Title: Mortal Kombat X
Platform: Steam, Windows, PS4, Xbox One

Reviewed on: Windows
Genre: Fighter
Players: Single player, Versus


Written by Whistler 4th May 2015


















Breaking necks, cracking skulls and crushing arteries; ever since the golden era of arcades these terms ran synonymously with the progenitor of the ESRB rating itself, Mortal Kombat.

While the gameplay was half decent it was the graphic ultra violence that earned MK its spotlight amongst the elites of the fighting game genre, however after the series’ reboot in 2011 it then went on to add great story telling to its list of achievements. Mortal Kombat 9’s reimagining not only cleaned up what had become a convoluted universe but gave us an intense and engaging plot that actually gave us a reason to play the single player storyline. So much so that I can’t help but feel disappointed with Netherrealm studios’ latest addition to the brutally cacophonic franchise.


Following on from Mortal Kombat 9 after the dust settles between Earthrealm and Outworld an old evil has begun to seep back into the realms in the form of fallen elder god Shinnok, who with the help of the necromancer Quan Chi and his band of formerly dead warriors attempt to retake Earthrealm.

Spanning through several perspectives including veteran ninjas Sub Zero and Scorpion, the thunder god Raiden as well as a surprisingly numerous amount of new faces like Kung Jin, Takahashi Takeda, D’Vorah and Kotal Kahn. While the story has it’s shining moments like Sub Zero and Scorpion’s reunion or Raiden’s one man army moment, however so many other scenes are the epitome of hideously bad writing and flat voice acting. While Mortal Kombat has been known for playing tongue and cheek with its stories, MKX’s story just comes off as lack lustre with some of the most cringe worthy attempts at character. The plot even sees parental issues and a romance so ham-fistedly shovelled in that I almost wanted to just put down the story mode permanently.





























Attributing to this is a collection of what I feel to be some rather odd choices.

This time around there are only twelve chapters as opposed to MK9’s seventeen which coupled with the substantial amount of fresh faces means character development is severely hampered.

Loose ends from the previous story have been just left up to our imaginations such as the end of the Lin Kuei cyborg ninjas or how some warriors under Quan Chi’s control came back like Jax or even the infamous Scorpion while others stay just to keep the bad to good guy ratio balanced. This also means we get nowhere near as much interesting depth into our new fighters such as the new ruler of Outworld, Kotal Kahn or the enigmatic gunslinger Erron Black. Likewise the majority of our veterans are reduced to mere footnotes like Liu Kang and Kung Lao or are rendered non playable fighters such as Baraka, Tanya and Rain.

The credits roll all to soon sadly (an estimated 3-4 hours as opposed to MK9’s 6-7), and too often are the young Kombatants either in the right place at the right time or they steam roll whatever they fight against eventually just makes the big fights seems so trivial.


While this might come off as ‘things were better in the good old days’ I can’t help but feel Mortal Kombat X loses the paintjob that makes MK what it is. Other returning characters like Sony Blade and Jonny Cage have been rendered into the dullest looking characters I’ve seen in a fighting game. Both of them just come across as generic soldiers that while tying into their character roles this time around just feels so underwhelming. This rings true for a bunch of the fighters new to the roster as well, Cassie Cage, Jacqui Briggs and even Takeda Takahashi just exhort utterly plain and dull design both in their physical appearances and personalities thanks to their corny dialogue and uninteresting soldier garbs.


Whether you agree or disagree with the character designs though it is unarguable that the leap into the next gen era for MK was not taken lightly. All fighters and arenas brandish some fantastic visual updates along with highly detailed textures accompanied by gloriously smooth frame rates, at times.

MKX boasts some graphical prowess and the tiny details etch into each fighter are certainly noteworthy.
However I found it odd that the blood seems so toned down for an entry into one of the bloodiest fighters in existence and the sweat effects just do not help the presentation when it makes the fighters look like they’ve been covered in bubbles (I pray for modders to hopefully fix this).





























The visuals are also hampered by one glaring issues, that the PC port was seemingly spearheaded by the QA testers from GTA IV’s PC team as with PC there are constant fps issues coupled with severely reoccurring crashes. You could almost play a drinking game with the amount of noticeable issues like screen tearing, fps drops during Xray moves and crashes suffered during my time with MKX.

Online’s just as bad if not a worse state of affairs with netcode using whatever it was EA’s Simcity was running with at launch.


Should you actually get a match without lag or resign yourself to local play you will say some considerate improvement over its predecessors in terms of mechanical and technical quality. Fights are faster, combos are easy enough to understand whilst challenging to master and moves are satisfying to pull off.

