Review: Mortal Kombat XL (Xbox One)

“It’s the perfect organism, you don’t dare kill it…”

We are currently in the midst of (another) major fighting game renaissance. With Capcom’s Street Fighter V currently captivating the community and Nintendo and Namco’s unlikely Pokémon/Tekken mash up Pokken Tournament set to be “super effective” next week, not to mention season three of Killer Instinct at the end of the month, and new iterations of Guilty Gear, King of Fighters and Tekken on the horizon, fight fans are definitely spoiled for choice as of late.

Far be it from the dark ninja masters at Netherrealm to stay out of the fight. The former Midway maniacs dropped Mortal Kombat XL last week, available in several iterations, from all in one download and physical packages for neophytes and completists, to individual and combined DLC packs for those just looking to add new content to last year‘s excellent Mortal Kombat X.

The bulk of that new content are four brand new characters, bringing the total amount of Kombatants to a staggering 33. The Triborg character brings the love-’em-or-hate-‘em Mortal Kombat 3 robo-ninjas back into the fray, using the game’s variation system to represent the individual personas of yellow clad trap heavy keep away character Cyrax, blood red heavy explosive ordinance specialist Sektor, disappearing and spearing gray Scorpion/Reptile splice Smoke and even (via code) the self-explanatory Cyber Sub-Zero, making the Tri-Borg the first and only MKX-er to sport four variations.

2“If I have any more fun today, I don’t think I’m gonna be able to take it!”

Also returning is Bo Rai Cho, who ticks off both the “drunken master” and “fat guy” boxes (yes, he farts, no, it isn’t funny) for MK and does little else, aside from reminding gamers of the series’ PS2 era fallow period. This one’s definitely a head scratcher, as I’m pretty sure no one was demanding Bo, and the empty slot may have been better filled by missing fan favorites like Shao Khan, Shang Tsung or even Kintaro or Motaro. MK mastermind Ed Boon may not be as much of a self-indulgent troll as current Street Fighter caretaker Yoshinori Ono, but nobody ever said he didn’t have a wicked sense of black humor.

Mortal Kombat introduced the concept of guest characters to the series by including Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Krueger (albeit the one from the crappy remake that no one liked) and God of War’s Kratos in the 2011 iteration of the game. MKXL proudly continues that tradition, and herein lies the main draw of the new content for me. Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Leatherface enters the arena in fine fashion, featuring variations that allow him to throw his chainsaw with wild abandon and employ his butcher’s mallet for maximum devastation, while sporting iconic looks from his initial appearance and final battle in the 1974 classic and his grimmer visage from the dull but innocuous 2003 reboot.

MK’s bloody battles were built for a character like Leatherface, even more so that the last DLC update’s fellow slasher icon Jason Voorhees. The first Kombat Pack also added the Predator into the mix, and he’s been mighty lonely without an Alien to mix things up with. Until now. And as someone with a dog named Ripley and a tattoo of Giger’s original star beast taking up a serious amount of real estate on their forearm, I’m highly pleased with the care and respect Netherrealm has put into adding the long lived Xenomorph to their fighting franchise.

3Yes, of course this Fatality is called “Killer Queen”. Shame on you for thinking they’d call it anything else.

In a completely unnecessary though totally awesome move, NR has actually come up with a plausible storyline reason for the Xeno to be in MK, having impregnated one of the forearm bladed and fanged tribesmen of MK II warrior  (still MIA from MKX) Baraka, this Alien comes loaded for bear with most of that character’s knife spinning shenanigans, in addition to trademarks like acid spitting, egg laying and tail stabbing. Alien’s finishing moves are some of the best in the game as well, from siccing an Alien Queen on their opponent to smashing skulls with their vestigial inner mouth, everything you’d want from the “so-great-I-can’t-believe-it’s-finally-true” concept of having the beloved film Alien in a Mortal Kombat game is here.

Other additions include a brand new stage, an almost perfect recreation of the classic Pit battleground from MK II, various tweaks and gameplay balances, and adding more stable GGPO-esque netcode to the online modes. If you’re opting for the full retail package, all of that original content remains as well, and Netherrealm are still updating the game, with faction warfare and hourly, daily and weekly challenge towers still surprisingly and refreshingly going strong almost a year after the initial release.

Sure, more serious arguments could be made about the inclusion of Bo Rai Cho, or whether the Predator aping, dreadlocked, cloaking and self-destructing robo-ninja characters are really necessary in a game that now has the actual Predator in it, but MKX was a hard game to dislike last year and these affordable additions (just $19.99 for the Kombat Pack 2) are just the icing on the bloody cake. Whether you’re a pro boning up for tournament season or a casual fan looking for fun couch co-op and some easy computer opponents to smack down, Mortal Kombat XL definitely deserves a place in everyone’s collection.


Kevin Hawkey is the co-founder, head writer and editor of Riot-Nerd. He enjoys Fighting Games, Metal, Marvel, Horror and all the weird shit in between. A lifelong Philadelphian just as comfortable in a circle pit at Underground Arts as he is drooling over the new Hot Toys figures at Brave New Worlds, Kevin’s idiosyncratic sensibility gives this site it’s unique dichotomy between “riot” and “nerd”.

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