Mortal Kombat XL
Warner Brothers Studios. PC. Those two have recently been going together like custard and faggots. And for the uninitiated, no – custard and faggots do not go together. Do not try it.
Mortal Kombat X has had an interesting history. Originally released for the PC back in April 2015, it garnered less than stellar reviews; primarily due to it being a very poor console port. Ring any bells yet? Arkham Knight, you say?
The netcode was, to all intents and purposes, broken. The netcode required for a fighting game needs to cater to lightning fast responses. Mortal Kombat X was more of a case of “Oh, I’m dead. How did that happen?”. And that was assuming the net play functioned at all – more than once, I attempted to go online, only to find the server down. Or at least none responsive. Aside from that, the game itself suffered from pretty bad optimisation problems. When a game running on the Unreal 3 Engine stumbles on an Nvidia 970… it’s not a great sign, really.
Back in January 2016, NetherRealm announced that they were working on Mortal Kombat XL for the Playstation 4 and Xbox One. The game would combine Mortal Kombat X, all the existing DLC (a sizeable chunk of content – yet another issue with the game), and significantly improve the netcode. Finally, there was a chance of a polished, finished game! Except, of course, it seemed they had dropped PC support altogether. It was clearly stated that XL would not be coming to PC, and that development work on the PC had finished. Enjoy your broken game, Master Race.
Fast forward to now – Ed Boon relented, and finally, we have Mortal Kombat XL, on PC.
Over 10,000 of you voted. Looks like you guys really want a PC MKXL and some character love/buffs! We hear ya! pic.twitter.com/1oHB4e3yHL
— Ed Boon (@noobde) July 31, 2016
Is this the game you have been waiting for? Yes, yes it is. It is great fun. Finally. FINALLY.
In the case of XL on the PC, the game has been broken into two parts. The bug fixes, and improvements to the netcode are freely available as a patch for Mortal Kombat X. The additional content released as XL on the consoles (Leatherface, the Xenomorph from Alien, Bo’ Rai Cho and Triborg the Cyber Ninja – as well as previously available DLC made up of Goro, Kold War Skin Pack and 2 Klassic Fatality Packs), is available as the Kombat Pack, for £7.49 for a limited time; £14.99 at full price. It’s not a perfect solution, but for the additional development work… well, the game should have been working from the start…. gah, let’s not get into this.
Anyway – moving on to the actual game.
With the various DLC offerings, the character count is up to 33, with a mix of the old and the new. Along with series staples like Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Johnny Cage, Liu Kang are new characters such as Cassie Cage (daughter of Johhny and Sonya), D’Vorah (a strange insect/humanoid representative) and Erron Black (a gun slinger), to select some of the more memorable. Also included are a number of ‘guests’; Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th, Leatherface from Texax Chainsaw Massacre, the Xenomorph from Aliens, and Predator from… well, Predator. Sadly, Freddy Kruger doesn’t return from Mortal Kombat 9. All it needs is Pinhead and Michael Myers, and this could be the beat ’em up wet dream for any classic 80’s horror fan.
The game plays at a solid 60 FPS on my current rig, although the X-Ray moves and Fatalities are still capped at 30 FPS. I’ll honestly say I don’t really notice the difference, but I am throwing it out there for those who do. Importantly, it’s now consistently as smooth as ice. Gone are the strange performance quirks, and occasional spikes and lags in frame rate. Similarly, with the online play, the game was extremely responsive and slick. There was no noticeable lag as I proceeded to get my ass handed to me by the opposition. Which is a shame, as I’d love to have been able to blame my performance on it.
The Krypt is still a bit of an oddity – a slow-loading FPS mini-game for unlocking features, using the Koin points system. To be completely honest, I would happily bypass it by unlocking all the Krypt items… sadly it’s an additional DLC, and it costs £14.99!
Mortal Kombat X
It is the same game as Mortal Kombat X, so it includes the various game modes, including a Story Mode (complete with rendered movie cut-scenes and quick-time events galore), a variety of competition Ladders, 1v1, and Test Your Luck. There is also an online “Faction” system, that allows you to join, and earn points for a “faction”, and includes a variety of rewards for the winning faction.
Each character has a number of costumes (some unlocked via the Krypt, others available only via DLC), as well as three ‘variations’ of a character. Each variation has a different look, and a number of unique special moves, in addition to the regular special moves available to the character. A pair of “Scorpion” can fight, and wear vastly different costumes, and employ different variations, allowing for a different mix of special moves. It all adds to the range of options available, helping to prevent fights from becoming too stale.
The game is the normal mix of special moves and brawling you expect from Mortal Kombat. A three-stage Energy Bar builds up during gameplay, allowing the player to use enhanced special moves (costing 1 bar), breaking combos (costing 2 bars) and X-ray moves (costing all 3 bars). A variety of Fatalities and Brutalities are available for each character, including Faction Specific fatalities, and Stage Fatalities on select maps. Brutalties add to the Fatality concept, as they are essentially more powerful special moves, that usually have a degree of pre-conditions attached – usually requiring you to “kill the character off” with a specific move. Again, it helps to spice things up – if you’ve mastered all the Fatalities, a Brutality can prove to be slightly more complex to execute, helping to keep things fresh.
With the bug fixes that Mortal Kombat XL brings, it’s fair to say this is the best version of Mortal Kombat on the PC at the moment – although I appreciate, that doesn’t say a great deal. I don’t want to go overboard on the praise for the patch, as I believe a “Triple A” title deserves more support than Warner Brothers originally gave to this release. Still, at least it now feels like we have a complete, polished game to play.
Pros: Messy, bloody, gory fighting.
- As Mortal-Kombat-ie as ever. More ways to turn your opponent inside out than you can wave a stick at.
- A huge roster of characters to play with.
- Wonderful multiplayer action, via either sofa play, or online.
Cons: This is the game we should have had about 18 months ago.
- This is no more than users should expect; fixing broken games.
- It isn’t the most tactically sophisticated beat ’em up on the market – spam moves FTW.
- The Krypt still being locked behind DLC feels a touch naughty after all this time.
Mortal Kombat XL finally gives PC players the game they expected 18 months ago. On some levels, well played NetherRealm. On another level… about bloody time! And a bloody time it will be…