mortal-kombat-xl-review

Almost a year after the release of Mortal Kombat X, Netherrealm studios have succeeded in taking an already huge agme and make it even bigger. Mortal Kombat XL has all the modes and characters of Mortal Kombat X but adds new fighters, stages, Moves and an overhauled Online Netcode. The result: A Mortal Kombat Game worthy of the size XL.

Presentation:

Booting Mortal Kombat XL will get you the same screen that greeted players in last year’s Mortal Kombat X. The reason is that XL is the ultimate version of MKX, or basically a massive expansion. The menu is self explanatory and easy to navigate. Divided into the type of gameplay you are interested in: Single Player, Two Player, and Online among others.

We cannot talk about the game’s presentation without talking about the  story mode. Basically netherrealm studios took Mortal Kombat 9’s story mode and expanded on it. Giving the mode a very cinematic feel. Whether the story it self was any good is another matter (which we discuss further below). But you cannot stop to admire Netherrealm studios’ ambitions when it comes to a single player contents like the story mode.

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From the graphics perspective, Mortal Kombat XL looks superb on our Playstation 4. The game’s characters are highly detailed and look as real as it can get. The stages are eerie, colorful and diverse, and the new Pit stage Remake is a masterpiece to say the least. Graphics are not the only amazing things about Mortal Kombat X’s presentation. The fluidity of the character movements are the best the series has offered so far. watching a full match where players know what they are doing, reminds you of watching a scene from movies like the Matrix in terms how beautiful each move’s choreography really is. It does also help that the art direction that Netherrealm took with Mortal Kombat X is stunning. both old and new characters are slick, menacing, and just a masterpiece to look at. This is by far the best looking Mortal Kombat game to date.

Gameplay:

Not much has changed in terms of gameplay from MKX to Mortal Kombat XL. The game, as you probably know, introduced the variations system. Giving each character a set of 3 variations. Each variation ont only changes the kombatant’s moves but also his style. Some variations make your character defensive while others can make him/her offensive. Netherrealm studios also kept the basics from MK9 intact. Characters have a super meter which can be used to do enhanced moves, a combo breaker, and when full unleash the X-Ray attack. While i loved the x-ray moves in Mortal Kombat 9, i felt they are a little bit too long and thus can kill a match’s momentum. Unfortunately Mortal Kombat XL(and X) has even longer X-ray attacks. Don’t get me wrong, yes the X-ray’s look cool, but after few matches using the same character the X-ray seems to take on forever. It would have been better if the the x-ray part of the move (the one showing internals shattering) was limited to just one move, instead of 3 in Mortal Kombat XL and X, and 2 on Mortal Kombat 9.

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A Mortal Kombat game will not be worthy of the name without its gore, and XL does not disappoint. The fights are bloody, characters get bruised as they beat each other senseless, and once  a match is over, the winner gets to kill his opponent using a fatality move. Which bring us One major addition to Mortal Kombat XL and X that we can’t stop to praise: The Brutalities. These new finishers are moves that you include in your combos at the end of the match and before the “Finish Him/Her”. The brutalities are quick, brutal, and every time get that “OOOOOOHHHH” from the room. Mortal Kombat XL added many more secret brutalities that players have just started discovering.

The Kaharacters:

Mortal Kombat XL takes the initial roster of MKX and adds all the Kombat Pack 1 and 2 Characters. Resulting in a massive 35 character roster. These include fan favorites such as Scorpion and Sub-Zero, as well as a slew of new fighters all of them a welcomed addition to the franchise. Most of these character follow netherrealm’s current formula of slick design without overdoing it. Takeda, Kenshi’s son is the perfect representation of a modern ninja. Ferra Torr look menacing, D’Vorrah looks creepy and awesome, and the lists goes on. Mortal Kombat XL also adds Bo Rai Cho, the drunken master who cannot hold a fart. Tremor, a seismic controlling former lin kuei ninja, Tanya, and Tri Borg. The latter is an interesting anagram of four characters: Sektor, Cyrax, Smoke, and Cyber Sub-Zero. While all his normals are almost identical in all  variations, each variation changes the character to one of the mentioned cyborgs. All the game’s characters, old and new, have been redesigned from a gameplay perspective to work with the game system

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The roster also includes 4 guest characters: Jason, Predator, Xenomorph and Leatherface. While i appreciate the occasional guest character here and there, i kind of feel that 4 guests is too much. Especially when i see some crucial Mortal Kombat characters missing, like Fujin, Noob Saibot, Kabal, Jade, to name a few. It would have been better to give fans their favorite characters rather than waste four slots on 90’s horror movies icons.

