Mortal Kombat X is the best Mortal Kombat yet. It may also be the best fighting game yet. But is that saying something. Does all of that make Mortal Kombat X an excellent or even a great game? Let’s find out.
[NOTE: This review is based on the PS4 version of the game, post the 2 critical updates. For a PC based review, check out this article over at AsidCast.]
(+) Brutality in HD
Mortal Kombat has never looked more gorgeous. The battle environments are gushing with graphic wizardry. Characters look life like, fleshed out and full of blood and muscles (which you can then spill all over the screen), and animations are smooth and flow into each other. Everything from the awesome walk-away animations on the character selection screen; to the snow falling off a branch as players shrug or swing past it; reeks of a refined product.
The sounds too are spot on. Each character has a different audible intro when he faces a different opponent. Every crunch of the bone, every splatter of the matter and every crash of an object sounds devilishly tasty. You would be hard pressed to find any fault visually or audibly in Mortal Kombat X. In these regards at least, Mortal Kombat X comes trump on AAA guidelines.
(-) Get Over Here “OR NOT”
This doesn’t mean that MKX didn’t have launch stutters. The PC version was plagued by various bugs on launch, and an update which was supposed to fix the bugs, ended up removing player’s save file completely. While the things were not as drastic as losing your progress on the console end, I did have my fair share of trouble. My first download of the game didn’t activate the online multiplayer or the single player for some reason, and I had to delete the huge 33 GB game and download it again. Fortunately, the game has worked without glitches since then.
Since the launch 2 critical patches have arrived both on the consoles and the PC; and the game is better off now than it was before. Once you launch up the game however, I have never faced a glitch which again helps MKX score highly in my books.
(-) I missed a button
Let’s talk about the gameplay a bit. Which is not as crunchy as it could have been? Some combos are easy to execute, but other even when they require a similar sequence just don’t fire. Other times, the combos just don’t execute even when you are sure you got the sequence correct. This is especially more frustrating when you are in a higher difficulty match, where the window of opportunity is essentially small. This made me stick to certain characters (like Sub-Zero and Jax) and even then I stuck to a small array of moves that I knew I was comfortable with.
A tighter control scheme would have encouraged experimentation, especially considering the variety of moves each character has on offer. Also when these moves do execute, and when you are able to string together combos and juggles, MKX entrances you with fluid animations and movements; moving across screen in almost Arkham like fluidity. This experience is rare though, instead most fights are full of punches, kicks and people crouching up and down and then doing nothing, while you move closer.
(+) Generations of Kombatants
Variety is not limited to the moves though. And you have a strong roster of both new and returning characters in the game. Unlike some fighting games out there (cough cough…Killer Instinct. Cough cough), MKX has a plethora of characters to choose from, with new ones coming in future DLC. Couple that with the fact that each character has 3 variations which play subtly different, and the diversity in the game is crystal clear. Most of the new characters though like Cassie Cage, and Kung Jin are descendants of existing characters like Johnny Cage and Kung Lao. While this might look like an easy out, characters like D-Vorahh and Ferra Tor easily balance out the creative scale of the roster. Old timers will have Scorpion and Sb Zero to look up to among others when they fire up the game.
(+) Easy Fatalities
Having said that; you can see a mark difference in how MKX is making an attempt to woo the casual crowd. Most of the cool looking moves have just a 3 button combo; and are easily accessible through the move list on the pause screen. The player is prompted on screen to interact with the environment, and the most devastating move in the game (X-Ray) is executed by simply pressing L2+R2.
NetherRealm understand that a lot of people coming to MKX would be playing the game for the first time; and they don’t want them to off put by the complicated combos and being plastered into wall traps all the time. The biggest example of this shift perhaps is the easy fatalities token. Each player has a limited number of token available when they start the game, which they can then use to execute fatalities after the match (fatalities are gory and brutal finishing moves, see below) instead of a long complicated button sequence. Players can then earn these tokens by either buying them or unlocking them by playing more matches. You see the vicious circle here?
(+) Towers, Factions and Everything in between
NetherRealm in my opinion have perfected the art of storytelling in a fighting game. Instead of various endings character wise, the game focuses on a single tale putting you in the shoes of various characters and giving them 4 matches each. My only jibe, you mostly play as the hero. It might be a nice twist to play as some of the villains next time.
Apart from the story which is medium sized (5 hours or so on Easy). The game offers Towers. Towers are basically classic Mortal Kombat tournaments, each tower comes in different sizes (number of opponents) and change on an hourly, daily or weekly basis. These are great ways to test out and practice characters before jumping online. Of course there is a tutorial and a practice mode, but beating a Tower also offers rewards, which can then be used to unlock stuff.
Then there is online. Technically the servers are stable. It takes some time to find a match, but most of them are lag free when you are able to find a fight. Online modes include single fights, towers, King of the Hill, ranked fight and a ‘test your luck’ mode which is a nice break if you get bored playing solo.
All of this is meshed together in the Faction meta game. You are asked to choose a faction when you load a game for the first time. After that every activity that you do: Fight offline or online, beat towers, unlock stuff; all give points towards your faction, which are in turn added to the total earned by the other players of your faction worldwide. A champion is crowned every week, and offers rewards for the members of the winning faction. Of course you can change factions at any time. SO there is that.
(+) Finish Him?
With all that you would think MKX is a game solidly leaning towards online play. That’s as far from the truth as possible though. Like any fighting game, MKX is best enjoyed with a friend of yours on the same couch in the same room. Everything else is basically filler when you are forced to play alone. There is loads of stuff to unlock and hundreds of experience points to earn; but nothing will beat the fun of ripping out your friend’s heart and then burn a hole into their heads (in the game of course).
Final Score (9.5/10)
|(+) Excellent Graphics, Sound and Animations
||(-) Difficult to chain combos
|(+) Diverse Roster and Move Set
||(-) Story is a little short
|(+) Multiple Modes to play around
||(-) Launch bugs
Mortal Kombat X is a finished product. It’s the climax of an experiment that NetherRealm started with MK Armageddon and continued with Injustice. MKX is by far the best fighting game available on the market right now. I would go as far to say it would stay there for another year or 2 (Tekken 7 and the new Street Fighter not withstanding).
MKX opens its arms to both casuals and returning fans alike, and this is where the brilliance of MKX lies.