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Game Review: 'Mortal Kombat X'

Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Style: 1 or 2-Player Fighting (2-Player Online) 


Developer: NetherRealm Studios

Release: April 14

Rating: M

The Bottom Line: 9.25

Concept: Your favorite characters are joined by a new generation of fighters with added modes and a new story

Graphics: Fighters and levels are more detailed, and the action runs smoothly throughout

Sound: Dynamic voice interactions before and during matches make them feel unique, and each gruesome moment sounds great

Playability: The familiar combat feels as strong as ever, and the level interactions add depth

Entertainment: Brutally satisfying and enjoyable in its absurdity, Mortal Kombat X carries the franchise’s flag high

Replay Value: High

A deadly alliance of old and new

Mortal Kombat X continues the tradition of excellent 2D fighting mechanics mixed with the series’ signature gore. Projectiles fly, uppercuts are thrown, and blood rains down as the two fighters engage in a fight to the death. The X-ray attacks and hallmark fatalities are as graphic as ever, and the result is a level of violence that can have you wincing one minute and laughing the next.

Calling back to its arcade roots, Mortal Kombat X is best enjoyed with another player. Sitting side-by-side with your opponent works best, but the online suite gives players a lot of options, allowing players to battle in head-to-head matchups, team battles, and king-of-the-hill lobbies.

Though the combat is familiar, NetherRealm has made improvements. New level interactions, which allow characters to vault off or throw objects, help you escape when you’re caught in a corner. The options at your disposal – X-ray attacks, special moves, fatalities, and more – provide the deepest combat in the series so far. Despite all of the possibilities, MK X is approachable for players of all levels.

Taking place 25 years after the events of the last entry, the roster features a good selection of classic fighters and new additions. Whether you’re dead-set on playing as Scorpion or Sub-Zero, or you’re looking to find a new main, the 24-character roster features a diverse collection of characters. NetherRealm did an outstanding job with the new additions, with Cassie Cage, Erron Black, and Kotal Kahn quickly becoming favorites of mine. Each character possesses three fighting styles, adding further depth to the roster.

The Living Towers mode is another big addition. Playing off of the Challenge Tower concept from the last game, MK X’s Living Towers provide challenges that rotate at 
different frequencies. One tower I played had reduced gravity with each fight, making juggling my opponents easier, while another placed me in the shoes of Liu Kang as he fought Earthrealm’s biggest adversaries.

With three separate Living Towers – one that changes hourly, one that changes daily, and a premier one that updates with event-driven objectives – the replayability is high. Players can also play more traditional towers that include Survivor, Test Your Luck, Test Your Might, and Klassic. Test Your Luck quickly became my favorite tower, as it adds random modifiers like super-speed and player-freezing ice balls crashing down on the match.

Also new in MK X is the community-driven Faction Wars system. Every day brings new challenges, and every task you complete earns points for the faction you’ve joined. It’s an outstanding way to instill a sense of community even for those who prefer to stay in the local modes, and I was compelled to check the daily challenges every day in order to contribute to my team.

In addition to helping your faction, every mode also rewards you with koins, which can be used to purchase items such as fatalities, concept art, and more in the Krypt. Unlike previous games, the Krypt of MK X has you locate items through first-person exploration. Enemies like wolves and giant spiders attack you, and reacting to the encounters fast enough rewards you with additional koins. It’s an enjoyable take on the Krypt concept – and more fun than unlocking stuff through a basic menu.

MK X continues the strong storytelling of the previous entry, with action movie cutscenes breaking up the onslaught of fights. Even outside of story mode, the movie-like feel carries into other modes thanks to the gorgeous graphics and excellent sound design that ensures you hear every bone snap and blood splatter, and a dynamic interaction system that sees fighters make personal remarks before and during battles based on who they are fighting.

While the last game retold the classic narrative, MK X presents an entirely new story. Though it doesn’t actually take place during a tournament, it strikes all the notes MK fans could want from an all-new arc. While slightly hackneyed at times, the story mode remains the model single-player mode for all other fighting games.

Mortal Kombat X is a fantastic successor in every sense. The mechanics may be similar to 2011’s strong release, but with so many new modes and features permeating every part of the experience, it’s a worthy upgrade. Mortal Kombat X is more than the continuation of NetherRealm’s successful vision for the franchise; it’s one of the best fighting games in years.

DLC Intrusion

Goro is used in game modes as an A.I. character, but he isn’t included as a part of the base game. He’s on the character select screen, but this serves only as a tease for the premium DLC. Ed Boon has stated that players can use downloadable characters without purchasing them through the Living Towers, but it’s still disappointing (and intrusive) to be constantly taunted by the four-armed leviathan every time you’re picking a character.

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