by Quinn Levandoski
reviewed on PC
Popular franchises come and go. Titans of industry rise and fall into oblivion. Some endure, and others fade to memories. Mortal Kombat’s one of those series that have experienced the highest of highs, the lowest of lows, yet has always marched on pumping its blood-soaked fists. Luckily Developer NetherRealm’s been on a roll lately, putting the travesty that was Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe completely behind them and delivering a product that builds on the improvements that peeked their heads in Mortal Kombat 9 and Injustice to make Mortal Kombat X the smoothest, most fun Mortal Kombat yet.
Meeting New Faces
Making a successful new entry in a fighting game franchise is incredibly difficult, balancing progress with keeping the franchise’s roots, but MKX does a mostly admirable job, with almost all of the changes being for the better. One of the big ways MKX has been shaken up is with its roster. Famous for having a monster roster of varied fighters over the decade, narrowing things down to a manageable size means leaving out beloved characters like Smoke, Noob Saibot, Baraka, and more. Yet, I’m completely OK with it. While I certainly miss playing the characters I already know and love, I respect the heck out of NeatherRealm for making a whopping third of the roster, 8 of 24, brand spanking new characters. Some left me underwhelmed. Cassie Cage and Jacqueline Briggs are relatively uninspired paramilitary characters. But most – like the Aztec God looking Kotal Kahn, Cyber Ninja Takashi, or insectoid D’Vorah – absolutely ooze visual uniqueness and style. Between each of the characters and their three move sets, just about every play style imaginable is represented.
Those who have played any of NetherRealm’s last few titles should feel instantly familiar with how MKX plays, but there are enough twists to give even veterans a few things to learn. First, thankfully, the physics and fight animations are improved dramatically over the MK9. Characters feel much less floaty, without seeming too heavy or sluggish. Combos are smooth, hit detection is great, and getting stuck doesn’t make your character reel back like they’re having a fit of epilepsy. This is all aided by the detailed move descriptions in the menu that give important information such as priority, start-up frames, and more that casual players can be perfectly fine never looking at, but the more competitive crowd will depend on.
A great new feature that throws the gameplay possibility door wide open is the inclusion of character variants. Not only do each of the 24 playable characters (25 if your count Goro, who was free with pre-orders and is now available for purchase) play satisfyingly differently, but each fighter now has three variants that change up their special moves. Some are slight, only altering one or two moves, and others are near total re-hauls. It makes the roster seem a lot bigger and it adds some welcome unpredictability to matches against human opponents. Seeing Kotal Kahn, for example, could mean you’re fighting a sword wielding melee powerhouse, a totem-placing buffer or magic using mid-range fighter. Ermac could be a Ranged grabber, a mobile flier or hard-to-hit disappearing act. Costumes change a bit with each variation adding a bit of flair to each choice as well.
New characters are great additions to the franchise, animations are great, engaging campaign
Some new characters are visually uninteresting, faction battles are very unbalanced right now, and Goro should have been included in for everyone