The Mortal Kombat series has a storied history, wonderfully delighting and shocking us with its special brand of gruesome and violent combat. I have vivid memories of how intense the first games were; from the style of combat, the unlockable secrets like Reptile and blood mode, to the painstaking research and experimentation required to unlock the over-the-top, gory and highly satisfying Fatalities. The announcement of the newest game in the franchise, Mortal Kombat X, had me all a quiver, with my expectations skyrocketing.
And I certainly wasn’t disappointed; from the moment you fire up the game you are again immersed in the corny but brutal world of Mortal Kombat. In fact, the immersion starts before you even enter an arena. On starting the game you must choose which faction you want to fight for. The five factions represent the clans and organisations many of the roster herald from – such as Earthrealm’s Special Forces community, and Netherrealm’s Brotherhood of Shadow. As you play – whether online of offline – you accumulate points which contribute to the overall score of your faction. At the end of each week a faction is announced the winner and rewards are dished out, such as Koins for spending in the Krypt and even a Faction Kill, a faction-specific Fatality. It’s a great way to encourage players to return daily, especially with faction–specific challenges cropping up hourly, daily and weekly granting score boost if you conquer them, furthermore, it doesn’t force you into competing online; regardless of how you play Mortal Kombat, any action results in points for your faction, keeping everyone involved.
With the previous title in the series re-treading the original trilogy’s story and providing a lengthy and coherent narrative for the series, Mortal Kombat X, has its work cut out for it. Fortunately the story maintains its silly but fascinating appeal, continuing on from where the last one left off and making smart decisions with the introduction of new characters and keeping continuity. Throughout the 6-8 hour story you’ll jump into the shoes of the majority of the cast, fighting a few bouts as each before switching to another character. It proves a great way to introduce you to each fighter’s style of combat, and the challenge of adapting to each helps maintain the pacing and keep you on your toes. Character switching is also frequent enough so that you won’t get too frustrated if you can’t gel with a particular one. Additionally, if things do get too difficult, you have the option to skip fights and simply enjoy the journey.
Outside of the story are the usual fighting game modes of single player one-off fights and multiplayer –both online and local. Additionally, a comprehensive tutorial mode teaches you the basics and nuances of combat, meanwhile, a training mode lets you pummel an opponent to your heart’s content, with options for modifying your opponent’s reactions or activating on-screen button presses and Fatality position windows. The Krypt returns, presenting a 3D graveyard for you to explore and unlock additional content – such as Fatalities and character costumes – by purchasing tombs and gravestones with in-game currency you earn in combat. Also the Klassic Tower mode returns, pitting you to against random characters, one at a time as you attempt to climb the tower and become champion.
Test Your Luck fights activate up to seven modifiers that enhance or hamper both combatants. These take the form of raining meteors and missile strikes that damage you, power ups and health pick-ups appearing in the arena, or even the screen turning black every few seconds, as well as many more debilitating or advantageous effects. This proves a terrific way of randomly shaking up the status quo. Finally, Living Towers are a mixture of Klassic Tower mode and Test Your Luck, having you climb to the top of a tower whilst dealing with the random Test Your Luck effects. Once a tower is complete you can then challenge a friend to conquer the same tower and attempt to beat your score.
Mortal Kombat X’s combat continues its tradition of simple combos with a focus on juggling to deal extreme damage. It’s a well-balanced system that’s easy to pick up and play but difficult to master. Combos typically don’t stretch beyond three or four hits, but multiple combos can be chained together with significant speed to make them seem endless if you’re skilled enough. A power meter at the bottom of the screen for each character increases with damage taken and special moves connecting, offering you the choice to spend one of the three segments in enhancing a special move, sacrificing all segments to break an incoming combo, or spending all three to perform a devastating X-ray move, which brutally maims and mutilates an opponent’s body, breaking bones and puncturing organs in a gruesome spectacle.
A large roster of 24 characters are available, once unlocked in the main story, with several more imminently available as DLC. Furthermore, each character has three distinct combat styles to choose from that significantly changes how each one fights. Additionally each fighter feels unique, covering a diverse range of martial arts, weapons, and supernatural special moves that makes them all a thrill to use and learn. And with their unique X-ray moves, and a pair of supremely gory Fatalities each, there’s a great deal of variety to experience.
Mortal Kombat X introduces the series to Xbox One with superb results. The level of detail in the environments and characters is eye wateringly good, meanwhile, the fast paced combat doesn’t miss a beat, either offline or online. An impressive roster and some of the most brutal Fatalities and X-ray moves yet seen in the series, alone with a captivating story and intriguing hint at where it might go next makes this an unmissable fighter for the beat ‘em up crowd, meanwhile, the combat’s accessibility should easily tempt newcomers. Mortal Kombat X is brilliant, achieving a balance between technical and spectacle which seldom few other fighters do.
Thanks to Premier Communications and Xbox for supplying TiX with a promotional copy
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