I grew up playing video games. From as far back as I can remember, I battled it out on the NES and Super NES with games like Mario, Street Fighter, and Pac-Man. Then the glorious Playstation came out, revealing all new titles and graphics, and I've been a Playstation fan ever since. I didn't get to own many games growing up, but for the few that I did, I played them for hours on end on a daily basis. My weakness was fighting games. I would spend my summers playing endless tournaments. I wanted every character ending, all the costumes, to master all the moves. I would draw the characters, create my own in my sketchpads, and allow the computer to battle itself while I doodled and made my own profiles on paper. Obviously, I was obsessed.
So last year when the announcement of Mortal Kombat X was made, it's needless to say that I lost my...mind! The reveal trailer was so exciting! Seeing Sub-Zero and Scorpion in that amazing cinematic trailer made me scream like a kid on pixie sticks. I couldn't sleep because my mind was swirling over the fanart I was going to create to celebrate. Yes, it sounds insane, but I was THAT excited, and I rarely get excited over much these days. Mortal Kombat 9 was such a blast, I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy of Mortal Kombat X.
Shameless plug. I was so excited for the MKX release, I had to create fanart ASAP! Check out more of my art at www.ARCrebs.deviantart.com.
I felt it was only proper that I give a review of the product I've been waiting almost a year for. (For the condensed review breakdown, go to the end of the article.) First off, I was going to get the Kollector's Edition of the game. I love my game swag. But, regrettably, I was not that impressed with the American released Kollector's Edition by Coarse. The imported version, however, looked incredible! The hardcore Scorpion statue was detailed and gritty, just like I wanted. Unfortunately, I hesitated as I've never ordered anything "imported" before and thus missed my opportunity to get my hands on that beautiful statue. For real, I almost cried. Devastating day. Since I didn't care much for the Kollector's Edition by Coarse, I pre-ordered the basic game. No offense to the developers of the statue. It's cool for what it is, but the style isn't exactly to my taste for a Mortal Kombat themed item. I figure, over time, I'll find my Scorpion and other MK items elsewhere. The X-Ray attacks are back, and they are brutal as ever!
For the review, I'd like to start with the gameplay. As expected, Mortal Kombat X is just as gritty and cringe-worthy as you'd expect. With a decent-sized cast, you have plenty of characters to choose from, each having three types of battle sets. This is an interesting addition to the franchise. Rather than merely fighting with a complete move list, you get to choose between three Variant styles. Variants affect the move set, combos, and special attacks that can range from poison to sharpened blades to elemental attacks. But not only that, the Variant styles also change the character's appearance, which is an excellent touch. In addition, a new energy bar system has been implemented which allows you to enhance and strengthen your attacks or counterattacks. It also is the basis for your X-Ray. That along with the interactive background elements require you to be more attentive while in battle, which I think adds to the challenge and makes it more enjoyable. Besides, who wouldn't want to smack someone in the face with a scared old woman standing off to the side of the stage?
Need a little help learning your character's moves? Go to the training arena and smash some heads in. The training mode allows you to practice moves as you'd expect, or you can go to the fatality mode and try out your gruesome finishers. Fight the computer, a friend, or just lay the smackdown on an unmoving dummy and practice connecting your combos and special attacks and X-Rays. You can also record your battle in the practice arena to watch your domination over and over again. When you feel confident enough to take on the world, head on over to the online matches and test your skills against human competitors, or battle it out at home with a friend in the 2-player mode.
Once again, there is a multitude of gruesome Fatalities, Brutalities, X-Ray attacks (which often seem worse than the fatalities), and a new finisher called Faction Kills. In MKX, there's a new addition called Faction Wars. Choose your faction: Lin Kuei, White Lotus, Special Forces, Black Dragon, or Brotherhood of Shadows. Compete worldwide with your team to earn bonus points and perks each week. With this is a faction-specific Faction Kill, which makes your killing-spree all the more interesting and sickeningly entertaining.
