Over the last 23 years, I’ve had a seesaw relationship with the Mortal Kombat fighting game series. When the original game hit the arcades in late 1992, I was instantly hooked. The digitized graphics were cutting-edge, the characters were unique and appealing, the block button was fresh and innovative, but most of all, it was an edgy game unafraid of pushing the boundary of what’s acceptable in video games. For a teenage gamer like me, that combination clicked.
Mortal Kombat II and Mortal Kombat 3 were even better, yet by the time the fourth iteration rolled out, my interest started to wane as it became increasingly evident this carnage-obsessed fighting series was more fixated on enhancing its gore, than its gameplay. I got roped back in with 2008’s unique crossover game, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, though it was really the excellent Mortal Kombat reboot four years ago that got me excited about this series all over again.
A New Fight Begins
Cue Mortal Kombat X, the tenth core installment in this venerable fighting franchise, built from the ground-up for next generation gaming consoles, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. In the ten months leading up to the game’s launch, publisher Warner Bros. Interactive and developer NetherRealm Studios teased us with impressive trailers and a steady stream of game updates for fighting fans to salivate over. With the hype train at near fever pitch level, my expectations going into the game were naturally quite high.
And, in every way possible, the final game delivered.
If you’re a fan of fighting games—even those who have never considered picking up a Mortal Kombat game before—you’ll want to make Mortal Kombat X a part of your gaming collection. Here are ten convincing reasons why:
1. Cinematic Story Mode
The Mortal Kombat universe has always piqued my curiosity, but it wasn’t until I played through the Mortal Kombat reboot, which describes the events of the first three games in a surprisingly coherent manner, that I got truly immersed. Mortal Kombat X takes place immediately following the events of the last game, and gives you a full, cinematic story mode centred on various characters and lasting about 4-5 hours. You’ll be introduced to plenty of new characters and new locations, in addition to welcoming back fan-favourite combatants like Raiden, Sonya Blade, Johnny Cage, Sub-Zero, and Scorpion. The story overall is quite good, with lots of exciting beat ’em up fight scenes and plenty of surprising plot twists; plus you’ll want to see the tantalizing ending that’ll have you craving a potential next installment.
2. Superb Graphics
One thing is clear from the moment you jump into your first Mortal Kombat X match: the game is simply beautiful. Running at full HD (1080p), there’s tons of eye candy here, whether that’s the intricate design of each character’s outfit, or the jaw-dropping amount of detail in each stage’s background. Take for instance, “The Kove,” a mesmerizing battleground situated on a rickety pier getting hammered with rapid, violent waves (containing surfacing carcasses no less). Or how about the dynamic “Outworld Marketplace” brimming with merchant shops, giant domesticated tiger-like pets, and enslaved orcs doing forced labour in the distant background. These stages and more offer such tremendous visual variety that you’ll want to play in practice mode just to take the time to soak in all the finer points. Wait until you see the flowing river in the “Kuatan Jungle” stage—it may well be the most photorealistic water you’ve ever seen in a video game.
3. A New Generation of Fighters
Mortal Kombat X features a vast roster of 23 playable characters (24 after you beat the game), including a mix of older, veteran warriors, and a new breed of young brawlers eager to prove themselves in battle. Many of the new characters are direct descendents of well-known Mortal Kombat mainstays, such as Cassie Cage (daughter of Johnny and Sonya), Jacqui (daughter of Jax), Takeda (son of Kenshi and apprentice of Scorpion) and Kung Jin (younger cousin of Kung Lao). That’s not all though, as Mortal Kombat X includes other first-time fighters, like the sharpshooting Erron Black, the insect-summoning D’Vorah, the symbiotic brute and pint-sized scrapper Ferra/Torr, and the almighty Emperor of Outworld, Kotal Khan.
Platforms: Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Also coming out later this year on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
Release Date: April 14, 2015
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: NetherRealm Studios
ERSB Rating: M (Mature)
Game Modes: Multiplayer, Single-player
Product Description: Mortal Kombat X is the 10th instalment in the exciting fighting game series. It’s fueled by jaw-dropping next-gen technology, a new storyline, combines unparalleled, cinematic visuals with dynamic gameplay to deliver an unparalleled battle for global supremacy.
4. Refined Gameplay
The Mortal Kombat series always had competent controls, but it wasn’t until 2011’s reboot that I felt it finally became tournament-ready. Mortal Kombat X refines the gameplay even further with tighter and more responsive handling, all running at a buttery smooth 60 frames-per-second. Basic attacks and special moves are fairly simple to execute and master, then for those willing to put in the extra effort, a broad list of multi-hit “Kombos” will take your game to the next level. When you add in advanced tactics like reversals, knockdown rolls, delayed wakeups, X-Ray attacks, and interaction with background objects, you have all the tools needed for a deep, strategic tournament fighter.
