Mortal Kombat X
Released: April 14, 2015
I always seem to start these posts with talking about how excited I was for the game that I’m writing about, and this one is no exception. I hadn’t played a Mortal Kombat game for years before the latest installment of the franchise but I remembered it being one of the most fun games. In my initial post when starting this blog I mentioned that I have a lot of fond memories of playing video games and this was mainly because it reminded me of when myself, my brother and a bunch of my cousins would sit in front of the TV taking turns whopping each other’s arses at fighting games. The main ones were Mortal Kombat and Tekken (speaking of, Tekken 7 seems to have flown under the radar) and I found Soul Calibur and Dead or Alive later in my gaming experience. All of these games are close to my heart and Mortal Kombat X has rekindled these thoughts of fun with my family.
I was checking almost every day to see which new ‘Kombatants’ had been announced for the game and upon seeing the final roster and the character designs I was not left disappointed. Honestly, I would have liked to have seen Jade make a reappearance but she did make it into the game in a way, although it was more in spirit. I was exceedingly impressed with the character designs. While staying true to their original costumes and colour palettes the characters have been reimagined and are looking at their best. In particular, I was happy to see that Kitana had done away with her lack of clothes and the developers opted to give her a more distinctively tough appearance. I love the original games but it’s a common trope in video games to portray women with an almost impossible body image, so it was nice to see that the developer’s had made the conscious decision to bring in a bit of realism to their female characters. Alongside this, I was stunned at Reptile’s new look. Originally starting as a green palette swap of Scorpion and Sub-Zero, Reptile has slowly transitioned into looking more and more like a reptilian creature as the franchise continued the game series. I love his serpentine appearance and it was definitely one of the contributing factors of my newfound love for the character. I, like many other fans of the series, was most excited for Scorpion. In the ongoing debate as to who is better between Scorpion and Sub-Zero, I am always going to side with the yellow garbed ninja (apologies to the Sub-Zero fans out there). The essence of Scorpion’s original costume remains in his new design in MKX with only a few adjustments made, which I was more than happy to see. I cannot express the joy I felt when I learnt how to do Scorpion’s iconic spear move, and the resounding “Get over here!” was spectacular. So, initially, my thoughts on the game were pretty positive but after messing around with a few of the characters in the training room and in VS mode I decided to delve into the game’s story mode.
Generally the story mode in a fighting game usually entails selecting a character, fighting against several other playable or non-playable characters and then the last battle is the ‘boss fight’. While this structure works well it has been getting a bit repetitive over the years. What I liked about MKX is that they tried something different. I was surprised to not see a character selection screen when I booted up the story mode and instead I was thrown straight into it. The story is divided into chapters, each of which follows a different character whose stories are intertwined with one another. I liked that there was an established connection between all of the characters, even if it was just in passing. It really made me feel like the world Nether Realm have created is well established and their characters are rooted into its lore. This also gave me a chance to play as characters that I normally wouldn’t select and I found that I actually quite liked some of them like D’Vorah, who is a nice new addition to the MK family. I would have liked the story mode to be longer but it’s not a single player game and there is more of a reliance on the multiplayer aspect of the game. I personally have not played much online because I prefer playing cooperatively with someone who I’m sitting in the same room as. For me, the online gaming aspect of video games has ruined the fun of being able to play a game with someone. I did play VS matches with my brother and they were huge amounts of fun and that was more reminiscent of the older fighting games that I have played, so I was happy that I could still indulge in that type of gameplay.
A new element to MKX is that each of the Kombatants have three variations of fighting styles that the player can now choose from. I thought this was exciting but also slightly redundant as I wondered why each of their moves couldn’t just be in one style of fighting. In a way, I felt like fighting games had suddenly become complicated. My brother echoed this thought as when we first started the game he was asking me what each of the bars on the screen were for, as he was only used to seeing a health bar in fighting games. I hadn’t considered this until he mentioned it and I realised just how complex it looked. It’s nice that the developers gives the player some variation to choose from as it allows you the chance to master each of the fighting styles of your favourite characters and even open up the possibility of it matching your own style of play. At the same time it felt a little bit like the developers were trying too hard to make something new. I felt that this was most prominent during gameplay as I spent a solid 10 minutes in the combo menu trying to memorise the vast amount of moves that my character had before deciding it was easier to button bash. Most of the time the button bashing actually led to a victory and I managed to fluke some amazing moves that I haven’t been able to replicate when actually trying to do it. Asides from this, gameplay was smooth and I enjoyed the interactive objects in each of the stages, which gave each level its own personality in itself. I have to mention the poor old lady that the developers have named Blanche in the Outworld Market stage. I was not expecting her to die after I threw her at my opponent but my horror subsided when I got a trophy for it and it became quite comical. This brings me onto the level of gore that is in the game.
With the amount of violence in the media these days it seems as though society has become quite desensitised to it. In traditional MK fashion, the first thing I tried to do after winning my first fight was perform a fatality and I was both shocked and thrilled about it. The franchise is known for its over-the-top gore and violence but with the help of modern technology Nether Realm have either outdone themselves or gone too far, I can’t quite decide. Ermac’s fatality in particular had me clutching at my abdomen and wincing at the screen as I watched him telepathically contort his opponent’s body and pull out their insides. I’m not a squeamish person but this was wrong and I knew it. Yet there was a twisted side of me that found some form of joy out of it as a fatality is almost an insult to your opponent so there’s always the cocky element of rubbing it in their face. The x-ray moves from MK9 made a reappearance in the latest addition to the franchise, which were also just as off putting but again there’s a strange side of you that quite enjoys it but you can’t explain why. I can definitely see why people would think that the game is far too violent, excessively so, but the franchise is known for it and the rating on the game is there for a reason. It was the first Mortal Kombat game in arcades that was the reason for the introduction of the ESRB rating system, so really people should know what they’re in for once they pick up an MK game.
The Krypt feature to unlock collectibles, new costumes and so on is a welcome nod to previous games and the inclusion of a variation of Tower challenges to do is a great touch. The newer incorporation of the Factions however was dull. I liked the idea of it as it creates a community for all the players to work within and gain points for their faction. What I didn’t like was the fact that it was so obviously biased as the developers decided that in the 5 factions that the player can choose from, the Lin Kuei was one of them. If I wasn’t so loyal to Scorpion as a character then I probably would’ve gone for the Lin Kuei but it was clear that all of the Sub-Zero fans out there opted to join that faction, leaving the remaining factions quite sparse in comparison. The player has the ability to change faction but I think the Shirai Ryu, Scorpion’s faction, should have also been included in the faction roster.
So, while I have a few complaints about the game, I have thoroughly enjoyed my sessions of it and I appreciate the fact that there is quite a lot to do in single player mode. This is great for people like me but the option of online play is always there once I decide to venture into that part of gaming. The game was definitely worth the wait and it’s an enjoyable experience if you’re able to get over the fact that it is extremely gory and violent. The characters look great and they play smoothly whether or not if you know what you’re doing and just overall the game feels great. It’s not perfect, I’ll admit, but it’s worth it for some fun with friends or just to let off some steam.