Mortal Kombat X for PC Review

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Mortal Kombat (2011) retells the events of the first three games in the series and is considered a reboot or soft reboot. It continues the series tradition of letting players annihilate their opponents in gruesome ways and it’s a great entry point for newcomers. The violence in this series has always been over-the-top and these latest entries have abandoned the cartoon-y violence and gore and entered more graphic territory which was bound to happen as technology advances and games start looking better and better. Mortal Kombat (2011) was followed up by Mortal Kombat X or 10 in 2015 which was developed by NetherRealm Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and released for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. For this review, I played the PC version of Mortal Kombat XL, an updated version of the game that includes all the DLC.
Shao Kahn has been defeated and several Earthrealm warriors are dead. Two years after Kahn’s invasion, Shinnok, ruler of the NetherRealm, attacks Earthrealm with assistance from the fallen Earthrealm warriors resurrected as revenants under Quan Chi’s control. Raiden imprisons Shinnok in an amulet and Quan Chi is defeated which frees some the warriors. Twenty years later, Johnny Cage deploys a new team of fighters to Outworld to resolve a civil war between its current emperor Kotal Kahn and former empress Mileena who has obtained the Shinnok amulet. The team is composed of Johnny and Sonya’s daughter Cassie, Jax’s daughter Jacqi, Kung Lao’s cousin Kung Jin, and Kenshi’s son Takeda. Meanwhile, Quan Chi is planning to steal the amulet to release Shinnok from captivity. The story is okay but the new generation of heroes, otherwise known as the “Kombat Kids”, aren’t compelling enough to outshine most of the existing characters. On the plus side, the voice acting is pretty good across the board and I loved the way the cut scenes were presented. They’re cinematic and stylish and I genuinely enjoyed watching them. Unfortunately, the developers thought it would be a good idea to place quick time events in certain cut scenes which are completely unnecessary.
Mortal Kombat X includes many returning characters and several new ones. My favorite new character is Erron Black, an Earthrealm mercenary gunslinger. He’s got an aura of mystery surrounding him kind of like Reptile had before Mortal Kombat 4. The DLC added some returning characters like Bo’ Rai Cho, Tanya, and Triborg which is a combination of Sektor, Cyrax, Smoke, and Cyber Sub-Zero. Several guest characters were added in including Alien, Predator, Leatherface, and Jason Voorhees. Each character has three unique move sets known as variations and some Brutalities are exclusive to certain ones. The different variations add a layer of depth but it also means more moves you need to learn and memorize. I would frequently consult the move list during single player matches and the game lets you tag moves so they appear on the screen as you fight which is a very nice feature.

You can perform many of the same abilities that you could in the previous game. But now there’s a bunch of new mechanics that add some more strategy to the fighting. Energy is required to perform certain abilities such as dashing backward, running, and using breakers. You have an energy meter that replenishes over time and the Super Meter returns, allowing you to perform enhanced special moves, breakers, and X-Ray attacks which inflict a lot of damage. You can perform a tech roll to distance yourself from your opponent after being knocked down or utilize a Delayed Wakeup to throw off their timing. I would highly suggest you check out the tutorial before anything else. It goes over the basics and more advanced mechanics like breakers, wakeups, meter burning, and EX moves. You can punch and kick, perform combos, grab and throw opponents, juggle them in the air, and block. Characters can have supernatural abilities and utilize weapons and stages will have interactive background objects which can aid you during a match. You can hit opponents with things, throw NPCs at them which is always humorous, jump off and swing on things, and slam your opponent’s head into objects.
As expected, Fatalities return which is a series staple. Matches play out in rounds and whoever wins two rounds is deemed the victor. Once you land the winning blow in a match outside of the story mode, your opponent will be stunned, granting you the opportunity to finish them off with a gruesome move. You’ll get to kill and mutilate your opponents in a variety of different ways and watch their blood and internal organs spill out onto the ground. You can impale opponents, put holes in them, crush them, dismember them, and rip the flesh off their bones. You can perform Stage Fatalities in certain stages and Brutalities are back but they’re more or less special attacks. You have to perform a specific move to win the round and if you meet the requirements, it results in a violent and bloody end for your opponent.

The violence in Mortal Kombat X is over-the-top as expected and it’s a great fighting game. The roster is large and diverse with plenty of characters to choose from and knowing your character’s move set and getting the timing and spacing down are all important factors if you want to be good or competitive. If you don’t practice and just mash buttons, you’re going to get your ass handed to you when up against anyone who knows what they’re doing. However, if you just like to play casually for fun and/or to watch these characters get obliterated, you can do that, too. There’s something for everyone. Mortal Kombat X is an accessible game. There are practice modes and you can set up a Single Fight against the AI in any stage of your choosing. There are multiple difficulty levels to select from and just like in the previous game, the story plays out in chapters and each chapter forces you to play as a different character which means you have to learn a new move set in each chapter. If you’re struggling with a fight, you can lower the difficulty and the game does allow you to skip fights which is nice. I found the difficulty to be pretty consistent throughout the story mode. I thought the final boss fight was the most challenging but it didn’t feel super cheap like the Shao Kahn fight in the previous game.
The story mode is only a small portion of the game. Mortal Kombat X includes multiple single player and multiplayer game modes, and a Faction system. As you play the game, you’ll earn experience, faction experience, and Koins which act as currency. When you earn enough experience, you level or rank up and earn rewards. You can join one of multiple factions and doing so grants you the ability to perform faction kills. The objective is to earn points for your faction which can be done across a variety of game modes and the faction with the most points at the end of the week wins. You can participate in different Faction modes and Wars and members of the winning faction will earn various rewards.

