Some things never change, and in the case of Mortal Kombat, this old saying couldn’t be more true. Yes, the game’s been given a facelift with new characters taking the centre stage, but at it’s heart, Mortal Kombat X manages to stay true to the reboot from a few years ago, whilst also adding a few new Kostmetic (see what I did there?) and gameplay changes.
First off, Mortal Kombat X takes place both after the events of the first games epic conclusion, and also 20 years into the future, helping to mitigate the amount of characters that died from the original. A great Elder God tried to take over Earth-realm once Shao-Kahn was annhilated, and as such, Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade came to the rescue alongside Raiden, trapping said Elder God for millennia.
Fast forward 20 years, and you have the world as a different place – kids have been raised, Blade and Cage are now a part of Earth’s defences, and the outworld has been taken over by a new emperor; Kotal Kahn. This new look at a well-known world is fairly cool, especially with how much people have changed. Cage for example was always the smart-ass, but in the future he’s fairly calm, collected, and a great leader.
As with the original Mortal Kombat reboot, the story takes place across different stages and with you taking control of any character that’s central to the plot at that time. You get to experiment with many characters and all their different assortment of control schemes, and in doing so, build up an understanding for the subtle changes NetherRealm studios have employed. It can be annoying at times, especially when you take control of a slow character that you can’t string any combo’s together with, but at least it gives you and understanding of that character for when you have to fight them on the opposing side.
Overall, with a 5 hour story, Mortal Kombat’s campaign kept me intrigued until it’s end, but it was nothing to shout home about. The drama felt stiff, and every step of the way it felt contrived, as if the current situation your characters were in was purely for the developers to have a new fight matchup. I mean, some characters would destroy an enemy when you control them, but out of nowhere they’re defeated later on in the campaign? It makes no sense. If you come into Mortal Kombat expecting a great story, be warned; this is like B-roll movie.
Story out of the way, how’s the combat? Overall, pretty impressive. When fighting regular matches outside of the campaign you get to chose multiple styles of combat for each character you may play as. Each style has it’s own distinct pros and cons, with some styles being more powerful but slower, and others speeding things up to the detriment of the damage you can cause.
It’s still Mortal Kombat combat though, and as many of us have said over the years, it just doesn’t feel right. It’s completely competent at what it does, don’t get me wrong, but my god are there times where you swear the game is cheating for the opponent, or you get slammed with no chance of blocking or re-cooperating. I’m sure you’ll be able to find professionals online playing the game at such a level that it looks fantastic, but for people like me who dabble in fighting games now and then it just doesn’t feel right. It strikes a weird balance between Tekken and Street Fighter, which you’d expect would be a perfect combination, but in the end comes off as just feeling off.
Graphically, you can tell Mortal Kombat X was made for the next generation of consoles, and even on PC the game is absolutely stunning. Running at the highest settings, it was jarring when character models and lighting effects were better in-game than the cinematics that took place. Particle effects are plentiful throughout combat, and the Fatalities are just as gruesome as ever, with blood and guts going everywhere.
The collectibles on offer past the campaign are ridiculously plentiful, with the gallery where you unlock them all being a game in-itself! Walking around a maze, trying to purchase things whilst also unlocking mysteries and taking on wolves, it’s gratifying the amount of detail they’ve put into something as simple as unlocking extra movesets.
Past the gallery, you also have plenty of online modes to take advantage off. Before you begin the game, you must choose a clan. There’s 5 different clans to choose from, with everything you do throughout the game contorting points towards your designated clan. It’s a weirdly cool incentive to play more hours into the night, especially when your clan is closest to winning the daily prize pool of Koins to spend in the gallery.
So, for all the small cosmetic (and minor gameplay) changes, does Mortal Kombat X warrant a purchase with your hard earned money? As always, it depends. There’s probably some of you who love the way that Mortal Kombat plays and feels, even from the Sega Mega Drive days, and to you I’d say get it, you’ll feel right at home. But for those of you who only dabble in fighting games like myself, I’d stay away from Mortal Kombat X unless you can get it on sale; the story and features around the gameplay are cool, but the combat itself never truly feels great, which is a shame, as that’s the core reason most of us by fighting games: to fight.