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Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mortal Kombat X - Initial Thoughts

When Mortal Kombat release in 1992, I had to relive my youth and go to the arcade to play it. It came to the early consoles in 1993 on Mortal Monday, but since I didn't own one I still had to go to the arcade. In 1994 it finally came to the PC and I grabbed it as soon as I could. By today's standards the game was rudimentary, but back then it was incredible. I kept playing Mortal Kombat into the late 90s. But due to non-game related life events, I drifted away from Mortal Kombat. It was only meant to be temporary, but with the debacle that was Special Forces convincing my to wait longer that temporary hiatus stretched into a decade and a half.



The hiatus finally ended this year.  One of my unspoken guilty pleasures from April on has been watching the gaming world's reactions to Mortal Kombat X. I became addicted to watching game play videos, settling on TrU3Ta1ent  as my go to entertainment channel. He also takes characters into the "lab" and explains how he goes about learning how to fight them. It is very instructional, and it wasn't long before he got me jonesing to play Mortal Kombat again.



So two weeks ago I did it, even though some people were reporting issues running the Steam PC version. I am happy to report flawless victory. I have had no issues whatsoever, and Mortal Kombat X plays like a dream on my four-year old PC. I have no idea what the problem is with all the unhappy souls on Steam. Perhaps they need better computers, but as I said, mine is not exactly state of the art. And when I looked just now, there were over 7000 people playing the Steam version. Is this just a case of grumpy puppies wanting to piss on the furniture? I don't know. The only thing I recommend (highly) is you get yourself a proper controller. The keyboard controls aren't bad, but the keys are too close together and I kept catching the edge of other keys and messing up my combos - not that I'm all that great at combos yet. :/ I'm controller agnostic so opted for the Xbox One controller which is plug-and-play on my Windows 8.1 system. It too works flawlessly.



How's the game play you'd like to know? Well, it's fast. :D For real though, it's Mortal Kombat with modern graphics and computing power. The graphics are gorgeous and the kombo system is amazing. I especially like all the information provided for the various moves. Not only does it tell you where the blows land in general, but it gives lots of data on how fast the move is, how long the recovery from it is and the likelihood your opponent could block it. And that's not all. Here, have a look for yourself.



[caption id="attachment_4952" align="aligncenter" width="1920"]Sub-Zero Kombos Screen Sub-Zero Kombos Screen[/caption]

What this screen tells me is the kombo will generally land mid, that it has a low likelihood of being blocked and is fairly quick starting. However, recover is a bit slow and the damage is minimal. All this information is given in execution frames, with 60 frames per second being the standard rate for Mortal Kombat X. If you look at the recover frame data above, it takes a smidgen over a half second to recover from the kombo. That can be an eternity in Mortal Kombat. But it's not this simple. If you want to see how complicated using this frame data really is, read this thread from the Test Your Might web site. WARNING: it'll make you bleed from the ears.



I took the screenshot above from the Practice screen in Training mode. No longer do you have to fight real bouts simply to learn your moves. In training mode, you can really dissect a character and get good at playing it before you ever face a human opponent. I know that's not really a new thing, but it's new to me. I don't ever remember having that option back in the 90s. And if I did, I doubt it came with the ability to record a juggling kombo, then switch to the opponent and see if you can actually stop your own kombo. :o That's awesome.



And you've plenty of options for practicing what you learn in practice. There is a tutorial which will help familiarize new players with the mechanics of Mortal Kombat X. There is also a story line you can play which really does three things: tells the story of Mortal Kombat, let's you try several of the characters, and learn more about how the mechanics of the game work when facing a computer AI.



[caption id="attachment_4965" align="aligncenter" width="1920"]Faction War Faction War[/caption]

Once you've become comfortable with the controller in your hand, you can proceed to fighting matches. I'd recommend any new player start with easy AI opponents, and then work your way up from there. You will still get rewards and experience, and it will avoid the frustration of constantly losing against more experienced human opponents. In fact, that's one thing about Mortal Kombat X I really appreciate. Yes, there is an entire community fighting each other out there on the Internet. But you don't have to get involved right away and you can still contribute. Look at today's challenges to help your faction listed above. Though some challenges may require PvP, today's challenges can all be played solo against any level of AI opponent. And no one other than you knows the difference - at least until you go to fight a human opponent and you're pwned because AIs are predictable and humans are not. :( But do realize at some point you're probably going to need/want to do that. It's why it is called Mortal Kombat.



[caption id="attachment_4955" align="aligncenter" width="1920"]Test Your Might Test Your Might[/caption]

But interestingly enough, fighting isn't the only thing you can do in Mortal Kombat X. In the Towers, of which there are three different categories, the original Test Your Might game play is preserved. This goes all the way back to Mortal Kombat I. It is a series of objects which you must break in order to proceed. You get rewards for completing them, and gruesome death if you fail. You can run through the towers as often as you like, though many have timers on them that make you wait from hours to days up to a week.



[caption id="attachment_4956" align="aligncenter" width="1920"]The Krypt The Krypt[/caption]

There is also the Krypt. The Krypt is a dungeon area where you can go to spend the koins you have earned as well as obtain more koins. Here is where you get additional outfits, alternate fatalities, game play assistance awards and other valuable things. Here's a sample of what the Krypt offers. Be sure to watch it full screen to get the full ambiance and incredible graphics artistry.



[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ENIFhXT_6g?rel=0]



:twisted: Muwhahahahahahahahaha. I had to share. They nearly make me jump out of my chair every time.



You know, I could keep writing and writing about all the cool stuff contained within the game. There's a huge content load within the start and end lines of its code. I've got 30 hours sunk into Mortal Kombat X and I've not even finished the story line. I keep finding new things to grab my interest. Then there is the lure of the combat. Nothing is quite as satisfying as completing a high damage kombo except winning. But to win, you have to put in the time. Fortunately Mortal Kombat X makes that easy - the putting in the time part, not the winning part. ;) I foresee many, many more hours spent honing my kombo skills and having an all around smashing time. NetherRealm Studios has done a great job with this tenth installment of the Mortal Kombat franchise. It is a worthy successor.

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