Single Player Modes:

In a time where the media and some fans are calling on Capcom for the lack of single player content in Street Fighter V, Mortal Kombat XL comes like a perfect example to show any fighting games company the importance single player contents. Besides the one vs one arcade mode, which offers a what if ending scene once you beat it, the game comes with a massive story mode, a auto-updated Challenge mode and Test your luck.

The story mode, as i stated before, is a massive 3+ hours of gameplay and cutscenes. The game’s story is split into two sections, one that takes place right after the events of Mortal Kombat 9, while the second part (also the biggest) takes place around 25 years later. I am going to be blunt and say that things start awesome in the beginning but came back crashing in the second part which focuses on the new generation led by Cassie Cage. In the first part where the earthlream warriors had to face shinnok and his army of the undead which included Scorpion, sub-zero, Jaz, Smoke, Liu Kang and others. Things were emotional, eerie and the action was top notch. The second part , however, was rushed and made no sense in more instances than one. The story made some cool characters either stupid (scorpion) whiny (Takeda) or just annoying (Sonya). There was a lot of missed opportunity that as a big fan of the game’s lore could not help but feel very frustrated.

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The challenge towers of Mortal Kombat X and XL is an updated version of the one form the previous game. Unlike Mortal Kombat 9 where the tower was a predefined 100 stage misisons. The new challenge towers are alive and get updated often. Some are updated daily, some are weekly, and there is even one hourly. Giving single players always something new to play.

As you play the game, both offline and online you start earning Koins. This in-game currency allows to you unlock things such as character costumes, artworks, music etc. To do so, you have to venture in a first person dungeon like mode called the krypt, where you unlock things by digging graves. Things get scary when a pack of wolves jump at you, or a giant spider knocks your socks off from behind. The krypt is a great example of how Netherrealm studios go out of their ways to add more content.

Online Modes:

Mortal Kombat X offers players the ability to play ranked or unranked games. We noticed though, that most players will be joining online rooms to fight each other, either in 1 Vs 1 games or King of the Hill matches, which is a sort of winners stays on lobbies. But, an Online fighter lives or dies by its netcode. and while the initial Mortal Kombat x offered an okay experience when it comes to online games, Netherrealm studios decided to overhaul the experience by changing the netcode completely with a new rollback code with Mortal Kombat XL. We have been testing the new netcode for the past week, and it is clearly a vast improvement from last year’s attempt. Most game we played were lagless and we were able to do 1 frame moves in combos.

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The major flaw that we were disappointed to find is that Mortal Kombat XL still has region locked netplay. What this means, is that you are limited to play against players who have the same regional version of the game as you. So if you buy the game from the US PSN store for example, and you live in europe, Mortal Kombat XL will ONLY match you with players in the US. It would have made more sense if the game uses IP restrictions rather than Disc region restriction. And in this day in age, where players can fight against anyone in the world in Street Fighter V (and even SFIV) it is really a shame that Netherrelam studios decided to take such a step, especially with how improved their new netcode is.

The new netcode is not only exclusive to Mortal Kombat XL. Owners of last year’s Mortal Kombat X will have their games automatically updated with the new rollback code and will also receive the new Pit Stage and new brutalities.

Conclusion:

Mortal Kombat XL is an excellent package. this is by far the best, most stunning and most robust game of the franchise. And in a time where people are complaining about the lack of single player content in fighting games, Mortal Kombat XL comes in as the savior and maybe stellar exception. The game offers so much Offline content that you never need to log online to enjoy the gameplay, the stunning graphics, the gore, the fights fluidity, and the story. And while the latter leaves a LOT to be desired in terms of writing, it is a very fun mode that players will certainly enjoy. The Game’s online modes are basic but enough to enjoy lagless brutal fights. But Netherrelam studios’ decision to region lock the online stops the game from reaching its full online potential.

Mortal Kombat XL is available as a standalone game, or as a set of downloadable content packs for Mortal Kombat X for both the PS4 and Xbox One.

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