Fighting games have been a constant favourite among both competitive and casual players with prominent franchises like Tekken and Street Fighter leading the front. There’s just something so satisfying with the genre that constantly brings people back to it. Is it the level of realism that is afforded to certain characters fighting styles, for example Eddy Gordo from the Tekken franchise utilises the Capoeira martial art which hails originally from Brazil. Or maybe its the unique features that are afforded to each franchise. By far the series that is most renowned for its impact on the fighting game genre is Mortal Kombat.
Mortal Kombat X, released in 2015, follows the basic premise of the series, excluding the 3D era, in which two fighters face off against each other in a scenic stage which are usually appealing to look at. The game takes a feature from a different game by Netherrealm Studios, interactable stages. Expanding on the idea of Stage Fatalities that were introduced in the first instalment, this feature allows the player to utilise various objects and weapons that are scattered around the stage. For example in the Dead Woods stage you are able to smash a log into your opponents head, knocking them back quite a bit. I believe that the transfer of this feature from Injustice: Gods Among Us was a particularly good idea as it gave the battles you fought more depth and ultimately enhanced the level of strategy that can be implemented.
Mortal Kombat X focuses on a generic 1 v 1 setup in which players fight against each other in a 2D stage. Simple, right? But Mortal Kombat wouldn’t be the legendary franchise that it is known as today if it was just a basic fighting game. In fact it is renowned for one of the most notably iconic features in the genre and quite possibly in gaming history, Fatalities. One thing is for sure, they have become a hell of a lot more brutal with this iteration in the series. Guts are ripped out, bodies are lifted into the air through telekinesis and then are horrifically cut into pieces on a molecular level. Great, I know but bear with me.
Next there was the re-introduction of Brutalities which are a unique form of a fatality that can only be performed mid-battle. Alongside that is a feature that was first introduced in Mortal Kombat(2011) and has been vastly improved upon in Mortal Kombat X, X-ray attacks. Overall the gameplay and animations are smooth and offer a decent variety however it can get boring extremely quickly, especially if you’re not playing with someone else. Quite simply, I don’t feel like the game has enough variety to entice its audience in comparison to previous entries which included things like Chess Kombat and the ability to create your own Kombatant. Because of this the game is severely lacking in replayability value.
As for characters the game features a good mixture of classic and new fighters to keep the series fresh. Overall the characters are designed well, offering a unique fighting style such as an immortal gunslinger who also uses a scavenged Tarkatan(Baraka) blade. I particularly found the redesigns of classic characters to be the most appealing. The fact that some of the classic characters show clear signs of aging add a certain depth to them and overall make them feel more human which in a world full of reptilian ninjas, cyborgs and bug ladies is quite a feat. Each character offers 3 variations which all add unique special attacks. This was a particularly promising feature as it expanded the level of strategy and tactics that can be created on both the competitive circuit and local multiplayer.
Now the aspects that I’ve talked about so far have all been full of praise with only the one major issue. However this is where things get critical. The story of Mortal Kombat X was just plain disappointing. There were aspects that were enticing however as a whole hardly any of it captured my attention. The use of quick time events were an unnecessary addition and only succeeded in prolonging the amount of time in which you play the story mode. Now before I delve into what parts of the story I found to stand out as being ridiculous I’d like to highlight the parts that I found interesting. These were the idea of Scorpion and Sub Zero finally forming a truce and becoming allies. By far this was the most enthralling point in the story as we see a historic battle that has spanned across ten games finally come to a close.
I found this change of attitudes between the characters relieving as I was beginning to become annoyed by such a simple and just plain boring conflict between the two clan leaders. Ultimately however the story failed miserably to provide a riveting and complimentary introduction to the new generation of Kombatants. And to top it all off Shinnok was incredibly underwhelming especially when compared to Shao Kahn in the previous game. Shao Kahn was as difficult as expected for a final boss however Shinnok barely proved a challenge.
Mortal Kombat X did something quite unique for their online system. They created a Faction War feature that allowed players to choose an organisation to join, from Lin Kuei, Special Forces, White Lotus, Brotherhood of Shadow and The Black Dragon. Your choice doesn’t really affect you in a particularly impactful way apart from the fact that you get unique Faction Kills which in all honesty aren’t really great but at least its a feature that actually makes your choice worthwhile. Ultimately the online functions well, offering smooth and fast matchmaking with limited lag interval and enough competition to fill hours of your time. A good timewaster but only if you’re actually good by the communities standards.
Overall I found Mortal Kombat X to be a fairly enjoyable fighting game however its crippling flaws paved the way towards a downhill approach especially considering the level of difficulty people experienced upon its initial PC port release which deterred many fans. Ultimately however it was the lack of unique and riveting content that brought about this games downfall therefore making it unable to compete against powerhouses like Street Fighter 5 and the soon to be released Tekken 7. Although its not a bad game it is certainly not the best Mortal Kombat game by a stretch. Mediocre but mildly enjoyable.