Mortal Kombat X sort of reinvents the Mortal Kombat franchise, at least in terms of plot. As anyone who played Mortal Kombat 9 knows, the story mode took some dramatic turns near the end of the game, with many of the iconic characters being killed or taken out of action. Of the major heroes, only Johnny Cage and Sonya Blade survived, while only a handful of major villains escaped the culling. Mortal Kombat X's plot is seemingly working toward reinventing the wheel. The developers were scarce on plot details at E3 2014, but we know that at least part of the game takes place 25 years after Mortal Kombat 9's ending. The revealed characters so far are almost entirely new, including Sonya and Johnny's daughter Cassie in addition to a number of new faces. The only familiar characters are Scorpion and Sub-Zero. As for the latter, it wouldn't be the first time he'd been killed and replaced by another person under the same mask.
The combat in Mortal Kombat X is going to feel incredibly familiar to Mortal Kombat 9 fans. It's still a one-on-one fight where two warriors battle until one of them can't stand any longer. All the classic mechanics introduced in Mortal Kombat 9 have been largely retained, including the super bar that allows you to perform EX moves, combo breakers, and X-rays, as well as the various special moves. The iconic Fatalities have returned and are more brutal than ever. The sheer level of gore, between the bone-crunching X-ray attacks and the immensely excessive fatalities, may be enough to turn the stomach of even the most dedicated Mortal Kombat fan.
There are some new additions, such as environmental interactions. If you played Injustice: Gods Among Us, the mechanic is almost the same. There are objects in the background of a stage that a player may interact with at the touch of a button, triggering a special effect that can damage or debilitate his or her opponent. This can be anything from knocking over a brazier of coals onto the enemy to picking up an innocent bystander and hucking them at the enemy. When I ask, I was told that the focus is on making them simpler than the Injustice version, with slightly weaker effects. Most characters seem to have the same interaction with the environment.
Another big introduction to the game is the idea of fighting styles. Every character has three different fighting styles that alter some of their special moves or combat abilities. Normally, new characters Ferra and Torr fight as one character, with Torr being able to toss Ferra and Ferra being able to buff or order Torr around. You can choose a different fighting that sidelines Ferra but gives Torr a buff to his moves. Classic ninja Sub-Zero can choose a style built around creating and fighting with ice weapons, or perhaps he'd rather make ice clones and defensive walls. Cassie Cage exists somewhere between her two parents. Her Hollywood style gives her shadow kicks and the ball buster, the Spec Ops style improves her ranged combat with gun attacks, and the Brawler style lets her get up close and personal.
There's still a lot more to be revealed about Mortal Kombat X, but the first impressions are good. The gameplay has been streamlined and smoothed out, but it's going to feel very familiar to those coming off Mortal Kombat and Injustice. The gory and fast-paced combat is exactly what fans of the franchise have come to expect, and the story seems to hold a number of surprises. The franchise is now in completely uncharted territory and introducing a bunch of new cast members. Mortal Kombat X is due out in 2015 for all Xbox and PlayStation consoles as well as PC.
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