Mortal Kombat X PlayStation 4 Review: Fatality Attraction

The latest generation of Mortal Kombat sees the series at its most gruesome. But is it any good?

Review by Bryan Dawson, .

From a gameplay perspective, Mortal Kombat X — that's the letter X, not the Roman numeral 10, though this is the tenth entry in the series — easily eclipses everything that's come before it. NetherRealm has taken all that they learned in the making of 2011's Mortal Kombat and Injustice: Gods Among Us to create an MK experience to appeal to both casual and hardcore fans.

While the game isn't without its shortcomings, experience (and the power of the current generation of consoles) has allowed NetherRealm to craft the Mortal Kombat title fans have been dreaming of since 1992.

Right away, you'll spot Mortal Kombat X's most significant feature: The ability to choose between three distinct fighting style variations for each character. This isn't the first time a Mortal Kombat game has featured variable styles for its cast, but here the freedom to change up your approach has a huge impact on how many of the characters play. For instance, one of Kitana's fighting style variants gives her all of Jade's special moves. In essence, Kitana becomes Jade when using that variant. Not all of the variants offer such dramatic flexibility, and you can't change between styles mid-match as you could in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance and Deception, but having three options per character adds considerable depth to the game.

Mortal Kombat X launches with 25 playable characters, one of whom (Goro) was available as a preorder bonus and for purchase post-launch. Additionally, four DLC characters have been announced, including the guest characters Jason Voorhees and the Predator. Despite this sizable roster, some players are bound to be disappointed by conspicuously absent fan-favorites. Most of the heavy-hitters such as Scorpion and Sub-Zero are included, but many are nowhere to be seen. There are no cyber-ninjas to speak of, and the highly requested Wind God, Fujin, is also absent from the playable roster.

Remember, kids, reaming is fundamental.

The missing characters wouldn't be a huge concern but for the fact that some of them are not only seen in the story mode, you even fight against them. These computer-only characters have just one fighting style apiece, but they also feature fully detailed character models, and their special moves are just as impressive as the playable cast. Their absence as playable fighters is sure to upset some fans when they see their character of choice restricted to story mode. To add to that frustration, the game features the offspring of many characters that play somewhat similarly to their parents. A bit more variety would've been nice to see.

One of the most impressive aspects of 2011's Mortal Kombat was its story mode, which was the best story mode ever seen in a fighting game. In fact, it remain unmatched to this day. Mortal Kombat X picks up right where the last game ends, taking the series' plotline 25 years into the future. While the story mode isn't quite as lengthy as it was in the previous game, its brevity mainly comes from the fact there are no random battles unrelated to the story to pad its length. Compared to its predecessor, MKX plays out as a focused effort that cuts the filler battles to take players through 12 chapters of impressive cinematic storytelling.

The next Assassin's Creed game has taken a turn for the unexpected.

The story shifts seamlessly from cut-scenes into battles, making for fluid cinematic presentation. This is aided by a significant graphical leap over the last MK title. The character models are extremely detailed, but more impressively characters animate smoothly and in a fairly lifelike fashion for the first time in the history of the franchise. There's still a bit of the trademark Mortal Kombat stiffness in a few of the character animations, but overall this is easily the best the series has ever looked or moved. The character models and backgrounds top those seen in Killer Instinct, with particle effects equal to, if not better than, any other recent fighting game release.

In addition to the story mode, Mortal Kombat X comes packed full of alternate gameplay modes ranging from Challenge Towers to five-on-five online Team Battles. The Challenge Towers offer a typical Mortal Kombat ladder, with players fighting through opponents to reach the top. You can also play through a Test Your Might tower which features the classic mini-game from the first Mortal Kombat with increasing difficulty as you advance up the tower. By far the craziest mode in Mortal Kombat X is Test Your Luck, which allows players to select numerous modifiers to create completely ridiculous match environments. You can spice up battles with everything from random portals showing up to the screen flashing to black every few seconds. The more modifiers you add to a match, the more unpredictable things get.

The online modes are aided by the addition of something called the Faction War. When you first start the game, you must choose one of five factions. As you play online (or offline) matches and perform Fatalities, Brutalities, and Faction Kills, you'll earn points that increase your Faction Rank. Every point you earn increases the total number of points for your faction. At the end of every week the faction with the highest points earns special perks. It's a unique way of introducing experience points into the game and giving players something to strive toward, but it doesn't really add much to the moment-to-moment play aside from the unique Faction Kill Fatalities.

