MOOORTAL KOMBAT! The viscously gruesome arcade classic returns bigger and better than ever in Mortal Kombat XL. A follow up to 2015’s Mortal Kombat X, the XL upgrade adds nine new DLC fighters, every DLC costume, and a cavalcade of balance adjustments and gameplay improvements. But does it live up to the large expectations?
Building off of the foundation of Netherrealm Studios 2011 Mortal Kombat reboot, MKXL keeps the same classic combat that the series pioneered. But it also brings along modern additions like brutal X-Ray moves. These give you a closeup look of exactly how your sword shattered your enemy’s spine.
Combos aren’t quite as flashy as Marvel vs. Capcom or Guilty Gear. But there’s a visceral satisfaction that comes from juggling your opponents in the air as they spray enough blood to make a vampire blush.
The use of a dedicated block button shouldn’t be a problem for series veterans. But as a Street Fighter aficionado I encountered some difficulty unlearning my habits of holding back. Of course, Fatalities, returns in all its gory glory. It is not only a series staple. It’s the reason for the Entertainment Software Rating Boards’s creation! No other game can deliver the same level of violence as Leatherface hanging Reptile on a hook, chainsawing him in half, and spilling his guts on the floor.
Mortal Kombat XL boasts a solid roster of characters, bolstered by the additions of the DLC Kombat Packs. All of the original favorites return along with some new faces and some spine-chilling guest characters. Horror movie icons and Mortal Kombat go together like chocolate and peanut butter, perfectly melding with the brutally campy tone of the series.
Fighting games have always been one of the best ways to represent a character’s personality. The Mortal Kombat developers absolutely nail the mannerisms of the silver screen slashers in both animation and gameplay. Jason moves with murderous determination, unstoppable when he sets his sights on his prey. Meanwhile, Alien skitters away from danger, spitting acid to corner its victims.
Every character has three different variations, each adding new combos and special moves that can completely change a character’s playstyle. For instance, Inferno Scorpion has access to Hell Ball and Demon Fire, projectile moves that keep the opponent out. But Ninjutsu Scorpion utilizes a pair of swords to pressure enemies in close combat. Counting each variation as its own character, MKXL has a staggering 99 options to choose from. This means everyone can find a character or style that suits them.
Content-wise, Mortal Kombat XL offers a plethora of modes for any level of kombatant. Casual fighters will enjoy the extensive single-player story and the chaotic “Test Your Luck” mode where random modifiers like bombs falling from the sky spice up the gameplay.
If you’re looking to test your skill, online lobbies provide a great way to find fierce competition. Even three years after launch, the online community remains active, making it easy to jump in and get destroyed by people who have been playing this game much longer than you.
The Krypt, MKXL’s place to unlock new fatalities, music, or concept art, would normally be a menu in any other title, yet here it has been expanded into its own fully-fledged game mode. Players can spend Koins earned by playing the game to unlock new goodies in a first-person exploration game, complete with its own sprawling world map and enemies.
MKXL’s version of arcade mode, Towers, pits the player against a series of random computer-controlled opponents with different variations like survival, where you keep the same health bar throughout each fight. No matter what you’re looking for, Mortal Kombat XL offers tons of ways to enjoy the carnage.
The story mode proves more enjoyable than it has any right to be considering the history of story modes in fighting games. With well-written, -acted, and -animated cutscenes, the story of Shinnok’s treachery provides hours of fun, only brought down by sudden quick-time events that left me scrambling to pick up the controller.
The fights throughout the story were fairly difficult even as a self-proclaimed fighting game adept, to the point that I’d challenge the same enemy four or five times before finally taking them down. Thankfully there’s an option to skip the tougher fights, though obviously as a man of honor I didn’t allow myself to use it. If story is something you look for in a fighting game, you can’t go wrong with MKXL.
As a full package, Mortal Kombat XL is stuffed to the brim with blood-soaked content sure to delight any fighting game fan. Although some aspects are rough around the edges, the huge cast of iconic characters, wide selection of game modes, and brutal Mortal Kombat gameplay offer more than enough bang for your buck. So tell your friends to “get over here” and have a blast with some good old-fashioned spine-ripping action.