Mortal Kombat has changed quite a bit over the past few years. The original title graced the traditional arcade; however, the franchise slowly moved away from the arcade and took a much larger step into the living rooms of console and PC gamers. From the moment Mortal Kombat moved away from from the arcade, the franchise has produced some great titles, but equally some rather unimpressive spinoffs.
In 2011, Director Ed Boon, NeatherRealm Studios and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment took the franchise to an entirely new level. Mortal Kombat 2011 (Mortal Kombat 9) was released on the PlayStation 3, the Xbox 360, and PC and showcased how the franchise had moved forward in leaps and bounds not only graphically, but also when it came to gameplay mechanics. Unfortunately, Mortal Kombat 2011 also managed to fall flat in some instances, especially with its oversized, out of proportion character’s. Fast forward to 2015, and Ed Boon and the team have finally released Mortal Kombat X – which has finally rectified many of the issues that Mortal Kombat 2011 faced.
While Mortal Kombat 2011 had many flaws… NeatherRealm Studios has cleaned up the franchise with Mortal Kombat X quite nicely. While Mortal Kombat X is essentially a fighting game, it does feature a story mode as well, much like Mortal Kombat 2011 did. This time around Shao Kahn is no longer a threat to Earthrealm; however, disgraced former Elder God Shinnok has taken it upon himself to wage war against Earthrealm. Among Shinnok’s army are former Earthrealm fighters, who died in the previous title, but have now been resurrected as revenants under Quan Chi’s control. Johnny Cage, Kenshi, and less out of proportion Sonya Blade go up against their former comrade’s in order to assist Raiden with the disposal of Shinnok. Once that’s done and dusted the storyline moves forward and focuses more on the family ties between Johnny Cage, Sonya Blade, and their daughter Cassie Cage. Also thrown into to the mix is Jax’s daughter Jacqui as well as Takeda, and Kung Lao’s cousin… Kung Jin. The four new Mortal Kombat X characters are then tasked to settle a civil war between former empress Mileena and Outworld’s current emperor Kotal Kahn. In order to avoid spoilers, I will end off the story synopsis there.
While the storyline featured in Mortal Kombat X is far better than past titles in the franchise… it feels conflicted at times. Previous titles focused more on the darker, more twisted side of Mortal Kombat as well as the tournament itself. However, this time around the story mode tends to focus on family ties, a bit of romance here and there, and clearing up old rivalries… rather than the premise it originally started with in the opening cut-scene. Granted, the story does wrap-up quite nicely with a bit of slightly disturbing cliff hanger at the end, but it it all feels so jumbled up at times. Additionally, the younger fighters feel slightly out of place, but still remain as the core focus of the storyline.
Moving away from the story mode, Mortal Kombat X comes packed with a great set of playable characters. Additionally it comes with a great variety of modes to choose from, which essentially makes it one of the best fighting games in the franchise to date. Quite a few of the older Mortal Kombat characters grace the game, with quite a few new characters. The official roster features over 24 playable characters, with more DLC characters on the way, and includes: Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Raiden, Johnny Cage, Sonya Blade, Jax, and Kitana. A few of the newer characters include the likes of Kotal Kahn, Cassie Cage, Jacqui Briggs, and a personal favourite Takeda Takahashi.
While there are a plethora of characters to choose from, each character now comes with three different fighting style variations. These variations include a unique set of attacks, weapons, and special attacks that come exclusive to each character. This is a great addition to the Mortal Kombat franchise as it will allow players to switch their play style. To add to this, it adds longevity to the title. Instead of just having one move set, you now have three to master. Just on a side note you cannot switch move sets on the fly during a match… only before a match has begun.
X-ray moves also make a return in Mortal Kombat X; however, it would have been great for each character to multiple X-ray moves… rather than having to experience the same old attack over and over with your favourite character. Granted, the X-ray moves are more brutal this time around, but a bit more variety would have been a great addition to Mortal Kombat X. Faction kills have also been added along with fatalities and brutalities.
As stated above there are quite a few modes to select from, with some being available offline while others require an online internet connection. One of the most notable online modes is the Living Towers. What makes this mode so enjoyable is the fact that it is constantly changing, and essentially often offers up a variety of hourly, or daily challenges. Additionally, there are premier towers, which are only open at certain times. Another online mode that caught my attention was King of the Hill, which allows players to queue up for fights, chat, practice, and watch live fights. This makes Mortal Kombat X a great social experience.
When looking at offline modes, there are options to access single fights, versus, and offline towers. The Krypt has also made a return to Mortal Kombat X, which allows players to unlock various items. There is an option to unlock all the items in the Krypt, via purchasing online DLC; however, this options hurts the longevity of the title. It’s far better to earn Koins and unlock the content yourself while exploring a much deeper, darker version of the Mortal Kombat Krypt.
Factions is another great addition to Mortal Kombat X. Once you start up Mortal Kombat X, you get to choose a faction. Once you have chosen your faction, you are essentially placed in a world wide tournament against opposing factions. Each week, factions can earn points by performing certain criteria set out by the developers. Additionally, at the end of each week, the winning faction receives rewards with the additional bonus of unlocking a faction kill as well.
Graphically, Mortal Kombat X looks far superior than previous titles in the franchise. Each combat arena looks superb and adds to the overall experience of Mortal Kombat X. While each arena looks to be designed to perfection, unfortunately it looks as though the developers have spent more time crafting and creating some characters, while leaving others unpolished. Yes, Sonya Blade looks far better than her Mortal Kombat 2011 counter-part; however, the likes of Scorpion and some of the newer characters look as though the development team placed more effort into them.
Mortal Kombat X is by far the best Mortal Kombat X to date. It features a great variety of fighters as well as a quite a few gameplay modes to keep you coming back for quite some time. The Krypt has also been overhauled, which is a plus, and having alternate fighting style variations really adds to this titles lasting appeal. Combat is pretty solid; however, having a block button once again can feel a bit restrictive… rather than just hitting the back button on the controls.
When it comes to the storyline, it is great to experience; however, it tends to feel out of place at times… especially when it comes to the overall tone that Mortal Kombat represented when the franchise first began. Overall, with the addition of Factions and other online and offline content, Mortal Kombat X is a must have if you are a fan of the franchise.
Mortal Komabt X was reviewed by Darryl Linington