Mortal Kombat X in the test - grade: extensive representation of violence

Author: Kai Schmidt
Date: 2015-04-17 18:10:00
Mortal Kombat X shows off its scope and brutality. But is that enough? In the test, the tenth part of the scandalous fighting game series shows whether it is more than a stupid orgy of slaughter.

Splashing blood, flying heads, severing bodies. These are the things that probably spring to mind when they think of Mortal Kombat X. But the superficial (and ludicrously spectacular) brutalities are just one of the ingredients that make up the Mortal Kombat phenomenon.

Even at the debut in 1992, the developers were thinking about an interesting story behind the carnage. In the course of the series, a fascinating mythology developed about gods, heroes, villains and alien worlds. However, the story became more and more frayed within the many series parts and became increasingly confusing.

With the ninth part, developer Netherrealm reset everything to zero and rewrote the events of the first three parts. A »reboot«, as it is called in modern German. Mortal Kombat X ties in directly with this reboot and focuses on a new generation of fighters .

Including bizarre creatures like the insect woman D'Vorah or the unequal team Ferra / Torr, but also descendants of well-known heroes. For example, we meet Jax's daughter Jacqui Briggs, Johnny's and Sonya's offspring Cassie as well as heirs of razor hat wearer Kung Lao and the blind sword master Kenshi.

Profilless newcomers

Our first impression is a bit like the disenchantment we felt when we first started Mortal Kombat 3 in 1995: some old favorites are missing from the 25-man warrior warriors (including DLC character Goro), and we are initially skeptical about the new faces.

Netherrealm also makes no secret of the fact that the remaining old Mortal Kombat warriors are also about to retire: Johnny Cage and Liu Kang are grayed and will have to finally hand over the scepter to their successors in the inevitable sequel at the latest.

But after a bit of getting used to, we can live quite well with the youngsters, who initially seem boring and boring , because they turn out to be interesting characters with a decent move palette. In fact, the Johnny / Sonya amalgam Cassie is even becoming our secret favorite when it comes to fighter selection.

But why are there models of some old fighters in story mode, but not eligible as fighters? During the story we even compete against Rain and Baraka in a duel - so they exist with special moves - but we are not allowed to play them ourselves.

Sure, it is a bit of a fighting game tradition to keep bosses unplayable (as is the case with the final boss in MKX), but with two rather unimportant supporting characters, a bitter DLC taste suddenly settles on the tongue. Fans can already purchase a “Kombat Pack” that costs almost 30 euros and gives access to four additional characters (Tremor, Tanya, Predator, Jason Voorhees) and new costumes for some fighters.

Martial arts with a lot of variation

Regardless of personal fighter preferences, the combat system of Mortal Kombat X remains almost unchanged compared to its predecessor from 2011. We punish the opponent with four punch and kick buttons, block high and low attacks or start throwing. The big surprise follows when we try to unplug the gamepad: MK X also plays very well using the keyboard (WASD plus several action buttons), we were even able to win a match against the AI right away.

What immediately catches the eye when choosing a fighter are the three different styles per figure: Each character can be selected in variants that differ slightly in the Move palette. Although we notice, thanks to general, typical special moves that we are really controlling Scorpion, for example, the variants actually play a little differently thanks to additional sword or fire attacks.

An interesting innovation that makes the characters a little more flexible and allows you to pick out your own fighting style. The powerful X-Ray moves that we can use as soon as the corresponding energy bar has been fully charged thanks to successful actions have been taken over from the predecessor.

Without a great special move input, but by pressing two buttons at the same time, we then slam the opponent with a resounding attack in front of the bib. The result may be a little too powerful , as we take a large chunk of life energy from the opponent, but a tactically cleverly used X-Ray can turn a seemingly hopeless fight for the better. And that's why we love things. It is a shame, however, that there is only one X-Ray per fighter, more variance would have increased the surprise and glee effect significantly.

Chopping up made easy

While looking at the breaking bones and vertebrae in the brutal X-rays, we occasionally seriously wonder why the fight is not completely over now - the X-Rays stand for the notorious fatalities with which we break the loser into his individual parts at the end of the final round can, in almost nothing.

It is a shame, however, that the effects of the fight are no longer shown as explicitly on the characters using the damage model as in the predecessor. There the fighters were a tattered, bloody mass after just one round. In Mortal Kombat X, a few cuts and abrasions have to suffice.

