It’s been 4 years since we’ve seen another Mortal Kombat game. 4 years is a rather long time if you ask me, but we waited ever so patiently, and we’ve been rewarded with a game that’s bloody good. If you’ve been a fan of the series for several years like myself, then you will welcome the new and the old features that this game has to offer. From ripping out the heart of your opponent to ripping their limbs off one by one, there’s something in this game for everyone.
For starters, the way the game plays feels very natural. I haven’t been struggling to pull off combo moves – everything flows very well to the point where anyone can pick up and play. MK X feels very different to the game before it, some characters feel very light and others feel very heavy to play, which is communicated very well. Playing Mileena feels very different to playing a heavier male like Goro (who is only available in purchased DLC unfortunately).
The ‘Test Your Luck’ mini-game is incredibly fun if you happen to grow bored of the single-player mode. You have the opportunity to select a character (or let your character selection randomise) and then you are thrown into chaos. Effects on you, the environment and your opponent are all randomised, and this can end up being rather entertaining if you end up without your arms and there are heads falling from the sky. The randomised effects can either benefit you or handicap you to the point where you’re tempted to throw your controller across the room.
Pulling off a Fatality in MK X seems quite simple compared to the games before it. I haven’t even had to look at the moves list, as I’ve been able to accidentally figure out how to perform Fatalities. Maybe it’s just luck, maybe it’s just got something to do with R2?
Please, promise me you won’t scream when you see that Quick-time events are actually a thing in this game. I’m not talking about hideous button press prompts present in Xbox games that take away from the whole experience, I’m talking about subtle prompts that add to the movement of a cutscene, which is where you will be seeing them. Quick-time events and button presses have become a very hated thing in the video games industry, and I honestly didn’t expect to see them in a game like Mortal Kombat, but it’s a good idea, really. It gives your hands a chance to relax and keep active without having them feel stiff and unprepared for the next fight, and it also makes sure you’re paying attention to the story. I found myself looking away briefly only to watch my ally being shot with one of my arrows. Oops.
The graphics are very similar to MK 9, except they are much more polished and everything in general looks a little more advanced, after all, the PS4 has better graphical capabilities than PS3, though I will admit that games like MK 9 did push the console to the limit. Although the ‘style’ of the graphics are very much the same, each character has been given a makeover, and I can’t really fault any of the new appearances.I would definitely recommend playing this on a large TV, as I don’t think seeing it on a PC monitor (unless your monitor is actually a TV) would do this game justice. It’s really quite cool to see the beautiful graphics in action when you’re ripping someone’s throat out and shoving it back into their mouth – as morbid as that sounds. This game obviously isn’t for the kids, but I suppose I don’t have a right to criticise – I was playing MK 2 on SNES as a child. Seeing how this game has evolved over the years has been an incredible journey. The game has gone from seeing photos of people dressed as the characters to seeing fully 3D-modeled characters beating each other’s heads in with barrels and ripping out their spinal cords.
I don’t want to ruin anything in terms of the storyline for MK X, hence why I labelled this as a No Spoilers review, because, like many other gamers out there, I don’t like it when something important like storyline is spoiled for me. Something like that just makes me want to not even purchase the game in the first place, and I’ll do my best to explain things without destroying experiences players will have in the game.
The storyline in MK X is very different to everything we’ve seen previously. Factions have been introduced – we’re used to seeing things like this in games like Skyrim, but I feel like the addition of the factions is quite interesting. There are a total of 5 factions – Lin Kuei, Black Dragon, White Lotus, Special Forces and finally Brotherhood of Shadow. At the moment I’m not entirely sure if your chosen faction has an impact on the storyline at all, but it just seems to be another way to add a bit of competition to the game. There are events called ‘Faction wars’ in which you compete against other characters from different factions. While completing challenges and winning faction wars, you earn experience points that go towards your faction level & your overall profile level, which I assume is shown when in multiplayer mode. I haven’t had the chance to experience multiplayer, as my Internet connection is not strong enough to keep up with fast-paced gameplay online, due to my PS4 being at the other end of the house.
I decided to choose the Brotherhood of Shadow faction simply because it sounded the coolest. At this point in time it doesn’t look like it has an effect on the developing storyline, which is relatively simple for this game. Just like MK 9, you follow one character’s story at a time. As usual, we start with Johnny Cage and his cocky attitude. As you fight against characters you encounter, the story opens up into other chapters that follow characters linked to Johnny Cage and his allies. The game is set a few years after Shao Kahn has been defeated. Shinnok is attacking the Earthrealm with his armies of Netherrealm creatures, taking control of beloved characters that had fallen in battle previously, making them his immortal slaves. Quan Chi is the one who is in control of these fallen and zombified characters that are seen countless times throughout the story. Defeating Quan Chi spells the downfall of his powers that resurrect the Kombatants as the immortal beings.
