Mortal Kombat X
There was a period where it looked like the Mortal Kombat series had run its course and had nothing more to offer players. Thankfully, like many of the characters in its roster, the series returned from the grave to become bigger and better than ever before. One of the best titles in recent years was the ninth installment, simply titled Mortal Kombat. Although it featured a story that was basically a retelling of the original trilogy, the game had a large selection of characters and enough modes to keep solo players and multi-player fans busy for ages. This means that expectations for Mortal Kombat X was pretty high to say the least.
Unfortunately, NetherRealm Studios dropped the ball badly when it came to the PC port of Mortal Kombat X and many early adopters were left with a bad taste in their mouths. It quickly became apparent that consoles were the main focus for the developers and PC owners had to accept that their problems were apparent a low priority. Thankfully, NetherRealm Studios has since had a welcome change of heart and polished Mortal Kombat enough to make up for its rocky launch.
The best way to describe Mortal Kombat X is that it is basically more of the same compared to its predecessor. This is definitely not a bad thing, though, as it means the game is still packed with characters and modes. First up is the Story mode, which is unfortunately not quite as epic as in Mortal Kombat 9. It takes place a few years after the events of the previous game and follows the adventures of Cassie Cage, Jacqueline Briggs, Takeda, and Kung Jin, who are all members of the Special Forces. Although all of them are new characters, they are descendants of Mortal Kombat royalty. Cassie is the daughter of Johnny Cage and Sonja Blade, while Jacqueline is just as tough and determined as her father Jax. Then there is Kung Jin, who is the cousin of Kung Lao, and Takeda, the son of Kenshi and student of Hanza Hasashi aka Scorpian. Although most of the story is set 25 years after the events of Mortal Kombat 9, it does jump back and forth a bit, so players get to see some of the characters in their younger as well as older incarnations. The story, which focusses on a civil war brewing in Outworld, as well as the return of Shinnok, is not quite as epic as the previous game, but does allow for plenty of interesting twists and turns.
Completing the story mode should take a couple of hours and, since it has a rotating roster of characters, also serves as decent practice for the other modes. Most matches in story mode also come with a series of objectives that makes them feel like an extended tutorial mode at times. Once the story is done and dusted players can then opt to continue with the rest of the single player modes or hop online to take on real opponents. Playing online was a complete mess back when the game was first released on PC, but most of the wrinkles have been ironed out at this point and the overall experience is much more enjoyable.
The game now also prompts players to join a faction and take part in the war between the Special Forces, Brotherhood of Shadow, Black Dragon, White Lotus and Lin Kuei. The Faction Wars is pretty enjoyable as you continually contribute points for your chosen faction, but some of the factions have way more followers than others, which makes the competition a bit one-sided. Other online modes include ranked or random one on one matches, Survivor, King of the Hill and more.
Solo players have nothing to complain about either as Mortal Kombat X is overflowing with content. The base roster features twenty four different fighters, each of whom have their own ending when you complete a basic tower with them. They are a mixture of fan favorites, such as Kitana, Raiden, Scorpion, Reptile and Sub Zero, as well as newcomers, such as Cassie Cage, D’Vorah, Erron Black, Kotal Kahn and Jacqui Briggs. In addition, the game also received two “Kombat Packs” that added a host of new characters to the roster. These include the likes of Tremor, Tanya, and Bo’ Rai Cho, along with some surprising horror icons like Predator, Alien, Jason Voorhees and Leatherface. In addition to different outfits, all of the characters also have three different fighting variations to choose from, but unlike the 3D Mortal Kombat titles you cannot switch between styles during combat. There’s a training mode to sharpen your skills as well as a series of traditional and living towers to battle through. In addition to Tower Challenges, players can also test their luck with random modifiers that can drastically alter the way in which fights play out. The Krypt also makes a return, so you can wander around in a first person environment and spent your hard earned “Koins” to unlock random goodies. These can range from concept art or background music to brand new costumes, fatalities and more. We could have done without the random jump-scares and unlocking everything takes an incredible amount of coins, but definitely kept us busy for quite some time.
