Nothing strengthens friendship like a mutual scuffle. You approach your friend and throw them a friendly punch, after which they will answer, and then you go drink together. Thanks to Mortal Kombat, you are allowed to do all of this without any actual physical harm and that’s 23 years of strengthening friendly ties.

Years go by, slot machines dwindle (some have finally given up the ghost), but home gaming platforms are at the peak of their popularity. Mortal Kombat adapts to them, maturing, perfecting and becoming bloodier. Some, of course, continue to play the version on the good old Sega, but most players follow the call of fashion.

But is Mortal Kombat X the apex of everything that’s happened to the series over the years? Certainly not. The game is definitely sound, colourful and fun, but it has lost some of the fire. Cutting content here and there, inserting new, not always good things … of course, the authors don’t want MK to stand on one place, but why, instead of moving, is it tap-dancing on the same place? Who knows.

Initially Mortal Kombat X looked quite attractive. It took all the best that was in Mortal Kombat in 2011, and what was best in Injustice: Gods Among Us (which actually took the same from Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, but people prefer not to remember this game), and it finished all of this off with new-fangled social additions, which will soon become staples in all games on principle.

However, I was surprised by the lack of any mention of “2 vs. 1 “and” 2 vs. 2″ battles in the new MK. No more fighting with an increased number of participants and there is no more interaction between characters on the same side. Invite four friends to play a new fighting game on your PS4 and you have to get the disc with MK9 for PS3, so that guests don’t get bored.

Instead, there is now a war of factions and records. Authors simply replayed the standard “towers” mode, where there is a classic tower (a series of random opponents), a dynamic tower (the same, but each fight may be accompanied by fight modifiers), and various record towers where each player creates their own mini-universe, and invites friends to best all results.

The war of factions is a bit more interesting. When they first start Mortal Kombat X, the player is given the choice of membership in one of the five factions. Having chosen, additional modes open: EVEN MORE TOWERS! But only victories will form the basis of faction statistics. All members of the faction, which became the winner of the season, receive different goodies. In fact, if not for the cutting of the rest of the content, this entire social circus would have looked great. As in, the developers have done so much extra besides saving the good old stuff. However, I get the feeling that factions were the whole point.

Have a look at the arenas. Yes, interactive objects in the arenas migrated here from Injustice: Gods Among Us, but no transitions between them have been added. We waited and we hoped, because they were in I:GAU, and MK vs DCU, and they looked great. Maybe the number of arenas was to be compensated by the plot? Alas, where the plot of MK9 was only gaining momentum, MK10 is already showing end titles. Of course, most players don’t play MK for the sake of the plot, but personally I always like to participate in something meaningful, and the story contributes best to that. Well, at least we are given the opportunity to change the difficulty level and skip intros, otherwise everything that writers insist on calling progress, would have been a real setback.

So, what innovations the authors have in store for their customers? Firstly, character stances. Each character has three stances and each stance has its own special combos. This creates three different tactics for each character, which increases the diversity of the fighting. Secondly, Babality has been replaced by Brutality – a spectacular, though not too exceptional battle scene ending. Thirdly, the local Krypt (a repository of all of unlockable bonuses for the game) is now not just an ordinary map with gravestones, but a real half-hour adventure with a search for objects and overcoming obstacles.

But why waste time, win medals in battles, try to make the perfect combo and study fatalities, if all that can be bought?! You don’t want to crawl the Krypt? Here’s a DLC-pack, and all the secrets will be unlocked, and you don’t need medals and to spend time on it. Don’t want to complete Fatalities? Here’s a DLC-pack with them, just memorise two buttons and hold them at the end of the fight. You want to have Komplete kollection with all the characters? Buy a DLC-pack … which will not be complete, for another character is sold separately. You want to have all the costumes? Buy a DLC-pack with costumes … which also will not be complete, for one suit sold is separately. Great, right? The developers say that they didn’t invent this heresy, “the publisher made us”, they say, but whoever is to blame, the result will be the same – Mortal Kombat X is the most miserable commercial product in the Mortal Kombat line-up, where for the sake of the casual player, all challenges have been cut out, and all the bonuses have been split up to be sold separately and expensively.

But the developers have tried their best, it’s noticeable. Instead of torn clothes and litres of blood, they taught characters to sweat and become wet and dirty. Alas, it is almost invisible from a distance, but close up these droplets of sweat look frightening (have you ever held a sheet of plastic over the fire? That’s about the same effect), but there’s nothing to be done, NetherRealm Studios cannot make graphics that are not 5 years late to the party. All these over-compressed videos, all these unemotional faces, terrible lag in the PC-version (what could be the reason of lag, pray, in a single small arena?!), all of this suggests that the authors are in over their heads, not noticing even that the head had been chopped off.

Therefore Mortal Kombat X will not be perceived as something more than just a good fighting game, for the most part simply copying what has already been created and a time-tested scheme. Those who missed MK9 might fancy this, others may be disappointed. There can be only one recommendation – to chide authors now, so that the next time they get it right. After all, they managed it a couple of times since the founding of NetherRealm Studios and Midway Games destruction.


New characters and battle stances for each The same bloody gameplay

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