Mortal Kombat X
Release Date: OUT NOW!
Reviewed on: PS4 Also available on: Xbox One, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC Publisher: Warner Bros
has perfected the art of distracting from its faults rather than truly fixing them, its various entries upping the gore, expanding the story and flooding the franchise with goofy extras, all with the aim of hiding one consistent, fundamental flaw: the core fighting model has just never been up to the standard of the genre’s best. MK has always made for a great party game, but never a truly great fighting game.
But MKX takes a big step up where it really matters. The core feel of the fighting is just better; more open, fluid and flowing than in MK’s past, with a greater sense of control and possibility. The swathe of new characters, facilitated and necessitated by MKX’s time- hopping, two- decade- spanning plotline, are the freshest, most smartly realised bunch in a good long time. And that’s before you even get into the Variants system. Now each character comes in three different flavours, united by their overall feel but angled differently to suit differing play- styles. It’s a great system, blowing options wide open and encouraging experimentation in matchups while grounding everything in a comfortably familiar feel.
The five- hour story mode – which embeds a multitude of fights between the majority of the cast within a giddy, knowing, and raucously fun narrative – is the sparkling highlight of the solo experience. Using smart perspective switches throughout, it’s a fantastic showcase for MK’s absurdly rich lore and offers a surprisingly warm, endearing, and – dare we say it – affecting experience at times.
Alas, its greatness does rather emphasise how underwhelming the single- player options are elsewhere. Netherrealm has put its trust in online play: Faction War – a persistent, ambient multiplayer experience in which players sign up to one of five canonical cabals and earn XP for everything they do in- game – is a great idea in theory, but only time will tell whether it maintains a compelling reason for the solo player to stick around.
But let’s not dwell on the peripheral negatives and unknowns, because finally, it’s Mortal Kombat’s core that shines. With fighting this much improved and a giddy sense of genuine fun about everything it delivers, MKX heralds a troublesome series hitting its long- missed potential. David Houghton
MKX takes a big step up where it really matters
Not much silence in this library.