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Mortal Kombat Review

Mortal Kombat X

After months of character reveals and teasers, Mortal Kombat X finally debuted on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and other platforms. In Mortal Kombat X, NetherRealm Studios has one of the best entries in the celebrated and controversial franchise. There are plenty of game modes, over the top gore, a singleplayer story mode, solid game play and net code, along with a roster of new and old characters that strike the perfect balance. It may seem odd to praise a game so early in a review, but we can assure you this is the best Mortal Kombat to date.

A night at the movies

For the casual Mortal Kombat fan or even someone brand new to the franchise, the story mode might put you to sleep. While we acknowledge it would be extremely difficult to make a more interactive campaign, it is up to the developer to make it fun and interesting for everyone, and Mortal Kombat X doesn't cut it unless you're a big fan of the series with interest in the lore.

For starters, the voice acting and writing are mostly sub par. When you consider a huge chunk of story mode contains cut scenes that gamers have no control over, or quick-time events that catch you by surprise, you'll find yourself skipping to the fights. It also doesn't help that in order to play as Shinnok you have to beat the campaign, which is NetherRealm Studios' way of making players grind.

Fans of the Mortal Kombat universe will find it interesting, but unfortunately we have to look at it from the average gamer's perspective. That's not to say it's all bad, as the fights are still a lot of fun, and when you lose one you can just retry or skip it entirely. Luckily, the story mode isn't too long, so Shinnok and the rest of the unlocks should be yours in three to four hours, possibly less if you skip the cut scenes and don't lose.

Tales from the Krypt

Once gamers are able to put the story behind them, the rest of the modes will keep them entertained for hours. The list includes Test Your Luck, Living Towers and even Traditional Towers. Each puts a spin on things that will keep players interested and coming back for the foreseeable future.

Mortal Kombat X

For example, with Test Your Luck, gamers contend with random modifiers that are as outrageous as the fatalities (more on that later), and that's a feature that spills over to the Living Towers mode as well, with those breaking down into Hourly, Daily and Premiere. Each one has a different game modifier or challenge, and as their names suggest, they're updated hourly, daily and weekly.

When the singleplayer modes no longer do it for you, stepping into the online portion of Mortal Kombat X is a pleasant experience. It comes with the standard Versus mode, as well as Team Battle, King of the Hill, and even Tower Battle. Some of them may not be for everyone, but there's bound to be one or two options that appeal to fighting game fans.

Versus pits two players against one another, while Team Battle allows you to either join or create a team to take on other players. King of the Hill is just as it sounds, with wins in consecutive matches over a group of opponents the ultimate goal. You also have the option of playing in an online Tower Battle, where your score gets matched against your opponent's in a randomly generated tower. Simply put, there's something here for everyone.

Although it doesn't count as a game mode, factions will have players choosing one of several groups to align themselves with, and as they compete in the various activities they'll earn points to increase their rank within the chosen clan. This can result in faction specific fatalities, and almost everything you do will go towards helping your faction take down the remaining four. It's a cool concept, but it's one we didn't care about as we played. It was just kind of there, reminding us that we earned a few extra points for something after every match.

There's also the Krypt, which is a place where fans unlock a vast amount of content, including fatalities, brutalities, alternate costumes, artwork, stage music and other things. It's a cool concept with a creepy feel, but other than the odd quick-time event, you wander around opening things up. It's also rather disheartening to know that while you could bust your hump to manually unlock everything the Krypt has to offer, someone else can buy these unlocks with a single micro transaction and skip the entire process.

They're going to feel that in the morning

If you've spent any time at all watching Mortal Kombat X on YouTube, you're sure to have seen some of the insane fatalities, and this is our favourite part of the game. Forget all the questions about whether it's appropriate, it's Mortal Kombat at its core, and NetherRealm Studios knocked it out of the park. The violence is so devastating and outrageous that it's almost hard to be offended. Once again, this is only ruined by the fact that gamers can simply purchase easy fatalities with another micro transaction. They still have to beat you to win, but it's kind of a downer to think that even on a minuscule level, your opponent can pay for an advantage.

The graphics really shine with the fatalities, but the praise doesn't stop there, as players can expect to run the game at a native 1080p on the PS4, and an up-scaled 1080p on the Xbox One. While Xbox One owners might be disappointed, this is something that's become a regular occurrence with the platform; it just doesn't seem to hold up to the power of its competitor. Still, that doesn't necessarily mean the game doesn't look and feel great, as both versions run at 60 frames per second. Side note, PC users can expect even higher resolutions and frame rates depending on their specific builds.

A worthy opponent

Beyond the story mode, everything thus far has been fairly impressive, but what about the actual game play and fighting? What about the characters and the input lag, or lack there of? Once again Mortal Kombat X holds up quite nicely, although there are a few minor things to watch out for.

Mortal Kombat X

In terms of characters, there are 24 at launch, and it's a good mix between fan favourites and newcomers. Credit goes to NetherRealm Studios for pulling this off, as a game with the rich lore of Mortal Kombat can often get stuck in the past because they're afraid of offending the core. Luckily, both new players and veterans should be satisfied, and the fact that each character has three game-changing variants means you're basically looking at 72 characters at launch, not 24.

As for the fighting, we’re guilty of button-mashing, but that's due to the learning curve in memorising the moves and combinations, not the net code. In fact, we have yet to have any problems with our online connection, but that's not to say that it will always be perfect, or that more experienced or competitive players won't pick up on something the average gamer might overlook. Still, it's worth mentioning that new Mortal Kombat players will need to spend a considerable amount of time learning the moves, which are conveniently listed in the pause menu.

Finish him

Beyond the story mode, Mortal Kombat X is a fantastic game, and some gamers may enjoy the campaign if they care enough about the lore. Still, for the average player it will be a necessary inconvenience to get a few unlocks, and then it's on to the bread butter of Mortal Kombat X, never to return to the story again.

Luckily, the single-player and multiplayer modes are all rich and rewarding, with enough variety to keep all levels of players happy for months to come. Even if Mortal Kombat X isn't a game you can see yourself playing into the summer, don't be surprised to find yourself battling friends when you throw a party, because at the end of the day there's value for anyone who enjoys fighting games.

GAME's Verdict: 8

What's Hot

  • Wonderfully horrific fatalities
  • Huge variety of game modes
  • Mix of new and old characters

What's Not

  • Story mode just doesn't cut it
  • Learning curve can be frustrating
  • Pay-to-win is very disheartening
Find out more about Mortal Kombat X

Published: 16/04/2015

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