Unlike the shitty companion app, the only issue with Mortal Kombat X‘s big-boy system debut is the fact that the devs are having more than their fair share of patching issues, which is par for the course in today’s culture of releasing broken games. Beyond that, the core package is beyond fantastic.
Here’s the lowdown: the story mode is restrictive in character selection, meaning that you’ll be experiencing it how the devs want you to, rather than choosing a fighter you enjoy playing as, so that sucks. But the towers more than make up for the balls-strangling story mode, as there is such a diversity of challenges between the living and traditional towers that finding a match modifier to suit your mood is almost guaranteed. Similarly, the single match options and special invasion boss challenges offer a good amount of fun for recreational play. Surprisingly, I found my favorite mode to be fatality practice mode. Now, this is my first Mortal Kombat, so this may have been in others and I just didn’t know, but having an entire mode dedicated to practicing fatalities is great, and I absolutely appreciate it.
Next up is the Krypt, where all the unlockables are hidden. The thing is like The Vanishing of Ethan Carter if it got a MK makeover, being a first-person exploratory den of spiders and graveyard of tombstones, all primed for discovery. There are hidden items that you can use to unlock new areas, like if you find Raiden’s hat in one area it means you can access a new path in another, and so on and so forth, making it more than just an unlockable cove but an entire meta game in and of itself, which is cool. And the jump-scares here are surprisingly more effective than anything I encountered in Dead Space 3… even if that’s not saying much.
Moving over to online mode, which is what I’m referring to if I say anything related to invasion challenges, is where the game really shines, contrary to what popular internet whining might have you believe. The elephant in the room is how Netherrealm can’t do online for shit, and I’m here to say: yes, in fact, they can. I’ve encountered three or four unplayable matches out of the two hundred plus I’ve enjoyed so far online, with the overwhelming majority of those sporting great connections and fostering fun competition. Online is chock full of content, including the staples such as King of the Hill, Survival and of course ranked and player matches, but the new invasion content really mixes up what we’ve come to expect from online fighting games. Everyone has a faction, and you compete in special online events to earn points for your faction, typically earning you extra koins at the end of the week if your faction wins, which can be redeemed in the Krypt for cool stuff. Some say the faction system is broken since Lin Kuei has been dominating the past two weeks, but over the past few days I’ve seen it even out and now the White Lotus are leading. Basically, there’s an achievement to get level 50 in every faction, so naturally the community is sorting itself out so that no one faction is dominating anymore. This is a good thing.
Now that I’ve covered the surface level content, let’s talk about the core gameplay, because what good are modes and avenues of play if the play itself is bad? Luckily, of course, fighting game fanatics can ease their worries, as MKX is probably my favorite fighter of all time. Now, this is coming from a guy who sucks competitive dick at fighting games, but let me put up a comparison for you: I’ve played Injustice, SF4 (all versions of it), SFXTekken, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and Soul Calibur 4&5. Out of all those games, the closest I ever got to being “good” was Soul Calibur 5, and the closest I ever got to being good in a traditional fighter was Injustice. My win to loss ratio in Injustice was 2/30, give or take. I am that bad at fighting games, and the ratio was even worse for Street Fighter. Point of the matter is, my current ratio, for MKX, is somewhere in the neighborhood of 220/30, no shit. There are two reasons for this, both of which are specific to MKX: firstly, the block button. This shit is a necessity for me, rather than that horrid Japanese-style hold back to block nonsense, as this isn’t twitch based, but grounded in strategic timing. I love it. Secondly: the variations of each fighter. I main Goro and D’vorah (the first fighting game I’m good enough to say I main characters in, yay!) and here’s the thing, I actually know, skill-wise, why I like the versions of them that I do. Kuatan Warrior Goro is better than Dragon Fang Goro for me, because the former allows for immediate wake-up combo grabs, rather than the latter’s reliance on a little damage buff for every hit. For D’vorah, I like Swarm Queen over Venomous because the former has moves that immobilize the opponent longer, versus the latter’s shorter stall times. But that’s the thing: every variation serves a purpose for a different kind of player, and that’s something I’ve missed in other fighting games, like Injustice for example. Let’s say I loved Aquaman in that game, but disliked his anti-air techniques. If he were in MKX, one of the three variations of him would undoubtedly remedy this problem by taking out one or two moves to make room for a better anti-air attack selection. It might seem small, but it makes an otherwise deal-breaking character feasible. It’s a great inclusion.
So there you have it, my lengthy review of Mortal Kombat X. It’s a fucking wonderful game, as long as you have a great internet connection, don’t want to garner your playtime through story mode and have a tolerance for more of this generation’s rampant patching nonsense. If you can handle those three things, then MKX will blow your mind, guaranteed, if not figuratively then literally in a fatality.