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Mortal Kombat X

By KenpoJuJitsu304-05-2015
Mortal Kombat X

The Defence

NetherRealm Studios
Warner Bros.
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Core i7 3.4 GHz
AMD FX-8350, 4.0 GHz
Nvidia GeForce GTX 660
AMD Radeon HD 7950
8 GB
40 GB

The Case

The Mortal Kombat series of fighting games started in 1992 as the creation of Ed Boon and John Tobias for the now defunct Midway games. Still going strong to this day, Mortal Kombat X has been released. The series is still being led by Ed Boon and his studio NetherRealm. The series has always been known for over the top violence, blood, and gore and this latest entry is certainly no exception. But...is it any good? Let’s find out.

The Trial

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, if you were present for the trial of Dead or Alive 5: Last Round you might remember that I made a few references to how that title had several missteps that Mortal Kombat X could capitalize on when it launches. Well...it doesn’t. The actual game and content on display here are great but there are several technical issues that get in the way and make for an unpleasant play experience. Let’s discuss all of this.

The details and effects are really well done.

The details and effects are really well done.

First, the good.

MKX looks and sounds good. The impacts have a satisfying thud to them, the broken bones sound disturbing and the sliced, ripped and mangled flesh sounds satisfyingly...juicy. In addition to the sounds, the visuals are very well done. Despite using the somewhat aging Unreal Engine 3, MKX achieves a graphical look that is arguably the pinnacle of the genre currently. Most of the textures and character models are amazingly detailed, the blood and sweat effects look great and use of various lighting techniques and motion blur all combine together for a very visually pleasing and immersive package. If you wanted a “next-gen” looking fighter on PC, this is the game.

With MKX being a fighting game it is supremely dependent on responsive controls and a fast fluid frame rate. MKX delivers here. The controls respond precisely as they should and the game updates at 60fps for a fluid experience. There is the issue where X-ray moves and fatalities animate at 30fps which, while being less than ideal visually, are sequences where the player is no longer in control so it doesn’t affect the actual flow of a match. It is, however, visually jarring and an unfortunate intentional decision on the part of the developer.

How is the actual fighting? If you’ve played Injustice: Gods Among Us then you’ll be right at home here. MKX has the same style of combat with the player utilizing basic attacks and small built in combos to create larger combinations. The stage interactions from Injustice make a comeback here as well. The X-ray combos, breakers and enhanced moves from MK9 are also present here along with roll recoveries, delayed wakeup and several other systems that players wanting a deep fighting game experience will want to take note of it (hint: play the tutorial, it’s worth it). Now, this wouldn’t be a Mortal Kombat game without various ways to finish off an opponent after a match is over. MKX delivers here...but possibly not in the way some long-time fans of the series might expect. Stage fatalities are gone. Babalities are not here. Animalities are not here. Friendships didn’t make the cut either. So what do players get? Each character has access to multiple fatalities as well as the new Faction Kills. When first firing the game up, players will be tasked with joining one of several factions from Mortal Kombat lore. This faction can be changed but while in a faction the player will have access to several faction specific finishers. Also new for MKX are the brutalities. Now, I know what some of you may be thinking. MK had brutalities in the past. Well, these are different. Instead of the lengthy combat strings that resulted in the opponent exploding these brutalities are essentially amplified special moves. If the player meets certain conditions (these vary by brutality) and the final hit of the final round is the proper enhanced special move then the move will be altered into a fatality variant of itself. An example of this is Scorpion has an enhanced version of his harpoon that lights the opponent on fire instead of pulling them to Scorpion. Well, the brutality version causes the fire to make the person’s torso explode into bits.

The fatalities are almost as gruesome as the port job.

The fatalities are almost as gruesome as the port job.

In addition to the aforementioned systems, MKX introduces a system where each character in the game has three separate versions that can be selected before the fight begins. Each version has different special moves, normal moves and combos from the others. So while there is some overlap, the different variants can end up playing wildly differently from each other. It’s a bit of an alternate take on having a large roster in a fighter. I’m...not quite sold on this idea. I like it but I don’t like that it comes at the expense of several characters I’ve gotten accustomed to seeing and playing over the decades. There are also balance issues. Several of the variations are just noticeably better than others while others are arguably useless for anything other than variety.

