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Fighting games are probably one of the oldest genres of video games. Starting from arcade machines, fighting games quickly strengthened their positions with the emergence of consoles such as Sega Mega Drive, Playstation, and Xbox, and decisively conquered the niche in the entertainment industry when it was released for desktop computers. Nowadays, there are many fighting game titles available for personal computers—even those that have remained console exclusives for many years. However, despite the variety, there are only a few fighting games that can be truly called the “best of the best.” These games are, in my opinion, Mortal Kombat X, Tekken 7, and Street Fighter 4.

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Speaking of Mortal Kombat, the franchise is well known (or, I’d rather say, infamous) for gore and extreme brutality, which has been its draw since the very first game—released, by the way, in 1992. After the iconic Mortal Kombat 2 and Mortal Kombat 3, there was a long period of the franchise’s stagnation, which ended only with the release of Mortal Kombat 9 several years ago. Mortal Kombat X, being the 10th part of the series, is also the most violent one—ridiculously violent. Dark humor, decalitres of blood, all kinds of dismemberment in sadistic “fatalities”—all this may easily scare off a player previously unfamiliar with the franchise. I know that Mortal Kombat games have long remained loved and valued mostly due to its uncompromising brutality, but the 10th part, in my opinion, has overshot the mark. I also dislike how the developers eliminated the most iconic and classic characters from the game, substituting them with controversial newcomers, half of which are not fun to play with, in my opinion. However, the game has a lot to offer. First of all, its polished combat system. The gameplay is smooth, and even casual players who do not know how to play fighting games will quickly learn the basics. Nice graphics and a saturated, vivid picture is another solid advantage of the game, although in order to play it in 60 FPS, you might need a high-end personal computer—on weaker machines, MK X lags relentlessly. Finally, a wide variety of unlocks, customization, multiplayer modes, and fun DLC characters (Jason Voorhees being my favorite) grant MK X with great replayability; too bad that the DLCs are unreasonably expensive. To cut a long story short, Mortal Kombat X is one of the best fighting games so far, suitable for even inexperienced casual players, although too cruel and gory to suit everyone.

Unlike Mortal Kombat, the Tekken franchise has never emphasized violence. The main feature of Tekken games is a balanced, complex, and varied combat system. Dozens of characters, each possessing their unique fighting style, and intense fast-paced clashes, remain Tekken’s visit card in 2017 as well. Yes, there is a port for PCs available for purchase, so all the fans who want to play the game but do not own a console can finally enjoy Tekken 7. Being a high-quality PC port, Tekken 7 is not brilliant in terms of graphics—an attentive gamer will notice blurry textures, somewhat angular silhouettes, and other graphic flaws. However, it is the combat system that matters in a fighting game in the first turn, and in Tekken 7, it is brilliant—this is perhaps the best fighting game in the world. I have never been a fan of the Tekken franchise (preferring the Guilty Gear series over all other fighting games), but I really appreciated how much variety and possibilities it can offer to a veteran of fighting games. Hundreds of combos, cunning maneuvers, special attacks, grabs, throws, dodges, sidesteps, techniques—all of them possible to combine with each other. All 37 (if I am not mistaken) characters seem to be balanced, and none has an ultimate recipe for victory: even the strongest moves can be countered, and it is the player’s skill that victory depends on. At the same time, Tekken 7 lacks variety in characters: except Gigas, Yoshimitsu, and several others, almost all characters seem to have little individuality.

Street Fighter 4 is yet another fighting game that can be reasonably called one of the best fighting games present on the market. Colorful, dynamic, and overloaded with special effects, it suits both experienced and new players. Requiring them to learn extremely difficult button combinations in order to perform the most efficient moves, it is at the same time forgiving, allowing newbies to button-mash (which means pressing gamepad buttons rapidly and randomly) and still have a chance to win. What I also like about Street Fighter 4 is that many characters look and feel unique: for example, one of the fighters can extend his arms and legs to half of the screen; another is a grappler, focusing at grabs and throws, and so on. At the same time, there are characters that copy each other’s abilities and moves, differing only in how they look. Still, the game is fun to play with friends or strangers, both via the Internet or locally.

There are many good fighting games which I have not included in this review: Soul Calibur, Guilty Gear, Dead or Alive, and so on. Some of them are exclusive for consoles, others are too hardcore to recommend to inexperienced players. However, there are three games—Mortal Kombat X, Tekken 7, and Street Fighter 4—which can suit all categories of players. If you are looking for a fighting game to spend some quality time with your friends, look no further than these three titles: each of them is worth buying, and hopefully the review above will help you decide which one will be the most fun for you to play.

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