PAX Prime 2014: hands-on with Mortal Kombat X

Ever since its announcement earlier this year at E3 2014, Mortal Kombat X has certainly been making waves. The latest addition to the franchise has looked quite promising thus far, with the mixture of familiar characters from the series with new recruits that look like they fit right in with the brutal action. And the fatalities? Don’t even get us started. Someone’s face get sliced off, and they slump over dead on the ground, with what’s left of their brain oozing onto the ground. Hell yes, there are good fatalities here.    

Warner Bros. was kind enough to invite us to a hands-on session with the game, and, thus far, fans have nothing to worry about, as Ed Boon and the team at Netherrealm Studios have assured that the gameplay will remain completely intact. You’ll be executing special moves and pulling off fatalities in no time.

The story is still very much shrouded in secrecy, but the team has let on that the events will take place around the conclusion of MK9, and events will bounce around in time. That means past fights mixed in with future ones, and characters like D’Vora and Ferra/Torr will definitely play a part.

We got hands-on with the game, and it closely follows some of the model that Netherrealm set up with Injustice, while keeping its feet firmly planted in Mortal Kombat’s world. That may sound confusing, but elements of both really play a part. For instance, you can grab onto objects in stages and throw them at enemies, or swing from certain objects hanging overhead to add a new air offense move when you need to nail an incoming attacker. It’s just a simple press of the trigger, and you’re good to go.

The general combat, through, is all Mortal Kombat. Special moves are easy to execute, and some of the classic staples in the series remain intact, including uppercuts, sweeps and blocking incoming moves. The X-Rays are also back, and once your meter is full, all you’ll need to do is click both triggers to start the move. Once you land the first hit, you’ll pull off the special technique, watching everything from eye stabs (with a frozen pancreas, no less) to neck breaks and so forth. The X-Rays are better than ever here.

What’s new with Mortal Kombat X is the introduction of new play styles. Each fighter has three different styles to choose from, each with their own specialty moves. For instance, with Raiden, you can choose to power up his melee attacks or give him secondary teleporting capabilities, depending on what kind of offense you’re really into. It’s great having such diversity, as it mixes up each fight and makes it different. In addition, it gives fighting fans that much more to master as they pound away on their opponents.

As for finding that smooth groove with combos, don’t worry. Players can still chain together combos with ease, no matter which character they’re using. They can also find the character’s full move list right there on the pause screen, instead of needing to examine some sort of superguide in the submenu. It’s really quite helpful, especially when it comes to learning and mastering the new moves at hand. (It’s weird how Scorpion’s spear throw has changed from “back back” to “back forward,” for instance, yet it still works well.)

The graphics in Mortal Kombat X are truly satisfying, with plenty of blood sprays and other effects that really bring the game into the next generation. The backdrops are stunning, from an Outworld marketplace with shady dealers watching in the background, to a swamp-style setting where a giant alligator lurks in the distance, possibly waiting to devour the loser. The animations are slick, and the high resolution really pays off with some of the effects, particularly with Sub-Zero. When he freezes someone, for instance, the ice actually stays on him for a little while before breaking away.

Mortal Kombat X could easily be the best game in the series to date, as it’s shaping up to be a real contender. We’ll see how well the fight goes when it arrives on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and, yes, PC in 2015.

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PC

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  • Dead Rising 3: Apocalypse Edition (download – $ 50)
  • Hatoful Boyfriend (download – $ 10)
  • Train Fever (download – $ 35)
  • Runers (download)
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  • Recycle (download)
  • Orborun (download)

PlayStation 4

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  • Velocity 2X (download)

Xbox One

  • Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate
  • Dance Central Spotlight (download – $ 10)
  • Warframe (download – free-to-play)

Xbox 360

  • None

PlayStation 3

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  • Deathmatch Village (download)

Wii U

  • Cubemen 2 (download)
  • Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight (download)
  • Nobunga’s Ambition (download)

Vita

  • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair
  • Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate
  • Velocity 2X (download)
  • Deathmatch Village (download)
  • Joe Danger (download)
  • Don’t Starve: Giant Edition (download)
  • Mega Man X4 (download)

Nintendo 3DS

  • Tappingo 2 (download)

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