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What is Mortal Kombat X?

Coming to Xbox One (version previewed), Xbox 360, PS4, PS3 and PC
Mortal Kombat X release date 2015

Mortal Kombat games have always been about the gore - blood, guts, brain matter and breaking bones. Mortal Kombat X takes all this to the next level with some of the most violent video game scenes we've ever seen.

Developer NetherRealm Studios has tweaked Mortal Kombat X so that it offers brand new gameplay elements to the series, without losing its horrific core.

For a start, the X-ray cutscenes when you perform a special move have returned, showing how your hits impact various parts of your enemies in cinematic quality. Whether that's their skull cracking, backbone shattering, eyeballs being pierced or major organs hemorraghing, there's no lack of gruesome detail in these new x-ray shots.
One of the more grimacing moves is when Sub-Zero punches a hole through Scorpion's stomach, pulls out his intestines, freezes them and then uses them as a spear to slam through Scorpion's eye and out the back of his head.
Scorpion can get his own back through, by catapulting a fireball through Sub-Zero's stomach before slicing the front half of his head of with a Katana, after which you'll see Sub-Zero slip to the floor and his brain slide slowly out of his head.

And all that is happening in x-ray mode's semi slow-motion. I wasn't joking when I said Mortal Kombat X takes the MK violence to a never before seen level.

All the characters have their own signature finishing move as with previous Mortal Kombat games, with the Fatalities providing a great opportunity for the new, excessive gore. But, there's not just new finishing moves, there's a whole new character set to choose from in Mortal Kombat X.

During our E3 2014 demo, I saw four new characters appear alongside old favourites, Sub-Zero and Scorpion. These are Ferra/Torr, D'vorah, Cassie Cage and Kotal Khan.

The daughter of Johnny Cage and Sonia Blane, Cassie Cage is a fierce woman armed with a pistol and occasionally a dapper pair of aviator sunglasses. She's definitely the most Hollywood of the new characters I've seen so far, and there are definite Tomb Raider influences to her character.

Our particular favourite was D'vorah, a half-human, half-inset hybrid that uses her often hidden insect stinger legs to spear opponents, while her bug army can swarm and infect them. Kotal Khan is a huge aztec brawler, who is a formidable force in battles.

Finally, the fourth announced new character is Ferra/Torr. This is a rather unique tag team. Ferra is a small, child-like lady who sits on the back of the huge hulking Torr who wears a tattered sack on his head. The pair then work together to take down enemies. Hodor?

A brand new feature of Mortal Kombat X is the character specialisation. You can now choose from three variations that offer unique skills. Your basic character is still kitted out with a full range of moves, special moves and combos that they'd normally have, but then on top of that you can layer in some special variations.

These allow each character to have a slightly different fighting styles according to the options you choose. For example Scorpion, he has variations called Ninjutsu, Hellfire and Inferno. The Jujitsu variation focuses on using swords, Hellfire uses fire based attacks to reign down pain on the enemy and Inferno uses the power of fire demons to attack enemies from all different angles.

Each variation makes the character look a little different in battles, letting you and your opponent know which version you've picked. Scorpion's variations featuring flaming hands for Hellfire, back-mounted swords for Ninjutsu and a skull hanging from his belt for Inferno.

By being able to choose a character variation, it lets you add a little strategy to Mortal Kombat X, and no doubt it'll take a while to figure out which one works for your playing style, but it's a welcome addition to this arcade fighter.

Another brand new feature is the ability to use the environment to your advantage. When you see items in the battle arenas flashing you can hit RB (Xbox One) to launch yourself from platforms, swing from branches or grab in-world items to throw at your enemy. In one of the new maps, on which you'll fight on a pier with the ocean undulating in the background, corpses occasionally pop up from the water. If you're quick enough, you can grab these bodies and use them to slam into your opponent to great comic, if bloodthirsty, effect.

The actual arenas themselves are much more detailed than in previous games in the series, due to the Xbox One and PS4 processing power. In one particular new map you'll find yourself battling in the woods, with the eerie night mist cutting through the moonlight that seeps through the trees.

All three maps I got to play are a lot more atmospheric and immersive, partly helped by the fact you can interact with a good deal of the items you can see littered around the arena.

First Impressions

There's a lot to like about Mortal Kombat X. The same addictive, button-mashing gameplay is there, but there are a tonne more possibilities for proper fans to truly explore than previous titles. I particularly liked the addition of character specialisms, allowing for more unique matches and outcomes.

The gruesome finishing and return of X-ray moves may be a little too brutal for some, but no doubt this could be one of the strongest Mortal Kombat games yet.

Read more: Xbox One vs PS4

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