GOTY 2015 Intern's Pick: Mortal Kombat X
FINISH HIM! FATALITY! GET OVER HERE! SUB-ZERO WIN! ROUND 1 FIGHT! PUNCH PUNCH KICK KICK! WE'RE PLAYING MK BITCHES!
I really like this franchise. It took a while, but Mortal Kombat has come full circle to reclaim its past glory. The series rebooted back in 2011 with Mortal Kombat, and received praise for its return to classic fighting game elements. The sequel, Mortal Kombat X, released in April; riding on a wave of hype, this game delivered as promised. I'm not sure about the rest of you, but this was my Game of the Year.
A story worth returning to
NetherRealm could have used any previous game to continue the franchise -- plenty of strings were loose for them to follow from last game. But naaaaaaaah, they decided to do something crazy -- get rid of the magic tournament and gods they're known for and replace it with a civil war and an ancient terrorist. You know, actual reasons people would be fighting. And they aged all the characters 25 years, then gave them children and heirs. You know, to remind players that Mortal Kombat is about people fighting for their beliefs and agendas? The game took a low-key approach and I'm okay with that. There was no magic tournament, or an emperor who had ruled for hundreds of years. Just an action-packed story of what came after all that was solved last game.
I'm thinking NetherRealm was in a bind. How could they keep their aging franchise and all its faded concepts fresh for older fans and also appeal to a new generation of players? The answer was simple. Keep series regulars present while creating new characters with better (some obscure) stories than past generations -- return classic characters while also introducing new ones, forming a completely new story line. NetherRealm created an actual sequel that continued last game's story and invigorated the franchise.
Smooth gameplay inviting noobs and experts alike
Had they not done great with the story, gameplay was awesome regardless. Crisp graphics with responsive controls; this game had fantastic gameplay. In addition to returning to the 2D fighting from last game, several new features were introduced to raise the bar. The game pulled from its unsuccessful 3D phase and revitalized the Fighting style mechanic. With the 26 launch characters there also came three style changes. This equals out to over 78 different character options before DLC. Classic Sub-Zero or Sub-Zero with weapons? Demon Scorpion or human Scorpion? Each style is unique and requires time to explore the differences and perks in each.
And what better way to do this than the new living towers? While playing classic towers was fun, you knew what was coming after a few cycles. Last game, NetherRealm found success with the Challenge tower and its wonky set of challenges. So they capitalized by giving us more of these to play and discover. The new living towers consistently give me a reason to play, other than versing others. A new challenge every hour? Hell yeah! I load up the game all the time just to mill away at these!
Another plus for the Towers is the extra incentive to perform fatalities. The gruesome finishers were repetitive after a few rounds. But getting extra points on your score and Koins to spend made it acceptable behavior. MKX did a great job rewarding gameplay while also providing variants to characters and gameplay to keep things fresh.
Mortal Kombat X is the Game of the Year.
It might just be the long time fan in me trying to ignore Mortal Kombat's flaws. But I felt it was flawless from day one. There were a few balancing issues to tweak. But no glitches, no game breaking, and no lost saves. This game worked right out the box and I've been playing ever since release with no complaints. (Except, you know, the DLC thing and the linear story). Yeah I can't do the biggest combos, and no I don't like Ferra/Tor. But if you ask me what the best game of 2015 was, MKX will be my answer