Mor­tal Kom­bat X

X- rated

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Videogames/ miscellaneous -

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW!

Re­viewed on: PS4 Also avail­able on: Xbox One, Xbox 360, Playsta­tion 3, PC Pub­lisher: Warner Bros

Mor­tal Kom­bat

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.

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