Mortal Kombat X continues the rebooted story line that was started in 2011’s Mortal Kombat. Adding some fresh new faces to the franchise, MKX manages to balance the fighting game genre with a story line that makes coherent sense.
I want to first point out that like any game for the new generation, it needs to install. I was playing on the PS4 version of MKX so my experience may differ from that of an XBox One user. After loading the disk into my console, I was greeted with the usual install bar that slowly progressed as data was transferred to my console’s hard drive. Upon completion, I booted up the game, excited to get started with the story line and discover the gruesome content inside. This however was not to be. I found that a lot of the menu items were greyed out. I could only access the training mode.
“Not a problem”, I thought. “Maybe you need to complete the training before starting he story mode”. I played through the training, taking my time to beat Sub-Zero into a bloody pulp using a verity of combos that were presented to me on-screen and finishing him off with the described “Fatality”, but on completion I was still unable to access any other content. It turns out that MKX continues to install when you’ve booted up the game and gradually unlocks content as it becomes available. Now, I’ve heard varying reports on this as to how long it takes. Mine personally took about an hour where others have said theirs was done within 10 minutes. My issue with this was that there was no indication as to the continued in-game installation. It was a little annoying, but not some thing I would hold against it.
The main story line takes off where the last entry in the series left off. With Earth Realm under attack by the forces of Outworld, the heroes must repel them and save the world, you know, that old chesnut. MKX feels as if it is moving away from the main premise of the series, with no hint of a tournament in sight. The new characters are well rounded and feel like they fit the universe, they don’t feel like they have been shoe-horned in just to please new players. At the same time it helps introduce new fans to the series without having to give up on the 20 years or so worth of back story for the current characters.
Being a “beat-em up” many don’t really expect an in depth story line with much meaning or substance, but NetherRealm have gone out of their way to make sure they story is both engaging and a decent length without it becoming stale or repetitive. That’s not to say it’s a 20 hour epic, but it’s reasonable enough in length that you stay interested with a nice mix of interactive moments and seamless transition from cut scenes to fights. With this being said, it seems NeatherRealm added quick time events to the beginning of the story line with the latter half being free of these moments. I’m not sure if this was deliberate or if they genuinely did not feel they would fit the pace of the end game. I know many will groan at the inclusion of the dreaded Quick Time Event, but after missing a few of these I liked how it altered the situation, for example a character may get injured instead of dodging a knife blow. It is also worth noting there is a moment where you’ll have the chance to perform an in game fatality, it’s a great idea but as I was not expecting it, I fumbled the button combination and allowed the condemned to live.
For those who have finished the main story line there is a host of other activities players can engage in to make sure they get their moneys worth. Personally, I wouldn’t give MKX very much in the way of replay value for the main story line. Once it’s done, it’s done. However, the Living Towers offer an addition to the story line, acting more of an extension when completed with each character. Presented to the player in the form of an animated comic the Living Towers also seem to hint at more characters to be added to the game, maybe via DLC, or even to the future of the franchise its self.
The Krypt makes a comeback in MKX offering its very own little mini game where players need to hunt down various items to unlock more areas. Using Koins earned through playing the main game players are able to unlock new skins, fatalities, brutalities, concept art and more. Rewarding the player for more than just playing but exploring the extra content NetherRealm have taken the time to add. The whole Krypt section took me a good two hours of play time to unlock and still it taunts me with the number of tombs to unlock with my hard earned Koins. I still haven’t unlocked any extra skins for Ermac, my favourite character. Give it time.
In addition to the story mode and extras, NetherRealm have been making a few tweaks to the combat system its self. X-ray moves make a return and are as gruesome as ever, as do some of the impossible to perform combos and finishers unless you have an extra digit on each hand. But to combat this for some of the more casual of players combos can now be displayed on the screen whilst fighting, helping gamers get to better grips with characters they may not be too adapt with in the first place. You are also able to unlock items that allow you to perform fatalities with two buttons as well as items that allow you to skip story line fights if you’re having difficulty besting an opponent.
Upon booting up the game you’re asked to pick a faction, you can choose between Sub-Zero and the Lin Kuei, Raiden’s White Lotus group, the Special Forces led by Sonya Blade, the Brotherhood of Shadow with Quan Chi at the forefront and finally Kano’s criminal orginisation: Black Dragon. It really makes no difference in which one you choose, but by simply playing the game you contribute to your faction. At the end of the week a winner is declared and the faction as a whole is rewarded with Koins. My first time playing as a part of a faction I encountered an “Invasion Battle”, an assassin from the Brootherhood of Shadows attempted to take me down – I’m happy to say I won… Just. But with that being said, it adds a bit of verity to the game, and can more often than not catch you off guard, especially if you’re playing as a character you’re not particularly skilled with.
Although overall I was pretty impressed with the offline modes that Mortal Kombat X had to offer, I have to admit that the online let me down. Quite a bit actually. If I am honest I found it clunky and slow. I found it took a long time to connect and even longer to find any matches. The matches I did eventually find were filled with the dreaded “one shot wonders”. You know the type. The player that has mastered the single projectile or mid range move which is tricky to bypass. I genuinely don’t mind getting my rear handed to me when I face an opponent who is skilled and has mastered the use of their character, but come on guys, learn to use a few combos at least. With NetherRealm’s added “Quitality” I find the best way to deal with these annoyances is to just stop fighting all together. I refuse to give them the satisfaction of seeing me struggle. It would have been nice for there to be a system implemented which reduces the damage of a move the more it is used in succession. I can dream.
Though in fairness to NetherRealm, at least on the online section of the game you are given a rough estimation on your chances of winning in the form of a percentage prior to accepting a fight. Though I found this is not always accurate. Consequently I now find myself avoiding the online portion of MKX, the slow connections paired with the player base is a real put off.
Overall Mortal Kombat X is an enjoyable entry into the series with a mixture of challenging modes and some helpful pointers to new players. The online mode is really only for hardcore players, casual gamers should probably give this a miss unless you plan to play against friends. The lag is minimal if you’re running a decent connection and even the share play feature works well with the local co-op option. If you haven’t already I would recommend picking up a copy of MKX, especially with all of the extra content NetherRealm have been adding over the months since launch.