Bone-crushing hands on with Mortal Kombat X (Wired UK)

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Wired.co.uk samples the new fighters in Mortal
Kombat X
, the latest game in the brutal fighting
series 


© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.


2011’s Mortal Kombat served as a reboot on two fronts,
reintroducing the franchise to a new generation of players while
rejigging the series’ own internal mythology with some timey-wimey
handwaving. Mortal Kombat X is balancing a duality of its
own, being both the first game in the new continuity and the tenth
main game overall. It has the unenviable task of remaining
appealing to the hardcore fans yet also appealing to newcomers.
Although the final game won’t be out until a nebulous ‘2015’, an
early hands on shows the game is progressing nicely on both
fronts.

The bare bones of the gameplay is similar to both the 2011
reboot and the Injustice: Gods Among Us, the fighting game
based on DC Comics characters also developed by Mortal
Kombat’s
Netherrealm Studios. 3D fighters pair off on a 2D
plane, pulling off assorted combos to pummel their opponent into
oblivion. So far, so much a beat-’em-up.

Like Injustice though, each stage offers plenty of
interactive items, from single-use damage dealing objects to
environmental tools to get you out of tight spots. For instance,
there’s no forcing an opponent into the corner and hammering them
into submission — Netherrealm has tricks on most stages to escape
such traps and keep the flow of battle
going. 


D'vorah vs
Kotal
D’vorah vs
Kotal

The new kids don’t get along well

© 2014
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.


Of the six characters playable in the E3 build Wired.co.uk
tested, four were brand new to the series, joining stalwarts
Scorpion and Sub-Zero. Yet even some of those fresh faces will be
curiously familiar to anyone steeped in Kombat lore. Cassie Cage is
the most prominent, a bubblegum-chewing mall-rat and the daughter
of long-standing Kombatants Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage. With her
father’s cocky swagger and mother’s military training — at least
judging from her spec ops uniform — she fights with a style
hybridising her parents: speedy, precise, with just a little bit of
flair.

Next up is Kotal Kahn, an Aztec warrior priest whose name is
unnervingly similar to another notable
Kahn
in Mortal Kombat history. As you might expect
from a hulking character, his moveset is centred on brutal,
powerful strikes. Almost contrary to his strength, Kotal will also
summon charms to the stage, giving him a variety of buffs when in
close proximity to their field of effect. He’ll also call down rays
of light to burn out
enemies. 


Kotal
Kahn
Kotal
Kahn

Sharing a family name and murderous intent with
Mortal Kombat’s big bad Shao Kahn is probably a
coincidence

© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.


D’vorah, an insect queen whose repertoire includes hidden legs
for stealth strikes and wings for limited flight, is the creepiest
addition to the roster. Slender but tough, her jittering movements
are lightning-fast and slightly unsettling to watch, while her
moves balance close and mid-range attacks. In case you missed the
oh-so-subtle pun, her name is essentially ‘devourer’ — fitting,
given she can summon swarms of bugs to eat people alive.

Ferra/Torr is the biggest surprise, a two-for-one fighter. One
part insane, giant ogre, one part lithe, sadistic girl riding his
shoulders, the pair are a real double threat. They’re hard to read
when fighting against, never clear whether you’re going to have to
deal with a lumbering jackhammer punch or several speedy slashes.
When playing as them, you can turn that uncertainty against your
rival, right up to using Ferra as a weapon to be flung by the
larger
Torr. 


Ferra/Torr
Ferra/Torr

Two-for-one
on your psychotic melee fighters in Mortal Kombat X

© 2014
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.


The biggest shake up at this early point in Mortal Kombat
X’s
development is that when you select your player, you’ll
also choose a fighting style for them. In Ferra/Torr’s case for
instance, that might be to have Ferra cheer from the sidelines,
changing Torr to a solo character with different moves. D’vorah’s
options include the actions her insect swarm will take, be it
protective or defensive. Each character has three stances to choose
from, and each of those changes the feel of how they play quite
considerably — plenty for fighting game fans to get to grips with
come the final release.

The infamous gore factor of the series is intact, and as
ridiculously cheesy as ever. Sure, it’s shockingly violent and
remains thoroughly unsuitable for kids but it’s hard to believe it
was ever cause for shock, as with the mid-1990s games. It’s all so
brilliantly over-the-top, it’s laughable. X-ray moves return from
2011’s outing, showing the brutal effects of super-powered kombat
on the human body, with cracking bones and bursting organs making
for cheery viewing. These are pulled off by charging a bar over the
course of a round, then hammering out a quick combo. The distance
for these grim super moves varies from character to character -
D’vorah needs to be about mid-range from her rival, for instance –
and missing wastes the
charge. 


D'vorah
Strikes
D’vorah
Strikes

Newcomer D’vorah can hold her own against
classics like Sub-Zero

© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment
Inc.


And of course, what would a Mortal Kombat game be without its
Fatalities? For the build played, controls were simplified — when
the traditional “Finish Him!” flashes up, tapping down and an
attack would unleash the fighters’ definitive moves. However,
representatives from Netherrealm told Wired.co.uk that the studio
is currently undecided whether to keep the simpler activations in
the final release of the game, or revert to a more challenging,
skill-based combo to pull them off.

What will be more interesting is in seeing how the new
characters mesh with more familiar figures as they’re inevitably
introduced. With the exception of Cassie Cage, none really feels
quite in line with the design or mythology of the Mortal
Kombat
universe. Then again, after the last game reset the
continuity, anything is fair game for the series moving forward,
and the new line-up is a breath of fresh air.

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Mortal Kombat X launches on Xbox One, Xbox 360,
PS4, PS3, and PC in 2015.

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18 June 2014 | 4:28 pm – Source: wired.co.uk
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