Mortal Kombat X Review

Richard Walker

Mortal Kombat X is a game in which you can slice off an opponent's face and watch it slowly peel away to reveal half a brain and twitching tongue falling out of the open skull. If that all sounds a little too strong for your liking, then perhaps you've never heard of Mortal Kombat before. And it gets much worse too. Or better, depending on your point of view.

To discuss MK X as a game that only offers unabated buckets of blood and offal is to do it a massive disservice. NetherRealm's follow-up to 2011's Mortal Kombat is so much more, taking lessons learned from Injustice: Gods Among Us to make for the deepest and most content-laden instalment in the series to date. It's insane.

"Look what I can do!"

While Street Fighter has always been about comparatively graceful finesse, Mortal Kombat X is a brutal fist to the face. Every bout is a bone-crunching toe-to-toe brawl, placing an emphasis on stringing together crippling 'kombos' and unleashing a breaker to turn the tide, or a skull-cracking, spine-rupturing X-ray move. MK X never holds back.

Every punch, kick and special move is an eye-watering, wince-inducing thing, communicating the weight and devastating impact of each close-fought battle. Characters are meaty lumps with real heft and presence on screen, filling the fight arena to draw you into the fight. It's truly something to behold. MK X is undoubtedly a great fighting game, but then there's the liberal lashings of gore.

Ah, the gore. If you thought past Mortal Kombat games were a bit heavy with the arterial red, you ain't seen nothing yet. MK X has hundreds of brutalities, a couple of fatalities for each character and those vertebrae-shattering X-ray moves, all of which are horrifically inventive, presented in forensic detail, and far more entertaining than they should be.

And as fighting games go, Mortal Kombat X is not only the most brutal, but one of the most content-rich around. Story Mode is at the heart of the single-player experience, offering a yarn that picks up five years after MK9 and spans 25 years of the ongoing war between Earthrealm and Outworld, amid a power struggle between Kotal Kahn and Mileena. Meanwhile, Shinnok threatens to destroy Earthrealm, and only Raiden and his super pals can save it. It's all portentous stuff that's hugely enjoyable in a B-movie kinda way.

"Smell my crotch!"

What ensues is a series of fights interspersed with expository cut-scenes and the odd QTE, as battles rage between warring factions. It's fairly compelling stuff, despite feeling a little slight at around 3-4 hours. Still, that's a damn sight more than most fighting games tend to muster in the story stakes. The story might be somewhat daft, lumping in sci-fi, kung-fu and supernatural silliness as apocalyptic destruction looms, but its family feuding and post-credits ending set the table for more down the line.

Beyond the campaign, there's an array of Towers to tackle, injecting nigh-on infinite longevity into MK X. Towers might just be one of Mortal Kombat X's most significant new additions alongside Faction Wars, providing Test Your Luck and Test Your Might challenges that throw in a variety of game altering modifiers to keep you on your toes. Living Towers keep these challenges updated with Daily Challenges, Quick and Premier Towers all designed to ensure you've something fresh to play once you're done with the story.

Practically everything you do in MK X then feeds into your Faction Wars ranking, which sees all of the War Points (WP) accrued from fighting and punching people's faces off contributing to the standings of the faction you've chosen to align with. Faction Wars is a great way to tie everything together into one persistent online whole, as well as adding increased impetus to keep going back and pitching in for your clan.

Outside of this vast solo experience, there are all the local versus modes and such that you'd normally expect, alongside an expansive suite of online modes and game types. Tower Battles pit you against rivals as you strive to complete a tower ladder in the fastest time possible before the time limit expires, making for a panicky, but supremely rewarding competitive scrap.

King of the Hill also makes a welcome return, with Klassic and Survivor modes to choose from, as you fight to retain your place as the top player in the room or take it in turns to fight the king. You can spectate while you're waiting for your turn or jump into practice mode to sharpen your skills, which is a neat touch. And during our multiplayer experience, we experienced little in the way of problems. Whatever issues there may have been at launch appear to have been ironed out, as very few lag or other technical tics cropped up to ruin the party.

Getting into an online match can sometimes take a while, and during one King of the Hill match we were forced to quit when the action got stuck on a loading screen and refused to budge. Online mode in its present state isn't perfect, but it works smoothly for the most part with netcode that seems entirely stable. It's a robust and fully-featured online offering that takes Mortal Kombat X to another level, ensuring you have plenty to delve into.

Earning 'Koins' from solo and multiplayer tussles also means a trip to the new and better-than-ever Krypt, which is now a first-person labyrinth populated with a plethora of tombs and headstones to unlock for bonus content. There are new areas to unlock by picking up items or weapons to gain entry, while you're made to feel constantly on-edge navigating the Krypt thanks to random and usually totally unexpected attacks from wild-eyed hell hounds.

Messiest divorce ever.

React quick enough to take down one of these toothsome dogs as it leaps for your jugular and you'll unlock an achievement. This is indicative of the game's smart and interesting achievement list that's nicely spread across every one of the single-player and online modes, but slightly marred by a wee bit of grinding. There might not be nearly as much grind required compared to MK 2011, yet having to reach level 50 with each of the game's five factions and complete various tasks with every one of the game's 24 characters will take a long time. It's a solid list though, and certainly a step up compared to the previous, relatively slapdash one.

The same can be said for Mortal Kombat X on the whole; it's a marked improvement over previous games in the series. MK X not only looks fantastic, but it plays brilliantly, the ebb and flow of fights keeping the action constantly exciting from the moment the announcer growls “fight” to the moment he demands “finish him/her!” Mortal Kombat X is a superlative fighting game, with beefy brawls and kombos galore. The Fatalities, X-rays and Brutalities are just the icing on a big, sadistic, bone-snapping cake.

Mortal Kombat X

NetherRealm has outdone itself with Mortal Kombat X, delivering an uncompromising fighting game that revels in blood-drenched ultra-violence. Not just essential for Mortal Kombat fans, MK X is something that deserves to be enjoyed by all fight fans over the age of 18. Brutality!

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The sounds of squished heads, carved limbs and fractured bones will bring tears to your eyes. The music is atmospheric but largely forgettable, whereas the voice work in the story is excellent.


A stunning looking fighter, Mortal Kombat X is also stylishly presented. Fighters are pleasingly chunky, while lighting and particle effects make for spectacular dust ups.


Hit up the tutorial first to learn about the new stamina bar and various game mechanics, and you'll discover the most accomplished Mortal Kombat game yet. It's accessible for newcomers, yet remarkably deep for veterans. It also punishes button mashers in kind.


A generously proportioned story serves as the perfect primer for the wealth of content on offer. From Towers to Faction Wars and the extensive online multiplayer, there's no shortage of modes, matches, modifiers and hidden extras to unearth. Factor in three fighter variations for each kombatant, and the level of variety is unparalleled.


An excellent list for the most part that's lighter on the grind than before. A good spread across the entirety of the game, as well as a few smart tasks make this a largely enjoyable set of achievements to chase down.

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