Sunday, March 6, 2016

MKX XL - Impressions (PS4)

I had seriously thought about not even wasting my time posting an article on my thoughts about this game as my thoughts about MKX XL, and fighting games of the modern age remain pretty much intact despite the addition of new features, and new characters. Even with the new netcode in place in MKX XL it is still a flawed experience due to the developers' oversight when it comes to the problems plaguing competitive online gaming. Why I have to repeat myself so often in regards to this matter is beyond me. I tweet directly to developers with sound advice, and I even send emails about my concerns. None of which is heard, or taken into account. This new generation of online gaming experiences is definitely flawed when it comes to the online portions of said experiences, and MKX XL only serves to echo that fact.

MKX XL admittedly has it's good side when it comes down to new additions even if it is only tied to the offline parts of the game. The new characters, new costumes, new stage fatalities, and hidden secrets expand upon what the game once was, and in doing so gives those lucky players who have close friends to game with a valid reason to return to the fight. Sadly, for those of us who have to rely on the company of random players to enjoy the competitive aspect of the game the new netcode does f**k all to combat the problem that is online lag manipulation, modding, and hacking. I said it a while back while participating in the MKX online Beta that Netherrealm was overlooking the fact that the netcode was only half of the problem. I voiced my concerns to Ed Boon himself via social media, but to no avail. As expected the result was as I predicted. The netcode, while smooth against legit players was flawed beyond enjoyment when you happened upon the majority of random players who were out to win at all costs.

I have personally ran into numerous, and varying fights online against random players in which lag was manipulated, and the game was tampered with. I've even had an issue with the PS4 upload feature in one instance where it did not capture the full match like it should have. The cheating player obviously did not want me to upload my win in full, and limited the clip to a little over two minutes. This itself is akin to a hack, and not some simple mod. I've seen similar upload issues happen in "Black Ops 3". Cheating gamers just do not want to be exposed for the hacks that they are. Not only is lag, and upload manipulation an issue, but the use and abuse of custom controllers with mappable buttons is also doing irreparable damage to the fighting game genre. The use of such a controller is obvious when combos, and special attacks come out quicker than they normally would. We all know that performing a special attack, a combo, or a finisher takes the proper input of motions, and button presses. When that is assigned to a single button press things come out instantaneously. I've seen many matches in which this form of controller based cheating was abused. The fact that it is so readily available to gamers, and is so heavily promoted online as an acceptable part of competitive gaming only serves to hurt the competitive nature of gaming. Do you think gamers are allowed to use custom controllers in legit tournaments? Hell no! Why then should it be acceptable in a competitive online gaming experience?

Despite my love for Netherrealm's new Alien character, and despite my admiration of their efforts at making the online portion of MKX XL more tolerable I feel that they have once again failed to fix the problem at hand. You can only throw new content, and features at a crowd for so long before they turn away to newer things due to their disgust with what your game has become. Koei Tecmo's DOA series is a prime example of this. How many gamers do you think are paying those ridiculous prices for costume packs and costumes when the game is functionally broken online? How many gamers do you think are still playing DOA5LR online?

I'm going to close in saying that MKX XL is only good if you have the luxury of the couch co-op experience, or close friends with whom you can game. For those of you like me who have to rely on the online randoms to get in practice with real human opponents you'd be better off passing on this game altogether. It's not worth the aggravation or the money in such a case. Even with the robust offline content the game fails to deliver in full.

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