtaking, despite the usual gloomy setting you'd expect from a game such as this. Most of the characters were also done beautifully and they've even managed to get rid of the old copy/paste mentality we saw with so many of the old games. A good example is the comparison between the color-coded ninjas like Scorpion, Sub Zero, Ermac, and Reptile you can see below.

Mortal Kombat X Review

Each character also has various costumes available which can be unlocked, and while this adds no variation to gameplay, they are a treat to behold. During play, you will often be treated to some x-ray shots of you or your opponent's bones breaking when certain moves are performed. 

Mortal Kombat X Review

And once again I have to complain. I've already mentioned that the voice acting in the story mode was not stellar but the visual department also made some errors. While some of the character models were absolutely stunning, others such as Sonya, Cassie, Jacqui, and Raiden had forms which were dull and uninspiring. Those that were good, were really good but it's tragic that the same level of detail wasn't persisted among all models.

conclusion

In the introduction of this article, I said that Mortal Kombat X could be the best Mortal Kombat game ever made. I was wrong. It is without a doubt the best Mortal Kombat ever made. And more than that, it is one of the very best fighting games I've ever played.
It's is not without its flaws, however. The incredible number of missing characters is tragic and the fact that so many of those which have been included require an additional purchase infuriates me to no end. And where in all of Earth Realm is that theme song? The story was bad too, but honestly, I never expected that part of the game to excel so it wasn't much of a disappointment.
However, once I get down to what this game really is, I can't help but love it. The good parts are really good and they do enough to overshadow the negative. Looking past everything else, this game is a blast to play, and that's all that really matters.

Perhaps not a "Flawless Victory", but it's close.

PROSCONS
  • Outstanding gameplay
  • Stunning visuals
  • Interesting new characters
  • Fantastically gory
  • Fatalities!
  • So many missing characters
  • No Mortal Kombat theme song
  • Bland story mode
  • So many character DLC's
8
Great

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