NetherRealm Studio’s reboot of Mortal Kombat was a great reintroduction to the characters and lore of the industry’s most brutal fighting game. Not only did players re-examine the story and feuds from the past, but we were given new insight and perspective into the events that shaped the Mortal Kombat series as we know it today. More importantly however, Mortal Kombat helped revisit the solid 2D system and gore factor the series has always been renowned for. Once again NetherRealm Studios raises the bar with Mortal Kombat X by further enhancing the quality of the story, fighting, and blood and gore.
The presentation of Mortal Kombat X is phenomenal. The fighters and stages have never looked more beautiful and grungy before in the entire series. The level of detail is turned up to the max, with subtle details setting a new benchmark of visuals for other games in the genre. The gore is at an all-time high, with X-Ray attacks and fatalities showing every nook and cranny of detail that you want (and possibly don’t want) to see. In the background you can see all kinds of lively characters or creatures that make the fights feel more cinematic and on par with any high production martial arts or action movie. There are also many new background objects to use during a match.
The character roster is around the same amount as the previous Mortal Kombat, but with a whole grouping of new faces to the series. Fighters have three variations of fighting styles to choose from before a match, which diversifies the way you play with characters in almost any matchup. The styles for each fighter all have their pros and cons that heavily factor into matches, as well as different aesthetic changes. Pairing all of this with more background interactions similar to NetherRealm Studio’s previous title, Injustice: Gods Among Us, and you have an incredibly brutal, yet flashy, fighting game.
The story mode is back once again, and it continues where the previous game left off. Set twenty-five years after the events of Mortal Kombat, a lot of fresh faces come forward to expand upon the series’ lore. What is interesting here is how the newer characters take such an important role in the events that transpire the during story mode, as well as the unique dynamics and relationships they develop with much of the classic Mortal Kombat fighters. It is however disappointing that the duration of the story is shorter than NetherRealm Studios’ previous game. Completing the story feels like we’re given more questions which are left open for the eventual sequel, rather than a definitive conclusion. Regardless of this shortcoming, the story is by far the most well-handled cinematic tale NetherRealm has done to date.
Mortal Kombat X still puts a lot of emphasis on the fighting that everyone loves. You get your Practice Mode and classic arcade ladder called Towers, which open up an ending upon completion. In addition to this, there is the Living Towers mode, which has a series of fights similar to a classic arcade tower but offer varying degrees of match modifiers and stipulations with a theme.
The Living Towers change up their theme every hour, day, and possibly month, for premiere Towers that are showcased. Playing through them will offer more Koins to unlock items in the Krypt, as well as experience to unlock goodies. The Krypt returns in a big way, with a whole extra metagame which is more than just unlocking stationary coffins for unlockables. You go through a dungeon in first-person, similar to any FPS dungeon crawler, and utilize Koins and items to traverse the environment and gain discover unlockables for Mortal Kombat X. This is a welcomed change that makes unlocking new fatalities, character costumes, and more, incredibly addictive and exciting.
By far the best thing to come out of Mortal Kombat X online multiplayer is the approach to online lobbies. When waiting for a match, you have the ability to toggle between a match view with the lobby displayed or full screen of an on-going match, as well as the option to go into Practice Mode while you wait your turn. This is a huge step up for the fighting genre, as it makes waiting your turn in a large lobby less boring. This is something that future games in the genre need to consider implementing into their online play; it really is a great new addition to the online experience.
Speaking of Factions, online play takes on a whole new dimension of depth with players being able to contribute to giant Faction Battles online. Everything you do in single player and multiplayer gives you experience and points contributed to a faction of your choosing. You gain Faction Kills and match winning fatalities to use both online and offline, as well as icons and banners to show on an online profile card. This is great because it gives players even more incentive to play through other modes and feel as if they’re contributing to and gaining something bigger along the way. Playing online, players can jump into ranked and unranked matches like usual, as well as Faction Team Battles where teams of opposing factions can duke it out for even more XP and Koins.
Mortal Kombat X is not the definitive game we’ve always wanted in the series, but it come very close to being so. The evolution of the series continues to be positive in all of the right ways and stays unique amongst other popular series in the fighting genre. The few issues present within Mortal Kombat X are heavily outweighed by all of the great things NetherRealm Studios does well for fans of the series. This is the Mortal Kombat that we have known and loved for so many years at its finest, and it’s going to be exciting to see what the series will do next.
This review was based on a digital copy of Mortal Kombat X for the PlayStation 4 provided by NetherRealm Studios.