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Mortal Kombat X (iOS) Review

Mortal Kombat X for iOS is enjoyable, impressive, and free to play

Mortal Kombat has been the talk of the town this month with the game being released on Xbox One and PS4. However, there’s also a free iOS version on the App Store. As soon as I saw it, without thought, I downloaded it and I’ve not looked back since. The game is enjoyable, and has impressive gameplay, with only slight lag to cause a dampener sometimes.

Every time you open the game, there is a cut scene giving some background. It centres around how Shoa Khan’s army competed with members of EarthRealm in a Mortal Kombat tournament but rather than accepting defeat, he invaded the realm. As punishment, the Elder Gods killed him. But Shinnock, who had been sent to the NetherRealm, was controlling the events as a way to leave.

Game Modes

One you get past the introduction, there are three options to choose from (but, as it turns out, only really one): Battle Mode, Fraction Wars and Raiden Challenge. At the time of writing, the Fraction Wars says: “Temporarily down for maintenance” and the Raiden Challenge says: “Coming soon”. So the only working feature is the Battle Mode, for now.

For this mode, you play as 3 vs 3 and each stage or level is a tower. The tower has six battles, sometimes with the last one being against a boss. The idea is you battle, win koins and use them to improve your players. What makes this challenging is that your opponents are significantly higher rated in terms of attacks and health than you, especially as you get further on in the game. Also each battle win doesn’t give you many koins, normally just over 1,000 and around 4,000 for a completed tower (can be even more like 10,000). So you have to play the game a lot if you want to considerably improve your team. And speaking of team, you can have more players than just the 3 and you can have multiple teams with different characters.

As you would expect, the game starts off very easily- to the point where I thought it would be repetitive and boring. However, from around tower ten, it starts to get a lot harder with some characters being a particular nuisance to play against – Jacqui Briggs to name one.

Mortal Kombat X screenshot

Characters

The players are ranked bronze, silver and gold, of course depending on how good they are. You are given three bronzes to start off and then the regular Scorpion (who is silver) later on. I say ‘regular’ because there are different versions of the same characters. For example, there are Ninjutsu Scorpion and Inferno Scorpion too, who are both gold. Every player has the following attributes: attack, health, toughness, recovery and power generation.

Like previously mentioned, you can improve the players. They all start at level one and the more you play with them, the higher their experience becomes and that in turn increases their level. With each level increase, you get improvements to their attributes. Not only this but there’s also something called ‘Supports’. This, as the name suggests, gives an extra little boost to the attributes. You buy supports for either attack, health or energy regeneration using your koins, with one costing 5,000 for a 3% increase. If you bought the same attack support twice, it would move up to 6% and so on with the maximum being 15%. There is also equipment you can add to your players, one for example is the Blood Stone Ring, which provides 32% resistance to poison and bleeding.

All the characters have special moves but something to note is that only gold characters can do the famous X-Ray moves.

Gameplay

When I first got the game, I was interested to know what the graphics and gameplay would be like. The Xbox One and PS4 versions are so heavy in terms of graphics, it obviously couldn’t be replicated on iOS. What you do get is still good though. The 3D moving backgrounds are here but you can’t do extra stuff like grab outside objects and use them as weapons like on the console. The way you fight is something a bit more underwhelming though. To attack your opponent, you tap and to block, you hold with two fingers. If you tap frequently enough, a “Swipe” option comes up and it completes a combo attack. However, it means that the game lacks a bit of  imagination in the fighting aspect, the cold truth is it’s just a lot of tapping and holding.

The X-Ray moves are not the same bone-cracking experience you get on the console. They still look okay but nothing more. The fatalities look slightly more impressive.

Store and in game purchases

It was great to see the app was free but not surprisingly, there’s a whole host of in-app purchases. In addition to koins, there are also souls. With the souls, you can (eventually) buy gold characters. However realistically, it would take you way too long playing the game to earn enough souls to buy even the cheapest gold. Considering you normally get around four or five souls for completing a tower (sometimes more), it would take you tens of hours to even come close. The cheapest gold characters are Stunt Double Johnny Cage and Noxious Reptile, who are both 200 souls. So what’s the quickest way to get them? In-app purchases. You can buy koins as well.

I wanted to try out a gold character so I essentially bought Johnny Cage. I initially thought he was really average and at the time, I much preferred Scorpion. However after playing with Cage continuously, I began to understand how to properly use him and his attributes significantly improved every time he levelled up. Now, he is by far my best fighter and is often my go-to man when I’m struggling to win a battle. But unfortunately, if you want to get him or someone better, realistically you have to pay.

Mortal Kombat X screenshot

Performance

I was testing the game on a first generation iPad Air, so not really an old device. The performance was very good more often than not, however on some occasions there was noticeable sound lag, which I found odd. ‘Some’ meaning maybe four out of every ten times you play the game. I also experienced a couple crashes. It didn’t stop me from playing and one would expect these issues to be addressed in future software updates.

Final thoughts

Overall, I really enjoyed playing Mortal Kombat on iOS. The graphics impressed me and I enjoyed the gameplay, even if it was a little simplistic. I’m also looking forward to when the new game modes arrive. It’s not all good though because of the occasional sound lag and the fact that you almost have to spend real money to get the gold characters. However, you really can’t go wrong with this game because it’s free and you don’t need the better fighters to enjoy it. So I would fully recommend you give it a try.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Mortal Kombat X (iOS)
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20. Journalism student at the University of Lincoln. I've been following technology since the iPhone 3G in 2009. What keeps me interested is the fact that these products have such a massive influence on our daily lives and they're developing at such a rapid rate.