As has the next "Pirates of the Carribean."

Nearly every mode supports online play: King of the Hill, Team Battle, online practice, it's all here. Thankfully, MKX's net code is the best yet seen in the series. Playing against competitors within a few hundred miles results in a smooth experience that feels almost as good as the net code in Killer Instinct, Soul Calibur V, or Tekken Tag Tournament 2. While not perfect, you'll be able to pull off combos without too much trouble.

For competitive players, any match denoted with a green connection will provide solid online practice. You won't be able to block fast attacks on-reaction, and run-cancel combos will be difficult to pull off, but anything that doesn't require extremely specific timing is easy to perform in the best online conditions. Anything less than a green connection is problematic, however. A player in California facing off against someone in Texas will get an orange connection; and while the game may look smooth, it will suffer from considerable input delay. California to New York will give most players a poor connection roughly comparable to playing 2011's Mortal Kombat online — which is to say, it's worthless for competitive players. Overall, the net code isn't as good as the best online fighting games, but as long as you're playing someone relatively close-by it's a very enjoyable experience.

Mortal Kombat X comes packed with a ton of content. Admittedly, many of the extras (concept art, alternate costumes) are unlocked in the Krypt using in-game currency, but despite those conditions this is easily the most enjoyable Mortal Kombat title to date. Even with its shortcomings (a brief story mode, imperfect net code, missing characters), players would be hard-pressed to say MKX isn't the best Mortal Kombat has to offer. Even little details such as the dialogue between characters, unique to each pairing, add quite a bit to the experience. In all, it's a must-have title for any MK fan. On top of that, it makes for a solid addition to the competitive scene and should enjoy a long tournament life for competitive players.

The Nitty Gritty

  • Visuals: Character models and stage backgrounds impress, though some animations seem a bit stiff. Besides a few low-resolution story mode models, this is the best-looking MK title to date.
  • Sound: NetherRealm continues to falter when it comes to sound design. While sound effects are crisp and clear, the music is muted — though the music sounds good when you can hear it.
  • Interface: Fairly straightforward, with a ton of practice options for casual and competitive players alike. It would be nice if the practice mode retained your settings, but otherwise everything is easy to navigate — impressive, given the number of options available.
  • Lasting appeal: With solid net code, a ton of gameplay modes, and DLC characters due in the coming months, there's a lot of replay value. However, the single-player experience suffers from a brief story mode, and the Challenge Towers will only last you so long.

Mortal Kombat X offers everything a fan could ask from except possibly their favorite character. The graphics and animations received a huge boost thanks to the power of the new consoles, and while not perfect, the net code is vastly improved over previous NetherRealm fighting games. The story mode has been streamlined to make it shorter, but it still retains the cinematic flare fans have come to expect. Faction Wars add an additional layer of polish, even if they aren't as impactful as NetherRealm intended, and Test Your Luck will provide hours of fun for more casual players.

4 /5

Mortal Kombat X PlayStation 4 Review: Fatality Attraction Bryan Dawson The latest generation of Mortal Kombat sees the series at its most gruesome. But is it any good? 2015-04-13T21:00:00-04:00 4 5

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Comments 17

  • Avatar for Monkey-Tamer #1 Monkey-Tamer A year ago
    My wife wants this. She still finds the excessive gore amusing. And she calls me the man-child.
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  • Avatar for aros #2 aros A year ago
    Shame the story is short. Ill wait for the GOTY edition to hit £15.
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  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #3 brionfoulke91 A year ago
    This review fails to talk about the most important part of any Mortal Kombat game: are the fatalities any good?
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  • Avatar for gamer1234cv #4 gamer1234cv A year ago
    Good review.
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #5 VotesForCows A year ago
    Great review - thanks for the focus on the netcode, very important! To be honest, I'm glad there's less cyber ninjas. There were way, way too many of them in MK9!
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  • Avatar for davidwurzel94 #6 davidwurzel94 A year ago

    I've been dicking around with MKX over my morning coffee, so I've only seen a couple, so far (Jax and Liu Kang). They seem to be less absurd and more brutally straightforward, with NetheRealm using the eighth-gen muscle to somehow make the more understated fatalities seem so much more...gross.

