Mortal Kombat X Review
Get over here…to our review of Mortal Kombat X, having played this extensively on PC, XboxOne and PS4, completing the story and being destroyed by swords, fanged women and face eating bugs I feel that I have experienced enough horror to tell my view on this eternal kombat of mere mortals.
With the story in the game (along with its presentation) all following the Saturday morning cartoon path perfectly, that if you dropped some of the mild language and incredible gore it would not look out of place within a Ben 10 tale. And like these influences it is a farfetched, extravagant tale of earth realms and dead planes, of mystic powers and bone crunching action.
You start the story as Johnny cage, long time here of the series modelled on Jean Claude Van Damme, now the true hero for earth fighting the evil fellow saviour Sonya wherever and whatever it may be. Shao Kahn is dead, Earth defence finally victorious over the Netherrealm's evil plan to destroy earth and the human race via the best and in no way pointless plan of mortal kombat. But this is a fantasy realm and it would make for a boring game of food shopping, relationship management, bill paying and other assortment of mundane tasks that would quickly become as repetitive and stressful as real life if this was all that the story entailed.
Fortunately we are saved from the game of mediocrity by another evil Lord orchestrating the entire events of mk9 from a veil of shadows and now steps into the banished Shao Kahn shoes to have his own pop at earth domination via the use of feet, fists and flashy powers. Shinnock deciding to use the almighty power of some amulet likely borrowed from raiders of the lost ark to summon the dark powers and put an end to earth realms defence once and for all. But aided by Raiden team leader Johnny cage and Sonya manage to defeat and capture Shinnock who is being helped by Quan Chi and the use of some fallen comrades now resurrected from the dead as servants of the dark realm in the form of Jax, Kung lau and my and many others personal favourite Liu Kang. Taking these main characters out of the story as far as the start and flow is concerned is a risky choice, aided somewhat by the introduction of some new characters. Both Jax and more surprisingly Mr Cage and Sonya have been busy and now have a daughter all set to fight alongside them in mortal kombat.
This long span of story arc runs across a 20 year gap with Johnny and Sonya not married or even friends now and the daughter's (and other descendants like Kung Jin) all offering up new but ultimately familiar slants on their relations fighting prowess. As the single player story unfolded in very long and sometimes confusing flashbacks that jump over many years and plot threads that can leave you disoriented a little unless you play close attention. These are engaging slightly more but the again pre-rendered but from the same engine QTE sections that precede the start of a new chapter which involves you controlling another character within the world as you learn and unlock more of what the game offers. To learn more in the visuals please check out my 1st look and detailed analysis of all versions here. But the delivery of these in-engine but pre-rendered sections is choppy on all formats and can be jarring at times, but never enough to ruin them completely.
It all feels like a more violent Saturday morning cartoon tail that would not feel out of place on Cartoon Network or within a Ben 10 tail, albeit with more claret than comedy. And it is commendable that Nether-realm have spent such effort on the story of a fighter like this that at least adds some narrative to each fight and makes the pre-fight banter more contextual, but it falls down with its zig zag approach to it that even though it can be completed (helped with tokens earned that allow you to skip certain tougher fights if needed) in one sitting can still leave you confused sometimes as to just what and who is on what side. But it does offer up enough of a time filler that allows you to get used to the controls and characters without the ability for fatalities (aside 1 section) to ruin your play as you frantically twitch around the screen in a desperate attempt to pull of that satisfying end of a fight, that can result in a comical fall or bitch slap instead more often than not until you get up to speed.
But like last time they have thought of this and offered up simple versions of these that only involve holding 2 buttons, these can be purchased using krypt koins (get used to the K everywhere) to extend them across the range. You can also use these to unlock new skins and play styles among more within the game. But the SP is merely an appetizer to the MP and other fighting options in the game, allowing you to chose from the standard and unlocked characters along with the relatively small selection of fighting arena, with my first real gripe being that these are not only far too few compared to the characters on offer, with about half the amount of character numbers being available as a stage, instead you only have 13 to choose from, even though over 24 characters are on the selection list. This is made even more limiting by the fact each stage has a very linear scope and similar interactive sections within. These normally involve vaulting off of scenery to avoid a lock in or hurling a background NPC or object, the only time you feel to have more attack options is in the haunted woods or jungle river stage.
Something like the multi-layered arena's of Nether-realm last Injustice or dead or alive would have been far more welcome here along with level based fatalities also which is missing from the original game like the spike death uppercut being a fan favorite. Again move sets all seems to be within the normal slide, fireball and linked attack set and many of the characters seem to be slight alterations of others aside some like Kotal Kahn Which as the second character you play in the single player game does take some learning as his style is far more labored and timing more critical than the easier and more fluid Johnny cage or Liu Kang But the fan favorites are here with scorpion and sub zero still not felling the bro love, Jax and his daughter are mirrors of each as are Sonya and Cassandra and aside some extreme characters all fall into the normal fighting catalogue. This is added to by each character have a style to choose from a pool of 3 that alter some moves and weapons for some, but not to a huge degree but the diversity is welcome.
Online was and is a mixed bag, with very slow to search for new games but once connected lag and stability is decent with no real win or fail over other online fighters. The connection to servers and games is consistent on all platforms, the only exception being the Playstation (PS3 and 4 as this is a cross gen game) both being Locked to the region of the purchased game be North America or Europe so bear this in mind if you buy digital on a U.S. Account this will limit your adversary choice and may leave you with the worse connection rate more often than not.
After many hours in both single player, online, tower fights and random match generators the game is a solid update on the mortal kombat saga but not really brave or bold enough to push anything new or groundbreaking over what is expected, in fact in places it can feel like as step back. The visuals are impressive at times and sound also that allows you to enjoy, punish and wince in equal measure as this game certainly earns its adult only rating. Some of the characters are worth learning the new skills but none feel sufficiently different to really draw you in. The story is a solid effort that is commendable in aim if not in execution something the game still excels at Within battles, but long after the draw of the next comical and extreme fatality or harder still brutality has waned you are left with a solid but not evolving enough beat-em-up that will sit aside your others to be played from time to time. It is just a shame the opportunity of offering up a deeper combat system or immersive arena has not been attempted here, which could have made it stand above other battlers over its short lived visceral impact.