The classic Mortal Kombat arcade ladder returns, otherwise known as the Klassic Tower. You fight your way up the tower ending with a fight against Shinnok. There’s an Endless tower where the objective is to defeat as many opponents as possible without a loss and a Survivor tower where you to survive as many fights as you can and your previous fight’s health carries over into the next. The Test Your Might mini-game returns as a tower and returning from the previous game is Test Your Luck which is a tower that lets you battle a series of opponents with random gameplay modifiers. In addition to the Traditional Towers are Tower Challenges where you can generate towers and challenge your friends and three Living Towers; hourly, daily, and premiere. These do change over time and you’ll earn rewards for completing them. Many towers include random gameplay modifiers which can force you to think differently and try new things. The modifiers can make the fights interesting but some are more annoying than enjoyable. Forcing me to fight upside down or rearranging my controls is just frustrating.
If you prefer to fight other players, Mortal Kombat X does support up to two players locally but you can also look for opponents online and the XL version of the game includes improved netcode. I did check out the Online mode and it still has active players. You can send or receive fight requests, join or create teams, there’s a King of the Hill mode where you attempt to win as many consecutive matches as you can, and a Tower Battle mode where the goal is to compete for the highest score in a randomly generated tower. I did fight some other players and I actually won a match. But most of the time I got annihilated.

Like the previous game, Koins can be spent in the Krypt to unlock costumes, artwork, finishing moves, and music, among other things and unless you look up a guide, you never know what you’re going to unlock. You can unlock easy fatality awards which allow you to easily perform fatalities by pressing two buttons. However, they are consumables so you’ll eventually run out. They are being sold as DLC in the console versions but I didn’t find them on Steam. I would never recommend you buy them anyway. Just learn the button combinations. You can always tag them in the move list so they appear on the screen, too. The Krypt in Mortal Kombat X is more involved than its predecessor. It’s broken up into multiple areas and you’ll have to solve some puzzles, find items to access new areas, and sometimes you’ll be attacked by enemies. Honestly, I think the Krypt is neat but it’s tedious to navigate. I think I would prefer a simple menu system.
The visual presentation is excellent. Everything is extremely detailed and that includes the gore effects. You’ll see brain matter, internal organs, a character’s head can be cut off and their tongue will be moving around, blood flies through the air and spills onto the ground, X-Ray attacks let you see bones break, and characters will show visible damage during matches. Some stages include weather effects like rain and snow and many include interesting things going on in the backgrounds like NPC’s fighting and/or moving around. From the waves crashing onto the dock in the Kove stage to the portal from Outworld that opens up in the Refugee Kamp stage, each one is interesting and atmospheric. The animations are smooth and the visual effects like sparks and smoke look excellent. The sounds of strikes and blows are satisfying as are the sounds of body parts crunching, bones breaking, and enemies screaming in agony as they get destroyed. The soundtrack is full of decent dramatic-sounding tunes but I did stop noticing the music after a while so I can’t say any of the songs are very memorable. On the technical side, the gameplay was super smooth in single player and I didn’t encounter any issues. However, I did experience lag in some Online matches.
I love Mortal Kombat X. The gameplay is fun and the violence is as ridiculous as ever. Performing a successful series of attacks resulting in a combo is great stuff. But even better is when you do it multiple times, juggling your opponent, whittling down their health before spilling their blood all over the environment with a violent finishing move. Now that’s rewarding. But it requires practice. Luckily, you don’t need to be good to enjoy the game and that’s what I love most about it. Playing online just confirmed my suspicion that I’m terrible at fighting games. And that’s because I don’t play them often, let alone competitively. But Mortal Kombat X is a fighting game that should appeal to players of all skill levels because it’s accessible and gives you plenty of things to do. It’s a great single player and multiplayer game. The story mode more or less forces you to try out different characters, there’s numerous game modes to test your skills, and the living or changing towers ensure there’s always something new every time you fire up the game.

Not only is there plenty to do, but I always wanted to keep playing because I really enjoy watching these characters mutilate each other. I love the little things, too. I love watching the blood pour out of an open wound. I love hearing the crunches and cracking of body parts being crushed and bones breaking, and I love seeing the entrails get ripped out of a character’s body. It’s graphic, brutal, and absurd. I know there’s people out there that dislike the guest characters but I’m not one of them. Do all of them fit into the Mortal Kombat universe? Not really. But I like watching the Predator blow a character’s arm off with its shoulder cannon and I like when the Alien tears an opponent in half. Violence has always been the charm of Mortal Kombat and its absurdity has always made it comical. X is no exception. Characters will have their necks snapped, spines broken, and skulls cracked. They’ll be stabbed, shot, set on fire, electrocuted, and impaled. Many of the attacks and moves exhibited in these games would outright kill someone or at the very least render them disabled. These characters brush it off and keep going. It’s insane and I love it.
I would absolutely recommend Mortal Kombat X to fans of the series and the fighting genre. It’s got everything that makes a Mortal Kombat game fun and it’s a great fighting game to boot. It doesn’t matter if you want to play casually, competitively, or you just simply enjoy eviscerating your opponents. Mortal Kombat X has you covered. It’s violent, graphic, and gruesome. It’s a fun blood-soaked experience. Definitely check it out.

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