If the fatalities, which consist of five keystrokes, are too difficult at the end of the final round, you can choose to use "Easy Fatalities": In exchange for an Easy Fatality coin, which you earn as a reward in fights or unlock it in the crypt, all you have to do is hold down the block button and also press one of the two push buttons.

Warner Bros also offers the Easy Fatality coins as dubious microtransactions , but hardly anyone should be tempted to spend real money on them - on the one hand you get enough coins in the game, and on the other hand you certainly don't want to appear as a noob, who does not manage to correctly enter a key combination consisting of five entries that can be looked up at any time in the pause menu.

Brutally!

In addition to the two fatalities per fighter , the Brutalities from Ultimate MK3 are making their return . However, these are no longer long combos that result in exploding bodies after a series of hits and kicks.

If we meet certain conditions during the fight, such as four blows in the crown jewels with Johnny Cage, and also take the last ounce of life energy from the opponent with a nut punch, we not only punch his testicles inside the body, but his head even jumps off Shoulders.

Experienced Mortal Kombat fans don't have to do without combo breakers and move cancels. In addition to the short dash towards the opponent, we now also have the option of running.

This may kill beginners at first, but professionals effectively incorporate these skills into their combat tactics. Another new feature is the possibility of using objects in the background - for example, we pepper the opponent with a rusty exhaust pipe from the burned-out car wreck at the end of the battle arena or ram it head first against a stone pillar.

Of factions and towers

In addition to the story mode and the one-on-one battles, Mortal Kombat X has a whole range of other modes designed to keep the player happy. For example, the towers, which are available in different designs: from the classic arcade tower with a short end sequence for each fighter to survivor towers and those with random combat modifiers such as rocket fire or darkness to challenge towers with daily changing tasks and content.

Of course, the cheek strips can also be polished online across national borders. The network code basically works well, but we noticed an undeniable lag during the test, which could be frustrating, especially for professionals who are concerned with every frame.

Especially since every victory counts in the truest sense of the word, thanks to the new factional wars. Whoever starts Mortal Kombat X for the first time has to choose one of five factions to which he will belong in the future (Lin Kuei, White Lotus, Brotherhood of Shadow, Black Dragon or Special Forces). Each fight then ensures that points are credited to their own faction.

There are even special faction challenges like "Win a match without blocking" that earn you extra points. A war period lasts seven days. The group that has collected the most points in the end is chosen by Netherrealm as the respective winner and receives a reward for this.

Who should unlock all of this?

But we don't just get faction points for completed battles: the so-called Koins are much more important. This is an in-game currency that we need to unlock costumes, fatality key combinations, pieces of music, video sequences, artwork, fighter models or other goodies in the huge crypt .

And when we say "huge crypt", we mean it: In the first person perspective, we are initially moving through a cemetery where we can buy Koin's tombstones in exchange. We don't see what exactly we buy, but like a surprise egg, everything from junk to super cool toys can be hidden underneath.

From the cemetery there are gates to other areas, which also expand widely and house many items that can be bought. The activation is extremely motivating for brawlers with the hunter-gatherer gene, while MK gamblers who are only after fatality key combos can also find them on the Internet. Once executed, the previously blocked combinations appear permanently in the move list .

Battle with starting problems

Like its predecessor, Mortal Kombat X is based on the already grayed-out Unreal Engine 3 , but makes a consistently good visual impression despite the gloomy color palette. The animations are much more dynamic than the predecessor, and the backgrounds are bursting with details.

Interesting in this context: The concept drawings of the arenas that can be unlocked in the crypt, which contain a comment by the developers on the conception of the respective stage and any special features. The fights run on mid-range PCs theoretically with a smooth 60 frames per second.

The controls are easy to handle, but some combos require the keyboard shortcuts to be entered almost inhumanely, which is simply impractical in hectic combat because it is unintuitive. Although the keyboard controls are really good, we strongly recommend a good gamepad .

This makes it easier to play floggers like Mortal Kombat X. In contrast to the miserable predecessor from 2011, the German voice output can be heard this time: The speakers do their job (in the video sequences of the story mode) mostly well, only some characters like Kung Jin sound a bit strange.

However, it takes a bit of getting used to before long-time fans get used to Germanized terms such as the outside world (Outworld) or the underreich (Netherrealm). Overall, Mortal Kombat X is a very successful package , even if the expensive Kombat Pack and the microtransactions may be a bit sour to some.