    Take Liu Kang, for instance. His fatality merely consists of him ripping his opponent's trachea out of their throat and then...I don't know, kind of ripping their mouth out? It's not flashy, and it's rather brief, but the camera lingers on the goddamned bloody aftermath which looks JUST a little too real, this time. Everything looks anatomically and biologically correct, so when someone gets turned into a human cross-section, all their muscle tissue and organ meat looks horrifically accurate. The viscera, the all glistens a little too convincingly.

    The fatalities in previous Mortal Kombat games were imbued with a sense of maniacal, winking glee, while these MKX fatalities seem more like creepy, fetishistic gorelust.

    The tone is different...which isn't a bad thing, it's simply a matter of taste. It certainly doesn't detract from what is otherwise the best Mortal Kombat I've ever played. I simply prefer the more gonzo vibe of fatalities past.

    However, I will reiterate that I've barely seen the whole range of fatalities, so maybe Goro kills a guy with a deadly game of Pat-a-Cake, which gets faster and faster until he finally Miss Mary Macks the poor bastard into a puddle of goo.

    That alone would change my tune in a heartbeat.Edited 2 times. Last edited April 2015 by davidwurzel94
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  • Avatar for cldmstrsn #7 cldmstrsn A year ago
    In other news Star Ocean 5 people!!!!
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  • Avatar for cseraph #8 cseraph A year ago
    Strange tone to this review, reads more like an advert for the game than USGamer content normally does.
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  • Avatar for docexe #9 docexe A year ago
    @davidwurzel94 I have seen several of them in Youtube. Got to say I agree that the added level of detail from the graphics make them look way more gruesome than in previous games. There is a couple that actually made me squeamish, something that had not really happened to me with Mortal Kombat in a very long time. Whether or not that’s good or bad is in the eye of the beholder though =D.

    There seems to be a few of them that are still comedic though. One from Cassey Cage is a particular highlight in terms of black humor.
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  • Avatar for ecafzgun76 #10 ecafzgun76 A year ago
    @cseraph It must be noted that Dawson is posting coverage of MKX over at where is a staff member. He may even be working on a Prima strategy guide for the game. If so, he should disclose this information at the top or bottom of this review.
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  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #11 brionfoulke91 A year ago
    @ecafzgun76 Somehow I could sense from reading this review that it should be taken with many grains of salt. Seems a little too positive for what is yet another standard Mortal Kombat game.
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #12 MHWilliams A year ago
    @cseraph Bryan is one of the fine folks doing our Mortal Kombat guide with Bill. I was the one up to review this, but since I did not receive a review copy (picked up the game today) we asked for him to review the game in my stead. It's not an advert or advertorial, just a dude who loves him some Mortal Kombat.

    And judging from the love the game is getting around the net, it seems he is not alone. (Outside of the fatality microtransaction thing I heard about last night.)

    On the disclosure, I'll check if he's working on the official Prima Guide, if he is, I'll get the disclosure added.Edited April 2015 by MHWilliams
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #13 MHWilliams A year ago
    @ecafzgun76@cseraph Yep. I checked with our people.

    1) Bryan is working on free guide content over at Prima, just like our stuff here. It's exactly like when any one of us reviews a game and handles our guides/tips stuff at the same time.
    2) No one got paid by a publisher or developer.
    3) There is no official Prima Guide for Mortal Kombat X
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  • Avatar for ecafzgun76 #14 ecafzgun76 A year ago
    @MHWilliams Thanks for clarifying. Also, happy to see a writer from Baltimore here! Are you gonna check out MKX at Xanadu?
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #15 MHWilliams A year ago
    @ecafzgun76 Near Catonsville? I've heard about it, but never been. Might have to check it out!
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  • Avatar for apoc_reg #16 apoc_reg A year ago
    Listening to the Bombcast the monetisation sounds realy appalling, surprised the reviews are kind of ignoring that? Certainly not giving it a well deserved down rating for it!

    Charging for characters that are in the game and other full characters as pre-order bonuses, in a fighting game, is pretty shoddy.

    Press X to not purchase at full price for me.Edited April 2015 by apoc_reg
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  • Avatar for ecafzgun76 #17 ecafzgun76 A year ago
    @MHWilliams Yup, it's in Arbutus. It's the premier spot for fighting games in the MD/DC/VA region. The FGC there is amazing and very high level.
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