Mortal Kombat X: Kombat Pack (DLC) – PS4 (PSN)
Platform: PS4 / PSN
Release Date (NA): May 5th, June 2nd, July 7th, and July 21st, 2015
Developer: NetherRealm Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Nerd Rating: 7.5 out of 10
It seems like just yesterday I was frantically sifting through Sony’s online support forums in search of answers about Mortal Kombat X’s Kombat Pack. Clearly retailers were pushed to sell this item at the register for an extra $30, and for the most part, I’d say the strategy was successful. Those of us who knew very little of MKX ahead of time were suddenly confronted with the possibility of 4 new characters and a slew of alternate costumes. Seemed like a bummer to take home that nice new shiny copy of MKX and know that you’re 4 characters short…right?
Along with a multitude of others, I scrambled to put in these long confusing codes, and though they appeared valid, nothing was ever downloaded. Apparently, many people like me were sold this Kombat Pack with an incomplete understanding of what it was. In a nutshell, it is/was a Season Pass – essentially there’s some amount of DLC scheduled to be released over time, and by purchasing it upfront, you usually receive a mild discount and other potential perks. (Holders of the Kombat Pack were granted a 25% discount over purchasing the characters and skins individually as well as access to the new content a week before it was made available to the general public.) Well it wasn’t just me who didn’t pick up on this, but the issue was swiftly resolved as legions of us frustrated completists were directed to an official Warner Bros. announcement with the fine print: “Content to be released over time” or some shit.
That was a major bummer, and I won’t lie, waiting for these 4 characters to trickle out all summer has been excruciating. But as of a few hours ago, Tremor was released, bringing a close to the Kombat Pack.
So let’s start talking about it – is it worth it? Do you need it? Does it feel tacked on? Did it warrant the 3 1/2 month wait?
A lot of these questions are going to depend on how big of a Mortal Kombat fan you are or how much 4 grayed-out spaces on your character select screen are going to bother you. Objectively speaking, the amount of content doesn’t really match the price tag – there is not an additional half of a game’s worth of material included here. Yes it’s fun and yes I enjoy it, but I’m probably a bigger fan of Mortal Kombat than 90% of the people who read this, so it does have some value beyond pure playability for me. Before we go any further, let’s review what exactly was included.
- Jason Voorhees (of Friday the 13th fame)
- Tanya (a fairly minor character debuting in MK4)
- Predator (of the eponymous sci-fi/horror movies)
- Tremor (a hitherto unplayable character in the MK universe, appearing in MK Special Forces)
- Skins (Costumes)
- Horror Pack
- Pharaoh Ermac
- Vampiress Mileena
- Kraken Reptile
- Klassic Pack 1
- MK1 Liu Kang
- MK1 Sonya
- MK1 Kano
- Predator/Prey Pack
- “Carl Weathers” Jax
- Infrared Scorpion
- Commando Johnny Cage
- Klassic Pack 2
- MK3 Jax
- MK3 Kung Lao
- MK4 Quan Chi
- Horror Pack
Let’s bang these out release by release. On May 5th (May 12th for the commoners), Jason and the Horror Pack dropped. Jason himself was an interesting but not surprising choice after the appearance of Freddy Krueger back in MK 2011, and though there is a certain novelty to cross-universe characters like him, I’m in firm agreement with a point that fellow Baconeer Steroid Gamer has brought up from time to time – let’s leave these spots open for actual characters from Mortal Kombat!
Conceptually, Jason has never been that interesting. He went from being a red herring (the first film) to a fairly generic slasher (films 2, 3, & 4) to a copycat’s inspiration (film numero cinco), to a Frankenstein-esque zombie (films 6, 7, & 8), to a diminutive demonic critter (film 9) to some weird space zombie thing (the abysmal Jason X). There’s no depth to his character, and he really doesn’t jive with the oriental mysticism and sorcery of the MK universe.
When it comes to fighting as Jason, he’s one of my least favorites on the roster. He’s perfectly capable in nearly anyone’s hands (well, in his Slasher Variation anyway) but he just ain’t fun or dynamic. He’s a brute with big, heavy moves. Unfortunately, he’s also a little unbalanced. His hits do some serious damage with very little start-up time, making it easy to run down the clock and slam through defensive opponents while also acting as a brick wall against an agile offense. Jason is 100% spammable in all the wrong ways, and somehow, even if I’m the one spamming these moves, it’s just not that fun. Click here for a video demonstration of Jason in action.
