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Mortal Kombat X hands-on preview: Kombat refined

Hayden Dingman | Feb. 9, 2015
Mortal Kombat X refines Mortal Kombat's reboot of the storied, spine-ripping franchise.

As for how it plays: 1) It's beautiful. 2) It still feels like Mortal Kombat. 3) It seems a trifle slowed down compared to Mortal Kombat IX.

Per that last point, I could just be imagining things. I haven't played Mortal Kombat IX in a couple of years now, so it's hard to judge the two without having them side-by-side. It did feel a little more sluggish and/or deliberate than I expected though, regardless of which character I chose. I'll investigate that claim a bit more when it's review time.

On gore
If you typically play Mortal Kombat for a bit of the ol' ultraviolence, damn does Mortal Kombat X deliver. There's nothing that'll necessarily surprise you here--X-ray moves are back, fatalities are still super-fatal, et cetera.

NetherRealm is quite good at coming up with creative ways to murder and/or seriously maim people, though. One X-Ray move that made me involuntarily cringe? Cassie Cage, who did a split and then punched Scorpion straight in the testicles before taking out her dual pistols and shooting him through both eyes.

I can see Jack Thompson fanning himself right this very moment.

My one worry with said X-Ray moves is the same as Mortal Kombat IX: The first time you see it, it's shocking, but the effect diminishes over time and you're stuck watching what's basically a long, disruptive cutscene in the midst of a tightly-paced fight. It can really kill the momentum.

On Factions
Factions are basically NetherRealm's attempt at a meta-game spanning across your Mortal Kombat X career. You might play campaign, then dabble in the Tower, then swap over to 1v1 online multiplayer for a bit. Or maybe you only ever play 1v1 local multiplayer.

Whatever your preferred way to play Mortal Kombat, NetherRealm wants to make sure you feel like you're involved with the game and progressing in some way.

Enter Factions. The first time you boot Mortal Kombat you'll be asked to choose one of five Factions, each based in the Mortal Kombat lore i.e. White Lotus. This is just a name designator, though. Goodman was quick to clarify your choice won't affect what characters you can play or anything along those lines, which I'll admit I'm a bit sad about (though it would be a logistical nightmare to lock players out of 4/5 of a fighting game's roster based on a boot-up choice).

Like Ubisoft's The Crew, you then earn points for your faction just by playing Mortal Kombat--singleplayer, multiplayer, whatever. There will be specific challenges available to rack up bonus points, but you can choose to ignore those.

Each week, one faction will be crowned winner and gain access to some benefits until they're dethroned. Goodman says the particulars haven't been worked out, but gave the catch-all "cosmetic items" as an example.

 

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