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Mortal_Kombat_XL_2.jpgMortal Kombat X gets super-sized 

Mortal Kombat has always been a solid fighting franchise, but it was last year’s exceptional Mortal Kombat X that really elevated it into the realm of the top-tier, tournament-ready elite. Every aspect of the game felt polished and perfected, from its large, diverse roster consisting of welcome newcomers and returning favourites, to its plethora of character variations and deep, rewarding gameplay, to its abundance of excellent game modes—both online and offline—that far outmatch its competition.

If you’re a Mortal Kombat fan and have somehow managed to resist immersing yourself in NetherRealm Studios’ latest, greatest fighting game masterpiece, then now’s the time to come onboard with the release of Mortal Kombat XL. This beefed up definitive version contains all the content from the original, plus every DLC character and Skin Pack that has released to date. That’s nine extra combatants (bringing the roster up to a whopping 33) and dozens of very cool alternative skins that will give your characters distinctive and personalized looks.

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Game Details

Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Developer: NetherRealm Studios

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Genre: Fighting
Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
ESRB Rating: M (Mature, 17+)

The latest content and updates

Over the last year, NetherRealm has released numerous game updates for MKX and by picking up the XL package you’ll have access to them all right out of the box. That means you’ll immediately be able to play the latest software version of the game, complete with all the balance tweaks, fixes, and enhancements that have helped refined the superb gameplay even further. You’ll also get the newly added stage, The Pit, which will happily remind long-time fans of the original Pit stage in 1992’s Mortal Kombat, complete with a nasty new spike-impaling Fatality.

On the topic of fatalities, you’ll also gain access to four Klassic Fatalities from the original Mortal Kombat—Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Sonya, and Johnny Cage—and four Klassic Fatalities from Mortal Kombat 2—Mileena, Kitana, Kung Lao, and Jax. As a fan from the beginning, it’s certainly fun to take a trip down memory lane and revisit iconic finishers like Sub-Zero’s spine rip or Sonya Blade’s kiss of death; however, it’s astonishing how pale these fatalities seem in comparison to the much more elaborate and gruesome deaths created specifically for MKX. Comparing then and now offers a stark reminder of how far along the carnage scale the MK series has come since the early years, having gone from simple, straight-forward ending moves to ones so thoroughly over-the-top you sometimes have to chuckle at how outlandish they are.

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Nine new playable characters

By far the best perk included in MK XL is the nine extra playable DLC characters, which includes Goro (the original game’s pre-order bonus) and all eight of the new combatants released in Kombo Packs 1 & 2. These consist of classic MK characters Tanya, who actually appears in the game’s story mode (albeit as a non-playable enemy,) and Bo’ Rai Cho, the master of drunken martial arts who just happened to train the legendary heroes Kung Lao and Liu Kang. You’ll also get the mysterious brown-garbed ninja Tremor, who finally is fully playable for the first time, and Triborg, a debuting robotic warrior that combines the consciousness and abilities of Sektor, Cyrax, Smoke, and Cyber Sub-Zero (unlockable using a special code.)

All four of these DLC challengers add their own unique flair to combat, from Tremor’s devastating earth-based attacks that shake the entire battlefield, to Bo’ Rai Cho’s unorthodox approach of mixing in puke puddles and farts to his drunken master melee attacks. Tanya has some cool move too, like her teleports to apply pressure and impressive range of air kicks, but it’s a bit disappointing she’s considered one of the “new” characters when already appeared in the story mode and should have a been added as free DLC. It’s Triborg though who’s most interesting as each of his variations represent a different Lin Kuei character (Sektor, Cyrax, Smoke, and Cyber Sub-Zero), complete with replicating their fighting styles, weapons and powers. Essentially this means you get four full characters merged into one, which I think is pretty awesome, especially considering how effective these ninja cyborgs are.

