We’ve seen the Fatalities, we know who’s next so now it’s time to see if this instalment of Mortal Kombat is any good. Does the story mode, mechanical changes and online suite guarantee a Flawless Victory, or should it be sent straight to the NetherRealm?
The first thing to note about Mortal Kombat X is the leap in visual quality from Mortal Kombat 9. The previous game was notorious for its pretty hideous character models, gratuitous female character design (I’m looking at you Mileena) and its awkward animation. Fortunately, all these issues have been addressed in MKX, resulting in a fighting game that looks fantastic, animates beautifully whilst also being utterly disgusting at the same time. The lighting effects are great in battle, characters gleam with sweat and blood as the fight goes on and characters flow gracefully mid combo, unlike the janky jerks of MK9. Mortal Kombat X’s female characters now actually look human, rather than if someone stapled some melons onto a Barbie doll and splattered it with ketchup. However, some of the character redesigns have not been for the better, with Reptile’s redesign being especially boring.
The Fatalities are some of the most gory the series have ever seen, with NetherRealm even going so far as to animate brains falling out of skulls that have been sliced in half, or showing steam coming off a body that has been bisected in some horrific way. The sound design is also top notch, with bones snapping with impact and guts wetly slapping on the floor. You can tell the folly artists had fun creating the sound effects for the various beheadings and eviscerations found in Mortal Kombat X. If you can, definitely play with headphones to get the full visceral experience. While there seems to be a great focus on cutting bodies in half and that gets samey after a while, some Fatalities will always make you squirm whenever you see them.
Brutalites however, are very hit and miss. Some characters’ Brutalities, particularly Erron Black’s, are much better than his full Fatalities but require you to fulfil such a laborious set of conditions that you might as well not bother in proper matches. I’ve successfully pulled off one Brutality in an online match and it was by pure dumb luck that it happened. I appreciate the thought of adding them but some are so conditional that you’ll practically throw the match whilst trying to do it.
As for the new kombatants, most of the additions to the roster have been worthwhile, with NetherRealm taking clear experience from Injustice in creating certain fighters. Kung Jin is basically a dressed up version of Green Arrow while Ferra/Tor has one Variation which basically turns him into Bane. However, MKX’s Variation system means that a character will play very differently depending on which mode you pick. You are basically getting three for the price of one with every character pick, making counter picking variations a vital part of the MKX metagame. There is the shady issue of certain fan favourite characters like Rain being in the game just as NPC fighters, which are probably to be later updated to a full fighter. This is especially apparent with Tanya, who is planned to be in the first Kombat Pack, being in game already in this form. Whether this counts as on-disc DLC is murky but what cannot be excused is the decision to lock Goro behind a paywall. He is on-disc DLC, with him being greyed out on the standard character select screen until you pay for him. At least the other fighters are fully created, while Goro simply sits there until you cough up the cash.