|Genre||Publisher||Release date||Release O.S||Available on|
|Fighter||Warner Bros.||14/04/2015||Xbox One, PS4, PC||Amazon|
I’ll admit that when it comes to the fighting genre, I’m hardly the biggest of fans – any real experience coming from the likes of the Super Smash Bros series or perhaps the odd button bashing marathon in Street Fighter and Dead or Alive. That being said, throwing a fireball at your friend or launching them off the edge of a cliff does have its merits so I’m always up for branching out and trying any new entry. Next up on my list Mortal Kombat X.
Johnny Cage, Scorpion, Sub Zero and a whole host of returning (or maybe surviving is the better word here) characters make their debut on next generation consoles (with Xbox 360 and PS3s to follow at a later date). You can expect to find the same bloody, frantic action the series is known for here and while NetherRealm certainly is no stranger to the fighting genre, has it managed to move the series forward or merely refine it further?
Let’s kick things off with the important stuff. Fighting feels fluid and fun with every punch, kick, slash and slam landing with a real weight and ferociousness behind them. The combat system itself suits the needs of the more casual player as well as veterans. Interactive environments (taking inspiration from Injustice: Gods Among Us) now play a role while a special meter can be used to perform supercharged versions of lesser moves, counter a combo or execute a hyper powerful x-ray manoeuvre. Learning combos takes time and feels ever so satisfying when mastered while for those who like to just hit buttons and hope for the best, you’re covered too.
Of course one of the defining characteristics of any Mortal Kombat game is its Fatalities and I have to say NetherRealm’s latest easily contains some of the most horrific efforts yet. Heads are cut in half, organs removed from bodies, skin melted away, the sheer number and variety in which fighters are decimated is impressive… and disturbing quite frankly. However once you’ve seen each a couple of times you’ll soon start to grow weary at the sight of a cocky Johnny Cage ripping open another human’s ribcage and quoting a famous horror flick. So much so I even decided to opt out of bothering with Fatalities any more. Sure the newly introduced Brutalities offer a nice “carrot on end of stick” type challenge where performing certain actions mid-match result in abrupt, almost out of nowhere kills, but again it’s just more over the top deaths that again lose their appeal.
Injustice: Gods Among Us and the Mortal Kombat reboot managed to show gamers how a fighting game can indeed have an engaging and well-designed story mode and to some extent, Netherealm Studios have delivered the goods once more. While the production values excel in every aspect here, sadly the tale actually told loses steam around halfway through. This is surprising, especially given its content of elder gods, battles between realms and the general threat of a worldwide extinction. Furthermore cutscenes are often littered with quick time events that are neither welcome nor add any worth to the experience. Overall the story mode feels… safe. This is now the third time we’ve seen all this and with little in the way of new features it’s hard to muster too much excitement while playing.
Other single player modes succeed somewhat in distracting you although feel a little underwhelming when compared with previous Netherealm efforts. Towers now take on the shape of a string of updated battles with a particular modifier in play, as opposed to Mortal Kombat 9 and Injustice’s huge list of random and wonderful missions. Test Your Might is a silly button mashing mini-game that starts out quirky and soon becomes a pointless addition. Expected survivor and time trial modes also make an appearance too. Perhaps the most interesting is the returning Test Your Luck – a mode that sees you and an opponent battle it out with a handful of modifiers in place that might affect the environment, or your fighters. You’ll find matches filled with all sorts of random craziness including meteors, infinite special meter, one hit kills, no blocking and so on…
Online offers what you’d expect from a fighter with connections rarely laggy from personal experience. Single matches let you jump straight into the action while lobbies allow up to eight fighters to battle in a winner stay on environment. Fun enough but expect plenty of waiting around.
Every match, mode and accomplishment is monitored whether it’s online or off, with experience being awarded to both a player level and also your chosen faction level. Five factions are available to join each with their own selection of characters, where any achievements and progress you make contributes to your teams overall online standing in a weekly leaderboard. Winners are awarded with special Fatalities and more. A cool sounding addition, but one that you’ll soon forget even exists in the game.
Speaking of unlockables, the way the game handles them feels pretty scummy with Fatalities, Brutalities, costumes, artwork and the like requiring Koins that prove tough to accumulate in high quantities. It’s almost as if Warner Bros. are pushing you to give up and simply pay with real cash to open everything up. That being said, the Krypt mode is actually a fun idea, it’s just a shame you’ll need to play for hours upon hours to have enough money to use within it.
Presentation-wise, Mortal Kombat X is excellent. Everything from the decrepit arenas you battle in to the detail and animation of every fighter ranks highly. Whether the game itself has that true next generation feel though is up for debate – rough edges popping up more frequently than you’d like. As for the audio, a special mention has to go to the sound effects. With a game that focuses so heavily on ridiculously gross manoeuvres the actual noises that accompany them was always going to need to be special in order to truly sell them. Thankfully Mortal Kombat X nails it. Squelching, slicing, tearing, you name it.
Mortal Kombat X is a fantastically polished fighter that clearly serves to please its gore-eager fans whilst also trying to bring in some new ones. That said the game isn’t without its faults; the gross way the unlockables are handled, disappointing story and lacking modes being key culprits. Overall though, NetherRealm have crafted a fun, blood-soaked beat ‘em up that should hold fans over till the big releases later this summer.
- Fluid and slick looking combat system
- Story mode still best of its kind
- Smooth online
- Crazy over the top Fatalities…
- … That do grow tiresome after a while
- Unlockables hidden behind huge sums of Koins
- Modes feel lacking