Deviating from the Past, and the Mixed Reception to Brutalities in Mortal Kombat X

This week, Mortal Kombat X had some big reveals, not the least of which was the unveiling of the hotly anticipated Brutality finisher. The temperature of that anticipation dropped significantly when NetherRealm actually got around to revealing said “-ality.” The collective response from MK fans was somewhere between “meh” and “I’m never playing a F***ing Mortal Kombat game again.”

Brutalities haven’t really appeared in a Mortal Kombat game since Mortal Kombat Trilogy, after debuting only one game before. Why were they dropped so quickly? To put it simply:

Old Brutalities Were Lame

That’s right. I said it. Brutalities were long combos that were indistinguishable between different characters and all ended exactly the same: the losing opponent would explode into a cloud of blood and a number of bones far greater than we learned in high school Biology. If you still have a fond memory of being able to pull of that exact button sequence, go to YouTube and look up a video of old Brutalities and tell me that was fun to watch. Actually. I’ll spare you the trouble.

Yup. That was lame. Even trying to imagine this version of Brutalities graphically updated doesn’t paint a pretty picture. Say what you want about Brutalities in Mortal Kombat X, but:

At Lease the New Ones are Creative

That’s what Mortal Kombat has always had going for it – killing people in imaginative ways. Now Mortal Kombat X reportedly has more than 100 Brutalities in addition to likely two fatalities per character, so that’s a lot of imagination. D’Vorah implanting larva into an opponent that soon bursts out of the ribcage in true Xenomorph fashion, or Raiden teleporting inside of his opponent to make him explode are the kinds of things usually reserved for a “Finish Him” fatality.

While some people have called this a mini-fatality, and they aren’t wrong, what players have to understand is:

Brutalities in Mortal Kombat X Have a Different Role

They’re all about clowning. As said in the video above, Brutalities in Mortal Kombat X don’t do any additional damage, and really have no strategic value other than being able to combo into. It’s all about killing your opponent with style in a way that’s shocking without any build-up, as opposed to already beating your opponent, waiting for the game to say “Finish Him,” entering in a short button combo and then queuing a cinematic.

Also See: Mortal Kombat’s Violent History Via GIFs

This gives them more competitive clout, too, as people will care a lot more about finishing an opponent with a Brutality than they would a Fatality in a tournament scene. The Kombat Kast said it best when they described some of these moves as troll moves. We’ll have to see how this theory plays out, but it’s not a bad idea. The only reason these finishers are getting any flak is because:

Players Can’t Let Go of the Past

Mortal Kombat X is not just giving the players what they ask for. Anyone who follows series creator Ed Boon on Twitter should already be accustomed to this. Ask for something, and you won’t get it, but you will get something else that you will probably also like, if you give it the chance.

This criticism is not new. Anyone who’s upset about their favorite series changing even slightly between installments has leveled the exact same lines at every opportunity. Quite frankly, it’s tired. Yes, Mortal Kombat X Brutalities are not the same Brutalities some people grew to love (for some not-easily-discernible reason). That’s not going to stop me from hitting the replay button on the Mortal Kombat X Brutalities trailer, and that’s more than I can say about the first trailer in this story.