Veteran video gamers will remember the classic Mortal Kombat commercial which featured children screaming, not inappropriately(!), “Mortal Kombat!” in the streets. Well, the franchise has come a long way since then, and after four years without a sequel, the latest iteration of the series, Mortal Kombat X, has finally been released.
The Mortal Kombat franchise is all about conflict by its very nature, but now that the latest title in the series has been released another battle is about to get underway. How do the PS4, Xbox One and PC versions of the game compare to one another?
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Mortal Kombat X – 1080p and 60fps
In general terms, the reception that Mortal Kombat X has received in its early days has been a positive one. The current generation consoles have been able to deliver native 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second gameplay, at least according to the developer. As hardcore game players will know, what appears to be native 60 frames per second resolution can actually run significantly slower than that in reality.
Comparing the two console versions, it is notable that both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One Mortal Kombat X games run extremely close to the purported 60 frames per second. There are occasional drops when highly detailed scenes appear on the screen, but generally the performance in-game holds up rather well. When the frame rate does drop, it appears that the developers have ensured that Mortal Kombat X switches into a native 30 frames per second mode, which ensures that these non-gameplay instances are not too jarring.
It will be a relief to Microsoft that the developers of this game have managed to deliver a 1080p experience on the Xbox One. This is apparently becoming a more common occurrence now that programmers are getting to grips with the Microsoft engine, and this should allay some of the concerns which have emerged previously. It is obviously extremely damaging for Microsoft when a developer can produce a higher resolution on the PlayStation 4 than is possible on the Xbox One, but this now appears to be a thing of the past.
Certainly the Sony machine is more powerful than the Xbox One, and this will remain the case throughout the lifecycle of both devices. But in practical terms, the level of performance difference between the two consoles is now small, and this is reflected in the way that Mortal Kombat X plays on both machines.
The studio has also been very successful with Mortal Kombat X’s post-process anti-aliasing. The edges of characters and objects is pretty impressive, with both clearly distinguished without disruption. Some excellent post-processing effects have also been put into place on both of the current generation consoles, and the overall experience is fluid and fluent.
PS4 still outperforming Xbox One
However, although the gap between the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One has been significantly narrowed by skilful development, it must be said in mitigation that the Sony platform still experiences fewer frame rate drops. This is to be expected because the PlayStation 4 is simply a more powerful console than the Xbox One. It will be almost impossible for developers to completely imitate the same conditions for AAA titles on the Xbox One that exist on the PlayStation 4. This will continue until the next console generation.
And even though NetherRealm Studios has done an excellent job with this software, it has proved impossible to plug the gap completely.
When it comes to the PC version of the software, Mortal Kombat X has already been open to some criticism. PC users are by now well accustomed to being locked into the Steam system, and generally they seem pretty sanguine about this prospect. But when one encounters a piece of software like Mortal Kombat X, it is perhaps easy to understand why many console users advocate disc-based gaming.
Mortal Kombat X – Steam problems
When initially installing the game for the PC, it is necessary to download numerous individual packets from the steam software. This sounds fine in principle, but the more packets that need to be downloaded and then conjoined, naturally the more problems that can occur. And sure enough, numerous users have reported that there are issues with downloading the game for the PC.
Once one has gone through the rigmarole of downloading the software, it has also been commented that the graphical options on the PC are surprisingly limited. Although it is possible to adjust shadow quality, texture quality, ambient occlusion and other graphical details, only FXAA is available as an anti-aliasing solution. This can be considered a rather limited setup for a contemporary PC game, and one that doesn’t offer much flexibility to consumers.
As could be reasonably expected, Mortal Kombat X delivers a 60 frames per second experience on the PC, which is to be expected. However, major issues do arise elsewhere. The default gamma, contrast and brightness have caused considerable acrimony among many PC users, and online forums are already inundated with complaints related to this aspect of the software. The native versions inherent in the PC Mortal Kombat X differ significantly from its console cousins.
Although gameplay is pretty solid on the default PC settings, the cinematic lighting is a different matter entirely. Quite frankly, the lighting is pretty badly screwed up on the default settings, and this can even cause notable frame rate judders during gameplay and non-interactive scenes.
This is a pretty damning indictment of the conversion of the game, considering that PC software should be benefiting from the platform’s superior processing power. There has been a patch promised for the frame rate issue, but it is difficult to understand precisely why this is required in the first place.
What this means is that at the time of writing, the PlayStation 4 version of Mortal Kombat X is actually the premier release available. This is a bit of a blow to PC users, who expect the best technical versions of games to appear on their systems. This is a perfectly natural requirement considering that PCs offer the most power of the three mediums, but for Mortal Kombat X, the PC cannot claim to offer the best gaming experience at present.