It’s time for another Mortal Kombat game, and you know what that means: another violent, blood-spewing versus fighter with a roster full of grim-faced warriors who have names ending in A or O, sporting a bizarre Conan the Barbarian-esque setting infused with high technology. It’s like Masters of the Universe as directed by Quentin Tarantino and Eli Roth.
Since the last game (which rebooted the series), the Earthrealm warriors managed to stop the Outworld invasion and defeat Shao Kahn. The throne of Outworld passed to his successor Mileena, who was eventually overthrown by a new emperor named Kotal Kahn. However, Mileena wasn’t quite ready to give up yet, and staged an underground rebellion. The ensuing chaos caused thousands of Outworld citizens to flee to Earth as refugees. Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage, as commanders of Earthrealm’s forces, send a contingent of young warriors into Outworld to see what’s going on.
That’s the gist of it, though the plot takes many twists and turns. It spans a period of roughly 20 years, and you’ll have to play the game’s story mode if you want all the details. It’s very cinematic and entertaining, and it does keep you guessing, but it’s also typical Mortal Kombat fare – quite ridiculous and over the top.
I watched a few videos of Ed Boon talking about the game when it was still barely announced, and it seemed there was a lot to be excited about. First off, NetherRealm Studios was working with some of the pro Evo players to make sure the game was as balanced and in-depth as possible. Given how well Mortal Kombat (2011) and Injustice: Gods Among Us turned out, that’s certainly intriguing.
“…Mortal Kombat X is every bit as entertaining as we’d hoped.”
They have also created some interesting new characters for this game. In my review of the previous game, I mentioned how they discarded the 50+ meaningless characters they’d created over the years and brought back only the original trilogy cast. This time around, it’s a mix of the good old characters and some new faces, some of whom are successors to the old guard. These characters seem much more well-designed and thought-out, so I’m sure they’ll have a better chance at being embraced by fans than the silly ones from the PS2 era.
Some of the new faces include Cassie Cage, the daughter of Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage, who has followed in her parents’ footsteps and become a warrior dedicated to protecting Earthrealm. She’s spunky and fun to use. Every character in the game has three variations – meaning it’s the same basic character, just with a couple of different special moves in each version. Cassie, for instance, has a Spec-Ops version which allows her to call in air strikes, a Hollywood version that allows her to fire her pistols into the air and perform her father’s nutcracker move, and my favourite, the Brawler version, which gives her a few grappling moves, including an air throw which opens up all kinds of combo possibilities.
D’Vorah is an interesting and colourful new character. She’s a member of an insect-like race and has a bunch of special abilities employing bugs, poison and her hidden stingers. She’s also got a surprisingly non-disgusting voice for such a disgusting character. Kotal Kahn, the emperor of Outworld, is another highlight. He’s tall, beefy, looks like a Mayan or Aztec deity, and has a bunch of moves making use of his sun powers, or a big, saw-like sword.
Ferra & Torr is another very interesting character somewhat reminiscent of Master Blaster from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Ferra is a small woman who rides on the back of Torr, the hulking beast she commands. Several of their moves involve Torr throwing Ferra at their opponent, or holding them while Ferra slices them up. There’s also a variation of them where Torr fights alone while Ferra watches from the side. Erron Black is another interesting one. He’s kind of like a Weird West kind of character, an occult guslinger. He’s originally from Earth, but he works as a mercenary in Outworld and has all kinds of dual-pistol moves. He also has a variation that grants him a rifle he can use to both shoot and club enemies. He’s very cool, but I don’t quite gel with all of his moves.
Even though there’s a bunch of returning characters, they’re quite different to how they were in the previous game – so you’ll basically be learning them from scratch. Sonya Blade has some very cool standard moves, and a variation which grants her grenades and a more straightforward martial-artsy type. Quan Chi, who was one of my favourites, now sucks. His normal moves are alright, but I don’t like any of his variations, one of which lets him grant himself temporary buffs, while another allows him to summon a flying minion he can command. Ermac is an interesting one. He’s kind of like he used to be, but now he hovers off the ground at all times and a lot of his moves are somewhat ragdoll-ish, like someone who isn’t bound by gravity, which is cool and imaginative.
There are the usual modes you’d expect from a versus fighter: ranked and unranked online versus for those who want to take on the world, local versus and single-player modes for those who can’t/won’t play online. When you first start the game, you’re asked to choose which of five factions you’d like to join. Everything you do in the game, even in the single-player modes, can earn points for your faction, and a winner is periodically chosen, granting all those who belong to it money to spend in the Krypt, where you unlock all kinds of extra content.
Speaking of the Krypt, to me it’s always the most insipid part of every Mortal Kombat game. I can’t stand the endless grind to earn enough “koins” to unlock everything – but this time around, they included some adventure game-like elements, requiring you to find items to unlock areas. Great, so now it’s even more drawn out. Thanks, NetherRealm.
But that aside, Mortal Kombat X is every bit as entertaining as we’d hoped. It’s accessible enough to satisfy weekend warriors, but more than deep enough to hold the attention of hardcore fighting fans. It’s also badass, imaginative, colourful, and just a buttload of fun. Give it a go.