PAX Prime 2014: Mortal Kombat X Will Churn Your Insides

Mortal Kombat X has caught my eye from the moment it was revealed. Perhaps it’s fascinating from a scientific point of view, since the number of individually modeled organs and bones seen during each Fatality is nothing short of remarkable. Maybe it’s the improvement upon Injustice: Gods Among Us‘ unique use of background elements during combat. For all one knows, it could just be the general sense of bad-assery that oozes out of every moment spent in-game. Whatever the reason is, Mortal Kombat X has become even more interesting after spending some hands on time with it.

Those who have played any of the Mortal Kombat games of yesteryear will feel right at home in MKX. The general control scheme is the same, though the level of responsiveness seems to be much higher. Special combos were short and precise, largely eliminating the annoying button-mashing that tends to turn me away from the genre as a whole. Being able to play with tweaked editions of characters past, such as an electrically-charged Raiden and an iteration of Scorpion wielding multiple flaming swords, brings an exciting twist to everyone’s favorite fighters. The three combat tweaks that each character has at his or her disposal allows the character selection process to remain fresh without becoming overwhelming to those new to the series.

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What really caught my attention is the level of detail in every level, as each world feels as though it would live and breathe without the players ever stepping for in it. Background elements can be easily utilized for traversal or combat, at times making the environment the player’s most powerful weapon. The Market level, which was perhaps the most exciting arena in the PAX Prime demo, had an old woman that could be used as a melee weapon and a massive sleeping tiger that one could anger into attacking by simply jumping on its head. In other stages, one might find that utilizing an environemntal traversal mechanic changes the camera perspective, an effect made all the more impressive with the power of the PS4’s processor. These environmental elements force the player to look at the entire screen rather than at the opposing player, giving MKX a surprising sense of scale for a 2D fighter.

However let’s be real here, the aspect of Mortal Kombat X that’s capturing everyone’s attention is the high fidelity take on the Mortal Kombat series’ famous gore sequences. This is a series that is known for its shameless brutality, and from the moment MKX was revealed, it has been clear that there will be no shortage of gruesome moments in the newest iteration. A fair amount of my demo was spent simply watching the different special attacks and Fatalities that each character has at his or her disposal. Those who have played Sniper Elite III know the power of high resolution x-ray gore, but no one outside of the development team has witnessed injuries on this scale.

I watched as a fighter’s testicles were all but liquefied with a single squeeze. I saw a massive spike go through the eye of my character, only for it to emerge out of the other side of my skull. At one point, a massive swarm of bees ate my fighter’s face until all that remained was a bloody skull. I had my vertebral column ripped out and crushed one match before slicing my enemy in half to reveal a perfect cross-section of his innards. It’s extreme, disgusting and horrifying, but it’s impossible to look away. As was previously stated, every piece of a character’s insides is individually modeled, meaning that the level of detail is nothing short of staggering. Mortal Kombat X is absolutely not for the young or faint of heart, but those who want to see just how far technology can push gore will find themselves captivated.

For Mortal Kombat X to fully capture the attention and impress someone who never goes near the fighting game genre is nothing short of remarkable. It was able to hook me in from the moment I first saw the unique background mechanics until the very last fatality. Those looking for a promising fighting game on their shiny new consoles should look no further than NetherRealm’s ultra-violent upcoming sequel.