Honestly, I don’t know how Mortal Kombat does it. At first, the theory with its guest characters was that it could use anything under NetherRealm’s parent company Warner Bros. This opened the door for Freddy Krueger in Mortal Kombat 9 and Jason Voorhees in X. But then, they brought on Predator, and now, as part of the Kombat Pack 2, bundled into Mortal Kombat XL, they also added Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Alien from the eponymous film franchise.
Who knows how they do it? But we’re sure glad they did. Though we narrowly missed Freddy vs. Jason, Alien vs. Predator will more than suffice, with more entertainment than anything in that movie series.
Not just guest characters, the latest Kombat Pack also adds Bo’ Rai Cho, Liu Kang’s teacher who first appeared in Deadly Alliance, and Triborg, a combination of Cyrax, Sektor, and Smoke. Let’s take a character-by-character look at all the new additions.
Bo’ Rai Cho
The drunken master is back in all his glory—his farting, puking, fainting glory. As humorous as his character can be, you can also tell that there is a least a flavor of genuine adherence to the drunken fist fighting style, in at least one of his fighting styles.
Really, it’s just exciting to get more attention on a character who, despite his importance in the Mortal Kombat story arc, has only appeared in three of the ten core MK games. That being said, he may turn out to be the most underpowered new addition. This says nothing of Bo’ Rai Cho himself, but simply of the quality of his company.
Alien, on the other hand, is a perfectly solid addition to the franchise, although his lore is hilariously forced. (I guess the Aliens invaded Outworld and taking over a Tarkatan body didn’t go quite as planned).
Mortal Kombat has done an exceptional job of staying true to the proclivities of its guest characters while also making them practical additions. Alien is the poster-boy for this. You have his acidic blood, the ability to lay eggs that spawn face-huggers, and the use of its tail as a deadly weapon.
Also, he’s got some wicked combo potential out of all three of his variations that will be fun to watch when he makes it to the pro scene. Suffice it to say, Alien could be the most tournament-ready.
I have to wonder what went in to naming this one. He has three variations, all corresponding to the three classic cyborgs. But they clearly really wanted to add in Cyber Sub-Zero, who made his debut in the timeline-effing ninth installment, but they would ruin their awesome pun by adding in a fourth variation. So I guess they resolved to add him as a hidden-but-not-really-hidden fourth variation because their joke was too good? Really? I know that Quadriborg doesn’t really roll of the tongue, but really?
All that aside, on one hand it’s great to have all three (or four) of these guys back. On the other hand, it’s disappointing that their movesets are entirely the same, save for their special moves. These characters have always been more than their quarter- and half-circles, so we lose a little bit of what made the cyborgs unique by smooshing them all together (imagine that).
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre antagonist couldn’t have been a more perfect fit, and this is another example of staying true to the source material. Even his most gimmicky variation, which puts him in Berserker Stance, will seem on the face to be nothing more than a nod to the series, without any practical implication. Trust me, though—spend some time in training mode, and you’ll quickly realize there is lot more devious stuff to cook up than a just a scary chainsaw charge.
Much like the man himself, who dons a plain mask (albeit made of human skin), there’s a lot more complexity beneath the surface of Leatherface as a character. Don’t be surprised to see him climb the tier lists, or at least cut everyone else down to his level.
Mortal Kombat XL is a fantastic addition to the base game, adding characters that somehow fit extremely well in the roster. If NetherRealm Studios can make smart choices like this, perhaps we should hope for Mortal Kombat XXL.