This series has never taken itself especially seriously, generally erring on the side of lunacy over precision. If there's a neck to snap, a heart to crush or a spine to split, then you can bet Mortal Kombat will pull no punches in getting you to that moment as frequently as possible. Once there, such grievous harm is usually presented with a level of comic-gruesome that makes you feel a little bit dirty as you find yourself laughing at it without conscience.

Mortal Kombat X plays in largely the same way as MK9, although the combat approaches have been expanded somewhat. Primary among these is the new option to choose between three variations of each fighter, all sporting the same base moves but coming with different special attacks and/or stats.

Raiden deals extra damage with his base attacks, one example being that he can sustain his lightning-based strikes for longer. 'Displacer' Raiden is a trickier customer, able to use his teleport to escape an opponent mid-attack. 'Master of Storms' Raiden can set traps within the level and then, if you're skilful enough, knock his foe into them for extra damage. In this Raiden example, it's quite clear that one form has been designed for beginners, the other two to allow experts greater specialisation.

Further complexity has been added in the form of interactive environments, which sees fighters swinging from tree branches to build up extra speed and jumping off of the heads of sleeping dragons to gain extra height. Whether this ends up being gimmicky or genuinely involving is something we can't really put to the test until we've got hands-on time with all of the fighters across all of the stages, but the inclusion falls very much in line with the series' fondness for showmanship and razzle-dazzle.

Each bout features a custom cinematic designed around the fighters involved. This results in Sub-Zero and Scorpion sprouting dialogue aimed very specifically at one another, as opposed to the previously-typical approach of having each character say the same line/s irrespective of their present challenger. It's a small feature, but across the few rounds we've played it does provide a noticeably enhanced sense of characterisation to all involved.

Not a great deal has been revealed about the narrative itself, although we do know that it picks up where MK9 left off and will go on to detail events some 25 years further into the future. The timeline itself will be jumping back and forward as you play, with older versions of recognisable characters showing up at key times. Mortal Kombat has always excelled in fan service.

Jumping forward to see events 25 years into the future, combined with the fact that so many new characters are being introduced, very much suggests that NetherRealms is trying to create something of a new beginning to Mortal Kombat's lore. It also shows that their not content to simply sit back and let the known quantities of Scorpion, Sub-Zero and Raiden draw in the punters... although any new roster member is going to need a whole lot of help to achieve anything close to the popularity of that hallowed trio.