Mortal Kombat’s might tested: first impressions of X

Mortal Kombat

I wasn’t planning on writing another article about a fighting game, including the “Mortal Kombat” series. However, even with my borderline ridiculous standards, “Mortal Kombat X,” the latest installment to this aged and considerably stale series, exceeds my expectations and steers the franchise into a positive direction. After watching numerous streams and reading some of the day one reviews, I can say I’ll be getting the game as soon as I can.

“X” keeps what makes the fighting genre awesome, while bringing to the table cutting-edge graphics and gameplay systems. I find that many of the current PS4 and Xbox One titles have absolutely amazing (and even surreal) graphics, but disappoint in almost all other aspects. On that note, the game’s graphics are absolutely magnificent, bringing characters to life with every kick, combo, and light particle. “X” also maintains its core gameplay while improve in balancing and creativity.

The next generation graphics emphasize the game’s violence, most notably its trademark Fatality moves. Fatalities in HD graphics can be especially heart-pounding and haunting, featuring more creative ways to dismember and kill, in contrast to “Mortal Kombat 9″‘s over-the-top and sometimes unnecessary blood, gore, and unrealistic factors, “X” tones down the unnecessary gore, but enhances the realism of the game.

Additionally, “X” also reduces the fan service and crazy plots, which are what I assume the developer originally used to attract players, but only amounted to distractions.

Mechanics-wise, “X” remains faithful to the franchise’s past efforts to make games better, while presenting some innovative ideas that make the game more dynamic. The most apparent change, of course, is the introduction of fighting styles for every fighter. As of now, every fighter in the game has three different fighting styles that add unique moves to a character’s basic moves.

For example, Sub-Zero, one of the series’ iconic characters, has a basic set of moves and three variations of styles: Cryomancer, which allows him to manifest weapons in ice and boost his offense; Unbreakable, which allows him to utilize his ice moves more defensively; and Grandmaster, which gives him the ability to make clones of ice and use them for different strategic options.

Introducing variations give players more options for how can they effectively use a character and make the game more strategically competitive. 2D side-scrolling and the use of Enhanced Breaker-X ray meter bar system were kept from the previous game, a system that I feel is highly successful.

The “Mortal Kombat” series is not widely known for its storyline, with numerous instances of inconsistencies, retconning, and random resurrections. However, “X,” in my opinion, at least attempts a coherent storyline, and sometimes even dramatic moments.

Modern graphics definitely help, but the impressive voice acting and the refined plot minimize the awkwardness that other “Mortal Kombat” story modes had. Additionally, characters’ details are much more fleshed out and expressive in personality, with customized introduction one-liners between individual characters, which further improve interactions, and can make repetitive fighting hilarious. This helps players’ sense of immersion to the game, allowing them to quickly side with the characters they are controlling.

“X” does still have some flaws, from the disappointing launch day crashes on Steam, to truly obnoxious and game-altering glitches that will give players some headaches. The game also isn’t completely balanced, and some players quickly found exploits. The developers’ intention to release DLC and additional packs for the game is also be frustrating to some fans, me included.

However, the good so far outweighs the bad. If you are not a complete die-hard fan of the game, but still enjoy a good fighting game with next-generation immersion, you should definitely pick up “Mortal Kombat X” sometime in the near future, or the next Steam Summer Sale?