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Mortal Kombat X: Sonya Blade’s daughter punched me in the nuts and I liked it

Friday, 13th June 2014 10:14 GMT By Matt Martin

Bones, blood and balls – Mortal Kombat X is as stupid and fun as it’s always been, says Matt Martin.

I rolled my eyes when Mortal Kombat X was first announced because I didn’t think I would give a toss. But that first trailer made me laugh hard, so I made time to see and play the game at E3 out of curiosity.

I haven’t played a Mortal Kombat since the DC Universe crossover and it wasn’t until now that I realise how many I’ve actually played – even the action games Special Forces and Shaolin Monks, which were so bad I would have willingly impaled myself on Baraka’s stupid sword arms rather than play for more than 5 minutes.

So I stepped up to play the E3 demo with no pretence. It’s a fighting game where you tear out internal organs. Here’s what I learnt.

It’s horribly violent

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Of course it is, it’s a Mortal Kombat game. I was fighting as Scorpion versus Cassie Cage – Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage’s daughter. She punched me in the nuts, cracked the side of my skull with the handles of her twin .45s and shot me through both eye sockets. That wasn‘t even a finishing move.

The environment can be used as a weapon

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When an object in the environment flashes if you’re quick with the right shoulder button you can use it in the fight. These range from the boring to the brilliant. I was able to pick up a crate and smash it over Cassie’s head which is like going to a steak restaurant and ordering a veggie burger. I could also use the wall at the end of the pier to launch myself over an opponent as an evasive strategy and let loose a dirty hook on a rope to gore my opponent. But the best move was using a floating corpse that drifts up on a wave, picking it up and hurling it at Cassie like a sack of bloated spuds.

Character’s have multiple move sets

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The biggest and most welcome surprise for me is that each characters has three different fighting styles as well as the normal move sets. And you can change this between each bout, so you can switch your style up for different opponents. Scorpion has Inferno moves based around flame (both setting himself alight and his opponent), Hellfire that conjures up a helper from the underworld, and Nijitsu, which relies on double blades. On top of those are the more traditional moves that range from the body-launching uppercut to Scorpion’s iconic spear and chain throw.

X-ray moves interrupt the flow of combat

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Stand close enough to an opponent and hit both triggers and you’ll be able to perform one of the x-ray moves. Like Sniper Elite, these are slow mo shots of internal organs rupturing, bones cracking, that sort of thing. It’s a bit like looking in a butcher’s window. The problem I have with them is watching what is essentially a mini-cutscene interrupts the flow of the fight. They looked cool to begin with but I think they may wear a little thin with extended play during a game that relies on pick-up-and-play 3-minute bouts.

It has genuine character

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We’re not looking at Mortal Kombat for a story here, but Nether Realm has added more personality to flesh out the collection of psychopaths. Each character has unique dialogue for the beginning of each fight, which changes depending on the opponent. So just as move sets can be switched before a fight, you’ll hear different conversations as the fight begins.

It’s very familiar

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It’s essentially the same Mortal Kombat arcade game you played back in 1992. You can’t be mad at that. There are new additions to the character roster and new move sets but it’s still a game of quick fights, luck and stomach lining. It’s not as technical or strategic as Street Fighter, it’s clearly still it’s own distinctive game. It feels like the Mortal Kombat of old that puts novelty, violence and easy gameplay front and center. It’s stupid in all the good ways.

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18 Comments

  1. YoungZer0

    Usually not very interested in fighting games, especially games like Mortal Kombat, but this seems like such a huge step forward and a joy to play. Thank god they finally stopped using that one model with too long legs for every character.

    #1 4 months ago
  2. The_Red

    I had the same problem with MK9′s X-ray attacks. They are really cool to watch but kinda break the gameplay flow.

    I was hoping that they would incorporate the longer X-Rays into some sort of X-Finishers and instead use super short or limited ones during game (Like hitting the opponent with the log in snowy forest where there is just a quick slo-mo shot along with jaw breaking and then we quickly return to gameplay).

    #2 4 months ago
  3. Dave Cook

    My concern is balancing. It’ll be hard to balance with all those extra elements like environmental attacks and weapons in the stage like the forest’s tree branches. Tricky.

    #3 4 months ago
  4. YoungZer0

    @Dave Cook

    Let’s not forget bosses. They definitely need to balance that. Last Boss in 9 was ridiculously overpowered, cheap and all that.

    #4 4 months ago
  5. Dave Cook

    @YoungZer0 Yeah I second that man. Absolutely.

    #5 4 months ago
  6. Obernox

    Scrubs. Shao Khan was a cakewalk.

    #6 4 months ago
  7. Mike W

    @Obernox

    Preach

    #7 4 months ago
  8. TheWulf

    Wait, that’s a Matt headline, isn’t it?

    *click.*

    Yes, yes it is.

    :P

    #8 4 months ago
  9. Mike W

    In any case, the story in MK 9 was really good. I think they can easily make a third person action with one of the characters, sort like Mortal Kombat: Mythologies Sub Zero.