The amount of content in MKX is great. There multiple solo and multiplayer modes for players to get into, several forms of tutorials and a wealth of unlockables to unlock in the game’s krypt. As players play in most game modes they will gain koins which are spent in the krypt to unlock fatalities, brutalities, custom match modifiers, concept art, character skins and more. The krpyt is played as a first person exploration minigame where the player walks around a virtual graveyard and spends koins to shatter gravestones and get rewards. Of note is that the krypt does not update at the same refresh rate as the actual fighting. There are single fight matches, challenge towers, survival modes, a story mode as in past games (though very short this time around) and many, many more modes I won’t spoil here. Suffice it to say, there is plenty to do and enjoy when the game is running well. Which brings us to...

...the bad stuff.

Technically speaking, this game is simply currently a mess. There are so many issues that it is simply not worth the asking price in its current state. Once again something has gone wrong with the porting job to the PC. So what exactly is wrong? Considering that this review is weeks post launch we’ll forget the whole debacle where game simply did not work at launch. That’s been well documented. Currently the game has moments where it randomly drops framerate during matches. This seemed to be hardware independent in my testing. Now, this isn’t a constant thing by any means but it happens enough to be noticeable and it did result in several dropped combos that impacted some of my matches. Consider it an annoyance if you play casually. Consider it complete unacceptable if you play competitively.

MKX really pushes Unreal Engine 3.

MKX really pushes Unreal Engine 3.

The game also seems to have a memory leak. Longer play sessions resulted in the game consuming more and more memory until performance suffered and the game inevitably crashed. Coupled with the memory leak and whatever is causing the random frame drops is questionable netcode once again. This was noted before in MK9 and Injustice and MKX is largely similar. Connecting proved troublesome much of the time, successful connections resulted in laggy matches entirely too often and then there are the times where an error message pops up suggesting certain features aren’t available because the server can’t be found. It’s a true shame that DOA5 launched without online modes being active at all and where MKX could have capitalized on this it was instead released with online that is in such a poor state that much of the time it might as well not be active either.

The Verdict

This is yet another example of a great game having its PC version derailed by a shoddy porting job. This is yet another example of a game developed by NetherRealm, published by Warner Bros., and ported by High Voltage Software that is plagued with performance and online issues at launch and beyond just as MK9 and Injustice were. My recommendation is to save your money until this game is patched, until it goes on sale or preferably both. There is a good game hiding in here but all of the issues it carries on the technical end weigh it down to the point where it is simply not worth your money currently.

Case Review

  • Visually Impressive: This is one of the best looking 3D fighters ever released.
  • Strong Sound: The hits, slashes, rips and tears all sound deeply satisfying.
  • Robust Fighting Systems: While being accessible to beginners and casual players there is a wealth of deep options and mechanics here for hardcore players and fighting game veterans.
  • Lots of Content: There are a lot of modes, a lot of unlockables, a lot of things to do. If content were the only criteria, this would be a must buy fighting game.
  • It’s Mortal Kombat: Mortal Kombat basically invented the subgenre of hyper violent fighting games. If you like a lot of violence, blood and guts then this series is for you. If you’re not a fan of violence stay far away from this series and particularly this game. MK is bloody and this is possibly the best/worst one ever in that regard.
  • Shoddy Port Job: Random performance drops, memory leaks, crashes, momentary freezes. This game is a mess.
  • Bad Netcode: If you buy your fighters for online play this one is currently not ready for primetime. Connectivity and lag issues ruin the experience too often.
Score: 3/5
A content packed fighting game absolutely crippled by technical issues.


Mortal Kombat X is the best Mortal Kombat since MK3. Development staff don’t pop out of the sides and yell "toasty!" anymore, but it still manages to keep together all of the comedy, gameplay, gore, and fighting flow that makes Mortal Kombat so great. Erron Black is literally a cowboy ninja, Kenshi is more Obi Wan Kenobi than ever, all of the new kid characters have their charms, and Kotal Kahn is something ripped straight out of Ed Boon's highschool world history notes after hearing about the Aztecs.

They're all cool characters, and more importantly, they're fun to play, even the characters I'd hate playing without the variations. I've struggled with zoning characters, but even I can use gunslinger Erron Black, thanks to one of his variations, instead of ignoring him completely like I did with Ermac or Kenshi in previous games. Of course, some of the moves from each variation cross over to the other characters. Almost every character has either a dash or a teleport, for example, but they're different enough.

Mortal Kombat X would be perfect if it weren't for the glaring technical issues. The online functionality of MKX is spotty for some reason, and while it's better than Injustice's, it's still not good with maintaining connections. Fighting games, by their nature, have competitive online communities, and it's hard to get behind that competitive scene when every button you press is delayed by 2 seconds and the matches are dropped half way through. It's a great game overall, but a patch that fixes the online play would really help it out in the long term.

Score: 4/5
Comments (1)
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Posts: 3290

And my ten year old kid has been playing it.