The accompanying Horror Pack is one of the best sets of skins we’ve seen so far. The mummy-ish theme for Ermac fits perfectly. Reptile’s Kraken skin may look a bit like a cross between a mermaid and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, but hey, it works. Mileena plays the role of vampiress to a tee; the pale skin and sharp angles suit her jagged and unpredictable nature.
A month after Jason, we got Tanya, and to be honest, I was never all that attached to Tanya. (She’s been chronically ignored and underdeveloped by the developers.) However, she quickly rose to the upper ranks of my favorite and most played characters. Her ground-to-air attacks, quick and nimble nature, and lightning fast specials make her an easy character to pick up and start winning with. Her unconventional teleports can really throw the opponent off balance with a little bit of practice. I especially enjoy her Naginata Variation. It’s wildly unique, pretty easy to learn, but takes a little bit of ingenuity to really master. This style is without a doubt one of MKX’s most clever and fun to play innovations. Check out Tanya in action.
The Klassic Pack that came with Tanya is a bit more underwhelming; it’s nice to have them but eh, our kombatants have evolved from these simple costumes that were ultimately the result of technical limitations.
Five long weeks passed before we got our next slice of the Kombat Pack, the much anticipated Predator. He’s a great looking character, though his technology-centric style of kombat feels a little foreign amid the likes of Ermac’s swarming souls, Shinnok’s status as a fallen god, and Sub-Zero’s command of ice. Sure, Kano’s damn near a cyborg in this game and we’re obviously in a world with technology beyond ours (cyberninjas, Jax’s arms), but the focus isn’t on the details. There’s also never been any extraterrestrial flavor in MK.
As a fighter, Predator is a complex case. His (its?) Hish-Qu-Ten Variation veers towards that of the more straightforward fighters, but the other 2 styles in particular rely heavily on timed attacks. Throwing those discs and setting those traps and attempting to use the self-destruct move are tough to coordinate correctly. Predator can be used in a sort of “diminished Jason-like capacity,” but rather than abandoning his more challenging moves, it’s best to figure out how to use them effectively. Predator isn’t for your average player, but if you’re looking for something completely different (and can push buttons really fast, you may find it extremely rewarding. I don’t pretend to be able to pull of the complex timing needed to make Predator work, but click here to see him in action.
The Predator/Prey Pack of skins was a bit disappointing. The Carl Weathers reference is a nice tie-in to the films, but it’s horribly dated, and worse still, there’s really nothing that distinctive about the appearance. Jax is still Jax. Commando Johnny Cage feels even more generic. Ignoring the fact that “infrared” is not simply an outfit to slip on, Infrared Scorpion is sort of cool looking at first, though I can’t help but regard it as a tad bit hokey and just a little close to stretching it.
Finally we’re brought to Tremor and his playable game debut! The story of Tremor is an interesting one, and really, the guys at NetherRealm had some big shoes to fill and a lot of expectations to manage when creating this rocky warrior. Conceptually, I love the guy. Not only does he have standard “rock powers,” the team was also clever enough to work in gold, crystal, and lava. It definitely helps fill the role of the “Earth God” from MK Mythologies, which I know some of us were rooting for after Fujin’s introduction. He’s also the “last” of the palette-swapped ninjas, despite never really receiving a proper “palette swap treatment” outside of his garbled MK Special Forces look and the generic interpretations of MK 2011’s Challenge Tower. Overall I think we have a fully-formed character here (his ending ties directly in Special Forces, probably moreso than the actual MKX plot) though I was a little bit bugged by some of the disparaging remarks made by some characters in their pre-match dialog – I saw these as little jabs as Tremor’s status by the development team, especially Shinnok’s cold remark about Tremor’s soul “unworthy of being harvested.” You’d think that, for a character included purely due to fan demand and involvement, he’d be treated with a little more reverence…oh well. I do hope we see him again though.
I’ve logged some serious game time with Tremor over these last few hours and he’s a decent fighter, but he feels a little bit incomplete to me, probably because his Variations aren’t really Variations at all. The system of Variations has done a great job at getting a lot of mileage out of a single character. You work with the similarities and exploit the differences…it’s actually sort of fun to figure out. Oddly enough, Tremor’s Variations seem to only be separated thematically, not mechanically.
