Mortal Kombat X – Review

Scott McMullon
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The name Mortal Kombat is permanently etched into gaming history, earning its place as a fun game but also as a controversial fighting series which captured the attention of gamers for decades.

In that time we have seen more blood, broken bones, and trash talking than a Quentin Tarantino film. Which is why we are glad to announce this new instalment, Mortal Kombat X, the series has returned bigger, better and bloodier than ever.

For the uninitiated, Mortal Kombat, is a beat-’em-up game with an old pedigree dating back to the arcades of the distant past. It was made remarkable and also notorious thanks to its brutal combat – which let loose torrents of blood with each successful hit and combo. It also allowed players to utilise the infamous Fatality system, which saw conquering warriors dispatch beaten enemies in the most brutal and violent ways possible.

The original game was released in 1992, and now 23 years later, its 10th outing has proven that game has lost none of its tongue-in-cheek humour and action.

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The story of the game picks up approximately two years after the end of the last game, and the ancient Elder God Shinnok has returned to claim the Earth Realm for himself. Earth has been weakened as many of the defenders of the realm were killed and enslaved by Shinnok’s disciple Quan Chi, meaning that the God of Thunder Raiden needs to gather his remaining allies in a final battle to defeat Shinnok for ever.

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As a story it is a little derivative in its premise, which sadly matches up with every other Mortal Kombat game to date. That is, the rise of a powerful enemy beyond our world who seeks to invade and subjugate us, forcing agents from both sides to battle one on one.

However, to Mortal Kombat X’s credit, NetherRealm Studios have been able to blend a cohesive story that allows all our favourite characters to get a look in on the new game. This gives the game a welcome nostalgia, since people such as Sonya Blade and Jax appear alongside new characters such as D’Vorah and Kung Jin.

It also serves as a true sequel to the previous game, which literally rewrote the history as established in the previous eight instalments to tell an original story.

This attention to the evolving story is rare in fighting games and the fact that it is present shows a great deal of evolution by the studio. It shows that these are not just characters that are there to beat the hell out of each other, but rather these are characters that have backstories and motivations that make sense. So kudos to them for bringing the series into a new and improved generation.

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It isn’t just the story which has grown and changed however, as NetherRealm has also upped the ante in terms of visuals, making Mortal Kombat X the most gorgeous work it has done so far. The way each character moves and interacts is entirely unique, making each fighter a star in its own right. This is more impressive when you think that the original game would create new characters by palette swapping old ones.

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This sense of uniqueness is shown to great effect with some of the newer characters such as the insectoid D’Vorah and the hilariously off-kilter tag team of Ferra and Tor. This combines with the graphical power of the Xbox One and the Playstation 4 to make every attack look visceral and gratuitous while still marvellous.

Play-wise, the game is a marked improvement on previous instalments, showing a great deal of technical craftsmanship for each individual combatant. The controls feel familiar enough that a novice could pick them up and play through the story or the classic arcade line-up with enough challenge to keep things interesting but not put them off.

However, for hardcore fans there is a wealth of additional content within the game and through multiplayer modes to keep us coming back for more again and again. This is most apparent when turning on the game for the first time – when players are asked to chose a side in a ‘faction war’ pitting player against player.

NetherRealm outdid themselves here, since it puts the onus on playing to not just further your own fun but also to achieve greater goals as a team in one of these factions. It provides players with extra challenges and incentives to hit goals and also to come back day after day, which keeps the game feeling fresh even when the main storyline has finished.

The wealth of multiplayer modes really gives something for every kind of player and shows that this is a game that doesn’t just want to wow a player once and let them move on, but instead keep them coming back for more.

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Mortal Kombat X had a lot to live up to: a next generation game with a long lasting legacy, the pressure was on to deliver something special. However, we are pleased to report that this game is nothing short of amazing and sets a high standard for other fighting games to follow.

A must-have for fans of the series, this one is bound to be on every gamer’s list of must-play games.

Mortal Kombat X is out now for Playstation 4 and Xbox One, and will be released on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 later this year.

About Scott McMullon

Lover of literature, film and music living in Essex (no jokes please!). 'We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars' - Oscar Wilde

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