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[GDC 2015] Hands-on with NetherRealms’ upcoming Mortal Kombat X for Android

One of the games we were very eager to try out during GDC 2015 was NetherRealms’ Mortal Kombat X for Android devices. When we got to where the game was being shown, it was in a nice dark conference room behind closed doors with both the console version as well as the mobile version being available to play. Without wasting any time we went over to the table where all the tablets were, sat down, and began playing Mortal Kombat X while talking to one of the developers working on the project.

The very first thing I notice when picking up the closest Android tablet to play Mortal Kombat X was how good it looked. Visually this game is probably one of the best games we have seen on Android and that is saying a lot considering there are some pretty stunning games available. The initial screen offers players the option to pick which game mode they want to play in, whether that be playing against other people or progressing through the single-player campaign. This is also where you will be doing your character selection and team building.

Wile there were only a small selection of characters available to try, when the game launches there will be a pretty full roster available. Each character can have three different ‘ranks’ or titles. These depict how your character will look, since there are different styles of costumes available, as well as what special moves they will have access to. Also, depending on the rank of your character, you may or may not have access to certain moves like the beautiful X-Ray combos.

Speaking of the X-Ray combos, Mortal Kombat X has all the gore the other versions of the game come with. Whether it be shoving a knife through your opponents neck in an X-Ray combo before twisting it and pulling it out of said neck from the side, or you are doing one of the many Fatalities in the game, there is blood and body parts galore. I’ve even had the pleasure of already seeing a brain sliced in half as one Fatality move essentially cuts someone’s face off. Fun times I assure you.

There will be plenty of known characters in Mortal Kombat X. Raiden was mentioned in the initial press release and I was able to play as Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Reptile and Kitana while molesting my copy of the game. This is where the free-to-play aspect of the game will come into play as well. When we first announced this game, we had it labeled as a free-to-play TCG brawler and that is basically what it is. The team you create in this game, since there is team combat available where you can switch between characters mid-combat, is built from cards you collect. Each card can have a rank associated with it and depending on that rank, your character will have some, or all, of their special moves available.

Card can be collected either by winning them in game through battles as well as purchasing packs with currency you earn. If you don’t want to earn the best characters over time then you can opt into purchasing packs of cards with real money instead. Completing challenges on other platforms (PC or console) can also net you some extra cash to put towards card packs.

Combat is done through a series of taps on the screen as well as three button located near the bottom left of the screen. These buttons are what you tap to execute your special moves. Tapping your opponent initiates your more standard hits, such as kicks and punches, but these can move into a combo if done well. At that point some of the more minor special moves can be enacted and this is where you will be notified that you have to perform some additional actions. These actions could be tapping random spots that appear on the screen or could be having to swipe a specific location multiple times. Do it fast enough and your damage is increased up to a certain maximum. This also goes for your more bigger special moves which you initiate using the aforementioned buttons on your screen.

One thing I was worried with was that the combat wouldn’t be that good, and the focus of the game would end up being more on the card collecting and not the fighting, which ends up being stiff and no where near what it should be. It has happened in other titles. Thankfully that is not the case with Mortal Kombat X. At the end of combat, after you have hopefully beaten the crap out of your opponent and won, you will be able to do your Fatality which follows the same sort of method that your special moves have, except while you are doing the asked for actions you are dicing up (or whatever you character’s Fatality may be) your opponent while you are doing them.

If you are into Faction Wars, there is some good news for you. Mortal Kombat X for mobile does also have Faction Wars. While it wasn’t active in the copy of Mortal Kombat X we were having our hands-on time with, the menu item was there. Faction Wars is essentially where players team up with a lot of other players in order to try and get their clan to the top of the leaderboard. So while you contribute to your clan’s ranking when playing the PC or console version, you also are able to contribute while playing on your Android tablet.

There are a couple of features we were unable to check out while we were doing our hands-on. For one we didn’t get to see any of the card related content unfortunately so we can’t really expand on that much more than we already have. We also couldn’t test out the content that you can unlock when using the console version of the game and vise versa, since the two platforms are intertwined. I do wish we were able to at least see the cards and more of that system in order to have a better understand of how hard it will be to earn characters and card packs.

As time passes additional characters will be added to the game as well as possibly new locations to kill people at. There is one concern I still have after playing Mortal Kombat X and there may not be much that can be done about it. This concern is that when you’re in combat, outside of busting out the special moves using the buttons, the combat seems a bit repetitive. Your basic hits leading into combos are all just tapping on your enemy. Of course this stop when you are asked to perform some of the additional swiping motions to boost damage. Of course this is based off of the short time I was playing the game and it may actually not end up being a problem at all.

However, the game is still very impressive, especially with the visuals (with the gore) and the animation. It is fast-paced fighting and if you are wondering about controller support, there is none. How the fighting is set up, there really is no need for a controller. Overall, I walked away from Mortal Kombat X enjoying it but the real review will come when we can play it for a long period of time. If you played Injustice then you will feel pretty comfortable right off the jump with Mortal Kombat X.

For those of you wondering when you can get a copy of Mortal Kombat X, the game is slated for release around the same time as the PC/console version, which is coming April 24th, 2015. We will post an update when it hits Google Play of course.

Official Website: Mortal Kombat

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