The Mortal Kombat series has been through a lot. Mortal Kombat IX rebooted the series and trimmed the fat. But how does Mortal Kombat X hold up without having nostalgia on its side?
Mortal Kombat X enhances the series’ fighting system from the 2011 reboot. New features such as fighting-style variations and a stamina meter give you thing to take into consideration before beating your opponent to a bloody pulp. Fatalities and X-Ray attacks are the series’ most gloriously gruesome yet. But Mortal Kombat X also maintains its twisted sense of humour and gives players plenty of absurdity to laugh at.
Mortal Kombat X upholds the series’ legacy. The story carries on from the stellar Mortal Kombat IX, with several returning characters showing the newbies how it’s done. Once again, the focus is on the battle between realms. New faces on the side of Earthrealm, keeps things feeling new, but they don’t hold a candle to the original cast. Cassie Cage does a great job thanks to her memorable fatalities, but most of the others are too similar to their relatives to standout.
There are also a handful of new bad guys. The insect like D’vorah and the cowboy Erron Black introduce new fighting styles to the mix. D’vorah’s spider-like arms spring from her back for some brutal stabbing attacks, while Erron Black uses guns. Ferra Torr looks like they’ve just arrived from the Thunderdome and comprise of a little girl who commands a hulking brute from atop his back. The bad guys are a better fit for Mortal Kombat’s roster. But that isn’t surprising as Mortal Kombat has never been a cheery affair.
Story mode returns with another excellent dose of lore. Several beats affect long-standing relationships, which are a treat for long-time fans. Cassie Cage provides the motivations for Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade to explore their feelings, and ultimately, grow as people by the story’s close.
But the meat of Mortal Kombat X is in the new fighting engine. Which is the smoothest the series has ever seen. Combos are more fluid and give a faster pace to each round. The ability to power-up special attacks, break combos, and perform x-ray attack have all thankfully returned. Especially the x-ray attacks, which reveal the insides of one opponent while the attacker breaks them into pieces in slow motion. A newly introduced stamina bar limits certain abilities - it’s impossible to spam dashing manoeuvres, using interactive elements in each stage must be better planned, and escaping a corner, can only be used if you have enough stamina.
Local battles are great fun, but online matches are where fighting games thrive in the long run. The netcode that drives Mortal Kombat X’s online matches is fine. Most matches will play out as intended but the occasionally laggy match will interrupt your enjoyment. Thankfully, this is a rarity.
Mortal Kombat X also brings back Towers, which provide arcade mode-like challenges. The Test Your Luck tower puts you in a series of fights with randomly selected modifiers, which change up everything from terrain to gravity to keep you on your toes. The modifier-driven fights are also the focus of new “living towers”. These offer fixed modifiers that change every hour, day, or week depending on the tower.
Mortal Kombat X also introduces factions, that compete on a worldwide scale. Joining a faction is the first thing you do after loading up the game. As you fight in the game’s various modes, you’ll earn points for your faction and level up. Eventually hitting milestones that open up faction kills. Every week, a faction is declared the winner and its members earn rewards. The more you play, the more you contribute. It’s won’t be your main focus while ripping opponents to bloody pieces, but it does provide a nice passive bonus.
The Krypt Keeper
No matter what mode you play you’ll “koins.” These are used to unlock fatalities, brutalities, fan art, and character skins, to name a few. These all live, locked away in the Krypt - a first-person dungeon. The Krypt is composed of areas containing tombstones, sarcophagus’s, and other containers. Spending koins will give you the treasures within. But there’s a catch - you never know what you’re buying until you’ve purchased it. On one hand this adds tension to each purchase, but on the other it can feel like an annoying slog. Koins are not plentiful, for instance one trip through the lengthy story mode rewards enough koins for a mere fraction of the items. Other modes are even less generous. When Mortal Kombat has always thrived on it’s gory fatalities its a shame that more than half of them are locked away in the Krypt.
Mortal Kombat X is a fantastic fighting game, one of my favourites in fact. A great roster with a variety of diverse fighting styles gives you plenty to play with. The new fighting mechanics add depth and elevate the entire experience. The gruesome creativity on display is better than ever and Mortal Kombat X features some of the greatest fatalities we’ve ever seen.