    #9 4 months ago
  10. The_Red

    @Mike W
    MK Shaolin Monks was BOSS. Amazing co-op with fluid combat. Sadly the graphical problems alienated most people :(

    Definitely agree about MK9′s story. It’s actually one of the most enjoyable story sessions I’ve ever had in a video game.

    #10 4 months ago
  11. salarta

    Cassie Cage seems like an interesting character. I never thought we’d see Sonya’s Special Forces angle and Johnny Cage’s Hollywood egomaniac attitude mixed into one character, and seeing the latter in a female character is especially interesting. She could turn out to be a character I like a great deal, up there with Kitana and Sindel.

    My only concern is that hopefully, this doesn’t involve removing Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade from the roster. I won’t make a huge deal about it if they’re not on the roster, because 1) one of the creators is still heavily involved, and 2) Mortal Kombat was always about gameplay first and hardly ever about story. But, they’re been major characters for the franchise, so their removal would stand out. It also worked out very poorly for Soul Calibur V when Daishi tried to force everyone to accept replacements he came up with for most of the female roster, including Sophitia and Taki. But then, Soul Calibur was more story-focused than Mortal Kombat has traditionally been.

    @Dave Cook The fighting styles are more or less a refinement of what they did with Deadly Alliance up until Armageddon. Only back then, you could switch between the styles in the middle of battle, which ended up being more annoying than innovative. Some combos involved switching styles partway through. Each character also had their own weapon “style” they could use; Scorpion and Sub-Zero both used swords.

    #11 4 months ago
  12. Clupula

    I laugh at people who had problems with Shao Kahn in MK9. Seriously, people, you want to fight some hard bosses, go play some King of Fighters games, especially KOF2001, and then get back to me.

    #12 4 months ago
  13. Clupula

    @salarta “Mortal Kombat was always about gameplay first and hardly ever about story.”

    What Mortal Kombat have you been playing that the rest of us haven’t?

    #13 4 months ago
  14. The_Red

    @salarta
    There is a 25 year time difference between this and previous MK so human characters like Cage and Sonya would be rather old to fight (Luckily, Kitana is an Edenian who doesn’t age). That said, Boon has more or less confirmed that at least one of them will be back.

    (From NeoGAF: in the Giant Bomb interview Boon brought up how a random press person asked him about performing fatalities on family members, he replied “Oh, shit. That never came up in all our discussions. We’ll probably just have em’ do it anyway.”)

    I have to disagree about the Story thing though. MK series got really story heavy with MK5 and with MK6 (Deception) delivered a super fun narrative mode in form of Konquest. Also, MK9′s story mode was above and beyond any story mode I’ve ever played in a fighter (Though I may be abit biased :) ).

    #14 4 months ago
  15. Clupula

    @The_Red Yeah, the only Mortal Kombat that wasn’t particularly story heavy was MK4. But this is Salarta, we are talking about.

    #15 4 months ago
  16. salarta

    @The_Red I know about the time difference part, and those tend not to go over very well either. We’ll see how things work out, I guess.

    If only one of the two characters get to be in MK10, I hope it’s Sonya. Last time a company did timeskip as a reason for changing the roster, again Soul Calibur V, Daishi tried to bullshit that Taki and any other women not given some kind of half-assed excuse were “too old” to be in a fighting game… while letting men like Mitsurugi and Siegfried stay on the roster. There’s a definite risk that if it’s Johnny Cage, it’ll look like Netherrealm is towing that stereotype line where women supposedly lose all value past a certain age while men supposedly do not.

    As for story, I was referring to the origins of the game series. The original games had nothing more than a one-paragraph overview of the game’s story, a one-paragraph bio per character, and a one-paragraph ending per character. Later games started doing stuff like Konquest mode, but they always involved brand new characters and fairly brief run-ins with each character.

    MK9 is the first game where I’d say they had a true story to the Mortal Kombat franchise. And that’s a very, very good thing. Before MK9, I’d been saying for years that the franchise needed to make a lot more use of its story potential, and we saw it work out very well once they used it.

    #16 4 months ago
  17. Clupula

    @salarta Doesn’t matter. Konquest mode was still story mode. They still had the only canon endings for the franchise. So, they were VERY story heavy.

    And you are forgetting things like the Mortal Kombat: Mythologies games that were there to expand on the story of the original trilogy. But I get the feeling you’re probably too young to remember those.

    The point is that, as per usual, you don’t know what you’re talking about, and the MK series has always been story heavy. From the comics to the side-games, all of them started at the beginning.

    #17 4 months ago
  18. ps4fanboy

    Mortal Kombat is quite technical.
    I like it better than SF. I just dont get know why people keep saying it isn’t as technical as SF, its just irksome.

    P.S.: PlayStation is the only brand where all the MK games have appeared, so thats one of the reason I am a PlayStation fan boy :D

    #18 4 months ago

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