I’ll admit straight up. Though I love fighting games of all sorts, I’ve always been more of Street Fighter guy than a Mortal Kombat one. 2011’s reboot impressed me though, as it took several steps in the right direction. Eschewing the 3D nonsense that’s made Mortal Kombat a bit of a joke for years, Mortal Kombat’s 9th major game went back to its 2D roots, and was all the better for it. Mortal Kombat X takes everything that was good from that, and makes it even better.
A number of the systems established in MK 9 return, including the EX special moves and those bone-crushing X-ray moves, but they feel like they disrupt the action a little less this time. In fact, the whole thing feels far more fluid and smooth, and the fights in general feel a little faster and less like the combatants are covered in sticky treacle.
Apart from the fast forward – Mortal Kombat X is set a few decades after the last one – the biggest change comes in the cast of characters, as there are a number of new kombatants available. And further to that, each character in the roster comes with 3 variations that essentially turn them in to 3 different brawlers each. Selectable before the start of the match up, each variation afford the selected character a wholly different move set, with different special attacks and combos.
Fiery death ninja Scorpion for example, plays quite differently depending on which variation you select. While all three allow him to use his infamous spear attack, they otherwise pay quite differently. Choose his Inferno variation, and Scorpion is able to summon demons to do his bidding, holding the opponent to the ground or pull a devil from the sky to kick the opponent in the face, similar to Mileena’s teleport kick. Opt for Hellfire, and Scorpion can actually chuck fireballs , or set the opponent on fire to gain frame advantage necessary for doling out those punishing combos. His Ninjitsu play style makes him play a lot more like the Scorpion you know from those rubbish 3D games, Mortal Kombat Deception and Deadly Alliance. He’s armed with two razor sharp swords, which extend his range are perfect for keeping the opponent at bay.
In today’s session at Gamescom we got to see the same ones that had been previously revealed; stalwart warring ninjas Sub Zero and Scorpion, Johnny Cage and Sonya’s love child Cassie, insect-harnessing D’vorah, new underworld emperor Kotal Khan and the unusual combination fighters Ferra and Tor.
We did, however, also get a glimpse of the more recently revealed Raiden, and the freshly confirmed Kano. That’ not all though, we also got to play with them if we liked. As fan of the one-eyed, Australian bad guy I jumped at the chance to Kano ball somebody in the face, and opted for his Cybernetic variation to do so. It grant him the ability to use his red eye as a laser, which is great for anti-air options and resulting juggling. He’s also got a cutthroat option that gives him blade priority, and a rather intriguing commando play style that turns him in t a bit of grappler.
I wanted too give the thunder god Raiden a bit of a go, but we ran out of time. He seems pretty interesting to play, with one of his variation allowing him to set up electrical traps, making him a perfect zoning character. We also got to see one of Scorpion’s new fatalities, which sees him throw a fireball through the unfortunate dead guy’s chest, then pulling out his sword to slice off just the front of his face, which then proceeds to slide down, revealing two thirds of a brain and a still twitching tongue. Delightful stuff.
I thoroughly enjoyed the time I had with Mortal Kombat X, and should NetherRealm get the balance right on its ambitious variations system, they’ll have created the finest fighter of the new generation.