GDC 2015: Hands-on with the brutal Mortal Kombat X - NetherRealm's newest F2P fighter


GDC 2015: Hands-on with the brutal Mortal Kombat X - NetherRealm's newest F2P fighter
| Mortal Kombat X
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Mortal Kombat X isn't going to surprise anyone who's played Injustice on their mobile. Or the bonkers superpowered wrestling spin-off, WWE Immortals.

This is another impossibly good-looking brawler, squished down and streamlined for playing on a touchscreen. Only, this time, instead of Batman or Hulk Hogan, it's using the cast of characters from the upcoming Mortal Kombat X.

So you fight using a series of gestures: taps for quick attacks, swipes for heavy blows, and two finger prods to block. You can tag in other characters by tapping their pictures, and they'll often do a quick attack when they appear.

It's not exactly deep nor sophisticated and it's plenty polarising - Peter hated Injustice, but Harry loved WWE.

For my money, I think I'm siding with Peter when it comes to Mortal Kombat X. It's hard to feel like you have much control over your character, and your options are always sorely limited.

Compared to the console games, this feels restrictive and gets maddeningly repetitive.

Get over here

But you can't deny that this is an impressive game. It has everything from the main event - all the characters (in their various outfits), lavish backdrops, detailed animations, and those gruesome fatalities - but on your phone.

Can we talk about those fatalities for a second? Are they still cool? They were kind of funny in the 90s when they showed little pixelated blood splatters and decapitations. But now, in glorious 3D, they're a little much.

You'll see x-ray cutaways of a nose being broken. You'll see a brain pulled out of a skull. You'll see a dude's oesophagus ripped out his throat. Blood, punctures, broken bones, and exploding organs. It's all a bit stomach-turning.

But hey! They're interactive now! For the first time in the series, you'll get some semblance of control over the fatalities and have to perform quick swipey QTEs to see them play out. Swipe to decapitate!


I digress. It wouldn't be Mortal Kombat without a few disconnected hearts, now, would it?

Once again, this free to play fighter is obsessed with cards and your team of kombatants (which might include series veterans like Scorpion and Sub Zero, the new generation of pugilists, or random cannon fodder brawlers) is built from a deck of cards.

You can obviously win these by fighting, or you can pay for new packs with real or in-game money. You'll also unlock more cash by completing challenges on the console or PC version.

The two flavours of Mortal Kombat X are also linked in a faction war where you team up with loads of other players and try to get your clan to the top of the charts. Your progress in this mode is synced between the mobile and console edition.

That's one way that the game is going for a more social feeling. Another is the ability to create a champion character and have other players use them as an alley in their battles. Both players get rewards if your champion is used.

Finish Her!

Mortal Kombat X is, if nothing else, a smart take on a winning formula. NetherRealm has proven that it can make very popular games that mix lavish graphics, card battling, and punching people in the face.

Bringing in characters from one of the most popular fighting games of all time was just a no-brainer. And it's done so with aplomb. Though, if you don't like the underlying fighting system in these games, there's not much here to convince you to give it a third go.

The game will be out in April on iOS and Android, near to the April 24th launch of Mortal Kombat X proper on PC, PS3 and 4, and Xbox 360 and One. We'll give you a heads up.

Mark Brown
Mark Brown
Mark Brown spent several years slaving away at the Steel Media furnace, finally serving as editor at large of Pocket Gamer before moving on to doing some sort of youtube thing.