Mortal Kombat X Review
MKX is bringing the fight.
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.
The fights themselves seemed to have been refined as well. Aside from the added depth from different character variations, and background interaction, Mortal Kombat X feels like a tighter game. Fans of “button-mashing” may want to think twice since everything is much more precise this time around. Timing for combos leaves no room for errors and animations for attacks are less instant, requiring players to really think twice before spamming a move. Every element, from punches to kicks to grabs, feels more realistically weighted (despite the over the top violence) adding a nice crunch to combat. The vibration you feel when landing a punch right into the jaw of an opponent is visceral, and quite enjoyable.
And just as important as the feeling of Mortal Kombat X is its look. This is clearly the most beautiful entry in the Mortal Kombat series yet – and not just because this one made it’s way to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, either. New designs for each character and their different variations are stunning. So too are the affects caused by each of their attacks and the backgrounds. It’s easy to get lost in how the snow falls off of trees as you’re getting beaten to a bloody pulp. Or how your brain falls out of your skull after watching Scorpion cut off the entire front section of your head. I mean, sure, you just got your ass kicked – but didn’t it look great?
The beauty of Mortal Kombat X really shines when you enter the Krypt. There is such an immense attention to detail in a section of the game that actually equates to nothing more than an unlock store. Players navigate Mortal Kombat X‘s Krypt in first person as they explore and open up different areas as well as some sweet in-game unlocks. Every gravestone, corpse, and surface is beautifully rendered. I often found myself just standing still and simply looking up at the sky, marveling at the amount of work they put into this one part of the game that didn’t really require it. That was until one of the Krypt’s random beasts attacked. It was a splendid experience.
To top it all off are the sheer abundance of options presented to players by Mortal Kombat X. Theres the story mode, a variety of different towers for those looking for a bit of Mortal Kombat nostalgia, training, and several different versus modes for fans to partake in. For those who desire to be a part of something much larger, Mortal Kombat X has Factions.
These Factions are a way to contribute to the overall community of Mortal Kombat X. Join a faction, then every little thing you do contributes to your Faction reputation and the Faction as a whole. At the end of a set period one of the five factions is crowned the winner and then it all starts up again. It’s a pretty cool element that will have players constantly checking leaderboards as they vie for that top position in not only their very own Faction, but in all of Mortal Kombat X.
There is one minor complaint that can be levied against Mortal Kombat X. There aren’t really any unlockable characters, which is sort of a shame. Especially since you fight a handful of classic Mortal Kombat characters whom you have no way of unlocking. Yes, the game does offer a roster of 24 fighters out the gate (25 if you got Goro), but it’s a bit saddening to see fan favorites on screen but be completely unable to use them. But this one sour note isn’t enough to tarnish how great Mortal Kombat X is.
The combination of sticking to the core values of the Mortal Kombat franchise, while also adding just the right amount of new makes this latest entry more than worthwhile. Mortal Kombat X shows just why this series has managed to stand the test of time as one of the premier fighting franchises available. It does a great job of not relying to much on nostalgia, and giving plenty of new while still remaining recognizable. The only question left to ask is:
If you’re picking up MKX, check out our useful Wiki for some handy tips, tricks and guides.