I will be leaving it there for storyline. If I go any further I will be ruining things for everyone who is excited to pick this game up. If you want a very rough idea of how the story pans out, think of MK 9 but with less pointless fighting and seeing more of an emotional side to the characters we all know and love.
Unfortunately, this is where the game seems to be lacking. In cutscenes, there is music present, generally in the form of some heavy-metal or heavy digital tracks. I feel like there should be a bigger emphasis on the music that is present when you’re actually fighting other characters. For some reason, it was like they actually forgot to import music into the game in some sections. I don’t think this is a glitch, but perhaps a little laziness? The fights in the story mode that you go through are supposed to be intense and riddled with emotion as you beat Sub Zero into submission, and I don’t feel like the game is building any sort of tension between the characters. Music is supposed to play a huge part in games these days – it is used to convey emotion and atmosphere, and it is lacking severely. I understand that Mortal Kombat has never been recognized for its stunning soundtrack, but I don’t find myself getting pumped with music in the background. I’m more worried about my last sliver of health being diminished by an overpowered character due to a sudden difficulty spike.
What the game does well in terms of sound is the effects when you’re actually fighting. The punches don’t sound unrealistic and when a Fatality is being performed I find myself cringing because the sound effects are coupled so perfectly with the animation. It feels like my spine is actually being pulled through my abdomen without mercy. I’ve always enjoyed taking in the sound effects of fighting games, and Mortal Kombat conveys sound well without it sounding over the top like it did back in the days of the game being released on SNES.
The voice acting is also done fairly well. We meet some new characters in this game and everyone sounds unique, their voices fit perfectly to their character. My favourite character voice would probably belong to D’vorah, the horrific insect-spider-queen-thing. An exotic, almost Spanish-sounding accent mixed with her slender form that resembles a deformed insect of some description. As far as I’m aware, there aren’t any generic-sounding voices that belong to people like Troy Baker, who we can all pick from a mile away. Looking at you, Silent Hill: HD Collection.
While this game is fun and entertaining, there are a few flaws within it. I’m not saying that there aren’t ever going to be games that don’t have flaws, but the problems I am about to mention with this game are things that I think have been looked over when it came to development.
First of all, when I started up the game, I wanted to settle in and start with the story mode. The option to select story mode was red, and I was unable to select it. I thought, ‘that’s weird, why can’t I jump straight in?’. A little annoyed and confused, I decided to just head into singleplayer instead. Like previous Mortal Kombat games, you had to unlock all of the characters, which is generally quite difficult to do, but after a few fights I managed to unlock every character except for two, one was asking to be purchased via DLC, which was fine, as I had already gotten the version of the game that included it, but I don’t believe that paying for characters in a roster is fair, especially when they were in the previous game. Goro was available in MK 9, so why is he now locked behind a wall of DLC? It makes very little sense to me, but I gave into the hungry developers and went along with it anyway.
Story mode is not playable unless you have spent some time in single-player beforehand. As a seasoned Mortal Kombat player, this frustrated me, but I could understand that a player new to the franchise might be a little overwhelmed, and thus they want to ease players into the game without scaring them off by throwing a quick-time event in their face within the first 20 minutes of the game. Understandable, but nonetheless frustrating for someone who has grown up playing the games in the series.
The last problem I have with this game is the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a difficulty option for story mode. This is not something that particularly bothered me, as the game gradually scales up in difficulty anyway, but I feel that a new player might want to start out with ‘VERY EASY’ or ‘EASY’ AI. The difficulty does spike in a few situations throughout the storymode, and this is definitely unwelcomed by players unfamiliar with the mechanics of a Mortal Kombat game. Nothing is really explained to you, so be prepared to stare at the move lists for hours trying to remember how to perform an X-Ray move or a Fatality – which add a lot of enjoyment to Kombat. If you don’t learn how to pull these moves off, you’ll find yourself slapping an enemy in the leg when you’re commanded to FINISH HIM/HER.
Oh, and if you were wondering, yes, there is a Day One patch.
This game is a familiar but refreshing treat for players who enjoy ripping out vital organs and eating them in front of their now dead opponent. Whenever I figure out how to pull off a new Fatality I find myself leaning back in my chair and laughing at just how ridiculous it is, but at the same time, I feel a little sick to my stomach. Currently, this game is priced at 99.95 AUD (or ~79.99 without the Goro DLC). I recommend you pick this game up, even after a few weeks of it being on shelves. The prices are generally quick to drop by at least 10 to 20 dollars, and I think that even though a lot of us source our games from online websites selling them cheaper or trading their old games in to get new ones, this game is worth the asking price. I see myself spending many hundreds of hours in this game, and to me, that’s money well spent.