Returning to the franchise is the story mode, which is my favorite feature in the game. There's nothing worse than devoting your time and energy into a character for a fighting game and getting absolutely nothing in return. MKX goes above and beyond by giving you hours of gameplay with nearly every character in the roster at your control. You get to see back stories, learn what happened to those who were annihilated in MK9, and get to see plenty of Easter eggs for characters that are not yet added to the character selection. Needless to say, the story mode itself is like one long teaser to get you excited for what the future holds for the title. The story runs much like it previously did. You start off with Johnny Cage and alternate every few battles onto a new character's chapter. It's a fun way to quickly learn the combat system and get a general feel for how most of the characters operate. Also, to make sure you're paying attention, there's a new interactive feature that requires you to push certain buttons during cutscene battles. Just when you thought you had a chance to breathe and relax your worn-out fingers. Finally, once you master everyone and defeat the final enemy, you get a surprise addition to your lineup. The final battle, in my opinion, was a bit easier than MK9's Shao Khan, which is a good thing! That guy was a PAIN.... Story mode has returned, and it's fun and full of many guilty pleasures.
Of course, the Krypt is back. Use all your obtained Koins to unlock alternate costumes, fatalities, beautiful and wonderful concept art, music, and pretty much anything at all that you can think of that went into making the game. But beware, for there are enemies lurking in the Krypt, and if you aren't fast enough, they'll get ya! The primary tournament function exists in the Living Towers section which gives you quick, daily, and premier challenges, some changing up within the hour. This is yet another way to keep gamers entertained and interested in sticking with the title. Also, don't forget to Test Your Luck. That silly feature that we all know and love/hate is back. I tried it out once so far and got to about level 8 or 9 before I stopped due to a darn blister trying to form on my thumb from all the button mashing. Of course, if you fail, you end up not so lucky and find your demise in brutal and kind of hilarious ways. Perhaps I should feel bad about laughing at the gruesome content, but I can't help it. It's so over the top, you can't help but cackle.
Overall, I was pleased with the game. There are lots of options between the characters defensively and offensively. I think my only complaint would be, the controls sometimes seem a little choppy. MK9 seemed more fluid to me when it came to juggling and connecting combos one after another. Whereas one time I can land a brutal combo and follow up with something else in MKX, I find that sometimes my character would pause or just not finish the series. This effect reminds me a bit more, for comparison, of Tekken's gameplay. After participating in a tournament this weekend, I heard similar comments being made. Attacks seem more time-based. Sometimes you have to hesitate and wait for contact before connecting again with another button set, other times you have to be quick and fluid. It changes from character to character, making it a bit more challenging. One drawback with the Variant system is the fact that there may be one move you like from one category, but you can't use it in another. Be sure to choose wisely and try out all the battle choices before giving up and moving to a different character to use. I started with Scorpion's Ninjutsu Variant, but really missed his fire-based attacks. Once switching to Hellfire, I found I was more comfortable with him once again. This holds true with my other choice characters such as Kitana and my new favorite, D'Vorah.
As for glitches in gameplay, I've not really experienced anything major. The only instance I can think of was during a battle in the story mode. After the cutscene, the music muted. It really puts into perspective how important stage music is because playing with nothing but battle sound effects is kind of surreal. After a while, the music came back, and my opponent and I carried on as if nothing really happened, but then again, we were too preoccupied with beating each other senseless to really care.
The overall look and feel of the game is true to the Mortal Kombat world. The stages fit the theme, the music is typical of the game as well. One thing I liked a lot about this version of Mortal Kombat were the character costumes! I've enjoyed the style and direction the art crew went with in this game. No one ever talks about the art of games it seems. All the characters received a new look that stayed true to the genre but for me felt more believable and less cheesy. And yes, I do have to mention it, the women's costumes were SO much better! These are outfits I expect to see a lot of cosplay based on from here on out. And how refreshing it was to see female characters without heels on and decently covered, for the most part, too. I love the character design. LOVE it. I don't think I can stress that enough. Each character resembles their iconic selves while feeling fresh. I hate playing a new edition of a game and finding that the characters were modeled the exact same way as the previous game. How mundane! I'd have the same reaction if they never changed music or stages. It just seems like the same game if it doesn't evolve, and Mortal Kombat X certainly evolved design-wise in all the best ways.
