Tag Archives: Mortal Kombat

Injustice 2 Review (Xbox One)

Last year Street Fighter V came out and many of us (including me) were shocked at just how little content it offered. This was a game created almost purely for the hardcore tournament goers, no single player to speak of, no progression, just a roster of character and a solid offline multiplayer and slightly shaky online. For people who are really into fighting games, that might be all they need, but for the millions of casual fighting games fans around, it felt far too sparse. Enter Injustice 2, possibly the most generous fighting game I’ve ever seen.

For starters, Injustice 2 is a direct sequel to the first game. While the roster has changed (lots of heroes have been taken away including Zatara, Lex Luthor, Doomsday, etc) the campaign follows on directly from the first game and the fighting systems are all intact. You still build up a super meter that can be used to augment attacks, bet on a wager, or unleash your super-move; you can still hit people off the stage into a new one; you can still interact with all kinds of things in each area (if you want, all of this is customisable).Anyone familiar with how the first one played will be instantly at home, but there are some new toys for anyone who was put off by the simplicity of the first game.

Now that super meter can be used for something much more technical than just adding damage to your moves. You can now use a bar of it to do a counter mid-combo to make sure you always have a chance to break free. This is a combo-heavy game and the ability to do an air-counter when you’re juggled into the air is an absolute godsend as some characters can destroy you as soon as they bounce you up. This new feature seems to make the game a lot fairer and even online all of my games have been incredibly close, with far fewer whitewashes just because someone gets control early on.

Of course all of this doesn’t mean much if you’re just here for the fancy fighting and characters you know, and that’s where the campaign really shines. It might be cheesy and over-the-top, but it manages to fairly intelligently weave in every major character (except the pre-order exclusive Darkseid) into a plot that sees many of the DC heroes facing off against Braniac and a collection of the villains. If you haven’t played Injustice the roster might be confusing, with Superman now a villain in prison and Harley Quinn on Batman’s side, but with a couple of YouTube videos you can catch up quickly and enjoy the ride.

The campaign is a series of fights with cut-scenes in between and the occasional choice of which character you’d like to fight as. The cut-scenes are fantastic with some spectacular set-pieces and outstanding facial animation. The characters sometimes look a little odd, but the animation on characters such as Gorilla Grodd and Braniac sets a new bar for in-engine scenes.

Speaking of the characters, no-one can accuse the developers of playing it safe. Alongside series stalwarts like the Justice League, the Joker, and Bane, we’ve now got a group of new additions from characters made popular by recent TV shows (Supergirl, Captain Cold, Firestorm, Gorilla Grodd), classics of the comics who aren’t given enough screen time (Swamp Thing, Darkseid), and some strange characters who I’d never heard of before (Cheetah and Atrocitus). The roster is incredibly diverse with no two characters playing the same. There’s no group of ‘heavies’ anymore, each character has their own quirks and ways of holding control, from Grodd’s incredible rushing potential to Deadshot’s extreme zoning.

All the characters also have a tonne of dialogue with specific lines for every single match up, often with references to the comics or films. Some of the designs are perhaps less convincing this time around, with the Joker being more inspired by Leto’s Suicide Squad version moreso than other popular takes on the character, and Green Arrow oddly going for the classic comic version rather than the TV show. Still, there’s always the potential for new skins and I sincerely hope (I can’t believe I’m saying this) there’s a bunch of DLC packs for skins in the near future.

To top off the progression system there’s a huge number of collectables that serve as gear on your characters. If both players agree this gear can be used in multiplayer, boosting stats as well as having a visual impact. If you like the stats of one piece (and there are hundreds of different items) but not the look, you can even transmogrify everything to keep the look and shaders you want, but with the bonuses you need. The idea of having stat-enhancing gear sounds terrifying, but so far online it doesn’t seem to have too much of an impact as most of the boosts are relatively minor or only activate until very specific conditions, like never jumping, or being in a certain part of your health bar.

To get all this gear you unlock loot boxes, which are liberally given out through the campaign, levelling characters, levelling your profile, or possibly my favourite thing about the game, the Multiverse. The Multiverse gives you loads of sets of challenges that rotate on timers, from hourly, to daily, to weekly. If you finish a challenge (with interesting mutations like being able to call in Constantine to help, or both players being able to heal by collecting pickups) you get gear and box and xp rewards, and can face off with other players on leaderboards. This means there’s constantly more things to do and if you just fancy a quick fight without the pressure of fighting online, there’s always plenty for you to do.

