Right off the bat, a disclaimer. Some of my "complaints" are merely based on first impressions from the first few hours of gameplay, and many may be rectified or different once I've played through and learned the game better. However, I've been playing it for several hours now and already from my experience I have several pros and many cons (kons?) I'd like to point out.
The first place I'll start will be a pro. The controls. They are the most fluid I've ever felt in any MK to date. If you played MK9 you'll pick the controls up and play like a pro right off the bat, with the exception of one new button that you must now get used to. The throw button from 9 is now the button to interact with the environment, while the throw has been moved to the other side. If you've played 9 to the point of knowing it by heart, this will constantly throw you off until you re-adapt. The strength of MKX is they've severely tightened the reaction time of your moves. Each move can be very quickly transitioned to the next, allowing for much more free form combos. Anyone from 9 will remember the slight lag between moves that left you open for attack, and this is mostly gone in the new game. However, to balance this they've made special moves a little harder to pull off with a slight charge to them before they attack. I actually enjoy this because it makes spamming specials extremely difficult, and makes relying on actually throwing a fist or heal at your opponent much more pivotal.
Second pro? The story. I've just barely scratched the surface of the story mode, but so far it's being told well and I love it's very clean connection to the story of 9. It feels more episodic than a new game and the many references and connections to 9's story gives me a nostalgic joy as I play. It's fun to learn the backstories of the characters as you jump around through time. Also they've made the story interactive with quicktime events, that if you fail will cause the next fight to be at a disadvantage on your end, tho I've failed a couple times and haven't noticed much of a difference.
Third pro, is some of their new "score" systems and challenge modes are more dynamic than in the past. You don't just get coins for every win, but EXP and Faction Points. Many will unlock hordes of new features but being that the game is still brand new, I've yet to really see how those pay off. However, as I've played I've noticed tons of unlocks from costumes to fatalities racking up quickly and even though the Krypt is back and better than ever to also unlock stuff, many of the finer things you'll get merely by playing through the story or beating the towers. It's nice that it feels like the old games again where you earn by winning, not by buying (however, I'll come back to this big time in a moment).
Now that I've gotten those out of the way, what are the cons? Well, EVERYTHING ELSE ABOUT THE GAME!
The first MAJOR con, is the selection of characters. For lack of a better term, it's terrible. There's a few gems such as the creepy, but strangely arousing, insect lady D'Vorah, and the troll-like man with a little girl riding his back, but nearly all the rest are just boring as hell. Many are cool ideas, but how they were done is just bizarre. You have Jax's daughter, which seemed like a cool way to update an old character, however you ALSO have Jax. You also have Cassie Cage, daughter of Sonya and Johnny...BUT, you also have Sonya and Johnny. You have the cousin of Kung Lao and the son of Kenshi, but, you guessed it, you also have Kung Lao and Kenshi. Are you seeing a pattern here? Many characters on the roster feel so much like simple reskins of other characters in the game, that I honestly (and I'm dead serious about this) CAN NOT tell them apart. In fact it's worse than simply having the same ninja with 8 different colored masks, because at least then the color told them apart. In this, you have tough asian guy with black armor, and OTHER tough asian guy with black armor. You have blond marine in tight clothes, and OTHER blond marine in tight clothes. Even their names are so similar you forget who they're referring to (hence why I'm leaving their names out in this section). And what's even more confusing, is many of them share abilities with their kin and so some of the moves start to feel the same. Where's the cyborgs, the four armed monsters, the spiky armed freaks, and shadowy figures? It's a roster of normal humans all wearing, only slightly, different armors. It's seriously like a roster of nothing but Johnny Cages, Strykers, Liu Kangs, and Sonyas, and the only ninjas are the game poster boys Scorpion and Sub-Zero. Ermac and Reptile are back, but hardly their old ninja selves anymore, while Jade and Skarlet are also missing, but some of their signature moves have been added to Kitana and Mileena's various move sets. What adds insult to injury on this, is when you play the story, it's FILLED to the brim with cameos of other fan-favorite characters, many you can even fight against with their own move sets, so they obviously were designed into the game, but are simply unplayable anywhere. This quickly translates to me one major thing...that the roster of 30 lame characters is intentional to have us chomping at the bit for more, so that they can roll out wave upon wave of costly DLC's to fill the roster with all the characters they know we really want.
