Like a whole bunch of you, I'm always uneasy with downloadable content for my already-fairly-premium-priced video games. But the commercial clout of DLC in today's market means that it's not going anywhere soon. A "season pass" for Star Wars: Battlefront, allowing access to all forthcoming DLC, might have cost a staggering $50 in the US, or between £35 and £40 in the UK (depending on where you shop); but EA wouldn't have priced it so highly if they didn't know thousands upon thousands of people would buy it. It's your fault, basically, is what I'm saying.
So I'm pretty sparing when it comes to my DLC purchases. The captivating "Left Behind" chapter for The Last of Us was a no-brainer, as that's an amazing game and more story-based content for it was always going to be a good thing. CD Projekt Red can just take my money when it comes to further adventures for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – I'm massively anticipating the 20-hour "Blood & Wine" expansion, being billed as "better than the main game" by its makers.
And now I'm seriously considering adding to my roster of playable characters for 2015's particularly grisly but eminently playable one-on-one fighter, Mortal Kombat X. NetherRealm's stupendously visceral entry in the long-running franchise already received a "Kombat Pack", featuring four new fighters, amongst them the Predator from the film series of the same name. That didn't really do much for me – but bloody hell, the second Kombat Pack, coming out sometime in the next few months, certainly does.
This second wave includes Leatherface – yep, the one from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – alongside a new creation called Tri-Borg (whatever) and a toxic-booze-swilling sort by the name of Bo' Rai Cho, who's apparently from a game called Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. Which was, says Wikipedia, kind of a big deal a decade ago. But enough with all that sideshow noise, because the star attraction of the pack is a true legend of terror: a muscular, more-violent-than-ever vision of the acid-spitting xenomorph from the Alien series of motion pictures (and novels, and comics, and games, and so on), aka the only Movie Monster to give me not-a-wink nightmares when I was a kid.
Originally designed by Swiss surrealist painter H.R. Giger and introduced in Ridley Scott's streamlined sci-fi horror film of 1979, Alien, this beast, this "dragon", this notorious B-U-G has been through countless changes over the years. In gaming, it's been both an unbeatable foe, as was the case in the astoundingly tense Alien: Isolation, and nothing more than mere cannon fodder for a bunch of heavily armed marines – which is almost every other video game to use the licence. So it makes me incredibly happy that the alien that's coming to Mortal Kombat X is perhaps the most brutal combatant that the series has ever seen. (And I say that having initially been very sceptical, when a teaser was revealed in late 2015.)
I mean, just watch this trailer (the alien action starts at 1.08):
First, there's that tail. Lethal. Especially when it's thrust through your skull.
Then, from somewhere, presumably a massive extra-terrestrial bumbag, this soldier-style alien pulls out an egg, and a facehugger attaches itself to the rival – and you know what that tends to lead to. (The trailer features a chest-bursting scene right at its end, which is presumably a Fatality.)
From nowhere, a second alien appears and strikes the opponent from behind. Sneaky, but when they come (mostly at night, mostly), it's rarely alone.
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The pièce de résistance is that second set of teeth, hovering dangerously close to a prone enemy's face. There's only one place they're ending up – inside deliciously squishy brain matter.
Now, if you're thinking: I don't recall those arm blades appearing in any previous Alien fiction, I'm right there with you. But a little research tells me that this MK-edition xeno is, apparently, the result of a facehugger bumping ugly with Baraka, a veteran of the MK franchise who possesses retractable forearm blades. Or at least, someone just like him, a Tarkata, as – spoilers! – the actual Baraka gets offed in a rather different fashion during the story of Mortal Kombat X.
And whether you're rushing to open your wallet or not, you've got to say that this version of a video game alien is a damn sight more appealing than the aimless drones that populated Colonial Marines, the rightly maligned shooter of 2013 that set new lows for the xeno's place in interactive entertainment. Even with the healing power of time passing, that game still deserves to be skewered by the MK alien's impressive limb appendages. And then set on fire before its charred remains are buried in a desert, the same desert that's serving as the location for an H-bomb test. It was shit, is what I'm trying to say.
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