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    Mortal Kombat X: Beating down the opposition…

    Everyone seems to have their own favourite fighting game, and rivalries between the players of franchises can lead to some heated arguments (if you travel in those circles, of course). But it is undeniable that Mortal Kombat, as a franchise, is up there with the best of them. It might not have been a genre progenitor, but since its early days as a coin-op, Mortal Kombat has taken numerous steps in all kinds of right directions. That’s not to say that the series hasn’t had its fair share of failings, of course. Anyone who has worked their way through the nine previous releases of this franchise will surely be able to point out weaknesses. But while Mortal Kombat X may have a few missteps on show, it certainly isn’t the weakest release we have seen from the series. In fact, it is quite arguably the best.

    The biggest problem that Mortal Kombat X has on offer is only a problem depending on how you like to consume your games. If you’re in it for the visceral action and thrilling experience of multiplayer combat which is the strongest part of any fighting game then what follows matters very little. However, if you want to drain every ounce out of the experience and undertake the single player game, you will find that the plot of the game is not only weak, but it is thoroughly inconsistent with the rest of the game. Plot should not, naturally, be a driving force when it comes to this kind of game, and Mortal Kombat X goes to great lengths to show why that is the case.

    Aside from the fact that the Mortal Kombat setting is getting increasingly complex even bordering on the ridiculous Mortal Kombat X tries to inject a somewhat heart-felt and emotionally charged plot into a world where it doesn’t belong. In the past it was all about lone fighters doing their thing to advance their chosen cause. Now, though, there are elements like relationships and coming-of-age ideas that simply do not fit the mould. When two characters have a strong emotional bond in the single player story, it seems odd to see them performing gleeful fatalities on each other in other parts of the game… it’s inconsistent, at worst, but it is still pretty odd.

    Then again, most people who play Mortal Kombat X will care less, really, because story-line is so superfluous in these types of games that it becomes a true novelty, rather than being central to the experience in any way. And it does bring with it a host of new characters, which is never a bad thing. That said, with one third of the initial character roster being new that’s eight out of 24 there have had to be some omissions to make space. But while some long-time characters are not present anymore, thanks to some heavy handed plot devices, the newcomers more than make up for the gaps left. The eight new characters are fresh and exciting, and freshness is something that the Mortal Kombat character roster needed.

    Something for all characters that should have players very excited are options in fighting styles. Each character has three options, which expand on play styles (albeit slightly in some cases) and allow the player to add a modicum of customisation to their game. Customisation also comes from the Krypt, which makes a welcome return for players to spend their Koins on various unlockable goodies, including character skins.

    And that’s great, because this is the best looking Mortal Kombat game ever made. Some of the character models could have been a little better, judging by their roster mates, but the overall effect is really visually appealing. That goes even more so for animations, which have been greatly improved across the board. And the graphics capabilities of the more powerful platforms make things like Fatalities a wonder to behold, even if they are on the darker side of things. Even the backgrounds are vibrant and lively affairs, adding a lot of detail and atmosphere to the game.

    There have also been improvements made in what’s most important in a game like Mortal Kombat X The fighting. The whole affair seems a lot slicker, with punchier move execution (if you’ll excuse the pun) resulting in a game that feels more crisp and fast-paced. The characters move faster and perform their moves very quickly, leading to an experience that is as fast paced as it is strategic. The strategy comes in on improvements in the use of fighter resources, as well as the addition of interruptible combos. Unfortunately the directional blocking idea has resurfaced in Mortal Kombat X something that many had hoped had finally disappeared from the series. It’s a mechanic that can feel a little boggy, but not enough to ruin the overall experience. And the characters have myriad special moves and abilities that make the experience even more visceral and satisfying.

    The whole lot adds up to a game that is awesome to look at, and great to play. It shows a few chinks in its armour, but there seem to be less of those issues in this iteration. The developers truly hit their stride with this brutal, action packed and pacey fighter, and it is doubtless that there will be many rivalries rekindled as players take to it, either locally or online.

    Online play is also pretty slick, but there can be timing issues that come up from time to time. It’s obviously better locally, where Mortal Kombat X becomes a strong contender for the fighter crown.

    Sadly, though as things tend to be these days the feeling of achievement for unlocking a new character or item is diminished by those willing to shell out a few bucks to circumvent the hard work. Micro-transactions are in full force here, and if you’re not into the idea of unlocking the character you’re after, for example, you can simply buy him. It feels a lot like cheating, and diminishes the achievements of those players who get the rewards the hard way. It is the state of the world of gaming these days, though, and there is little that can be done about it when a publisher decides that certain ideas need to be cheapened (by making them more expensive, oddly enough). But no one is forced to take advantage of the micro-transactions, so they become little more than a grumble, really.

    If fighting games are your bag (and this is an extremely popular genre, let’s be honest) then Mortal Kombat X is a game that you really need to strongly consider adding to your collection. Even if your tastes tend towards other franchises, the solid game dynamics and great looks of this title allow it to shine, and set something of a new mark for the genre. It’s well worth experiencing, and getting to beat down your opponents with super-graphic Fatalities is as satisfying as ever.

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