Mortal Kombat X on PlayStation 4
It’s always interesting to see a video game series hit an installment that has double digits. Very few franchises make it to this milestone, and that’s even if you decide to count spin-off titles. But those that do manage to be somewhat of an oddity. What does it take to accomplish such longevity in the industry? An industry that is constantly seeing franchises die, studios close, and fans left wondering (and hoping) if another entry would ever be made. Is it adhering to core values that gives these franchises ever-lasting life, or is it a reinvention of everything that ushers these games into new generations? For Mortal Kombat X the answer seems to be both.
At its core, Mortal Kombat X is the same game that every other entry in the series always was. A roster of highly trained warriors duking it out in order to reach their goals. Whether they come from Earthrealm, Outworld, or the Netherrealm, everyone here is willing to fight to the very death in order to achieve what they set out to do. Mortal Kombat X sort of foregoes the entire tournament that is usually the basis for these games and instead opts of a story that still brings that familiar power struggle fans have come to love throughout the decades.
This time, Mortal Kombat X covers the span of decades in order to tell its story of triumph, failure, teamwork, and, once again, world-saving. On the surface it seems a bit cheesy, but there is a surprising amount of depth included in the narrative. Veteran Kombatants relive huge battles through flashbacks, as some of their children (yeah, you read that right) deal with the threats of the present using the lessons of the past. It’s an interesting method used to round out older characters, and inject some of the newer ones into the lore in a way that doesn’t seem tacked-on.
Even the arenas where you do battle have a bit of depth to them. It is still a fighting game on a 2 dimensional plane, but Mortal Kombat X uses the background to it’s fullest extent during battles. The Mortal Kombat series has always been known to have interesting things going on behind fights (Santa flying past the moon, anyone?), but it seems as if Netherrealm Studios took a few pages from their Injustice: Gods Among Us outing. Backgrounds in Mortal Kombat X are interactive. You can use surfaces as a springboard to get out of a tight corner, or throw an old woman at a rushing opponent (there’s a trophy for this one). It adds an extra layer of strategy to each fight. A layer that fits nicely over each fighter’s variations.
Mortal Kombat has dabbled with different stances and fighting styles for each fighter before. Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance allowed fighters to switch between three fighting stances on the fly during battle, but Mortal Kombat X takes a different, but welcome, approach. When you select a fighter, you are then presented the option between three fighting variations that have the potential to seriously alter how a fight plays out. For example, newcomer Ferra/Torr has two stances that use Ferra (the small female on Torr’s back) as a sort of weapon, but there is one that puts Ferra on the sidelines pretty much removing your ranged capabilities in exchange for increased power. It’s a surprisingly solid system that allows for more varied fights even if you just want to keep using the same fighter.
Although, using the same fighter all the time is doing yourself a serious disservice. There is a healthy attendance of fan-favorite classic fighters, but the new kombatants in this installment all bring something fresh to the table. The new fighters, of which most happen to be children or relatives to older ones, are sort of like evolutions of previous characters. Cassie Cage for instance is the daughter of Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage, and her combat style is a cross between the two. She is brutal when up close and personal, and even has some of her father’s shadow abilities, but at range she is quick to use her military training just like her mom. All of the new fighters bring something similar to the table, making Mortal Kombat X one of the freshest entries in the series – but the freshness doesn’t stop there.