Mortal Kombat XL – Review

Title   Mortal Kombat XL
Developer  NetherRealm Studios
Publisher  Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Platform  PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One
Genre  Fighting
Release Date  March 1, 2016

As far as faint praise goes, it may not mean much to say a game is ‘the best Mortal Kombat‘ but last year’s Mortal Kombat X was a fantastically entertaining fighting game. The series had been in decline ever since Mortal Kombat 3 and various unnecessary sequels had tarnished the Mortal Kombat name which had already been a target for sneering Street Fighter and Tekken players for almost two decades.

However, just as Capcom had managed with Street Fighter IV, so did Netherrealm with Mortal Kombat X. This was a game that took the best parts of vintage Mortal Kombat and injected it with spectacular production values that embued the game with a cinematic quality. And of course it was all held together with liberal helpings of gore and violence. The game was a triumph.

Using the 3D graphics on a 2D plane template set by Street Fighter IV, Mortal Kombat X was flashy and fast with fights being decided as much by special moves as they were by expert use of combos (not doing it!) and understanding of range. Each bout was a frantic display of violence and magic (or whatever energy they use to fling fireballs and lightning around the place).

Already a solid fighting game, Mortal Kombat X also had a strong line in manbaby-pleasing violence with brutal X-Ray attacks, liberal lashings of blood and, of course, the iconic fatalities. Indeed, Mortal Kombat X probably had the best fatalities since the ’90s. As grimly funny as they were grisly.

It may not have been one for the frame-counting tournament players but if it’s a choice between playing games that way or punching Raiden so hard in the face that his neck breaks, the formerly adolescent me will take Mortal Kombat‘s low-brow, high-octane thrills all day.

That’s not to say that Mortal Kombat X was all thrills and no substance. It genuinely was an excellent one-on-one fighter, with plenty of characters and fighting styles to master, unfussy controls, and lots of special moves. It boasted a very good story mode, all the single player content to last you months, and of course a solid multiplayer suite of modes.

The only downside was the DLC. Highly desirable characters such as Goro, Jason Vorhees, and Predator were hidden behind premium DLC that didn’t really seem fair on top of the full retail price. A season pass offered extra characters and skins for the fairly daft price of £25. But, given how stacked full of content the game already was, you could quite easily ignore the DLC.

Luckily, newcomers to the game no longer have to make that choice, thanks to Mortal Kombat XL. This game includes the full-fat Mortal Kombat X game along with all the DLC released so far, including the new second Kombat Pack. The new content introduces some very fun combatants (no, I’m not doing it).

Xenomorph – the alien from the Alien movies has clearly spawned out of a Tarkatan’s chest as this chompy bastard now has the gnashers, and move set, of Baraka (who isn’t in the game). From tail attacks and acid spewing to actually putting alien eggs on the playfield, the Xenomorph has some great moves. The fatalities in particular are fun to watch too.

Leatherface – the main villian from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is pretty reliant on his chainsaw, as you’d expect, and his movement is pretty clunky (he’s a mad Texan, not a spritely martial artist). He’s a bit too cumbersome but does come with a couple of fun fatalities.

Bo Rai Cho – returning to the series, this drunken-style kung fu practitioner continues to fart, belch and puke over his opponents. He uses alcohol to get progressively stronger during bouts, but he was never a huge fan favourite.

Triborg – the final newcomer to Mortal Kombat X is Triborg, a combination of three of the robot ninjas from the series. His three forms are Cyrax, Sektor, and Cyber Smoke. A little button combo also lets him become Cyber Subzero. They all share the same fatalities unfortunately but they do give you some extra bang for your buck.

In combination with their various skins, there are now a huge number of fighters to pick from, which is exactly what we want after seeing Capcom drip-feed out content with their anaemic Street Fighter V release. So, if you want a heap of content (nope, still not doing it) all wrapped around a very decent fighting game, this is the package for you.

  • Stacked full of content
  • Has a decent storymode
  • Plenty of modes to play around with
  • Visually spectacular
  • Attracts online arseholes
  • Can get pretty difficult
  • Some skins are locked behind the baffling iOS version of the game

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