Established back in the 90’s, Mortal Kombat is one of the oldest game franchises still kicking around, long after people stopped eating Urkel-Os and finding the Budweiser Frogs entertaining. Mortal Kombat still has a big fanbase, even after many disappointing sequels and the godawful movie franchise. As a man who played the notoriously appalling Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, Mortal Kombat Gold and Mortal Kombat: Special Forces, I can tell you that even the most diehard Mortal Kombat zealots wouldn’t defend those games.
Turning Over A New Leaf
In the early 2010’s, NetherRealm Studios decided to reboot the series, starting with Mortal Kombat in 2011 (also called Mortal Kombat 9 to avoid confusion). This wasn’t like the uncreative Spider-Man reboots, where they kept the core banal storyline with new actors. The Mortal Kombat reboot changed the whole dynamic of the series. NetherRealm Studios even changed up the plot by not making Liu Kang the protagonist.
In a depressing repeat of history, the same narcissistic ninnies who would have been behind former Senator Herb Kohl’s (D-WI) campaign to ban Mortal Kombat in the 90’s are petitioning to get the newly released Mortal Kombat X banned. These children are like their parents, who jump on high-profile releases to push there agenda. What they don’t know is that the American public has grown tired of whiners who blame the media for all of society’s problems.
Rather than complain about the buckets of blood and graphic executions of Mortal Kombat X, these latter-day Joe Liebermans are upset over the game’s “sexism.” According to SJWs, Mortal Kombat demeans women because the proportions of the female fighters are “unrealistic.” The irony of demanding realism in a game where gods, automatons and reptilians are part of the storyline was not lost on Reaxxion: our own Sam Roberts covered the story here.
Stopping The Bust
NetherRealm Studios did cave by reducing the breast sizes of some of their female characters. However, they didn’t make a media circus out of it and didn’t get dragged into a huge SJW Twitter kerfuffle. The change also didn’t affect the development of the game, since it was almost done anyway when the complaints came in.
I decided to take Mortal Kombat X out for a test run since I was a big fan of the previous games. Unlike how most gaming websites do things, I decided to buy the game and wait out the release like the average day one consumer. The review embargo that is common for big titles sent out to game publications tints the actual gaming experience and ultimately hurts gamers by giving them a false impression of what the game is like.
The first thing I noticed when I entered my key for Mortal Kombat X was the new system set up by Valve for this game’s distribution. The big change of letting customers download a small amount of the game before launch (3 GB in MKX’s case) and pre-load the rest of the title in stages is a nice addition to Steam. Mortal Kombat X is a huge game, weighing in at around 40 GB, and streamlining the process is a win for gamers who have slow Internet connections.
Beta-Testing A Released Game
The day after the release date, the Steam version of Mortal Kombat X had tons of errors. Bugs which I experience include 1v1 mode not working and the game not downloading parts of other modes. I was going to blame NetherRealm Studios for this debacle, but High Voltage Studios took the reins for the PC release. The only part that actually worked at launch was the faction war video tutorial segment, which looks promising.
Additionally, the streaming function didn’t work at all. Whenever I tried to enter 1v1 mode, the game would crash and then download another block of data. Basically, if you bought Mortal Kombat X on Steam when it was released, you were basically paying to be a beta tester. The game was patched to work on Tuesday night.
— Jay Sherman (@jayshermanwrite) April 14, 2015
The game’s plot picks up from where Mortal Kombat left off. Shinnok has managed to bamboozle Raiden and Shao Kahn by using the Mortal Kombat tournament as a diversion to invade the Earthrealm. He uses revenants—the souls of dead Mortal Kombat fighters revived by his servant Quan-Chi—as foot soldiers in his invasion.
One of the quirks of this new Mortal Kombat is the addition of Quick-Time Events. I liked this addition because it reminded me of Resident Evil 4.
I was hooked on the story mode, unlike in previous Mortal Kombat games, because the plot is actually well-written (compared to previous entries in the series). Mortal Kombat has always felt like a melange of Sho Kosugi action films mixed with 80’s horror films, and Mortal Kombat X achieves a perfect balance between these two elements.
