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Review: Mortal Kombat is high on moves, short on story

BY JORDAN RYDER | APRIL 30, 2015 3:30 PM

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Before starting my critique, I offer this caveat: I am not a fighting-games fan, and the last one I played was several years ago (Soul Calibur IV I think).

That being said, I found Mortal Kombat X to be a mess.

It follows immediately on the end of the previous title, as I understand, with an evil god invading the world with a demon army … which is defeated in the first 20 minutes. This was a moment where story met play, and the two did not merge well.

However powerful the story claims a character to be, that all goes out the window when the play starts, because each character has to be balanced with all the rest. That makes some confrontations underwhelming (when one is declared a badass, all-powerful, evil god, one has no excuse to lose a simple punching match).

I didn’t have a strong grasp on what was happening or what was at stake, but I assumed that this was because I was new to series. Then MKX fast forwarded 20 years to a new plot, and I realized I was wrong. MKX just didn’t want anything such as narrative and context getting in the way of all the fighting.

Because that is all with which the game is concerned, let’s look at that. The wide array of characters and move sets is praiseworthy, and that’s about all I can say for it. All of the cool special moves take about three or four buttons or stick movements, which, after a long time of trying to pull one off in the tutorial, I decided they weren’t worth the annoyance. And I still managed to win a good part of the time against the AI with basic punches and kicks anyway.

I also discovered that the X-ray moves sounded great in a design documents and are annoying in practice. X-ray moves are unique moves for each character that deliver lots of damage, and the game zooms in close to show the bones breaking. In a game about fighting and brutality, this sounds great. But after the second time I watched the move performed, I realized that they were 20 seconds each with no input on my part, and all I could do was endure the same things each time.

Other praiseworthy features are that visuals are amazing and the animations of the fights go very smoothly. The designers delivered on technical details.

Maybe a fighting-game veteran would not have had the same troubles I did with the combat, so I can charitably say it’s not for newcomers. As for the story, MKX needs to sit down, take a breath, and learn the basics of concept and character development.

If you like the genre, then you probably would like Mortal Kombat X. For everyone else, there are better games.

Score: 6/10

Mortal Kombat X was developed by NetherRealm Studios and is available for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows, iOS, and Android.


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