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
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
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
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
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
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
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.