Review: Mortal Kombat X (Xbox One)
GET OVER HERE! FINISH HIM! FATALITY! Three words that paints a bloody story of a franchise loved by a global audience. Mortal Kombat (9) returned the franchise to its roots. It fixed all the wrongs of the past and had us all thriving on moments of nostalgia. Mortal Kombat X is not quite the Back to the Future trip, but the word ‘future’ is what sets this apart from previous entries.
Tiny Toon Adventures
Mortal Kombat X is set several years after the last Mortal Kombat entry where Shinnok takes over where Shao Khan left off. He invades Earthrealm with his Netherrealm forces. Johnny Cage, Kenshi and Sonya join Raiden in their efforts to acquire an amulet that will imprison Shinnok within it. They succeed to do so. 20 years have passed when Johnny Cage decides that it’s a good idea to form a team of fighters made up of their offspring. You kan’t help but notice the whole ‘Tiny Toons’ feeling in that four of the new characters are all children of the klassic characters we’ve come to know and love.
Cassie Cage is a ‘know-it-all’ fighter, just like her dad, Johnny Cage. Though she shares many traits with her mom, Sonya Blade. Yup, old Johnny got out of jail it seems. Jacqui Briggs is Jax’s daughter. Like him she’s powerful and comes with her own set of bionic weapons. Takeda is Kenshi’s son, who also has some form of telekinesis and some very powerful charged energy whips. Lastly there’s Kung Jin, Kung Lao’s cousin. He’s an archer with the skills to wield a unique and powerful staff. It’s not the only new kharacters on offer.
D’vorah, an insect-like character, that can control swarms of insects and poison, is not the strongest character out there, but she’s very quick and nimble. If you’re after strength you’ll find it in Ferra/Torr. This big ogre-like kharacter has a child on its back (literally), as a brain. The child commands the ogre and he follows with powerful and caveman-like attacks. It’s the perfect combination of brawn and brain. Kotal Kahn is another form of God that’ll remind Tekken fans quite a bit of Ogre, as well as his fighting style. He’s powerful but quite slow and limited. Lastly there’s Erron Black. He’s a kowboy that knows how to wield guns and is voiced by none other than Troy Baker. It’s good to see that there are such a great selection of new kharacters on offer, but this also means there’s some klassic kharacters missing.
When playing story mode, that’ll last you between four and five hours, depending on your skills and difficulty setting, you’ll get to see kameos of klassic characters that’s not playable. Rain, Baraka, Frost and a few others will make an appearance and that’s as much as you’ll get to see of them. I was personally quite disappointed with the lack of Cyrax and Sektor, but as we now know, Ed Boon loves excluding kharacters at times. (Remember Scorpion being excluded in Mortal Kombat 3?). What Mortal Kombat X does bring to the table are variations.
Each kharacter has three sets of variation kombat styles. For example, Scorpion has Inferno, Ninjutsu and Hellfire. All his trademark moves, such as ‘throwing the spear’ and ‘teleporting from once side of the screen to the next’ are there, but there are one or two moves that defines the variation. It’s as if they wanted to include more moves per character, but felt that it was perhaps too much for a person to remember the various inputs. You’ll quickly find the variation that suits your style of fighting and you might find that you now enjoy previous Mortal Kombat kharacters that you once never quite got the hang of. In my case it was Kano. Yes, his eye kan once again shoot lasers! Even the backdrops have been upgraded somewhat.
First things first – there are no stage fatalities, which is a shame. What you will be doing now is to keep your eyes focused on your hud mid-game. At certain points on each and every stage you’ll see the ‘RB’ button lighting up in the hud. Press RB and you’ll interact with the background by picking up an object (sometimes a human being, which is comical) and throwing it at your opponent. Some stages require timing and an eye for detail as a korps might wash by or a person might walk past you at specific times. You kan also use these moments to get into a better position as it’ll, depending on the stage, allow you to jump over your foe or out of a kornered position. It adds a tactical advantage if you know how to use it. The showstopper is however the gore, and NetherRealm Studios have not let you down.
Each kharacter komes with two fatalities, several brutalities and Faction Kills. Fatalities are as easy as it was in Mortal Kombat (9) and does not require you to press the buttons in record time to pull it off. Why on earth there’s a ‘easy fatality’ option is beyond my understanding. Brutalities are generally much tougher as you have strict konditions to meet to pull it off and each kharacter difficulty varies. It’s not quite as gruesome as the fatalities, but it’s still effective and rewarding to pull off. So what about Faction Kills?
When starting up Mortal Kombat X for the first time you’ll be asked what Faction you’d like to be part of. There are five in all to choose from: Lin Kuei, White Lotus, Brotherhood of the Shadow, Black Dragon and Special Forces. Your objective is to meet certain daily challenges, that konsists of three challenges per day, to help your faction gain points to win the weekly war. Once the 7 days are over (which ends every Sunday evening) you’ll be rewarded. The first week rewarded me with 3000 koins, it might change, but at least you get something for your participation. It’s fun doing the challenges anyway. So what are koins used for? The Krypt silly.
The Krypt has been given a serious overhaul and is now filled with its own set of secrets, though it’s generally quite simple and nowhere near as secretive as your typical ‘Mortal Kombat secrets’ in the past. You’ll get to explore a graveyard and spend coins to unlock new Fatalities, Brutalities, koncept art, extra outfits, music and various other extras. Keep your wits about yourself as there is something in particular that had me leaving a skidmark or two in my pants. Head to the extras menu and you’ll find your offline kombat history. Here you can see the various stats, but you kan also edit your kombat kards background, icon and border that’ll grant you boosts for EXP and koins. It’s crucial to update this regularly to get more koins to spend in the krypt.
It’ll last you
Mortal Kombat X plans to keep you busy for a good few years as there are several towers to explore once you’re done with the Story mode. Traditional Towers are made up of Klassic, Survivor, Endless, Test Your Might and Test Your Luck tests. For those who want new challenges there’s the Living Towers. Here you get to play a tower that is updated hourly and komes with its own set of modifiers, challenges and goals. Online you’ll find Faction Rooms, versus, Team Battle, King of the Hill and Tower Battle. There is a plethora of modes to enjoy. So what does the actual game feel like?
Thankfully it’s still a 2D-based fighter and, other than keeping your eyes on background interactivity, it’s kept the tried and tested formula. You kan still follow a well-timed sweep with an uppercut, though the jumping feels a little different. Timing a jump followed by a kick is not as easy as it was before and it feels like your jump height is now a bit lower than it’s ever been, which opens you up for attacks. The X-Ray moves, though spectacular, kould have done with a ‘skip’ function, as some of these are lengthy and kan break the flow of the game in either direction. It’s still an incredible amount of fun when playing offline or online with buddies, though I had some lag issues online, but that could be because of my line. The music is not too memorable, and, though the game has been developed using Unreal Engine 4, I expected it to look a bit better. Not that I’m saying it’s a turd.
Mortal Kombat X brings the gore and the fun. The whole ‘children’ concept is a little too over-the-top for my liking, but I expect there to be some favourites in years to kome. At the end it’s Mortal Kombat. It’s not been scaled down for a teen rating and it’s maintained the 2D momentum that made the Mortal Kombat (9) reboot such a success. That’s the only X factor that really kounts.