Hands-Off Preview: Mortal Kombat X – A Spine Crackin’ Good Time

Hands-Off Preview: Mortal Kombat X – A Spine Crackin’ Good Time

One of the more impressive (and bloody) showings from Sony’s E3 2014 press conference was Mortal Kombat X. The tenth installment in the infamous fighting game series takes elements from the previous entry while adding in a slew of new features. I got to check out a 20 minute demo of the game and — forgive me for using a horribly cliche’d line — it was a bloody good time.

The demo started out with fan-favorites: Scorpion and Sub-Zero. Here, we got to see the characters doing their signature moves: Scorpion’s harpoon attack and Sub-Zero’s freezing special. The characters wailed on each other in an even more brutal fashion than I was used to considering that the last Mortal Kombat game I played was MK3 back in the mid-90s. Scorpion beat Sub-Zero and the person who was talking over the game asked us if we wanted to see a fatality. We had no idea if this was a legit question or not and stayed quiet. The person demoing the game for us seemed disappointed and just punched Sub-Zero to end the match.

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The next part again featured Scorpion and Sub-Zero but this time we were shown their two other fighting styles. This applies to every character in the game and each will have three distinct playstyles. One version of Scorpion was covered in fire and his attacks dealt additional damage. A version of Sub-Zero could create ice clones that could trap enemies… or he could pick it up to throw at enemies. The various fighting styles breathed new life into these classic characters for sure and I thought they were great.

The demo had some new characters as well. Cassie Cage, D’Vorah and Ferra/Torr. As you may have guessed from her last name, Cassie is the daughter of Johnny Cage. She is also the daughter of Sonya Blade and she has moves taken from both of her parents. D’Vorah is an insect woman who has a number of attacks based on shooting insects, acid and poison. Ferra/Torr, or Ferra and Torr, are a tag team duo: the former a small girl and the later a big brute. These new characters also breathe new life into the series and felt right at home with the classic roster.

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While using the environment against opponents has been in the series in a limited capacity (The Pit from MK and MKII and the multi-tiered levels of MK3) this new game takes it up a notch. In one section, there were bodies being tossed out of a river. You could actually grab these bodies and use them to attack your opponent. Another part had Scorpion using a tree branch against Sub-Zero. These types of attacks can’t be done forever however as there is a meter that limits how much you can use them.

This Mortal Kombat is just as violent and gory as previous installments. Actually… it may be MORE brutal. The X-Ray attacks really show you the internal damage that’s inflicted on opponents. You could hear the audience in attendance squirm every time a neck snapped, a back was shattered or an arm was twisted. The fatalities are even more gruesome than ever. One that stood out for me was when Scorpion sliced off Sub-Zero’s face and when he fell on the floor, his brain slowly started to come out of his skull. Despite the squirms from the audience during the X-Ray parts, we all clapped and laughed when we saw the fatalities.

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What I’m curious about here is how this game will run on the last-gen consoles. While this game is being touted as “the next-generation of Mortal Kombat” it is still coming out on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The demo we saw had a lot of environmental effects and of course, all of those meticulously rendered fatalities. While I doubt that the teams are letting the limits of the last-gen consoles hinder their vision for this game, it does make me wonder what could have been achieved if these games were only on the current-gen PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

I haven’t played a Mortal Kombat game in a long time but I think that dry streak will end soon thanks to this game. I really liked what is being done with this title and how it will introduce a lot of new elements into the franchise. I also like how it is being created with tournament players in mind so that perhaps it will be seen at events like EVO. The story will pick up from where the previous game left off so I may want to grab myself a copy of that before this one is released. I really dig the new characters as well and want to see how they fare against the classic ones.

Mortal Kombat X looks like a lot of fun and I can’t wait to play it for myself.