Previously on Mortal Kombat: the blue ninja with ice powers hated the yellow ninja so much he killed him with ice powers. The yellow ninja, displeased with this outcome, returned as a demonic ninja with fire powers. In the latest Mortal Kombat, the yellow ninja, Scorpion, expresses his complex feelings of betrayal by hurling a fireball through the blue ninja’s chest to reveal his beating heart, which he then cuts out with a ceremonial sword. Fatality!


The new game uses modern computing power to cram ever-stupider gross-out moments into the traditional beat ’em-up format. X-ray moves combos that show bones popping and organs squishing in X-ray vision are back, and fatalities are as ludicrous and inventive as fans could wish.

MKX wants to add complexity by giving each character three fighting styles that you pick before a bout to subtly alter their moveset. Cyber thug Kano can pick a ‘cybernetic’ style that makes greater use of his robot eye to fire lasers. ‘Cutthroat’ adds extra knife work, and ‘commando’ Kano combines worrying implications about his underwear with a set of close, sweaty grappling moves.
What will the game offer that the inevitable YouTube fatality compilation will not?
 I’d relish the opportunity to switch between styles mid-combo, and to read my opponent based on the visual cues tied to each style. Locking in a style before a fight feels like a missed opportunity, but perhaps it would overcomplicate things to do otherwise. NetherRealm's area of expertise is delivering rich packages with involved story modes and extensive side-challenges, after all. Versus mode is great for a few rounds with friends on Saturday night, and story mode is silly enough to soak up a
Sunday morning hangover.

 MKX, like NetherRealm’s Injustice: GAUs and Mortal Kombat 9, will feature a campaign that links multiple characters in improbable ways using laughably explanatory cutscenes to justify every encounter never have so many fought so violently for such tenuous reasons. This time the narrative will include 25 year time skips to introduce a new generation of fighters, including an insectoid creature called D'Vorah, a giant, Tor, carrying a knife wielding girl called Ferra on its shoulders, and the child of Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage, Cassie Cage.

A close camera perspective showcases the detail lavished on these new character models, exceeded only by the sumptuous backgrounds, which can be weaponized when a context sensitive command appears in the corner of the screen. In one level set on a cursed pier, you can grab drowned corpses from passing waves and throw them at your opponent. It sums up Mortal Kombat’s appeal: simple button presses yield violent spectacle. I hope that there’s some technical depth under all that blood.