Mortal Kombat XL Review – A Near-Flawless Victory

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Mortal Kombat XL
Netherrealm Studios/Warner Bros. Interactive

First off, I just have to say that back in the day when people still used to pump quarters into video game consoles in the old, now defunct video game arcades, more often than not, I’d chose to deposit mine into Street Fighter games. The more anime-styled aesthetics and classic (and now iconic) characters such as Ryu and Guile were more appealing to me than in other fighting game series.

There have always been a number of fighting games that have challenged the Street Fighter franchise for their own place in the hearts and minds of fighting game enthusiasts, such as the King of Fighters, Tekken, and Mortal Kombat series’, but only the latter one really stood out (to me at least) as more unique than the others. While I never really liked the early Mortal Kombat games’ graphics, I did appreciate that the games themselves featured pretty accessible, yet complex fighting mechanics that were fun to learn.

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More recently, and with the geometric advances in computer generated graphics, the Mortal Kombat series’ visuals have finally caught up with its dating concepts and game mechanics. It’s still as easy to pick up and play as ever, probably even more so than before in fact, within its latest incarnation: Mortal Kombat XL. MKXL is actually the result of a less than stellar 2015 PC release, titled Mortal Kombat X. Although it featured the flashy graphics, brutality, and fun game play that the series has always been famous for, MKX also came with a buggy netcode that made it virtually impossible for many gamers to play.

Meanwhile, MKX was also was released on consoles, bug-free, much to the chagrin of the PC gaming crowd. In fact, many PC gamers had assumed that the developers had subsequently dropped any form of support for the PC platform altogether. But fortunately, after some tinkering with the netcode, along with some recently successful beta tests, PC gamers can now rejoice. The newer version, fittingly titled Mortal Kombat XL, is now upon us. MKXL not only contains all of the post-release content that console gamers were to enjoy, but even more goodies.

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MKXL features new brutalities and fatalities, a silky smooth netcode, tons of characters to choose from, and the same addictive, chess-like gameplay that the series has been known for. The XL version includes the Kombat Packs which are chock-full of new content, such as new characters as well as new skins for the original roster of fighters.

Although I haven’t played a Mortal Kombat game in quite some time, I’m glad that I’m just jumping in now. MKXL’s fighting mechanics are easy to grasp, and utilizing the game’s training mode really made it easier for me to pick things up relatively quickly. What I really like about MKXL is that it’s a game that encourages you to focus on one particular character, and really learn their moves set and skills until you have the ability to be competitive with some of the more skilled players out there.

Although I tried a few characters out initially, I eventually settled in with my now favorite fighter, Kung Lao. Kung Lao is a former Shaolin monk and all-around good guy. Having said that, he does happen to wear a mystical razor-brimmed hat (much like Oddjob from the James Bond series), which can slice and dice competitors, and even separate their heads from their bodies during certain finishing moves. Just my kind of character, someone who is good-hearted, but at the same time, someone who shouldn’t be trifled with or underestimated. What’s cool is that every fighting gamer out there can find a character that suits not only their playstyle, but also their personality or philosophical viewpoints.

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Mechanics-wise, MKXL delivers in spades. It’s a game that not only tests your reflexes, but also your tactics and overall strategic capabilities. For example, if you find yourself getting zoned-out by a player who uses a lot of projectile attacks, you’ll have to adjust your tactics mid-game in order to deal with them. There is a very chess-like orientation to the way that each MKXL battle plays out, which makes it much more of a thinking person’s game than it might initially let on to be.

MKXL also has a whole plethora of single and multiplayer modes, leaderboards, and extra unlockable content (through its Krypt system). My favorite is the Faction War mode, where players choose characters from each of the four major factions, and then duke it out for ultimate supremacy. Some have pointed out that some factions are better than others, but I never saw any evidence of that. The game has been re-balanced so well, that I think that even some of the supposedly weaker characters can now be a dominant force in the hands of the right player.

Visually, MKXL is outstanding. As mentioned previously, the older Mortal Kombat games just didn’t do it for me, graphically. But, oh boy, have the developers really seized upon the graphical capabilities that we are blessed with these days. Not only are the character models themselves rendered extremely well, but the environments are highly detailed to the point of photo-realism in many cases. The special effects such as the various characters special moves and powers, are likewise beautifully articulated, and some of them can even light up your entire gaming PC or gaming laptop screen in their extravagance.

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Mortal Kombat XL is a game that is not only great for diehard fans of the venerated franchise, but also an excellent entry level choice for newbies such as myself. MKXL’s game mechanics are easy to learn as well as highly intuitive. But more than that, the game itself now features a patched netcode that makes gameplay trouble and hiccup-free. I’m not saying that someone can jump right in and begin to throw down competitively with the veterans, but with enough time in and practice put in, you can eventually get there. Its stunning visuals, combined with its solid fighting system and over-the-top (and many times surreal) violence makes MKXL a top choice for fighting game enthusiasts as well as those new to the genre.

SCORE: 89%

Mortal Kombat XL has some phenomenal visuals. However, you have to have an equally fast gaming PC in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:

Visit CyberpowerPC’s website to check out all of the other great deals as well!

 

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