The release of Mortal Kombat 9 back in 2011 was a much needed jolt in the series’ history. After the disappointment I had with MK vs. DC Universe, particularly the toned down fatalities (and yes, those cursed “Heroic Brutalities,”) it looked as if the series was about to suffer the ultimate fatality. But thanks to Netherrealm Studios, Mortal Kombat was reborn to the public and never looked back.
Four years have passed since MK9, and with the launch of the latest generation of consoles comes a brand new Mortal Kombat. In this case, it is Mortal Kombat X. While MK9 played like a reboot of the first three MK games, Mortal Kombat X’s storyline can be considered an alternate take on Mortal Kombat 4.
In this latest entry to the series, several years have passed after Shao Kahn’s defeat, and another attack on Earthrealm is started by elder god Shinnok, along with Quan Chi who now controls several fallen Earthrealm warriors as revenants. Some of the surviving Earthrealm warriors, led by Johnny Cage, Sonya Blade and Kenshi are able to defeat Shinnok along with Raiden and MK4 character Fujin, and entrap Shinnok inside an amulet. Quan Chi, however, escapes.
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The game then jumps ahead twenty years later. Since then, Johnny Cage and Sonya were married, and later separated, but not before having a daughter, Cassie. Cassie is part of a fighter team that includes Jax’s daughter, Jacqui Briggs, Kenshi’s estranged son Takeda, and Kung Jin, who is Kung Lao’s cousin. While investigating a civil war between Shao Kahn’s daughter Mileena and Outworld’s emperor Kotal Kahn, they end up getting involved in a plot that would free Shinnok from his amulet prison, it is up to the Earthrealm warriors to stop the escape by any means possible.
Mortal Kombat X features 25 characters. While most of them are veterans from MK9, we are introduced to eight new ones. In addition to the previously mentioned Cassie Cage, Jacqui Briggs, Takeda and Kung Jin, new arrivals include D’vorrah, an insectoid female, Erron Black, a spaghetti western based gunslinger bounty hunter, Ferra/Torr, a Master Blaster style team of a young female rider and her giant brute, and the previously mentioned Kotal Kahn. Each of the 25 characters also feature three different variations with their own unique set of moves.
In addition, during the story mode we will see several recurring characters that sadly are non-playable, including Baraka, Sindel, Rain, as well as a corrupted version of Shinnok. Hopefully these characters will be eventually released as DLC in the future, but as of now, only four characters will be included as DLC, starting off with Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th series. Additional characters including Predator, Tanya (from MK4) and Tremor (from MK: Special Forces) will be released in the near future.
MKX fights will feel the same as those in MK9, as they also feature the same control scheme, as well as some devastating X-Ray moves. But in addition, taking a cue from Netherrealm’s last game Injustice, interactive environments are now added, including one where an old lady is actually thrown as a projectile! Sadly though, the stage based fatalities from MK9 are now gone.
And speaking of the fatalities, any fears of them being forever ruined after the elements of MK vs DC are now gone. MKX now features some of the most innovative, and also the most grisly fatalities ever seen in a game. Innovative fatalities include Cassie slashing her opponent, then taking a selfie to post on a Facebook style page (complete with running comments,) and grisly include Mileena literally eating the remains of her opponent.
However, in an attempt to make extra money via DLC, there is an option to purchase what are called “Easy Fatalities” which consist of just a two button combination. Many people complain about this just being a cash grab but for those who play Mortal Kombat on a regular basis, there really is no need to worry about them as they aren’t game enhancing cheats.
Brutalities also make a return. Thankfully these are not the lame “Heroic Brutalities” of before, but devastating final blows that require a specific move to be executed in order to take effect, and add more variety in the way to finish off your opponent.
Lastly there is the “Quitality,” which is the perfect way of dealing with rage quitters online. If only they could have brought back the Babalities, which would really show what rage quitters look like but it’s a good substitute.
Single play gameplay has improved this time, in addition to the story mode and standard arcade ladder, there are also special online ladders that change over time to compete with other scores online. In addition an online mode called Faction War, where five different online groups (Lin Kuei, Brotherhood of Shadow, Special Forces, Black Dragon, and the White Lotus) earn points for their faction to earn special rewards after each war takes place.
Mortal Kombat X, despite losing some elements that I wish were brought back from MK9, does a great job in continuing the series’ reputation as a gory fighter with an outstanding back story. I hope more gets added over time, but the limited Season Pass material for its extra price might not be enough. But in the end, the majority of Mortal Kombat X is well worth the money, and I’m curious to see how it will play out come this year’s Evo, as it has officially been added to the lineup.
Pros: Fans of Mortal Kombat 9 will be pleased that the fighting engine is completely intact. Stage interactions similar to those in Injustice. Some of the most brutal (and at times, very original) fatalities ever seen in a Mortal Kombat game. Large number or Brutalities for each character. Online Ladders keep the single play experience fresh. No console exclusive content.
Cons: Some issues with microtransactions, namely the Easy Fatalties. No Babalities or Stage Fatalities. Some MK9 characters seen in the story mode are non-playable. Season Pass provides too little for its price.