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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Mortal Kombat X.

Transcript Edit

NetherRealm, why you always gotta make me hit you? I'm mainly interested in narrative design, all you have to do is not have a story mode and then we can leave each other alone. Smash Bros. figured that out, and now I can't give two squirts of frosted cum for what they do. But you and your fighting games just don't feel complete without a story campaign and then I have to play through them, the way I play through all fighting games by slapping the controller against my armrest with one hand while reading a book with the other.

You're letting yourself down because when I talk to my friend who's into fighting games in his brief moments of lucidity between medication trials, he says your fighting games are pretty good as fighting games go, but you remain to storytelling what a man with bollards glued to his hands is to pottery making. We knew that from Mortal Kombat 9 when you sensibly rebooted the series to remove all the tangled bullshit that was the series canon at that point and then proceeded to put all the tangled bullshit straight back. And with MK X being a direct sequel to that, we can expect it to entwine a few more cowpats before this day is out.

Considering that most fighting games these days are built on more heritage than the fucking Merovingian dynasty, I'm surprised by how many original characters are introduced in MK X. There's even a gay one apparently, and it's not the one dressed as a cowboy which I call a fucking missed opportunity. "Original" might be a poor choice of words actually. One of the new characters is blatantly Master Blaster from Mad Max 3 and most of the rest are the younger offspring, cousins, and catamite love-slaves of the returning old farts.

I remember saying about MK 9 that it was written like a subpar superhero comic trying to earn a tax rebate on red ink, and that comparison's only getting stronger now that everyone's got a fucking teenage sidekick! The trademark extreme violence feels rather incongruous combined with this whole Muppet Babies concept. You can play the story campaign and watch Johnny Cage complain to his ex-wife, Sonya Blade, that she never makes time for their daughter any more, and then you can go into one of the non-story modes and watch Johnny Cage snap his daughter in half length-ways like a giant Kit-Kat.

Anyway, the plot (such as it is) involves a big evil god of death-type fellow imprisoned in an amulet and everyone's really scared of him getting out even though the first we see of him is getting his shit pushed in by Johnny fucking Cage. What follows is a textbook example of an "idiot plot", or plot that only happens because every single character is an idiot. The necessities of the format mean that the game must be constantly contriving reasons for two characters to fight, but about sixty to seventy percent of the fights are founded on misunderstandings or pranks so that after the fight ends, the participants can be all chums again two dialogue lines later as the winner helps awkwardly stitch up the loser's gaping stab wounds and picked up the pieces of broken jawbone that have blasted out of his asshole.

It's also disappointing having made up all these original characters that the plot has to focus so much on all the shit ones. You don't even get to play as the sexy cowboy or Master Blaster in the campaign and they were the interesting lads I wanted to know more about. I was pretty sure I could guess where Cassie Cage came from: Johnny Cage's sperms getting up Sonya Blade's cooch, although knowing this series, she probably had to tear them out of his living balls and then they tunneled into her pelvis with miniature hooks.

As I said, I'm not the person to talk about the mechanics of one-on-one fighters because my playstyle can be reproduced by dressing up the controller like a sexy girl-dog and letting a hyperactive terrier have his way with it, but I do know this: FATALITIES ARE DUMB. They may as well be renamed to formalities at this point. Back when you had to look them up in magazines, the effort gave them a certain spice, but now the game flatly tells you how to do them, they have become a pointless ceremony. The fight is already won, there's nothing more to prove, so we must dim the lights and rearrange the chairs and play a little fanfare so that the victor can pull apart a Plasticine replica of their foe with awkward fake anger like they were the "before" video on an infomercial.

So I like this new "Brutalities" mechanic. How they work is: if you fulfill certain criteria during a fight and deliver the final blow with the right attack, one or more body parts will fly off as you do so. It's more of a challenge, it punctuates the fight without killing the rhythm and more importantly, it's a lot funnier. I can turn to the loser and say, "Man, I really thought you had him right up until he punched you in the balls and your head fell off."

But while it might be a legacy game, Mortal Kombat isn't above taking a few licks at the puke stains of modernity. And I have a few gripes under the heading of "Shit That I Am Under No Obligation To Use Or Acknowledge But Which Annoy Me Regardless". For example, when you start, you are forced to pick one of five player factions. You can complete special challenges to earn points for your faction and whichever faction has the most points at the end of the week... er... is the faction with the most points that week. Thanks for trying to get us involved in a forced school sports day kind of way, but if you could imagine the penis of a mosquito brushing gently past a section of the labial folds of a blue whale's colossal vagina, that is how much of a fuck I give about my faction!

Oh yes, and lest we forget, micro-payments. If those complex button combinations required for fatalities were providing the last quarter-ounce of challenge necessary to make them the slightest bit satisfying, you can now get rid of even that by paying real money (that your mum and dad to work to earn) to buy a limited number of easy fatalities. Perhaps next we can have shooters that offer to sell us bullets that aim and fire themselves, or perhaps just bung it a fiver to just cut straight to the end credits. But while it's cunty to sell such things, it's even cuntier to pay for them. This is a two-cunt system, people, like a double-ended dildo. And I consider Mortal Kombat to be the lesser cunt in this scenario.

No, the worst thing I can say about Mortal Kombat X is that its so-called "high impact violence" has no impact whatsoever. You remember in the MK 9 story mode that half the characters suddenly died in a plot twist as smooth and natural as a six-lane pile-up? Well, in MK X, most of them have been brought back as evil revenants, and then some of them get restored back to life after Quan Chi gets beaten up and WHOOPS! I think someone just pulled an Ori and the Blind Forest and introduced magical resurrection, thus performing a fatality on the plot itself, pulling out all the stakes like it's a still-beating heart!

The evil Shinnok conquers the Earth (or at least claims he has; he just turns the sky red and I'm not convinced his plan went any further than that), the heroes show up, call backsies and unconquer it, but who fucking cares? 'Cause even if they fail and die, apparently they can come straight back by strategically punching someone. Now we know why Johnny Cage was snapping his daughter in half: death has no meaning, so that's just how they discipline the kids. One infraction, snapped in half, two infractions, take the mobile away.

Addenda Edit

  • Borstal spambot: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • Other words ending in 'ality' for your consideration: Actuality, Centrality, Bestiality, Venality and Banality
  • 'Babality' isn't even a real word for fuck's sake

Screenshots Edit

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5

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