Ed Boon and his team over at NetherRealm Studios sure know how to create some of the most violent, visceral fighting games imaginable, but their titles haven’t seen much love from a competitive scene. Ed’s been pushing for his flagship series, Mortal Kombat, to be taken more seriously by the fighting community, and not just reveled for its over the top gore. With revamped game mechanics and a fine attention to detail, NetherRealm has pumped out Mortal Kombat X. Its overhauled, reworked system borrows a lot from the foundations that Injustice and MK9 laid out. The same basic mechanics – the x-rays, the stage interactions – are there, but they feel much more balanced and smooth, the combo system is fluid, and the new characters are a welcome breath of fresh air.
Some players might be disappointed to find that the roster in Mortal Kombat X has nearly one-third of it taken up by new characters, but after spending some time with the new combatants I’m sure you’ll be in agreement that these fresh faces quickly become some of the most memorable in the series. With new characters like Ferra/Tor, a hulking behemoth and its vicious yet somehow loveable young female controller, and D’Vorah, an insect-like human hybrid that controls swarms of locusts, there is no doubt that the new roster options feature something for everyone to grow fond of.
"Ed’s been pushing for his flagship series, Mortal Kombat, to be taken more seriously by the fighting community, and not just reveled for its over the top gore."
The new roster isn’t the only thing new that MKX brings to the table. Each character has three fighting stances to choose from, and though this has been explored by other games in the MK series, MKX has a firm grasp on balance and control between these stances which is something that no other game from this franchise has done successfully. These stances totally change the pace, flow, and feel of characters, as well as how special moves play out. In some cases they will offer players a chance to explore nostalgia as well. For instance, Kitana has a stance known as ‘Mournful’ that allows her to wield Jade’s staff as an additional weapon, giving her access to some combos that players will find familiar if they enjoyed Jade in MK9. All of these new options make Mortal Kombat X by far the deepest MK game yet.
MKX’s online is without a doubt an improvement from its previous entry, but there’s still a small amount of input lag that is incredibly noticeable when transitioning from the immediate responsiveness of single-player. After a few online matches, it’s easy to get used to the small delay and it becomes almost ignorable, or at least it’s something that can be anticipated and compensated for, but it’s still not the best platform for online play. NetherRealm has clearly addressed the issues that plagued MK9, but there’s still some that linger and need to be worked out.
"MKX’s online is without a doubt an improvement from its previous entry, but there’s still a small amount of input lag that is incredibly noticeable when transitioning from the immediate responsiveness of single-player."
One interesting aspect of MKX’s online features is the inclusion of a Faction Wars. When the game first starts players are asked to align with a particular faction. From then on whenever players are engaged in Mortal Kombat their stats are tracked whether they’re online or off. These stats are sent to the NetherRealm servers and used to determine the amount of points a faction earns throughout the course of a week. It’s an interesting idea that offers up some new perks, and new reasons to grind, keeping players engaged in the Mortal Kombat universe.
Living Towers are another interesting new addition to the game. They’re essentially an evolution of Challenge Towers, which existed back in MK9, but these towers are constantly changing. Every hour the Living Tower changes its play conditions forcing players to adapt for incredibly high gain. It’s a fun addition that will no doubt keep players entertained for quite some time.
"I think players will find a lot to be excited about in Mortal Kombat X. Its revamped combat system, focus on balance, and new Living Tower modes are bound to keep players occupied for hours on end."
Unfortunately MKX’s story mode isn’t quite as strong as the previous title. MKX does a wonderful job of seamlessly flowing between cut scenes and combat, but the way the story plays out misses the mark just a tad. It’s over-the-top and consistently violent presentation doesn’t match the game’s attempts to weave a tale of love and family. Occasionally there are some interesting insights, but the overall story just doesn’t fit the MK universe.
I think players will find a lot to be excited about in Mortal Kombat X. Its revamped combat system, focus on balance, and new Living Tower modes are bound to keep players occupied for hours on end. NetherRealm has once again shown that they’re capable of producing something fantastic. You don’t have to be a fan of the MK universe to enjoy the new game, but the brutality sure does add an interesting aspect to the combat, especially if it makes itself a staple of the competitive scene.
Review by: Palmer Sturman | Reviewed on: PC