Publisher: Warner Bros.
Developer: Netherrealm Studios
Release Date: 4/14/2015
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MOOORRTTAALLL KOOOMMBBAATTT!!! Mortal Monday made gaming history when the original arcade game hit the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive and Super Nintendo in 1992. Fast forward 23 years later and people still get just as excited for every new Mortal Kombat game. MKX is a near reboot of the reboot from 2011 by improving nearly every aspect of the game including online. This is the first Mortal Kombat game for next-generation consoles and has set the bar for fighting games in terms of production values.
The first thing you will probably play is the story, it’s needed to unlock Shinnok as well as earn a slew of koins for the Krypt. The story is fantastic and the best one in any fighting game to date. The story has finally evolved past MK3 and takes place 25 years after the last game. Naturally, the original fighters have aged and are older (but still kick ass), and new generations/kids of these fighters are introduced. The story is actually shorter and more streamlined than MK9. Instead of every character being shoehorned into the story you only play as the good guys and select characters. There are about 5 matches for each character and the entire story just evolves naturally. Earthrealm is past Shao Kahn and his BS (as the players are), but Shinnok returns to claim the Komidogu amulet and take over Earthrealm. After about 4 hours or so you will get the hang of the entire fighting system and start kicking ass.
Once you finish the story you will most likely go into the Krypt to spend your koins. Introduced in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, the Krypt is a fan service full of goodies and unlocks to prolong the game and make you earn everything. Character art, Fatalities, costumes, and fan art are many among the Krypt, but it has evolved. Instead of just a large room, you unlock coffins in its first-person adventure that’s its own mini-game. Players can walk around an entire set of levels finding hidden objects to unlock new parts of the mini-game to find more koffins. At certain times koffins will appear (think of the concept from Deception in the Konquest mode) and random enemies will attack when a quick time event will pop up. Succeed and you are awarded a few hundred koins. This new Krypt idea could stand on its own if it were fleshed out more and is actually quite atmospheric and can be tense.
After the Krypt you will most likely check out the Faction Wars. This is a whole new online concept by Netherrealm that extends the Tower concept that was enacted in the first game. There are many different Tower modes with the first being Living Towers. Using the match modifiers that were introduced in MK3 and reimagined in MK9, Living Towers will mix up a random modifier as well as Tower goals. Certain matches will award koins for accomplishing certain things during a match like Jumping 25 times or finishing a match with more than 50% health. There are three types of Living Towers. Daily, Hourly, and Premier which are every 5 days. This adds to your Faction War points which will help you when an Invasion starts. At the beginning of the game, you get to choose from five factions. Lin Kuei, Brotherhood of Shadows, White Lotus, Special Forces, and Black Dragon. Faction XP can be awarded during an Invasion as well by fighting an immortal boss. Players have 30 seconds to do as much damage as they can but the difficulty of the boss is set to Very Hard. Invasion Towers are another way as well.
These Towers also carry over into single-player as Tower Challenges which is a randomized Tower with modifiers and Test Your Might matches. Your final score is set and you can send that Tower to a friend to have them beat your score. It’s a lot of fun and extends the longevity outside of online play.
With the modes out of the way, let’s talk about the actual game. The control and responsiveness are so much better than any other MK game. MK9 tried to recreate the feeling of the first three MK games, and it got stale after a while. MKX is a whole new beast with the core familiar mechanics at play. Balancing is also nearly perfected in MKX thanks to combat variants. Each fighter has three different variants they can play as and this sets their special moves. Instead of some characters having a long list of special moves to spam you with, they are limited this time around and cut down. Every player will have their favorite variant after playing for so long.
Outside of variants, the fighting is a little more cinematic. The camera zooms in on throws and the new X-Ray moves. X-Rays are now three hits instead of two and the models are much more detailed. More bones break, individual organs are modeled, and fibers on the muscles have depth. It looks fantastic and this is by far the most brutal MK game to date. The Fatalities are the best in any game and are just awesome. New tech allows for facial animations with twitching eyes, lips, and overall detailed gore. Organs are split in half and they actually look like their organs unlike previous games with generic gibs. Brutalities made a return, but they are no longer the complicated button press like MK3. Certain requirements must be met in a match such as having 50% health remaining, connecting a number of certain moves in a match, and hitting the right button combo during the final hit of the last round. Brutalities are now variations of special moves but have a twisted deadly ending that throws opponents off guard and is extremely satisfying to pull off and watch.
The new characters are actually the best new fighters in the series. All are fun to play and all are distinctive, unlike previous entries where new characters felt like cheap rip-offs. Among them, Cassie Cage, Jacqui Briggs, Ferra/Tor, D’Vorah, and Erron Black are my favorites. Kung Jin and Takeda aren’t exactly the unique characters they succeed which are Kenshi and Kung Lao. They both look and feel nearly identical despite having different weapons. Takeda is actually similar to Scorpion more than Kenshi as he uses dual whips and Kung Jin has a bow and staff. Unique weapons, but their characters aren’t fleshed out much in the story mode.
With that said, MKX is an evolution of the series that it so desperately needs. The longevity that’s smart and isn’t bloated content, more online features, and the variants are hopefully here to stay. This is one of the best fighting games of the decade.
Kollector’s Edition: For $90 more you can receive a special box, a Scorpion statue, the Kombat Pass, and a Scorpion skin. The statue is made by a sculptor Coarse and the skin is of the statue. It’s beautifully made and well worth it for collectors. It also comes with a certificate of authenticity.