Mortal Kombat X Review
Having been four years since we’ve seen a new installment, Mortal Kombat X takes everything that was loved about the franchise and builds on it tenfold (no pun intended). The interactive stages from old are still in full swing, the character interactions are all based on personal experience with the opponent, and the campaign tells a complete and cohesive story that can well hold its own against any other current gen triple-A title release.
It could easily be argued that 1992’s Mortal Kombat was THE original fighting game. MK started out as a bloody and brutal fighter that quickly cemented itself into gaming history strictly on how unique and fun it was. From the full set of distinct characters, the gloomy stages lined by acid pits, forests making ugly faces at you, to Scorpions spear chain, Liu Kangs bicycle kick, and Johnny Cages’ nut cracker, MK was only ever paralleled by Street Fighter. MKX continues this trend.
Right before matches start, the interaction between certain characters initiates a character-to-character dialogue specific to those fighters. This pays incredible attention to detail and gives the fight a little more weight, like this isn’t just a random exhibition but instead something personal. To help establish the idea that this game follows its own lineage from past games, they’ve added at least four fighters that are sons or daughters of core, original fighters. When you pit Liu Kang against Kung Lao, they recognize each other as ‘brothers’, no doubt a throw back to when Liu Kang and Kung Kao had a standalone adventure.
Fighting is the fastest I’ve seen in any Mortal Kombat. Whereas 2011’s Mortal Kombat felt a little stiff; jumps, punches, kicks, and grab are now fluid and responsive. Ducking at the right moment could nullify a special attack your opponent was counting on to win the fight.
The campaign feels like it was adapted from a movie script. You complete chapters with a specific fighter that follows them through events that have a real impact on the politics and scenarios that progress the story along. As you play though the campaign, the story acknowledge events from past games whether or not you’ve followed the canon. From Liu Kangs death, to the original Sub Zeros death, to Jax having once been under Quan Chi’s control, the characters themselves have real motivations for the fights you’re put into.
Quick time events are present, but they don’t take you out of the experience like in other games. It’s ok if you miss all of them, because you won’t be forced to start over. Your fighter just gets beat up a bit during the dialogue and the fights continues regardless. Whether you get the QTE’s right or miss them all, you’re still thrown into a badass fight which again, will progress the story.
New characters means new fighting styles. Button mashers rejoice for likes of Kung Jin, Takeda, Ferra/Torr, and Kenshin. My personal favorite being Erron Black, who looks like he was resurrected straight out of Red Dead Redemption. He’s even stated that he’s much older than he looks, so as far as I’m concerned, goddammit that’s John Marston. If you’re more of a technical fighter who relies on combos and special moves, the lead mascots for the franchise Scorpion and Subzero are more up your ally along with Quan Chi, Raiden, and Mileena. From each fighter you can choose one of three different fighting variations which will allow your fighter to play a little more to your strengths. The new characters feel at home in this universe. Goro is a massive fighter, so when I matched him up against the new Ferra/Torr, hearing Goro say “you are a worthy opponent” made me think ‘oh snap! It’s goin’ down!’
If there’s one thing MKX does right, it’s the interactive stages. No longer are you forced to stay in a corner if you’re pushed back. On either side of the stage in every level a simple push of the RB/R1 button will launch your character into the mid stage so the fight can continue unabated. The levels are littered with interactive items that you can smash your opponent into or throw. It’s quite amusing to see Raiden, the god of thunder, protector of Earthrealm smash you in the face with a box.
A new mode to the franchise, Test Your Luck will have you and your friends playing this game for years! You pick your fighters, then a stage, then how many ‘modifiers’ (up to 7) you want for the match. These can range from a tilting level, extra life for one of the fighters, ice balls that will rain down on you, Kabals spinning blade that runs the length of the levels. There is a huge variety of things that can happen to make these matches much more fun than the standard one v. one. In one instance where my opponent and I were close to death, I was about to lose the fight when my opponent was frozen by a falling ice ball, just as I went in for the kill I was struck by three severed heads and an ice ball, winning the match for him. Its moments like these that make MKX stand out as a unique fighter that provides the kind of fun and replayability you’d expect from Smash Bros.
What absolutely impresses me to most is that they acknowledge the 1995 movie every chance they get. Right before I started a match between Goro and Johnny Cage, I couldn’t stop laughing when Johnny says “Don’t you owe me a pair of sunglasses?” That made my day. Even some of their moves subtly hint back towards the movie. Fighting Kano as Sonya Blade, I watched in amazement as she ran across the arena, flipped onto her hands, secured Kanos head between her thighs and threw him across the stage. A rush of nostalgia came over me as I remembered their fight on the beach. Never in 20 years had I wanted to watch the movie as bad as right then.
There are microtransactions in the form of ‘Easy Fatality” tokens, The Samurai pack which gives you some new character skins, a costume for Sub-Zero, Goro, a ‘time saving’ pack to unlock all Krypt Items, and the Kombat pack which includes Jason Voorhees, The Predator, two classic fighters, and a few extra skins, as well as the samurai Pack. The DLC they do offer (even though not released yet) are all bonus or returning characters that only add to what makes Mortal Kombat great, but the game itself is so incredibly fun, you won’t feel pressured into opening your wallet past the $60 premium.
Despite the DLC offered here blatantly trying to get your money, and the small number of stages to fight in that, in their own right, are all still very distinct and add to the experience, this is a great game. The Story mode, along with Towers, Test Your Luck, unlocking things in the Krypt, and not to mention the online and couch co-op options, you need this in your current gen collection. Continuing it’s pedigree of the 1992 release, this IS the definitive Mortal Kombat fans deserve.