Review by J.T. Johnson
In 1992, the now defunct Midway released “Mortal Kombat” into the arcades. Seeing that I had limited access to the arcades at the time, I didn’t really get to see the game for the first time until 1993. My brother Jason had a Sega Genesis and he rented a game unlike any I had ever seen before.
That original game was groundbreaking with its use of performance capture instead of the colorful animation featured in “Street Fighter II” and in its use of violence. The game’s violence also caused quite the stir at the time. When the United States Senate was holding sessions where violence in video games was discussed, the video game companies banded together and created the Entertainment Software Rating Board, otherwise known as the ESRB.
“Mortal Kombat” was probably the biggest reason that the ESRB now exist. The game’s violence is now extremely tame compared to games that came after it, but at the time we had never seen anything like it. With that much success and controversy, it became apparent that a new video game series was born and the series it spawned thrives to this day.
At the time of the this article’s release, I am anxiously awaiting the release of “Mortal Kombat 11”, due to hit shelves worldwide on April 23, 2019. In order to pass the time a little bit, I’ve been revisiting “Mortal Kombat X”. More specifically, I’ve been playing “Mortal Kombat XL”, the updated version of the game that added most of the DLC content.
The game furthers the story featured in 2011’s “Mortal Kombat” (also referred to here and by the fans as “MK9”) and we get to see the offspring of some of our favorite characters. In the story, the evil fallen Elder God Shinnok returns to take over all the realms. First, he must get past the combatants who stand in his way with special abilities of their own.
The stories featured in the Mortal Kombat series have always been surprisingly stronger and more memorable than those featured in other fighting games. This game is no different as we see a new generation of combatants rise to the occasion alongside well established characters. Seeing that “MK9” effectively rebooted the story established in previous games, it was great to see where this story would go because I really didn’t know what twists it would hold.
From a gameplay standpoint, I played a little “MK9” through PlayStation Now so that I could compare the two games. “MKX” is a further extension of its predecessor but it balances everything out and the experience is far smoother as a result. Also, the final bosses of “MKX” don’t feel cheap the way that Shao Khan did in “MK9”.
First, let’s talk about the character selection. If you have all of the DLC, there are 33 characters to choose from and they all have three variations. These variations give each characters certain special abilities that they wouldn’t normally have or it lets them use weapons such as Scorpion’s katanas.
Also returning are different costumes for each character except for those that were released through DLC. These costumes are not all available from the start. Some of them are opened through playing the game’s various modes. Others are discovered when opening certain coffins in the maze-like Krypt where you go to spend coins that you earn through fighting.
There are several modes featured in the game. There are Living Towers, three towers of varying degrees of difficulty that change from time to time and each one has different goals required to beat them. Then there are the traditional towers such as the Klassic Tower that has been featured in every game since the original and this is where you also get every character’s individual endings.
There is also the Test Your Luck Tower, which I personally get a kick out of. In this mode, certain restrictions or powers are granted to either one or both combatants. These elements can either help you greatly in battle or they can hinder you completely.
Beyond that, you also have the Test Your Might tower where you have to break certain things by basically smashing buttons as fast as you can. Then, there is the Survivor Tower where you have to get as far as you can on only one bar of health (my least favorite) and the Endless Tower where you basically do the same thing but it is more forgiving since your health regenerates after every match.
The Story Mode is where you get the official canon story. In this mode, you simply go through a series of protagonists much in the same way that you did in “MK9”. Since it’s telling a fixed story, you don’t have a choice as to who you get to fight as, but this is a good thing. It allows players to get familiar with a set of characters rather than just getting to know how their favorite characters work.
I’ll admit that I found the story in “MK9” to be superior. In spite of that, I was glad to see that the people at NetherRealm Studios decided to carry the story to the next chapter rather than just repeating the previous game’s success. It definitely made me interested in seeing where “Mortal Kombat 11” will take us when it finally hits stores.
Of course, if you’re not a big fan of video game violence, then this game is not for you. The now (in)famous Fatalities are back in full force and they are brutal but they are also over-the-top and that’s why I’ve never really felt bad about their inclusion since they’re played more for dark comedic purposes rather than realistic gore. The game also features a new form of Brutalities and if you do a certain number of things right when you finish off an opponent, you can trigger them.
As a fighting game, it is pretty well balanced overall and I never felt that any of the characters were truly overpowered, except for maybe Jason Voorhees. You heard that right. NetherRealm wanted to continue the success of releasing characters from other series (in this case, film series) with this game.
In “MK9”, we got a surprise appearance from Freddy Krueger, but in this one we get not only Jason Voorhees from “Friday the 13th”, but we also get Leatherface from “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”, the Xenomorph from “Alien” and the “Predator”. They all work well, but Jason has powers that allow him to briefly come back from the dead and he also just seemed overly powerful to begin with, but I was still able to deal with him nonetheless, so he’s not too bad.
For the single players out there, there is a difficulty setting if you either want to just see or revisit the story or if you want a true challenge. For me, I find the Medium setting to be fine enough, but if you want, you can crank it up to either Hard or Very Hard or tone it down to either Easy or Very Easy.
Ultimately, “MKX” took everything that “MK9” did right and improved upon it even more. Yes, the game’s story isn’t as impactful, but the various modes give the game a certain replay factor that you don’t normally find with a fighting game. The great new and classic characters, the special moves and, yes, even the gore make this another strong entry into a series that has continued its successful resurrection since 2011’s “Mortal Kombat”.
WHERE TO FIND IT: Both the original “Mortal Kombat X” and “Mortal Kombat XL” versions are current gen games, so you can find them on both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One as well as on PC.