There's a whole new batch of fresh characters added to the lineup. With them are more sassy lines, finishers, and move sets. Cassie Cage has a mixed feel of some of Sonya and Jonny's better moves. Jacqueline Briggs is rough and tough like her father with an assortment of punch and kick combos and added projectile attacks. Takashi Takeda is a trained Shirai Ryu ninja, bringing his own ninjutsu set with added tentacle-like weaponry. Kung Jin is a fun new character who can use his staff and alternate between that and bow and arrow attacks. Play as the rogue Erron Black, who uses his gunslinger abilities to bring variety to your attacks. Poison, sting, and assault your opponents with D'Vorah's quick combos and insect specials. If you want a more unusual choice, you can battle it out with Ferra/Torr, an angry child-like character who uses a big grunt to do much of her fighting. The enemy may think they're safe from a distance, but Torr doesn't mind tossing Ferra to apply her bladed attacks. And if you're looking for a slow, oddly-controlled character, try out Kotal Kahn! Really, I know he has some good attacks, but he was my least favorite character in the roster. To me, he was very slow, and his specials left something to be desired. But that's just my opinion!
There's a decent amount of characters, old and new, to choose from in Mortal Kombat X, but don't expect that to be the end of the roster.
If this long lineup isn't enough for you, NetherRealm has plenty more to come in their future DLC packages. I didn't purchase a season pass, but it is fun to see that they are already at work on adding more and more to the game. And with all the additional characters in the storyline that you see either in the background or fight against that aren't included in the initial lineup, I imagine they're on the backburner waiting for you to purchase them in the store when the time arises. Truthfully, I don't actually plan on buying much. I'm happy with the characters already. If I were to pay for any characters, it'd be Predator because...who wouldn't want Predator?!
All in all, Mortal Kombat X has been a blast. It's definitely been worth the wait. With the incredible graphics, new battle system, fresh design, and endless features, I know I will continue to have fun with this game in the following months. I certainly do plan on playing against friends again, but I prefer in the same location rather than online. Buy some pizza and beer and have a go! Hearing your friends cheering and groaning in disgust just adds to the Mortal Kombat experience I think. During the gaming tournament this past weekend, I found that experienced and brand-new players alike were having fun. The beginners also quickly adapted to the gameplay, which I believe is proof of a great game. If I were to add anything to the next game, I'd suggest a tag-team opportunity. At least I don't think there's one. There's so much in this game, I may have missed it! I'd really love to have Scorpion and Sub-Zero fight together rather than against for a change. Really, there's plenty for everyone in Mortal Kombat X. If you're bored playing it, I don't know what to tell you as Mortal Kombat X seems to have the most features and extras out of any fighting game I can think of.
Overall, my score for Mortal Kombat X is: 9
Below is my rating breakdown. What are your thoughts on Mortal Kombat X? Love it? Hate it? Who's your favorite character, and which fatality made you cringe the most? Comment below.
Graphics: Running at 1080P & 60 FPS, Mortal Kombat X's graphics are pretty amazing. You're not going to miss anything!
Gameplay/Controls: With the new battle system, things are more interesting and interchangeable. However, if you are looking for move sets from the previous game, you may be a bit disappointed as the controls have seemed to change up a bit to fit the new format. With the varying move sets, combos, and specials, successfully connecting your attacks can sometimes seem a bit irregular from what you'd expect in comparison to the previous game. Based on my personal experience and from comments heard by others during our tournament, I will say gameplay is fresh and entertaining but takes a moment to get used to by returning fans.
Content/Story: Mortal Kombat X's story mode feature and additional character endings in the tournament tower gives you a lot of insight to your favorite fighters. You can tell a lot of work went into the game with all of its storytelling aspects, online and offline features, DLCs, and Krypt extras. Truly, this game has a lot to offer. NetherRealm really knows how to do it right.
Art/Design: Nobody ever rates a game's design it seems. Being an artist, it's one of the biggest things I look for. With the new characters added to the lineup and the updated costumes, Mortal Kombat X has both a fresh and recognizable design. Even if outfits have changed for some, they still maintain their color scheme along with other nuances that fit the character's persona. Stages maintain iconic elements and themes, but the added environmental attacks are also a nice touch. And with all the unlockables in the Krypt, you get to see how amazing the concept art for this game really is. I find it far better than the art for MK9. Overall, the style, look, concept, and music is better and more appealing to me this time around. There are some clichés as I've heard many call Kano by the name Tony Stark due to his blue chest piece, and let's not mention Kotal Khan looking similar to Tekken's Ogre. Outside of that, I find that the design overall matches the game's world while remaining eye-catching and attractive.
Overall Rating: 9
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A. R. Crebs is the writer and illustrator of "The Esoteric Design" series. Lover of sci-fi and fantasy. Videogame enthusiast. Badass cookie baker. Crazy good at cricket sound effects.