For instance, his three Variations are Crystalline, Aftershock, and Metallic. In Metallic, he can switch between Gold Skin and Lava Skin (much like Liu Kang’s Dualist Variation). Now let’s take a special move – the rolling ball thing, Back, Forward, Circle – this isn’t really a different move in each Variation. In Crystalline, it’s the Crystalline Ball. Aftershock has the Rock Ball. Metallic has the Gold Ball (in Gold Skin) and Lava Ball (in Lava Skin). Then there’s Back, Forward, Triangle, or the blank Throw. Can you guess? We get Crystalline Throw, Rock Throw, Gold Throw, and Lava Throw. It’s very strange, because essentially the only difference between Tremor’s Variations are cosmetic. There are a very few minor differences, but overall, we’re not given the sort of 3-in-1 package with Tremor and it’s more than a little disappointing. It definitely will keep him a peg or two below the most versatile characters; then again, the alleged differences with Jason’s and Predator’s Variations (especially Unstoppable and Warrior, respectively) are pretty damn laughable.
Tremor isn’t perfect, but it’s a good start. I really hope fan reaction is positive. The did well giving him a look and feel all his own, and his powers are awesome, I just wish they’d put a little more time and thought into them.
Alongside Tremor is the Klassic Pack 2, consisting of MK3 and MK4 costumes. I must say I’m not really sure what the point in adding MK3 versions of Jax and Kung Lao was…they really don’t add anything to the game if I’m being completely honest. However, we do get one cool addition: Quan Chi’s MK4 garb which, in my mind, is what Quan Chi is supposed to look like! I like the weird blue suit and I’ve always thought it suited him much better than the shirtless look he began sporting in Deadly Alliance (though I thought his basic MKX costume was a step in the right direction).
For better or worse, there’s the MKX Kombat Pack. The content itself is integrated into the game well – seamless even – though it would be nice if people who didn’t wish to purchase it didn’t have to look at unavailable slots on their character select screen. In the end I do feel like the characters were treated in a substandard way to the main cast though. Limited combos, skimpy special moves lists, and Variations that fall flat or are too similar to others make these guys stick out a bit as outliers, with Tanya being the most consistent with the “real” characters. It also bugs me that with the plethora of unlockable costumes (both within the game and through the MKX Mobile App and as for sale DLC) these 4 characters only get a single outfit. Really, how hard would it have been to throw each of them one extra skin? It’s just one more thing that makes them feel like second-class characters.
Yes, the Kombat Pack does have its problems, or really, more like shortcomings. If you’re not a fanatic you’ll probably be able to enjoy the “MKX experience” just as well with the core roster, though I would recommend dropping a couple of bucks on Goro at least (yet again though, a single costume; I often forget that Goro is technically DLC) because he does have a fully-formed set of moves and variations.
Rumors of a “Kombat Pack 2” are already starting to pop up (mostly due to a phrase tacked onto a live Tremor demo where someone from NetherRealm mentioned “the end of Kombat Pack 1”), with everyone from the standard contenders like Rain, Baraka, and the other revenants (Sindel, Smoke, Nightwolf, Kabal, and Stryker) to other bit roles in the story such as Fujin, Frost, and Sareena, all the way to obscure fan-made “Chrome” and the one and only Spawn as a guest character. (It’s been said that Todd McFarlane handed over copious amounts of Spawn material to the MK development team and told them that he’d provide them with whatever they’d need (legally and artistically) to make Spawn a character in Mortal Kombat.) I personally wouldn’t mind seeing a few more characters make the cut, specifically those from the original MK4 that this storyline borrows so heavily from – Fujin and Reiko are near the top of my list, as is Rain for his role in the story. If NetherRealm Studios wants us to get really excited though, they should throw us 1 or 2 brand spankin’ new kombatants, or someone that gives us a firm clue into what direction the next game might be headed…
So what’s the final verdict? Hardcore fans are going to be all over this (or already have it) but if you haven’t yet picked up Mortal Kombat X for yourself, you may want to hang on a little while for the inevitable “Komplete Edition.” (This hasn’t been confirmed, but surely we’ll see all this supplemental content in one place before too long.) I’m all for tacking on some new characters, let’s just make sure they’re full fleshed out next time. Maybe we’ll even get some new costumes for the previous DLC characters!
Reviewed by The Cubist
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