As all new character Torr, his companion Ferra running along the edge of the map, had his insides torn out before his face was devoured by new character D'Vorah's insects, I knew Mortal Kombat X was in good hands. 2011's Mortal Kombat "reset", which left half of an iconic roster six feet under, left the franchise in an undefined position. Where would Mortal Kombat go next? The answer is nowhere. Mortal Kombat X is perfectly happy following in the footsteps of its predecessors. This a Mortal Kombat game for Mortal Kombat lovers.
That isn't to say that Mortal Kombat X is resting on its laurels, however. Far from it! Rather, it's best to look at Mortal Kombat's traditions in a specific light. Mortal Kombat isn't just violent, it's designed to push the boundaries of violence in fighting games. Thus, when I say Mortal Kombat is a very respectfully traditional game, it's intended meaning is that Mortal Kombat X is a sick, demented bloodbath. A glorious and outrageously fun bloodbath, but sick and demented nevertheless.
Let me provide an anecdote. The first thing, the very first action that I performed in Mortal Kombat X, was to use the game's environmental action (inherited from Injustice: Gods Among Us) to pluck an older woman spectating the fight and throw her through the air into my opponent. The older woman was left broken and unmoving, my opponent received a bloodied wound to their chest which lasted the duration of the fight. NetherRealm, y'all got issues... and I love it.
NetherRealm's hand has carefully plucked aspects of its fighting game to improve, bolster or accent, but the majority of the game seems starkly traditional. While I'm no fighting game expert, the moment-to-moment combat was as if I was still putting quarters on the arcade machine back in that 90's pizzeria. Both Sub Zero and Scorpion are still in the game, fighting ice with fire and vice versa. Even NetherRealm would never mess with those two hombres in any significant way.
Of course, the system has been iterated on in the past decade. It has evolved to include 2011's energy meter, which enables cancels and can be built all the way into the game's now iconic X-Ray moves that shatter bones and rupture organs. Visions of new character Cassie Cage X-Ray punching poor Torr's testicles will scar my mind for some time. Another significant addition with Mortal Kombat X is the option of three different play-styles for each character selectable prior to a match.
These play-styles will dramatically change how each character is played, unlocking certain abilities, damage modifiers and so on. For instance, as mentioned in this article's first sentence, there's an option to not have Ferra ride on top of Torr at all in order to allow him to do more damage alone. Another option is for Ferra to damage Torr herself, pushing him to do terrible things in trade for his own health.
Fans of Mortal Kombat should already be thinking, "Ferra and Torr? Cassie Cage? D'Vorah? Where's my Raiden?" Even I was surprised at NetherRealm's confidence in announcing four new characters to be played alongside Scorpion and Sub Zero. There's no way these new scrubs could even stand in the shadow of that old iconic roster. Yet I left a believer. Each character is unique and delightfully ****ed up in their own way. Okay, well, Cassie Cage is a saint, but the rest...
Plus, showing off these new characters shows NetherRealm's willingness to sacrifice comfort and embrace risk. They started in 2011 by killing half the roster. They take another leap with Mortal Kombat X, which will progress 25 years after the events of its predecessor. Cassie Cage is Johnny and Sonya's child, and these other roster additions are certain to tie in in a myriad of ways to the past.Yes, they're each brilliantly designed to be unique in their own way and they're wonderfully tied into the franchise's history. It's almost too much to ask.
Sure, okay, so the franchise is going to show respect to its roots and its fanbase. What about non-fighters and folk wondering what Mortal Kombat X can offer a new player? How about the bloodiest, most visceral fighting game combat on the market? A light kick hits with impactful, meaty thunks which I refuse to ask further about from the developers. Gross, guys. Damage collects on the skin of each character throughout a fight to create a visually hurtful experience. Add in the most detailed maps and character designs I've seen in a fighting game yet and, assuming they're an adult and not afraid of exploding testicle animations, gamers are going to want to play Mortal Kombat X.
I say that because I certainly want to play more Mortal Kombat X as soon as possible. There's an unbelievable amount of heart that NetherRealm's found within themselves to put into their game. All they really want is for us to reach in and tear off a chunk of that heart for ourselves.