Gameplay is another major con. I'm not talking about the controls here, I'm talking about all the features that has always made Mortal Kombat what it is. Fatalities are there for sure, but right off the bat I'll kill the excitement here as I've already done many of them and...well, I'm not impressed. Many are too simple and not at all creative. There's nothing to the level of creativity like Noob Saibot calling his shadow clone to grab a leg and slowly tear someone in half. Most fatalities are simple moves such as breaking someone's neck, or decapitating them, and many from different characters seem strangely similar. Sub Zero AND Scorpion both blow a hole in their opponent's chest in noticeably similar ways, and D'Vorah also continues the trend blowing several holes through the chest. There's just some sort of...fun...missing from many of them. Secondly are the X-Rays, which are also back, but here they've already run into the EXACT same problem the last game had, in that every character only has ONE. This means, like before, you'll see the same long drawn out cut-scene over...and over...and over again. Sometimes multiple times in one fight. After a few rungs up a tournament ladder, you'll be sick of it to the point of not using it anymore, even when you need to just so you don't have to watch it again. Also there's little things that seem to be missing as well. Your characters no longer look like they got the @#$% beat out of them by the end of the match. The scars, protruding bones, and bleeding wounds from MK9 are mysteriously absent and at best you'll see some blood stains on your character, but mostly they'll seem untouched. And there seems to no longer be a Tag Team option, which had pretty much become a staple feature the last few games. This was one of my personal favorites because it broke up the monotony of seeing the same X-Rays and fatalities in every match. But the biggest insult of all, is the severe lack of any of the other Finisher options from throughout the years. Each character gets two Fatalities and that's pretty much it. Gone are the Babalities from 9, and the game still has not brought back fan favorites such as Friendship, Harakiri, and for God's sakes, Animalities (why do you hate them Ed Boon? Why must they never return?). All stuff that would look amazing on a new gen system. Sure they've brought back Brutalities, but without explaining too much or we'll be here all day, you'll NEVER pull one off. It requires you to literally plan to do them at the START of the match, and cannot be performed unless you finish the match in an irritatingly exact way. There's also faction fatalities that you can only perform depending on the faction you're in, but I cannot figure out for the life of me how to do them and there's no help in the game or online as the game is still too new. And the biggest, most aggravating thing, I've noticed so far...is there doesn't seem to be ANY stage fatalities. I'm really hoping I just haven't figured them out yet, but I've scoured the game controls menus and options and can not find a single trace of them. So if you know I'm just an idiot and how to do them, please comment below. I'm worried that the new level interaction options have replaced them, when in fact they could have made level fatalities much more interesting. Bear in mind when it comes to strange and annoying gameplay features I could harp on, there are many and I could go on for hours, but these are only the big ones I felt must be addressed.
But now we come to the biggest, most frustrating, absolutely infuriating feature of the game. It's...too...FREAKING....EASY!!! Within 20min of getting access to the game, I beat the tower...twice...on medium difficulty. I barely got warmed up in the game and I already saw two character endings and unlocked the secret character that was being hyped recently (spoiler: It's just Shinnok). In 9 it took weeks to see a character ending, and that's only after I got so good at one character I could push on through to the end, and I still to this day have only seen maybe 3 or 4 total. The controller throwing BS of the over-powered Shao Khan from 9 is gone and replaced by a PAINFULLY EASY fight with Shinnok at the end. Sure you have to beat him 3 times, but both times I did it with only one continue. The first time was me merely learning his move routine, the second attempt was an embarrassing handing of asses to him. Now for those who hated how hard MK9 was, they may like this feature, but it gets worse than that? Do you suck at remembering or pulling off fatalities? Well worry not. There's a new feature where you can earn Medals that let you pull off fatalities with ONE...GODDAMN...BUTTON. Even if you haven't unlocked a fatality yet, you can cash in a Medal to go ahead and see it anyways by just holding block and pushing one of the other buttons. And don't worry if don't feel like earning these Medals, because you can just buy 30 of them in a DLC for a few dollars of real money. But I ask you, what's worse than one button fatalities and being able to beat the game in a matter of minutes? Not having to. That's right folks, don't want to have to play to unlock all your goodies? Pay $20 for the day one DLC that unlocks EVERYTHING in the Krypt instantly. I'm not making that up. The whole point of playing the game is to unlock stuff, but if you want to just go ahead and get it all minutes after you put the disk in the system, congrats, for $20 you can be a total loser.
This game, honestly is fun and well made, but it barely feels like an MK game. It feels more like an MK spin-off, or an MK mobile game (yes I know that also now exists, which doesn't help their case). It's MK light. The soul of the game must have been sucked up by Shang Tsung before he went into hiding (yes, he is also NOT in the game) because it just feels absent from this one. This is classic (Klassic) of the MK series. They make a great game with MK9, and then in their next outing they throw in hundreds of bells and whistles no one ever wanted, while taking away gaming staples that we've not only grown used to, but have been screaming for more of, all while leaving in the issues we so loudly addressed from previous outings. Why can't a game just add on to their predecessors anymore? Why do they feel they must remove an arm so that they can add a tail? Especially on a new more powerful system, did they really need to trim the fat? I feel like Ed Boon has completely shut out the fans and no matter how much or loud we say we want chicken for dinner, he cooks up a meatloaf and tells us it's going to be much better than chicken. I guess we can all hope that the MK cycle will follow through as it always has and we'll have maybe one or two more disappointments like this until they release Mortal Kombat Trilogy 2: Armageddoner and we'll get the same game as 9 but with every single character ever made and all the complaints finally addressed. Or maybe I need to shut up and keep playing and I'll be surprised to find many of these complaints to be hidden features...but when you can spend $20 to unlock everything instantly, I'm not thinking Ed Boon really thought a lot about surprises to hide.