5. Character Variations
To further diversify your gameplay options, Mortal Kombat X features three variations for each character that add new abilities and change their physical appearance in some way. Take Raiden for example, in his Thunder God form he has enhanced lightning attacks, allowing him to string together longer combos for increased damage. In his Displacer variation, he gains new teleportation moves that make him difficult to contain and more mobile in combat. Finally, as Master of Storms, he’s able to create lightning traps with a wide area of effect, enabling him to control the battlefield. Character variations cater to different play styles and offer new approaches to combat, giving you even more options to suit your preferences.
6. Faction Wars
Faction Wars is a brand new affiliation-based multiplayer mode introduced in Mortal Kombat X. Upon starting the game for the first time, you’ll be asked to join one of five different factions: (1) Lin Kuei, a secretive warrior clan led by its Grandmaster, Sub-Zero; (2) Black Dragon, a cutthroat criminal organization headed up by Kano; (3) Brotherhood of Shadow, a ruthless cult from the Netherrealm serving the fallen Elder God, Shinnok; (4) Special Forces, a military group with Sonya Blade as a commanding officer; and (5) White Lotus, a secret order formed by the Thunder God, Raiden.
Once you’ve made your choice, everything you do in the game (online or offline) will contribute points to your faction. There are also special Faction Challenges given to you daily that award your group with more points upon completion. At the end of each week, the faction with the largest number of points will be declared the Faction Champion and will earn special rewards for their team. What I really like about this mode is how it enables everyone who plays Mortal Kombat X to contribute to the war, no matter if you’re playing through the storyline, or battling for supremacy online against other players.
7. A Wealth of Online Modes
If you enjoy online competitions, Mortal Kombat X has you covered. The game includes a healthy mix of ranked and unranked modes including standard Versus, Team Battles where you join or create a team to compete against other groups, and my personal favourite, King of the Hill, which challenges you to win consecutive matches against a rotating group of opponents. There’s also a neat mode called Tower Battle that lets you compete for the highest score in a randomly generated tower—ideal for those who enjoy taking on AI opponents, yet still want to have fun challenging others.
8. Plenty of Offline Modes Too
I’ve already discussed the engaging Story Mode, but there are plenty more offline modes for you to enjoy in Mortal Kombat X. Klassic Towers make their return, letting you take on increasingly more difficult opponents as you fight your way to the top of each tower. Test Your Might is another returning mode, and has you jam buttons as fast as you can to break objects. What’s really cool this time around though are the new Living Towers, which are constantly shifting challenges that change weekly, daily, and even hourly. What this means is you’ll regularly have new Tower to test you skills on, keeping the action fresh and exciting. Test Your Luck, another fun classic mode, is also back, allowing you to face off against competitors with random modifiers like exploding ground mines, infinite super meter, a condensed fighting space, and more. The weirdest modifier I saw was “falling heads”, which has frequent falling heads rain down on you as you fight (and they deal moderate damage too). It’s certainly odd, but enjoyable if you’re in the mood for some unpredictable fun.
9. Lots of Extras
Like most games in the series before it, Mortal Kombat X includes a boatload of extras and secrets for you discover. The interactive first-person Krypt is back, serving as essentially a vast storefront to purchase new fatalities, concept art, character skins, and more, using in-game Koins. This currency is awarded after each match, with the amount dependent on how well you performed. In the Krypt you’ll explore various areas including the Dead Woods, Shao Kahn’s Tomb, and the Spider Tunnels—each containing their own monsters that will occasionally jump scare you with a sudden surprise attack. Sure it’s quirky, but it provides light fun, and it’s much better than a boring, static storefront.
10. Best Mortal Kombat game yet
While the points above are compelling enough, the top reason why every fighting fan should play Mortal Kombat X is that it’s simply the best the series has ever offered. With every Mortal Kombat game there’s always a lot of discussion about the gore, the blood, the over-the-top fatalities, and yes this game has all of these in spades; at the same time though, it’s also a technically sound, brilliantly-designed tournament fighter that will keep coming back for more. With outstanding graphics, tight controls, a variety of characters, and plenty of modes, there’s a lot to love about Mortal Kombat X. Did it live up to the hype? Absolutely. If you enjoy fighting games, do yourself a favour and check out Mortal Kombat X.
See you in the fighting arenas!