Mortal Kombat X Puts the "G" In Gory
You know what's convenient? When you get sick just as one of your most anticipated games comes out, which is exactly what happened to me. I've literally been locked up in my room, for days, unable to detach myself from this gory parade of death, which should make it pretty clear just how great the experience has been. Unfortunately, while MKX is literally the best fighting game I've ever played, it still falls short in a couple of important areas, which prevent it from being the perfect game it could have been.
First things first, lets talk about the campaign. Now while I usually try to avoid spoilers, and will probably continue to do so, the game has been out for quite some time now, so don't get mad if some inconsequential things are mentioned here. I've said this before, and god knows I'll probably say it again for a thousand times, know what you're getting into! Mortal Kombat, in general, has had a very specific way of storytelling, so certain things that may be considered storytelling flaws will be looked over here. Anyways, the campaign was awesome, for the most part at least. The game is very cinematic, and I personally think that the blockbuster take works well within the universe. The fight scenes are done excellently, and it feels as if you're watching a movie, an notion which I welcome with open arms. There was never a time when I wished that the cutscenes would stop just because I really wanted to fight the next character, nor was I ever in a position where I wanted to cinematics would keep going for me to avoid a fight. That right there, is a well struck balance. Plus, you have all these great QTE moments that involve and captivate the players on a much deeper level. I would have preferred if the QTEs held more of a consequence when done wrong, but seeing as how I didn't really mind during my play-through, it's not something worth touching upon. It's just there to make the game more fun and cinematic. What is more, the voice acting and the interactions between characters was fantastic. Sure, the dialogue and the one-liners are campy as hell, but MK is known for that kind of thing, and there were many moments where I laughed because Jonny Cage said something dumb or funny, and there were many moments where my jaw dropped when someone said something badass. Mortal Kombat has always been a cheesy gorfest, and I'm happy to say that the game stuck to its roots. That said, there were some things I was disappointed with. Don't get me wrong, the campaign was very good, but there were moments where I felt that the game disrespected a lot of it's original characters, as well as missed a huge opportunity to tell one of the greatest fighting game stories ever. In order to explain the former point, we'll need to talk about the concept of introducing new characters. Upon their unveil, I was fairly skeptical, as I'm sure many fans were.
The next generation characters seemed cool, but somewhat unoriginal at the beginning, however, I'm happy to say that they were indeed fantastic and very well developed. That said, there's a certain problem that comes with bringing in new faces, which is overshadowing former well-loved and popular characters. This is exactly what happened. Sure, the usual guys like Scorpion and Sub-Zero get tons of attention, but the rest of the guys, like Sektor or Liu Kang get overshadowed pretty easily. Now considering the fact that there game jumps back and forth between 25 year years, some of the great events that took place during this time, like Sub-Zero taking on the cyberized Lin Kuei led by Sektor, Kenshi helping Scorpion find his humanity, or Sonya and Jonny splitting up are just referenced, which is honestly a damn shame because it just had so much potential. Again, I'm not saying that the story is bad, quite the contrary, but when you have a 4 hour game(MK9 had a 7 hour story game) , there's just not enough time to develop both old and the new protagonists, which means that one of the generations will get the short end of the stick. In the end though, I was left pretty satisfied with the story. I'm not sure why people complain about the fluctuating power levels. People, this will never change. You have to remember than some of the fighters the player takes control of during the game are individually favorites, so there can only be a minimal form of hierarchy between the kombatants in order to please everyone.
Moreover, the gameplay has never been so layered and complex before. Like all gamers, I was very skeptical of the variations they were bringing for each fighter. Initially, I just saw it as a difference between special moves, however, each style is varied enough for them to bring something interesting and diverse to the table. Here's an example, in every MK game, my main, first and foremost, is scorpion. When I started playing I started with the Nin Jutsu variation, and I was doing relatively well, but I realized that the style just wasn't for me, so I switched over to the inferno version, but still wasn't able to think up the combos or the style of fighting I wanted. In the end, after going back and forth, I settled on the hellfire version, which in my personal opinion is the best one, and many may or may not disagree. with me on this, which, by the way, is what makes these additions so great! This, not only adds more possibilities for mastering and experimenting with different characters, but it also brings variation(no pun intended) to fighting your enemies, both online players and the computer AI. And speaking of the AI, the game has never been more balanced. The lack of cheap shots and cheap special moves is absolutely baffling, especially given how out of balance MK9 was. Even Shinnok, who's the final villain, is completely beatable, it's just that his AI gets increasingly smart when you reach his ladder stage. That is of course, until he evolves into his second form, in which case he is far more powerful, but he's not nearly as overpowered as Goro, Kintaro and Shao Khan were from the previous iteration. He can get some serious cheap shots, but at the end of the day, he's still beatable if you understand the game mechanics well, which honestly, is a requirement for anyone who decided to pick this up.
Furthermore, Mortal Kombat X is brimming with some serious content. There is just so much to do around here. I've been playing for a long time and it still feels like I've done nothing of significance. Sure, certain features like the stage fatalities, or the 250 challenge ladder have been removed, but the game puts so much in it's place that it's hard to even notice that something went missing at all. Instead of Stage fatalities, you now have 5 Faction kills, which you can unlock by contributing to your faction of choice(Lin Kuei, Special forces, Brotherhood of shadow, White lotus, and the Black Dragon), 6 brutalities, which are pretty hard to execute but are very satisfying, interactive stage moves, which were borrowed from Injustice and further enhance the gameplay, and a plethora of different challenge ladders, some of which (living ladders, as called in the game) are often updated, etc. You also have a huge krypt with different costumed, concept art, brutalities, and many other interesting items for the player to unlock. Plus, the whole krypt is set up like a puzzle so the experience is far from boring. Unfortunately, this wonderful ideas is brought down by pathetic micro transactions, which is perhaps the games biggest fault.
The fact that you can buy the krypt for 20 dollars kind of demeans the value of it. The whole point is the mystery and effort behind unlocking these items, but if a heavy wallet can solve every problem, then the experience is sort of botched in my personal opinion. Also, I can understand why characters like Jason, Tremor, Tanya, and Predator may be used for DLC purchases. I mean, they aren't even finished so it makes sense. However, stuff like easy fatalities just pissed me off. This is a game, and the whole point of it is to play it WELL in order to accomplish something. If you fail to perform a move correctly, YOU SHOULD fail. That is the nature of fighting games, so enough of these useless pandering. And why the hell would they cell Goro for 5 dollars? It makes so much more sense for me if they allowed us to unlock him through in-game means. Goro is as old as the franchise, so it makes no sense for him to be a DLC character like Jason and the rest of his merry crew.
Now because I don't wish to end on a negative note, the visuals will be the last focus of this review. Mortal Kombat is well known for being a very gory and violent game, and so, I take no shame in saying that not only is this the most violent MK game in history, it is literally one of the goriest and most disgusting games I've every played. Due to the fantastic and brilliant visuals, everything looks so real that even the simple act of ripping out someones throat (I'm not insane, this is normal by MK standards) or shooting someone in the chest is something that will most likely make you look away. The whole world is brought to life by the vibrant and colorful character and stage designs, fluid and smooth character movements, and wonderfully made sound effects that document every cut,slice, dice, crack, punch, and shot.
In conclusion, MKX definitely has some short comings, but what matters is that it is without a doubt one of the most well crafted fighting games to this date. Honestly, it exceeded my expectation in so many ways I didn't think possible. I just wished that Netherrealm studious hand't succumbed to the horrible business tactics that plague gaming these days.