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New Mortal Kombat a mixed X-perience

Apr 28, 2015

By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada

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Mortal Kombat XIt's been four long years since the last Mortal Kombat game, and while the newest title in the long-running fighting franchise, Mortal Kombat X, is somehow even bloodier than its predecessor, it proves no amount of gore can distract from what the game is - a step back for the series.

There's no doubt that MKX is a bold game, but not because of the over-the-top fatalities and brutalities that have become increasingly graphic with each Mortal Kombat iteration. No, it's because developer Neatherrealm Studios has said goodbye to characters such as Smoke, Stryker, and Shao Kahn, for brand new entrants who signal a new movement in the series.

Just think of it as Mortal Kombat: The Kollege Years. The story - which is once again wonderfully fleshed out for a fighting game - bounces back and forth between stalwarts such as Sub-Zero, Jax, and Raiden, and young up-and-coming fighters that include Cassie Cage, Takeda, and Kung Jin.

Although the campaign mode does a commendable job of introducing new characters while keeping the spotlight on fan favourites, it still amounts to numerous matches, with several cut scenes and a few quick-time events sprinkled in. I was entertained by the one-liners and occasional cameos from non-playable characters, but I can't imagine ever returning to the story mode.

Mortal Kombat XOf course, that's but one aspect of the MKX package, and there's no doubt it's chalk full of content. Netherrealm latched on to what worked in 2011's Mortal Kombat reboot, and multiplied those features a hundred-fold.

The Challenge Tower from 2011's Mortal Kombat was a hit with gamers, and in MKX, there isn't just one tower. Instead, towers are constantly being added and updated.

The thing is, none that I've played thus far are as compelling as the Challenge Tower from the previous Mortal Kombat. Most just throw a random number of fighters for you to tackle one-by-one, with modifiers being added in just as randomly. It simply doesn't have the same appeal as the Challenge Tower and its odd objectives.

The Krypt is also back in MKX, but it's now practically a full-fledged on-rails first person adventure game. There are multiple environments, quick-time events, hidden power-ups that allow for access to new sections of the map, and of course hundreds of items that can be unlocked by earning koins in MKX's numerous game modes.

I was surprisingly addicted to MKX's Krypt - until, that is, I realized just how many koins it would require to unlock everything. I don't have an exact number, but I know it's easily in the hundreds of thousands, and considering how slowly koins are amassed in MKX, it eventually became a slog.

Mortal Kombat XThe grinding doesn't end there, either. For those like me who love nothing more than to fight with a few friends who are sitting beside me on the couch, modifiers are a godsend. There are dozens in MKX, and they run the gamut. You can play one match upside down with blocking disabled in one match, or have another match that sees your health go up every time you hit your opponent.

The problem is, virtually all of those modifiers are initially locked, and the only way you can unlock them is by playing through tower battles with random modifiers activated (when you finish the battle, those modifiers are then unlocked), or by - you guessed it - crossing your fingers and hoping to find them in the Krypt. The whole process is slow and tedious, and I quickly lost interest in those "Kustom Kombat" matches.

It's also a shame that the two-on-two tag team battles that were featured in 2011's Mortal Kombat were dropped completely from MKX.

As for the fighting mechanics, they're just as satisfying in MKX as they were in its predecessor. Every player has his/her/its/their own list of easy-to-pull-off special moves, which can be mixed and matched to create devastating combos. The Super Meter returns, which allows for more powerful special moves. Players can interact with certain parts of the environments, from using vines to swing to safety in a jungle, to attacking the opponent with an elderly woman standing in the background (seriously!).

Mortal Kombat XThe online features have been hugely expanded, but I didn't find any of it to be particularly engrossing, and even worse, a lot of the online features simply didn't work. Even basic things like joining a one-on-one match often took several minutes.

Players can choose to join one of five clans, and as they accumulate victories and other things, they contribute to their clan's overall success. It's a neat idea that opens up new fatalities and other goodies, but none of it sucked me in like I'm sure it was meant to.

I do have to give credit though - whenever I did manage to enter an online match, I encountered virtually zero lag, and lag is certainly something you never want to see in a fighting game.

The character list in MKX isn't as robust as that of its predecessor, although every combatant is different from the next. Each fighter also has three different fighting variations, which adds even more replayability as you decide which suits you best. None of the variations are hugely different from each other, but there is usually enough disparity between the three to justify having the feature in the game.

The game does admittedly look gorgeous on current-gen systems, and I appreciate the attention to detail, such as how every single fighter says something specific to every challenger before each fight - including when players choose the same character.

Mortal Kombat XNetherrealm Studios has stopped simply pumping out a new Mortal Kombat game every year or two, and you can see the amount of work that was put into MKX in the years since the last game in the series.

That said, I wish the game length in MKX wasn't padded by the need to unlock so many features, and it's a shame the online stuff wasn't more interesting and didn't work better in the days following the game's release.

There's a lot to like here, but if you look beyond the smashed bones, decapitations, and buckets of blood, you'll see a game that's undoubtedly rough around the edges.

 

Mortal Kombat X
Format: Playstation 4
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Netherrealm Studios
ESRB Rating: M for Mature 17+
Official Site: http://www.mortalkombat.com/

Rating: 7 / 10

 
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