Building off of its predecessor MK9 and cousin Injustice: Gods Among Us, MKX sees the return of relatively basic to skilfully timing combos coupled with what was MK9’s trademark X ray moves as part of the three part super meter. Everything that’s to be expected is here, a third of the super can be used as the stock standard combo breaker, potentially ruining your foes punishing combo and saving those last few chips of vitality. Two third can be used to pull off a EX version of the fighter’s special moves  and the full bar to execute the aforementioned X ray, akin to Super Moves from other titan’s in the fighting genre, a short sequence of attacks showing as you can surmise from the name zooms in on pivotal moments of the assault to show every bone crunching and organ snapping moment up close revealing once intact insides that can deal a hefty amount of damage depending on the fighter as well as bringing back a close defeat into a sudden victory.


First seen in Injustice, environmental interactions have been introduced into the Mortal Kombat arena with giant tree branches to smack your foe with, oddly placed walls for showing them up real close or even old folks to get acquainted with along with objects to jump off of for a hasty retreat from the dreaded corners.

A new mechanic though is the run system, while still retaining the dash mechanic players can now make a speedy sprint into their foes faces to continue the punishment however I did find it to be a little haphazard at times. The fighting roster this time around as already mentioned has seen a major metamorphosis especially for a fighting game seeing a total roster of 25 including a story mode locked Shinnok and DLC Goro with Jason Voorhees, Tanya, Tremor and the Predator as confirmed DLC to come.

What’s interesting is that while the roster has at the moment seen a slight downsize it’s also seen the most changes with eight of these consisting of the newcomers with a nice amount of variety.
Each of both old and new fighters have also seen an interesting twist on the interchangeable martial arts styles from the days of Deception in the form of variations.


Each fighter has the choice between three variations during the character selection each offering a different style of play for each fighter to help find one more suitable both for those who examine frames and those who just want to see some blood and guts. Variations can see changes such as seen in Scorpion’s arsenal where with Ninjutsu gaining Scorpion his dual katanas or Hellfire offering a range of pyromancy and Inferno with the ability to summon a hellish minion.

It’s a nice way of injecting counter-play while still letting players play their favourite warrior, though in some cases how the special moves are divvied up between variations often feels restrictive on the combat and some variations are feel far more powerful over others.





























Of course Mortal Kombat signature Fatalities are still present (let’s face it, it wouldn’t be MK without them) with some truly fine gory finishers to boot that with the more realistic style MKX has aimed for makes for plenty of those fantastic wincing moments.

Some fatalities like Meleena’s where she tears her victim in two and feasts on their still living entrails or where Ermac crunches his foe into a ball to then pull out their fleshy insides are certainly interesting but overall there are some real let down’s like Liu Kang’s throat ripping or how Kotal Kahn just tears out his foes heart and crushes it and even Sub Zero’s lack that nasty impact or lasting impression.


Besides the standard arcade towers there’s plenty of other modes to get sunk into with online ‘living towers’ offering varying conditions to fight by, test your might mini game, or test your luck that randomizes match scenarios, and training mode for perfectionists.

Most of it wasn’t really enough to keep me onto single player like Deception’s sizable campaign or Puzzle Kombat but multiplayer contains almost enough for me to consider practicing.

Ranked sees you fighting one player after the other to show off your fighting prowess or you can go into lobbies to join in more relaxed fighting or join in the highly enjoyable KOF that sees you joining a room with others and watching some impressive fights whilst readying for your chance at the spot light (assuming the game doesn’t crash or minimize to desktop permanently before then).


Mortal Kombat X attempts some pretty impressive leaps forward and has seen some of the biggest changes the franchise has seen. MKX is surpasses previous mechanical standards but is also falls flat on style losing that special something that made the series stand out for me and is an addition to the list of poor PC ports with some severe issues. It’s seen the series go forward certainly in terms of gameplay and the professional scene but the story and design choices feels bland and underwhelming.

If purely for the gameplay MKX is one to get on board, but as an admittedly old school Mortal Kombat fanboy I can’t help but feel like something’s missing.



Pros:

Fun fast paced gameplay,

Solid choice of fighters,

Impressive visuals,

Engaging Multiplayer.

Cons:

Lacklustre story,

Bland design choices,

Hideously bad netcode,

Poorly ported to PC.



Final verdict,

Mortal Kombat X slices in at a 7 out of 10.



Written by,

Whistler














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