Mortal Kombat X PS4 Review

Mortal Kombat X. WBIE

There was a time young readers when it looked by all accounts that the “Mortal Kombat” franchise had suffered a fatality of its own. The movie franchise never quite took off like it should, gamers moved on to FPS games like “Call of Duty”, and the world of Scorpion and Sub-Zero looked like one to be remembered instead of experienced by future generations. The key turning point was actually a hybrid game, “Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe,” in which classic “MK” characters like Raiden and Baraka took on classic comic book characters like Batman and The Joker.

The game was a surprisingly solid fighter, and it REALLY took off with fans, selling 2 million copies. NetherRealm rebooted the “Mortal Kombat” series properly in 2011 and the result was another shocking hit, winning several awards. The team struck video game gold again with 2013’s “Injustice: Gods Among Us,” which offered new fighting gameplay blended with the old “MK” model, and was the first next-gen fighting game hit. So, now, “Mortal Kombat X” lands at a time when expectations are completely different than they were a decade ago. Sorry, “Dead or Alive” fans, “Mortal Kombat” reigns high on the tower of fighting games, and it doesn’t look at all like “Mortal Kombat X” is going to put their dominance in jeopardy.

The first word that comes to mind when starting “Mortal Kombat X” (after the lengthy installation is complete) is “depth”. There’s simply MORE “Mortal Kombat” than ever before in this edition, with each playable character getting three variations of fighting styles, hundreds of special moves, tower challenges that constantly change, interactive environments, and the addition of a team-based Faction Wars mode.

In many ways, this is the deepest fighting game ever made, as the folks at NetherRealm and WBIE likely were confronted by the “More is More” motto of games like “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” and “Battlefield: Hardline,” which allow deep customization across a variety of modes. There was a time when fighting games consisted almost solely of one-on-one combat.

Not anymore.

There are 24 playable characters in “Mortal Kombat X” and more to come via DLC, including Jason Voorhees and Predator. Classics like Raiden and Scorpion return, upgraded and enhanced for the PS4 generation, and joined by new characters like D’Vorah and Jacqui Briggs, who happen to be two of my favorite combatants. D’Vorah is the fighter I return to the most, as her agility, special moves, and range work best for me. And that’s the thing about “Mortal Kombat”. There’s a playing type for everyone. Like ‘em big and strong? Try Jax or the viciously cool Ferra/Torr. Like ‘em quick and agile? Go for D’Vorah or Mileena. Some are more superpowered than others. Some have easier combo moves while some have harder ones to execute but with greater results. And all 24 characters have three gameplay variations that slightly adjust their fighting style. For example, you can play Scorpion as an “Inferno”, “Ninjutsu”, or “Hellfire”. Experimenting with the different variations for each character is the best way to figure out which one works for you.

And there are PLENTY of ways to experiment. As I mentioned, the install, at least for me on day one, took forever. While it’s installing, most of the modes will be unavailable, but it gives you time to really play with all the characters and find their strengths and weaknesses.

Once it’s all open, dive into the Story, which never truly engages narratively but offers a fun grab bag of characters to play and locations. Then I recommend a few Towers, a familiar structure for “Mortal Kombat” fans of successive fights up a tower, but really enhanced with multiple variations in this version. There are Challenge Towers in which gameplay scenarios vary every hour. For example, one hour, ice will be falling from the sky. The next hour, you won’t be able to jump. And so on. There are also Endless Towers (pretty self-explanatory) and ranked towers that you can play online (finishing quickly, with more health, with more special moves, etc. gets you more points). There’s even a Survivor Tower in which your health doesn’t regenerate between fights. Good luck with that.

Finally, there’s something called Faction Wars. You choose one of five factions on start-up: Black Dragon, The Brotherhood of Shadow, Lin Kuei, Special Forces, and White Lotus. From that point on, all of your success, all of the experience you earn and wins you notch, are added to the faction total. Win points for your faction, everyone in your faction is rewarded.

As for sound and graphics, “Mortal Kombat X” looks and sounds amazing. The voice work in the Story portion is particularly strong, and the environments are brilliantly designed, often revealing interactive elements long after you’ve started playing them. Some of the Fatalities are a bit ridiculously designed, although in keeping with the tongue-in-cheek tone of the “Mortal Kombat” series, one that once seemed on the ropes but now rules its genre with a bloody fist.

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