After months of hype and anticipation and a steady stream of new info Mortal Kombat X (MKX) is finally out on Next-Gen Consoles and PC. Were my months and months of anxiously waiting for this game all in vain? Did it deserve to be our game of the month? Yes, a wholehearted resounding YES! To put it simply, if you slightly enjoyed NetherRealm’s last outing with Injustice: Gods Among US, then you will love “X.”
The story of Mortal Kombat X is all about passing the torch to some of the new characters introduced in this installment. It seems that, when not nut punching outworlders, the heroes of Earthrealm went and had some kids. Three of the new heroes are direct offsprings while the fourth is in the family tree. While stories in the fighter genre have always been a very thin excuse to put two people together to pummel each other, Mortal Kombat has always stood out for going the extra mile. The intro to the story takes place directly after the events of Mortal Kombat 9. Following a short intro, the story is then fast-forwarded twenty years into the future. Earthrealm and Outworld share an uneasy pact and Johnny Cage has been busy putting together a team of successors to handle any aggression the future might hold (that’s where the kids come in). The group as a whole doesn’t really work well together until the magic of plot holes all of a sudden fixes that for them. That was my one complaint with the story. The rest is very good and takes some twists you don’t see coming until you’re stuck in a whirlwind of plot development. The highlight of the story is the way NetherRealm peppers in some of the older characters into the story in a nice wink to the long-time fans of the series.
The combat in MKX is tight and varied with each character having three separate variations to choose from. While most of the basic move set stays the same throughout the variations, special moves, throws, even brutalities are affected. Even the most frustrating of characters seemed to get better once you were allowed to switch variations. The only minor annoyance comes in the story mode when you sometimes switch variations without really noticing. In some character models, the difference in appearance is so minuscule that you could very well be trying to use another move set with no success before you realize what’s going on. The controls are great and once you know the play style of a particular character, you should have zero problems holding your own in a match. What truly makes this version of Mortal Kombat stand out is what was first included in Injustice; the special meter. You fill up the three bars of the special meter to be able to perform a 30% health crunching X-ray attack or you can use a portion of it to break combos or enhance special moves. The bar fills up slowly while doing special moves and landing attacks or much faster if you are on the receiving end of a nasty beat down, making it a great and effective come-back mechanic.
The graphics, character design, and level design are all fantastic in this latest installment. Sometimes I find myself focusing too much on what is going on in the background that I forget I’m supposed to be fighting. All the small details, like a soldier fighting off rabid dogs, or statues crumbling in the background lend to the mythos of these incredibly detailed, lively worlds. The Kombatants show bruises and battle scars after every match and little extra details after fatalities (like muscle spasms) go far to add to the brutal nature of the combat. While all of the modelings is great they can oftentimes look disproportionate when it goes to X-ray view. For example, any head attack on Goro during this time makes his head look extremely small in comparison to the rest of him. The same can be said for Ferra/Torr. The sweat ( I assume it’s supposed to be sweat) shown on models often leads me to believe everyone has been contaminated with Dragon Scale, but again a small gripe when compared to the rest of the stunning visuals.
The biggest draws of the game is the sheer amount of things to do to keep you playing the game. Once the story mode is complete, you can jump into Online matches. Most of my time online was spent in “King of the Hill” mode where players compete to topple the current champ and the champ tries to continue their win streak. This mode has a feel of a pay-per-view event and it’s just fun to sit back and watch two players try to win, especially if they all have headsets. Living towers and Factions give you an excuse to stat up “X” at least once a day to complete new challenges and to make sure your faction doesn’t get humiliated on a weekly basis. The Krypt, MKX’s mode where you unlock items, is extremely vast and you need to explore areas multiple times to make sure you unlock everything. There is even the option to download the Mortal Kombat X mobile app to play on the go and sync up your WB account to unlock even more items between the two games.
While the overall game is great and the best in the series, it isn’t immune to faults. Some finishers don’t work as advertised (Ermac comes to mind) and while there is the ability to practice them ahead of time, there isn’t a way to switch which finisher you’d like to practice or the ability to practice brutalities. The fatalities have gotten less complicated over the years and while that isn’t an issue per se, offering two-button “easy fatalities” is. That’s right, you can earn (but most likely buy) one time use easy fatalities as well as pay to unlock all crypt items. I know you don’t have to purchase these things but it is a sad indicator of the state of video games right now where you never get a full package and there is an insincere grab at extra money. That coupled with a very hefty price tag for additional DLC characters and useless costumes left a bitter taste in my mouth.
Whether you have never played a Mortal Kombat game before or are a long-time fan, this is a game you don’t want to pass up. It’s accessible enough for first-time fans to quickly learn the ropes and has enough intricacies to keep long-time fans happy. Add in the excellent story mode, fun online component, and the ongoing Factions mode – there is more than enough to recommend this game to any type of video game fan looking for a very good fighter on next-gen platforms.