I lucked into a good deal of a steam code for the game (including all currently available DLC) for more than half off, and took the plunge, despite my PC hardware falling into a very messy gray area of possibly running/not running this thing.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
As I would only shortly after discover, apparently the PC port of this is of EXTREMELY poor quality, with ungodly terrible coding and CPU memory leak issues utterly breaking it to its core. I only then discovered that the folks behind this horrendous port are the same High Voltage Software from back in the mid 90s, the same guys responsible for some of the all time worst ever fighting games I've ever played in my life, largely on the Atari Jaguar of all things (one of them ironically enough being an early MK-knockoff). This shocked the hell out of me as I had not the faintest idea that these goons were not only still around 20 years later, but being given such high profile work. Un-freaking-believable. I can't help but be reminded about that Kevin Smith quote from his Jon Peters story about "failing upward".
That being said, in all fairness the game does just about BARELY run for me by the skin of its teeth: its just hard to say where difficulties with my stopgap-ish PC hardware ends and the shoddy porting begins.
Anyhow, even with the hatchet-job of a PC port... this game otherwise is absolutely fucking astounding. Boon and co. really, REALLY outdid themselves with this game. This may be the very first fighting game I've ever played in my life that still feels insanely smooth and intuitive even WITH substandard framerate issues bogging it down. I can't even imagine how well this will feel when I'm playing it on an actual PS4 (which I'm all the more so getting now after playing this). Even beyond the slick controls though, there's just so damned much MEAT to the characters. The multi-variations are excellently implemented and are such a far, distant cry from the cumbersome, clunky "style switching" of the PS2-era MK games. The amount of options and possible strategies available to you with each character is almost at times overwhelming, especially for MK, whose gameplay depth has always primarily lived and died on air juggling and aerial combat above all else. This feels, even moreso than MK9, like the very first MK to finally free itself of relying primarily on prolonged juggles as the best possible means of gaining an edge over your opposition. This is even more of a quantum leap for the series than MK9 was.
Every single character is a joy to control and fiddle with. Even Goro, generally painfully slow and extremely limited in movesets the few other times he's been playable before, feels so damned vibrant and rich in playstyle here. And this is hands down the best crop of new characters to hit the series since its classic arcade installments. The PS2 MK games really only had a genuine hit in Kenshi (one of the hands down best "blind swordsman" characters in video games): otherwise those games were padded out with boring select screen filler with bland designs and even blander movesets (only Drahmin and Shujinko visually stuck out at all, the latter largely due to his design being shamefully cribbed from the Shaw Brothers oeuvre).
The new folks here are nothing if not instantly endearing. I was at first worried I'd be a bit iffy on how I'd take to the "new generation" of protagonists (made up largely of the children of long-established series mainstays like Jax, Kung Lao, Sonya, and Johnny Cage) but those worries were for nothing as they all work really damn well: Takeda and Kung Jin are my favorites from a gameplay standpoint (sporting weapons and playstyles unique to the MK games up to this point), but Cassie Cage is definitely the spotlight stealer from a sheer personality standpoint. Between her in-game animations, move variations, and her taunts and general attitude, she's easily the most "charismatic" character an MK game has seen in eternity.
The real winners for me though are the new Outworld baddies. D'vorah the insect lady is a fantastic visual and conceptual design with a great voice and a pair of awesome prehensile "stingers" protruding from her back that she makes fantastically creative use of in tons of her moves. Ferra/Torr I still need to play more with, but they're great fun even just to fight against, with a fantastic "tag team" dynamic to all their moves. Kotal Kahn is the only one who feels a tad dull to me in all honesty (despite the admirable attempt at an interesting Aztec-like motif), but the ratio of successes to relative failures here on the new character end of things is unarguably far better here than in any MK game since probably 3.
But my personal favorite of all the new faces is without a doubt Erron Black. Simply put, this guy's fucking perfect on just about all fronts. Sure you could bitch that the "nomadic gunslinger" archetype has been done to death, but I'm not at all the guy to level that complaint here. I love the shit out of Black and for me, this is the hands down most stone-cold badass this particular character-type has been done in a video game, any video game, outside the Red Dead games. From his excellent voice actor to his subtle visual flourishes (like how his sword is a broken-off Tarkatan blade with a grip strapped onto it, or how the bullet used in his X-Ray super has the name of his current opponent etched onto it: awesome) and his downright phenomenal movesets in all three variations... this is easily, and without a doubt my favorite new fighting game character of the last 15 years. Not MK character: fighting game character in general.
This is unquestionably the most vital the MK franchise has felt since it left arcades. MK9 re-invigorated it on a purely gameplay standpoint because the series DESPERATELY needed it, but in all other aspects it was a nostalgic redux/revisiting of the first 3 classic arcade titles (that everyone best knows and associates with this series). MKX not only further continues to evolve the gameplay even well beyond what MK9 did (while retaining everything that works best about MK and makes it unique within its genre), but it pushes its other creative aspects (visual, design, tone, etc.) into brand new territory that feels at once of a piece with the best of what came before, while at the same time not like such an unwelcome, misconceived, radical departure like most of the PS2 games (which when you get right down to the core of what's wrong with them, is basically MK trying its damnedest to be Soul Calibur and failing miserably at it).
Obviously I'm a longstanding uber-fanboy of these games (been there since MK1 first hit arcades in '92) and an instant, easy mark for them, but this goes well beyond any fanboy apologism. This isn't good for an MK game, MKX is just a stone-cold great fighting game in itself, full stop.
Oh and being given a chance to play as
Scorpion as a living, human, non-undead Hanzo Hasashi?
Edited by Jaquio - 4/25/15 at 3:06am
Yeah, that just further sealed it for me. This game did what no game has done for me in over 15 years: it single handedly sold me a new console. This is practically all I'm gonna be playing for the immediately foreseeable future.