Let’s go straight to the point here, folks. Mortal Kombat X, NetherRealm Studios’ latest entry in their long-running fighting game franchise, is the best entry in the series since the original trilogy. Not only is the combat the most refined, competitive and entertaining seen yet in the series, it’s also the best-looking one to date. If you want to see what Scorpion and pals are up to these days, or check out the newest generation of Kombatants, you really need to check this one out, because it’s a really good time.
Mortal Kombat X
Developed by NetherRealm Studios / Published by WB Interactive Entertainment
Available on the PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Reviewed on the PS4.
Mortal Kombat X takes the best elements from previous entries and specifically Mortal Kombat (2011) – the ninth entry which refined the series and brought it back to the competitive fight scene – and takes it up a notch, bringing some of the best fighting gameplay available to date. Following up on the shocking events at the end of MK9, Earthrealm warriors Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade, alongside Elder Gods Raiden and Fujin, put away evil god Shinnok and bring peace to the realm, but twenty years later a new threat emerges, and the next generation of fighters- some of which are the children of former kombatants – must team up if they want to keep the realms from being conquered and ultimately, destroyed.
Just like MK9 before it, NetherRealm Studios continues to reinvent the art of the fighting game storyline with a main campaign that rivals the best action films out there with a blend of slick direction, an engrossing plot, short but sweet quick time events, and epic battles that’ll allow players to try out many of the game’s character roster. Not only does the story take the MK universe in a new direction plot-wise, it also gives players a reason to check out the single player modes, which are typically not noteworthy in the fighting game genre.
But what’s all the sleek presentation and excellent story if the fighting’s worth squat? Thankfully, as I mentioned before, the combat in MKX is even better than before, with a fighting system that brings even more options to the table for some serious competitive beatings. Just like MK9, MKX features 2D fighting that harkens to the good-old days, relying heavily on combos, special attacks, blocking and counters to take down the opponent. Controls are spot on and simplistic, so it’s somewhat noob-friendly, but experienced players will always come up on top, as combo strings will always net the most damage.
Some elements return from previous entries in the series. There are the enhanced versions of special moves, using a bar of the special meter to add additional properties to these attacks, the breaker, which exchanges two meter bars in order to escape a potentially dangerous combo string, and the fantastic and painful-looking X-Ray move, which expends all the special meter for a crazy animation that have players wincing time and time again. There’s also interactive environments, straight from Injustice: Gods Among Us, that allow players to bounce from one side of the arena to the other, use objects as weapons, and fling stuff across the screen to cause damage to foes. And then, of course, there’s the series’ signature Fatalities, which need no introduction and prove to be the series’ most gory ones yet.
The biggest new addition (and the coolest, in my opinion) to the series are the all-new Variations, which give each character three distinct playstyles. Players choose among the three before heading into battle, and these grant new special moves and combos that alter the character significantly. Not only is this excellent since it keeps characters from getting boring and predictable, players can adjust characters to make up for weaknesses during certain matchups, making each character well-rounded, useful and a viable threat no matter the scenario. It’s a great feature for high level play, allowing players to adjust to each other as needed.
Then there’s the return of the Brutality, which is more like a surprise fatality of sorts, as players can kill opponents with special attacks if specific requirements are met. Some have players using special moves in a row, meeting health and distance requirements, preforming combos and finishing with special moves, all to decimate foes in spectacular fashion. Meeting them in combat is a small feat, since there’s so much variables in play, but it’s always fantastic to be rewarded with some insane carnage onscreen.
In addition to the main campaign, MKX also comes with a number of modes that keep players busy, either in single player or multiplayer. Towers make a return, challenging kombatants to fight opponent after opponent until reaching the boss or an endless variety, or with modifiers that change up the rules in the all-new Living Towers, reminiscent of the challenges from Injustice.
Then there’s multiplayer, allowing fellow fighters to duel offline or online. Online matches come in the normal or ranked match variety, and they’re also linked to the all-new Faction War mode, which has players from five factions duel to help their faction rise to the top of the leaderboards. While Faction War is fun, as grants players unique fatalities and chances to gain bonuses, it’s been having issues lately, as the game’s servers are having issues from time to times and are failing to bring up the data necessary for the game mode. Additionally, playing online is kind of a hassle, as the game takes forever to gain access to the online servers, only to then search for opponents, making online play a lengthy affair. Still, online play is fun when it works, and hopefully a patch will be issued to fix these issues in the near future.
Finally, the Krypt also makes a return, rewarding players by allowing them to explore an environment full of destructible objects in order to unlock new costumes, Fatalities, Brutalities, concept art and more. This time however, it’s a first-person dungeon crawl, with players finding special items to unlock paths through the labyrinth-like stages, as well as killing creatures that sneak up on the player to earn coins. This new tweak makes a simple affair much more engaging.
Like I mentioned before, Mortal Kombat X is the best entry in the series to date, offering up the richest, most varied combat the franchise has seen, as well as a fantastic story that takes the mythos to new heights. While Online Mode and Faction Wars could use a couple of tweaks, fighting game lovers and MK fans will absolutely love this game.