Mortal-Kombat-XL.jpgHorror movie fans will love the other four DLC characters featured in MK XL: Leatherface, Jason Voorhees, Alien, and Predator. This continues the tradition started in 2011’s Mortal Kombat, which contained A Nightmare on Elm Street horror icon Freddy Krueger, so it’s really awesome to see that WB Games has licensed even more horror greats. While we narrowly missed out on Freddy vs. Jason match-ups, at least this time we can take sides in the eternal Alien vs. Predator war and battle it out MK style.

I was tempted to think these horror legends may wind up being gimmicks, included for their novelty factor, but the truth is they are anything but. In fact, I’d go so far to say these four characters are among the strongest in the whole game, and players who love MKX’s online competitive modes would be wise to check them out. It’s really amazing too to see how well NetherRealm Studios has captured the essence of each horror icon, from their signature look and preferred weapons, right down to their battle stance and movement.

Jason, for example, is a near unstoppable brute force killing machine, complete with machete and ability to resurrect himself after dying. The alien Xenomorph is just as faithful to its roots too, possessing the ability to use its tail like a fifth limb, spew acid, and even produce an Ovomorph alien egg that leaps and latches onto your opponent’s face. Leatherface might just be the most sadistic MK fighter of all-time with this wild chainsaw swings that can rip through flesh like butter, and Predator masterfully uses his futuristic tech to keep opponents at bay with plasma shots, while also going into stealth mode for reduced chip damage. When times get really tough, the Predator can even activate a self-destruct mechanism to severely damage both combatants—ouch!

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New costumes galore

The last major “extra” included in MK XL is the copious amount of skins that will give your characters fancy new, distinctive looks. There are quite a few new costumes too (27 by my count) for a huge swath of fighters, ranging from mainstays like Kano and Sub-Zero, to newcomers like Jacqui Briggs and Cassie Cage. As a long-time fan of the Mortal Kombat franchise, I really dug the many “Klassic” skins you can choose from, letting you dress characters such as Sonya, Lui Kang, and Kung Lao in their original MK/MK2 costumes. Many of the skin packs are themed too, with my favourites being the “Horror Skin Pack” that gives you Vampiress Mileena, Kraken Reptile, and Pharoah Ermac, and the “Samurai Skin Pack” featuring reimagined versions of Kenshi, Shinnok, and Kitana as Imperial Samurai and Ronin.

There’s a whole bunch of other skin packs as well, like a Predator-themed one, Russian-style “Kold War” skins, an apocalyptic theme pack, and even a skin pack that reimages a trio of characters as Brazilian soccer player. It’s great to have such a large variety of new outfits to try out—and that’s on top of the three variants of each character to boot. As someone who likes to challenge my friends online, and compete against other players around the world, it’s fun as well to show off your new costumes—be it intimidating ones like “Kold War Scorpion” or offbeat ones like a version of Jax modelled after Carl Weathers’ likeness that even includes his voice!

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Final Thoughts

Mortal Kombat XL takes last year’s top-notch fighting game and kicks it up another “notch” with new fighters, new skins, a new stage, and tons of welcome game balances and tweaks. If you’ve been thinking about jumping into the MKX experience, there’s no better way than by picking up this super-sized updated version. Just take a look at my article last year covering all the many reasons why MKX is pure awesome, now add in all the bonus content included in MK XL to get a sense of how amazing this definitive version is.

+ Retains all the content, pristine graphics, and precise gameplay of MKX

+ 9 new characters are awesome, particularly the horror icons

+ Balance tweaks that further refine the gameplay

+ Loads of extra goodies like dozens of skins, new fatalities, and a bonus stage

+ Tons of single-player, multiplayer, offline and online modes

– No updates to Story mode, it’s still a little weak

– Gameplay not as deep as its competition

SCORE

Gameplay: 4.5/5
Graphics: 4/5
Sound: 4/5
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4.5/5

Overall Rating 4.3/5 (86%)

Get Mortal Kombat XL for PlayStation 4

Get Mortal Kombat XL for Xbox One