Mortal Kombat 9 set a new benchmark for the raw ferocity of the battles and Mortal Kombat X proudly continues this tradition. Even normal moves look and feel devastating and pulling off an “X-ray” move results in a spectacle that can make even seasoned players wince in sympathy. Mortal Kombat X now also features some Injustice style interactions with the stage backgrounds, so you could grab anything from a piece of debris to a weapon or even an innocent bystander to hurl at your foe. Then there are the finishers that are more elaborate and gruesome than ever before. Most of them tread a fine line between gory and comedic, but there is certainly not a lack of blood and guts for any of them. Brutalities, which longtime Mortal Kombat fans might remember, also make a return in this game, but in a slightly different form. They can be used to kill your opponent during the final round of the match, but only if certain criteria are met. Some can only be done with specific fighting styles of a character and you also need to make sure that you press the correct buttons or use the right moves during the final fight. For example, Tribot has an X-ray move where it throws its own head at an enemy to break their skull, but using this move to end the match causes it to take their heads clean off and replace it with their own. On the other hand, Mileena has a roll move that ordinarily only knocks opponents over, but using it as a brutality to end the match will result in enemies losing their limbs. Don’t worry about keeping track of what to do as you can pause the game at any time to view the full move list along with fatalities and specials, provided you have unlocked them already, of course.
Like its predecessor, Mortal Kombat X makes use of the Unreal Engine 3 and features plenty of detail for all of the characters as well as the backgrounds. Speaking of backgrounds, Mortal Kombat X has a nice selection that includes places such as The Dead Woods, Destroyed City, Kuatan Jungle, Link Juei Temple, Outworld Marketplace and many others. The backgrounds are not just packed with detail, but many also have impressive effects, such as rain to add some visual flair to the fights. The lighting effects are equally impressive and everything ran at a stable 60 frames per second for us. However, we did notice that the frame rate dropped down to 30 frames per second whenever fatalities or X-ray moves were triggered. This doesn’t really impact the gameplay in any way, but it is still noticeable. The action still takes place on a 2D plane, as in the last game, which allows the artists to lavish more details on the characters and backgrounds. Characters still show visible battle damage, but this feature is no longer as over the top as in Mortal Kombat 9. Instead, characters will get dirty, sweaty and bloody, but won’t look like they were involved in a shark attack after a few hits.
We’ve got no complaints about the audio in Mortal Kombat X as the music sounds decent and even the voice acting during the story mode isn’t too bad. It’s also nice to hear that characters will address each other, usually by name, before battles and some match-ups even have particularly funny exchanges. The controls are typical Mortal Kombat fare, which means although the game is perfectly playable with a keyboard if you are really determined, it definitely benefits from a controller. At this point, the definitive version of the game to get for newcomers is Mortal Kombat XL, which features all of the DLC that was released for the game along with all the patches and fixes. This means you get 33 playable characters along with a whole bunch of costumes.
There was a lot to complain about with the initial release of Mortal Kombat X, but things have definitely improved since then. The story could have been a bit more interesting, but that is a minor complaint. It is also strange to encounter characters such as Sindel, Baraka, Rain and Nightwolf during the story mode, but being unable to play as them. Finally, the Krypt can be frustrating if you want to unlock new fatalities for your favorite character, but keep getting other random items instead. However, the game remains an enjoyable, albeit very gory title that offers great value for money considering how much content you get. NetherRealm Studios lost a lot of fans on PC with their shoddy treatment of this game after it was first released, but thankfully they have redeemed themselves with Mortal Kombat XL.
- OS: 64-bit: Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10
- Processor: Intel Core i5-750, 2.67 GHz | AMD Phenom II X4 965, 3.4 GHz
- Memory: 3 GB RAM
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 | AMD Radeon HD 5850
- DirectX: Version 11
- Network: Broadband Internet connection
- Storage: 36 GB available space
- OS: 64-bit: Win 7, Win 8, Win 10
- Processor: Intel Core i7-3770, 3.4 GHz | AMD FX-8350, 4.0 GHz
- Memory: 8 GB RAM
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 | AMD Radeon HD 7950
- DirectX: Version 11
- Network: Broadband Internet connection
- Storage: 44 GB available space