Console gamers might still be itching to send a kunai and chain right through Sub Zero’s clavicle, but if you want a taste of Mortal Kombat X now, NetherRealm’s mobile team has already released a smartphone-friendly version of the game on iOS (and it’s coming to Android in May 2015).
Unlike its console big brother, the mobile version feels like it closely adheres to many ‘freemium’ tropes we’ve seen from Zynga and other developers in the past. You control a party of fighters, represented as cards, each with their own stats. Whilst factions exist as they will in the console title, your party doesn’t need to belong to any one clan, with Lin Kuei fighting alongside Shirai Ryu (think Sub Zero and Scorpion as best buddies in this scenario).
Progressing through the main campaign levels up your fighter’s general stats and you can improve or augment certain abilities by paying with in-game currency (Koins and Souls) or adding in items you unlock during certain battles. Multiple item cards of the same type can be fused to create a more powerful version of that one item too.
Aside from taking you through the basic controls with the franchise’s most iconic warriors, you’ll only infrequently encounter named players, particularly in boss battles, which disappointingly dole out the only opportunity for Fatalities – a hallmark of the Mortal Kombat series.
Combat itself looks good, with fluid 3D graphics, nicely detailed character models and smooth animations for fighting moves and poses. Despite pulling off some impressive attacks on-screen, the controls for each character’s move set is distilled down to tapping and occasionally swiping for offensive plays, two fingers held on-screen to defend and a button that results in a quick time event to unleash a special attack.
Your team of three fighters can be switched out mid-battle giving you new moves to play with and your injured warriors time to recover before being called back into battle. As long as you’re the last man/woman standing, you win each fight and health is fully replenished between each round.
It’s a fun concept and getting to play with such iconic characters on your phone is a great offering in its own right, but overall Mortal Kombat X doesn’t offer enough of an experience to ensure you’ll want to defend Earthrealm on a daily basis. Not to mention in its current iteration you’ll encounter a few audio bugs as well as game types that are not yet active.
We’d like to see more Fatalities, more often, more easily accessible named players and more frequent item drops. The Test Your Luck and Test Your Might minigames are fun too, but all in all it just isn’t enough right now.
Mortal Kombat X for mobile arrived on April 7th for iOS, but there are still some locked-out features no doubt destined to arrive in a future update and as we said earlier, NetherRealm has promised the Android version in a couple of weeks. If it’s the console experience you’re after, that doesn’t start f***ing s**t up until April 14th.