tue 31/03/2020

Mortal Kombat X | reviews, news & interviews

Mortal Kombat X

Mortal Kombat X

Blood, gore and violence – fun beat 'em up action, but not for the faint-hearted

'Mortal Kombat X': If you dislike violence in videogames, look away now…

I've got blood in my eyes… no, hang on a second, it's OK, it's not blood – it's brains and a bit of severed spinal column! Mortal Kombat X is one of the most gleefully violent and bloody videogames ever.

I've got blood in my eyes… no, hang on a second, it's OK, it's not blood – it's brains and a bit of severed spinal column! Mortal Kombat X is one of the most gleefully violent and bloody videogames ever.

It may not technically offer the best in fast-paced tactical combat (or kombat even). Nor does it feature the best visuals. And it certainly doesn't offer a smooth learning curve for novices. But for sheer bloodlust, Mortal Kombat X sticks true to the series' roots and carves itself a niche, with a serrated military knife, in the body of classic fighting games.

The Mortal Kombat series has long been infamous for their "fatalities" – when one combatant not only finishes off the fight, but to add insult to serious injury, finishes the match with a lethal coup de grace. In the latest game, these are more inventive, more grand guignol grotesque and gruesome and more fun than ever.

They start with relatively straightforward weapon decapitations, move quickly to arterial-spurt multiple limb removals and before you know it, you're using psychic powers to remove someone's ribcage, then dangle their limp body from it and attached muscle and sinew as if they're a child in a swing.

Even mid-match, the developers are now using a kind of Sniper Elite-style muscular and skeletal system to layer in extra gore. Pull off a particularly good combo and you'll see a kind-of stripped back blood-and-bone view of what happens to someone's neck when you smash their head repeatedly into the ground.

Mortal Kombat takes on Tekken, Dead Or Alive and StreetFighter with gore and gustoAgain, like the recent Hotline Miami 2, there is a debate to be had about videogame violence. Is it artistically merited? Is videogame violence fundamentally worse than other forms of media violence? Ultimately, though, what is important for grown-ups is that pulling off those fatalities in Mortal Kombat X is great fun, particularly in classic player-vs-player grudge matches. And they are in the game series' DNA – they fit. If you can pull them off, that is.

Mortal Kombat X succeeds in its sheer visceral insanity, and in the sheer wealth of content and options it throws at you – online persistent modes, offline multi-player, different special abilities, upgrades etc. etc. But in throwing in all this, and a massive list of moves for each fighter, not just in combos and finishing moves, but in layer upon layer of extra moves and counters, the game may pay service to hardcore, long-term fans of the series – but it becomes highly impenetrable to newbies.

There'll also be a timing issue for many newbies to contend with. Mortal Kombat X is a twitch-fast fighting game – in order to chain together the button presses the more complex moves and fatalities demand you need fast fingers or lots of play in practice mode. Why the game can't just have a speed setting, to suit players of slower-paced fighting games like Tekken, I'm not sure. In the same vein, there's little to highlight the different play styles of individual characters – how some work better long-range, others close-up, etc.

By ignoring newbies, Mortal Kombat X will miss out on much of a new potential audience (despite featuring fatalities that include selfies). But if you can get past the learning curve, or you're a series or fighting game player already, this is a bloody good game.

Remove someone's ribcage, then dangle their limp body from it

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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