First, let me be honest with you. Over the past 20 years I have been a Street Fighter fan and rarely played any of the various iterations of Mortal Kombat. I remember getting MK I on the Super Nintendo (the one with the grey blood) for Christmas in the early 90’s. I couldn’t do the special moves or combos because I was only about seven years old. Regardless, I thought the graphics and characters were pretty awesome (and still do). I also remember receiving Street Fighter II and enjoying that game for the same reasons despite my inability to input button commands in conjunction with motions on the d-pad. I don’t know why I decided to continue buying SF over MK but hey…different stokes, different folks. In my return to the MK series with Mortal Kombat X, I have witnessed with fresh and objective eyes a triumphant tour de force by Ed Boon and those other mentally disturbed minds at Netherrealm Studios.
STORY: Years Gone By
Being a novice in MK lore, I was pleased by how the game recapped the events of the previous entry clearly and concisely. After an opening chapter occurring a few years after Shao Kahn’s defeat in Mortal Kombat (2011), the story jumps ahead two decades and picks up with some serious Shinola happening. An Outworld civil war between Shao Khan’s heir Milena and current ruler Kotal Khan. Quan Chi stirring things up with the undead in the Nether Realm. Add to that a new squad of Special Forces members as well as the return of Sonya, Johnny Cage and Jax - It’s going down for real!
The single player campaign is the best fighting game story I have ever experienced. While ridiculous and over the top, the plot is extremely well constructed and features snappy, witty dialogue in cut scenes and during the course of matches. The new characters mesh well with the old and I actually dig the voice acting and dialogue between the old guard and the new kids on the block. Story is very important to me - even in the fighting game genre. MKX has an overarching, complex yet cohesive story that begins and ends strong by connecting the old and the new elements in a very satisfying matter.
GAMEPLAY: There will be Blood
In addition to the story mode, there are a variety of Tower Challenges and Faction Battles that follow the traditional arcade mode structure of the early MK titles. New wrinkles include match specific modifiers that change the complexation of certain matches, i.e. health regen, no jumping, increased damage…etc. This is expanded on in the Test Your Luck mode which features as many as seven random match parameters. This is amusing when playing against friends but the real meat of MKX is in the traditional versus mode with the updated combat system.
There are many different elements to the fighting system such as a stamina meter, enhanced special moves, combo breakers and X-Rays (super moves that take an entire bar of combat meter but are incredibility powerful…and brutal). Add to that a total of three unique combat variations for each character. While initially intimidating, I found experimentation with a few select characters as well as their respective fighting styles to be highly productive as I quickly found which character/style combinations worked best for me. Different strokes, different folks.
I found the controls to be very responsive and (with practice) was able to string together meaningful combos on a consistent basis. All the basic hits and special moves feel extremely satisfying - especially when executed with precision timing. I played MKX on the PS4 gamepad and found it easy to perform combos and special moves without the aid of an arcade stick. The combat is silky smooth, the control inputs are simple enough and the act of performing a fatality after an exhausting bout is incredibility rewarding. MKX can be enjoyed on many different levels by players of all abilities in both offline and online versus modes.
GRAPHICS: Ice to Meet You!
MKX is a very pretty game. A great deal of care went into each character’s design and costumes. Blood splatters on character models and costumes show damage during the course of battle. The special moves involving fire and ice look realistic and the framerate remains smooth throughout. The background environments are particularily impressive. Both the rain and snow effects are well done and add a layer of realism to the environment. The only negative to this is when the characters get wet. The water effect makes characters’ faces look like plastic doll heads.
That small nick-pick outside, this is an impressive showcase for the next generation of consoles. Even more important is the quality of the art direction and character design to which MKX has set the bar high for future fighting games. All the environments in cut scenes and player matches mesh seamlessly with each other and the characters fit in without standing out. It feels like one complete universe and provides a solid foundation for the more outlandish characters and fanciful elements of the story.
EXTRAS: Tales from the Krypt
During the course of playing the variety of modes in MKX, players collect Koins that can be used to purchase extra fatalities, brutalities and costumes for all the different characters via the Krypt - a special stand-alone first person exploration mode. For those who have extra cash, DLC characters such as the iconic Goro and Jason Voorhees are currently available for purchase with Predator DLC coming in the near future. Even for those who choose to purchase the standard edition will find a mountain of extra content waiting to be unearthed.
One More Thing: This is my first article for Geeks with Wives and I look forward to contributing more content on a consistent basis on various geek related matters! I want to thank everyone at GWW for welcoming me with open arms, as well as send a special shout out to Jeff Gordon and Casey Walsh for setting me up and making me feel at home. Finally, thank YOU for reading and I encourage you to communicate with me in the comments below or via my twitter handle @cdrysportsguy.