Of course there’s even more to this game that I haven’t really mentioned. There’s a guild system, there’s progression challenges, different difficulties, a whole season of DLC coming and built-in tournament options. It’s basically everything you could ever want in a fighting game, with gorgeous graphics, a fantastic roster, and engaging mechanics. If you’re into DC, or fighting games, this is an essential purchase.

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Mortal Kombat X Review (Xbox One)

We are not fighting game experts. We recognise this is a genre where your experience can dramatically change the enjoyment you get out of a game and we are not by any means competitive players. We like to fight against our friends and play through the story, that’s what this review is based on.

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Mortal Kombat is one of those klassic franchises that many other games are judged against. Along with Mario, Doom, Grand Theft Auto, and its 90s rival Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat has held it’s ground as the hyper-gory slightly kamp fighter of choice. Mechanically it’s gone through many iterations, starting off with some unbalanced early games that relied primarily on the wow factor of fatalities and the like, dabbling in 3d and weapons and even krossing over with DC. For us Mortal Kombat has always been about three simple moves. The uppercut, the roundhouse, and the sweep kick. These three attacks are the essence of Mortal Kombat, leaping over an enemy to uppercut them, sweeping their legs away as they stand up, then landing a roundhouse kick to the face just as they think it’s all over.

Mortal Kombat X gets those breathtakingly krunchy moves just right, like everything else. Sure there are plenty of flashy special moves, but really, landing that perfect uppercut is more satisfying than anything else. It feels like a refined version of a game that has been through plenty of ups and downs since Mortal Kombat 2, but this is, mechanically, everything we could have wished for.

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In terms of gameplay it’s very much what you’d expect. You pick a single fighter and then select one of three sub kategories for each. These all have different abilities and therefore strengths and weaknesses. Do you want to be able to teleport as Raiden or focus on electric attacks. Do you want to create ice klones as Sub Zero or create ice weapons to attack with? In the game it’s a simple best of three with the only real twist being a bar that steadily fills as you fight. Once full a simple tap of both triggers produces an X-ray move, where you perform an automatic combo complete with grotesque x-ray visuals of your opponents’ bones and vital organs being ripped to shreds. It’s disgusting and over the top, but just as much fun as you’d expect from a Mortal Kombat game. It does seem a little incongruous when you pierce someone’s eyeballs to see them with eyes the next second, or to shatter someone’s skull and then have them headbutt you, but such is the world in this game. These X-ray moves allow even the most amateur button masher to do something flashy and take off a third of the enemy’s health, of kourse they can be blocked and dodged but for the most part they are a satisfying way to do a decent amount of damage. More professional players will use parts of this bar to either break kombos or power up their attacks, allowing for more juggling and beefier kombos of their own.

Kharacter wise there’s a decent amount with a mixture of old favourites like Johnny Cage, Sonya Blade and Liu Kang, alongside more recent additions like Kenshi and Shinook and even a healthy roster of brand new characters, many of whom are the children of the veterans. The new characters all feel like they have a much more individual style than the palette swaps (sometimes literally) of the past. Dvorah has an impressive range and speed as her insect appendages lash out in unexpected directions. With the giant/young girl combination of Ferra and Torr you have a lumbering beast with limited movement options alongside a secondary kharacter that can literally be hurled at your opponents. All of the newbies feel like worthwhile additions and have cemented themselves as new favourites when we have people over to play.

The kampaign mode is shockingly good, to the point where other fighting games suddenly look distinctly lacking. A fantasy, sci fi soap opera tale is told over a number of chapters where kut-scenes seamlessly merge into fights between prominent kharacters. There are a few annoying QTEs here and there but for the most part it does an excellent job of introducing many of the kharacters and even managing to karry on some genuinely entertaining humour alongside the sickening gore.

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In other modes you have the krypt, an interactive first person dungeon krawler with very light puzzles and kombat where you can spend your koins to unlock new kostumes, fatalities and brutalities. There’s also living towers where a series of challenges updates every hour, day and week. Winning these gets you more koins and points for your faction in the faction war. At the end of each week a faction victor is announced and everyone in that group gets a few bonuses. Online modes are much as you’d expect and while the netcode holds up 90% of the time, that 10% is enough to irritate even kasual players like us.

Overall, for local play, Mortal Kombat X is an absolute triumph. The kampaign was a joy from beginning to end and learning all of the characters has been loads of fun as has kompeting against friends and family. Online it doesn’t hold up quite so well, but this could potentially be solved with patches. Just make sure you do a little research before you dip in if that’s your main intention.

Verdict 9

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