Gaming

Mortal Kombat X: Reclaiming the Fighting Throne

There’s nothing quite like a little bloodshed to uplift one’s spirits. And that’s precisely the driving force behind the Mortal Kombat series, a sentiment that NetherRealm Studios has fully embraced in Mortal Kombat X. While the “X” represents 10, it’s worth noting that there have been around 22 MK games since the series’ debut in 1992. Although creator Ed Boon, now at NetherRealm, might want us to forget about games like Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero or Mortal Kombat: Special Forces, the pain and intensity of a classic MK game remains intact, with the exception of Mortal Kombat X.

If 2011’s Mortal Kombat was a trip down memory lane, a return to the franchise’s roots, Mortal Kombat X might be the game where it finally rediscovers the spirit and energy of its mid-1990s glory days.

Story/Concept

Allow me to introduce you to the new combatants. Mortal Kombat X takes place 25 years after the events of its predecessor, 2011’s Mortal Kombat. Some key characters met their demise in that game’s story mode and will not be making an appearance here. However, fear not, as Scorpion and Sub-Zero are still very much in the game. Both were showcased in NetherRealm’s recent E3 demo, and both feel as fresh as ever. But the roster doesn’t stop there; there are plenty of new faces to look forward to.

Here’s a peek at some of the new combatants:

  • Sub-Zero: Back and just as icy as before.
  • Scorpion: Wherever Sub-Zero is, you can bet Scorpion is there to challenge him.
  • Cassie Cage: The daughter of Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage is a perfect blend of her parents’ fighting styles.
  • D’Vorah: A unique character with insect-inspired abilities, capable of shooting insects, flying, and attacking with mandibles.
  • Ferra/Torr: An unusual duo comprising a massive brute resembling Bane and a young girl who rides on his back.
  • Kotal Kahn: With a striking resemblance to Shao Kahn, but with an Aztec twist.
  • Raiden: Did anyone doubt the return of the thunder god?

There are more new combatants in store, though they’ll be revealed in due time. Rest assured, some fan-favorites will also make a comeback.

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Mortal Kombat X
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Now, let’s liven things up a bit. The previous Mortal Kombat received praise, but it also faced criticism for its stiffness and lack of innovation. However, in Mortal Kombat X, Ed Boon and his team at NetherRealm Studios have once again employed the Unreal Engine 3, but this time, they’ve made significant efforts to speed up and refine the gameplay. Each fighter now approaches a match armed with one of several distinct fighting styles, ensuring that each Scorpion vs. Scorpion battle won’t devolve into repetitive moves and combos.

Gameplay

Get ready for smoother controls. Mortal Kombat has always possessed a complex control scheme, which has been both its greatest strength and its downfall. Diehard fans relish the challenge of memorizing combos and special moves, but it can prove daunting for casual players. In Mortal Kombat X, every new addition aims to simplify the combat mechanics while preserving the series’ depth for devoted fans and ensuring accessibility for newcomers. Special attacks are now more accessible, often requiring just three button presses, as are some fatalities.

The introduction of interactive environments further facilitates the simplified controls. NetherRealm has unveiled three arenas so far: a snowy forest, a pier, and an Outworld market. Each arena boasts numerous interactive elements, such as crates to throw and branches to swing from. By pressing the R1 button near these objects, you can trigger their effects, regardless of the character you’re using.

Mortal Kombat X Interactive Environment
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Some of the more intriguing interactions involve throwing hot coals, using an old lady as a weapon, and swinging on branches. Each interaction can only be used once per match. Surprisingly, this seemingly small addition has a significant impact on the gameplay, often leveling the playing field or completely changing the tide of battle.

To prevent excessive exploitation of the interactive environments or constant running away, a stamina meter keeps everyone in check. It replenishes after a couple of seconds, but it acts as a deterrent to ceaseless dodging and evasive maneuvers—a momentary break to catch your breath.

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Prepare for bone-crushing moves with the enhanced X-ray attacks. While organ and bone-revealing X-ray moves were introduced in the previous installment, Mortal Kombat X takes them to the next level. To unleash these devastating attacks, you must pummel your opponent until you accumulate three meters of power. Once activated (by hitting L2+R2 near your opponent), the special X-ray attack commences. These moves are the most brutal and gory ever witnessed in a video game. For instance, one of Cassie Cage’s attacks annihilates her opponent’s testicles and skull. These attacks rival the brutality of classic fatalities. It’s safe to say that things get crazy.

Fighter variants offer players a wealth of choices. While Mortal Kombat has previously dabbled in alternate fighting styles, never before have they been executed as seamlessly as in Mortal Kombat X. After selecting your fighter, you must then choose a fighting style. Sub-Zero and Scorpion, for example, possess variants with swords, hammers, and more traditional fire or ice abilities.

Each fighting style offers a unique combat experience, though there are a few core special moves accessible to any variant. For instance, Sub-Zero can always shoot a ball of ice. The goal of these variants is to ensure a distinctive fighting encounter. Ferra/Torr, for instance, offers a variant where you can throw the little girl on your back to use her as a weapon, another mode where she stabs into you to enhance your adrenaline, and a final mode where she watches from the sidelines while you fight with a more brawling, close-range style.

Presentation

Prepare to feast your eyes on the most stunning Mortal Kombat in years. The art design has never been better. Iconic characters like Sub-Zero and Scorpion have received captivating updates, maintaining their classic essence. Meanwhile, the new characters, peculiar as they may appear (MK characters always stand out), exude a level of thoughtfulness not often found in new additions to the Mortal Kombat universe. Characters like Cassie Cage and Ferra/Torr may very well become classics one day.

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Mortal Kombat X Graphics
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Beyond the breathtaking next-generation graphics, which bring to life animated 3D waves, dynamic environments, and incredibly detailed character models, Mortal Kombat X plays like a dream. It runs at 1080p and maintains a constant 60fps, providing a seamless and immersive experience.

Mortal Kombat X rekindles the love affair with gore that made the series a sensation 20+ years ago. While the world of entertainment has gradually caught up with the level of graphic violence Mortal Kombat once pioneered, this latest installment propels the franchise back into the forefront. Ed Boon and his team have recaptured the essence of Mortal Kombat’s unapologetic brutality and repulsive gore, but they present it in a way that makes it incredibly entertaining, just like the originals.

Takeaway

The development codename for Mortal Kombat X was “Mortal Kombat 2,” and it’s a fitting title. Much like the original Mortal Kombat 2 from the early 1990s, MK X takes everything we adore about Sub-Zero and the gang, takes it up a notch, introduces a multitude of new characters, and refines and enhances the fighting mechanics, resulting in a bigger and better game in every way. This preview is based on an early demo with only a few characters and three stages, but even with this limited content, Mortal Kombat X already stands out among its predecessors.

It’s the most visually impressive and smoothest fighting game we’ve seen in a long time. Mortal Kombat is back, and it’s heading to PC, PlayStation, and Xbox consoles in 2015.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Mortal Kombat 1: release date, trailers, gameplay, and more
  • You need to buy this Mortal Kombat II arcade game while it’s $50 off
  • Mortal Kombat 1 gameplay shows off absolutely disgusting finishers
  • Mortal Kombat 1 beta: how to access the beta, expected dates, and exclusives
  • Mortal Kombat 1 takes the series back to the start this September

Article by OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

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