Additionally, Mortal Kombat X has a fantastic fighting engine, a big improvement over the last game’s. The fighting feels incredibly fluid at 60 FPS and the map interactions made me chuckle like a 2005 frat bro watching a Dane Cook special. You won’t have to worry about losing matches because of sudden framerate drops and other graphical glitches.
Can’t Keep Up The Speed!
The main problem with Mortal Kombat X on the PC is that while the actual fighting is done at 60 FPS, the pre-fight cutscenes, fatalities and x-ray specials are at 30 FPS. This is a noticeable change while playing, and something NetherRealms Studios should have fixed before releasing the game.
As I finished the story mode, I decided to take a glance at the other features of the game. The few Mortal Kombat X matches I played online were great. My only issue with the fighting is that the netcode isn’t where it should be. My punches were coming a little bit late and some of the grapple interactions were choppy. Besides those minor nitpicks, it was still an enjoyable experience and hopefully the small issues get fixed. Here’s a video of an online match done by user Miyako Kiwishima demonstrating the online match function:
Tales Of The Krypt?
After I finished some of my online matches, I decided to look at the Krypt feature. Every Mortal Kombat game since Deadly Alliance has had an in-game currency and an in-game store to spend it in. While not as bad as the shenanigans that Capcom has pulled with Street Fighter, the DLC for Mortal Kombat X is ridiculous. For example, selling easy fatalities for $4.99 is dumb. The DLC isn’t vital to beating the game, but it’s still annoying. Fortunately, Mortal Kombat X lets you avoid paying actual money for Krypt DLC by letting you earn in-game Krypt Points instead.
The DLC for the PC version is better since it only encompasses Goro and the 29.99 Kontent Pack. Reaxxion’s Daniel Schenck discussed the Kontent Pack here.
Even though I and many other consumers have had day one issues with the release of the game, it was still an enjoyable experience. I still side with the gamers on this issue though, since many of them took a day off work to play the midnight release on PC. The industry standard of making day one consumers beta testers has to go. I’m not pinning this on NetherRealm Studios, since the console versions didn’t have this problem. Still, the culpability lies with Steam and High Voltage Studios for not working out the game’s big problems prior to release.
Gameplay: 42/45. This is the best iteration of Mortal Kombat since Ultra MK3. The new online features extend Mortal Kombat X’s lifespan tremendously and the fighting engine is one of the best in any recent fighting game. Expect this game to be a fighting tournament staple for years to come.
Controls: 22/25. The controls are decent and highly adaptable. The 3 point deduction is because a lot of user experience settings are missing. This game is not handicap-friendly because you must manually tick each move with the corresponding button. The controls still work really well though.
Graphics: 15/15. This is a AAA game for graphics. The PC version looked stunning on my computer. The backgrounds were just as vivid as the characters themselves.
Sound: 8/10. The game has fantastic sound design, with incredibly realistic sound effects; for example, punches actually sound like punches. The generic portal “whooshing” sound effect even sounds pretty good.
Story: 5/5. Best storyline in a Mortal Kombat game in years. In fact, the story is so good that you could rip off the plot for a knock-off comic book and it’d still be fun to follow.
Masculinity Score: This game is pretty masculine, even after the infamous shrinking boob size debacle. Both the game’s male and female character are not Mary Sue Tumblr feministas. Every character has a purpose and is not shoe-horned in for “diversity.” The blood, gore and sexually stimulating costumes also add to the game’s masculinity. They haven’t added a Lindy West blob creature in this game for “body representation diversity.”
Total: 92%. Mortal Kombat X is worth the money on PC and will last you much longer than the previous games. I can still see myself playing the game in six months, even with all the launch problems. I couldn’t say that about any previous Mortal Kombat game, except for Mortal Kombat Trilogy. Congratulations to NetherRealm Studios for making a fighting game with permanency in an industry that thrives on yearly sequels.