Mk 11 isn’t quite a “flawless victory”, but it certainly provides many thrills along the way. A game not for one shy of bloodshed!
“Get Over Heeeeere”, Ah the wise words of the iconic un-dead ninja Scorpion, one of the franchises most beloved & popular characters. The guy who will happily launch a spear at your face, yell at you and drag your helpless, sorry fighter to an inevitable fate with no remorse what so ever. Such is the fame of many characters in a series that has spanned nearly 3 decades. A large chunk of beat em up fans will know at least 1 Mortal Kombat fighter and know of their signature assets.
Now at its 11th entry, I’m sure many staff behind the scenes from the days of the early ’90s would never have expected the franchise to span near 3 decades, and yet here we are. The game continues to evolve, continues to sell and continues to shock (with it’s rather glorious in a ghastly kind of way) fatality system (despite the series now being a veteran of the fighting scene). So for that, Ed Boon & co I absolutely applaud you, talk about having one hell of a ride.
For games going toward the end of their first decade, never-mind third. There’s always a risk of becoming stale, irrelevant, and a shadow of its former self. (SoulCalibur anyone)? Yet in the case of Mortal Kombat 11, I can safely say, this is a title showing no signs of fatigue and feels as fresh as it ever has done before (if not more so).
Does that mean MK 11 has no flaws? Absolutely not, there are some niggling issues that could have been ironed out had the game been touched up for a few months longer. A story mode that is relatively brief at roughly 5hours and lacking in any real excitement or thrills once you exceed the opening 2 chapters (and a thrilling final chapter). A third person camera viewing krypt mode that looks pretty average graphically and has annoying camera mechanics in a world that seems to be lacking any real personality or life. Once you discover Shao Khans Hammer you proceed to go round smashing through walls and spending currency on chests whilst unlocking content, equipment and more. The fans looking for nostalgia may enjoy exploring Shang Tsung’s Island as there are some throwbacks, but I found the experience a drag. Looking past those issues, at its core is a superb beat em up that combines intelligence, precision, and timing as its essentials to be the king or queen of the EarthRealm.
Story Mode (potential spoilers)
Following on from events four years ago in Mortal Kombat X:
Kronika (The elder god of time) is triggered by Raiden’s decapitation of her son Shinnock. So Kronika manipulates timelines to balance the power between Dark & Light, trying to restore the worlds to an era before Raiden’s act of madness. As a result of this, the time anomalies result in some fighters having a re-birth as their younger alter-egos are thrust back into life. As Kronika promises a new era and a better fate for those looking to re-write the history books, and return to past glories, whilst aiding her. This can obviously have dangerous repercussions (for characters born in more recent timelines that wouldn’t exist) if the older timelines have a different outcome. So we have two versions of fighters who face off against one another in a number of intriguing scenarios and storylines. Spread out across the many environments over 12 chapters in what could be deemed a clash between the past v the present.
Yet despite the impressive production values, the solid voice acting output, a pretty enjoyable dialogue script and a game having perhaps the best fighting mechanics I’ve experienced. I found myself finishing the story mode in roughly 5hours and looking back, thinking it could have been great but falls short. The mode does have it’s moments of utter brilliance but just not enough deaths, betrayals and the like that one would associate with the universe to make it memorable. Still, it has some pure comedy moments and it’s pretty hilarious seeing a present Johnny Cage square up to his younger, arrogant, egotistical self.
Offering local and Online play, MK 11 truly excels here, the abundance of choice really does blow the roof off. With exception to the rare screen freeze which results in returning to the home screen. I’ve never had so much fun with an online fighter than this…EVER.
You have the usual 1 v 1 showdown, + casual & private room hosting capabilities, where gamers can customize settings. The next aspect of online MK11 really impressed me. Ranging from rooms hosting up to eight players with a winner stays on system known as the king of the hill. This mode literally reels you in and almost dares you to leave. Such is the fun to be had in this mode. It gets to a point you almost refuse to back out of the room until that hardcore fan with his +15 streak has fallen. I’m not one for condoning trash talk, but the chat and emoji function which allows free speech does enhance the competitiveness of the room and fights at hand. Knowing you have spectators watching as you earn the bragging rights does add to the fun and pressures of online play. Providing a unique and immensely satisfying experience unmatched by many rival titles on the market.
Another useful aspect of this is that for purists who want a fair, clean fight. The connections and latency rates are shown via bars which help maintain lag free fights. Perhaps I’ve missed a trick, but I didn’t see a kick feature available for rule breakers or people with poor connections. So if by misfortune you enter a room with a player or two with poor internet service, you’ll have to leave or suck it in and hope the gods of the outworld fortune your fighter.
Interestingly there will be a ranked Mortal Kombat pro league which as of this article hasn’t launched. This mode will see the top players on the leaderboards, qualify for some tournaments which have you compete for thousands of real cash, whilst influencers, streamers and alike broadcast the tournaments for the world to see.
As with all fighting games, I like to play around with costumes, weapons, and all the unlockable stuff. Well, Nethereal studios have very generously laid on mass amounts of gear, music, ending, augments, skins, custom variations and more for fans of the game to spend hours, upon hours getting their teeth into. You unlock the tools to the playground, by playing the game and being rewarded with coins, souls, and hearts which are then spent in the krypt mode. It is here you’ll unlock just about everything related to Mortal Kombat imaginable. Of the 24 fighters available at the game’s launch, they all have extra fatalities, brutalities, skins (up to a whopping 60), intros, taunts, and concept art. Taking the games replay value to incredible heights.
Menus are easily accessible, and also of note is the single player modes (in the Konquer menu). Towers of time and Klassic Towers unlock character endings which enable perfectionists the chance to completely unlock everything related to their favorite combatant. Some fighters are behind a paywall sadly, for instance, Shao Kahn is a DLC purchase. (There have been confirmation fighters missing from the original selection will be released in due course).
Boasting 20 environments to slaughter enemies, playing in full 1080p HD the game looks fantastic and plays brutally violently (which is great, right?). Character renders are spot on, and sound voice-acting also provide characters with a more realistic, cutting edginess. Just incredible attention to detail all across the board. Fatalities have never looked so glorious, Scorpions “Chain Reaction” sees him launch his on fire-spear viciously through his victim’s chest, only to then aggressively launch himself up in mid-air, behind his opponent, and teleport underground whilst traveling back to his original standpoint as you watch the spear, slice his rival in half. It’s brutal, sadistic, and yet soooo enjoyable! (Does that make me disturbed?)
Most environments have a dark, disturbing presence to them, with an uneasy doom and gloom look to them as one unfortunate soul meets the god of death with a hideous end. There’s plenty of personality in each level and the games pleasing soundtrack fit the tone nicely. A personal favorite of mine is the Netherealm studio’s tournament level. I imagine it’s everything the development studios would be in real life, with classic MK arcade machines everywhere its a real throwback to the old era.
The fighting itself is free-flowing, hard-hitting and exciting. That has an element of strategy that helps move the genre away from the button-bashing insults the more naive gamer would hurl at fighting games. Understanding each fighters unique move lists, when to use certain moves and more importantly blocking at critical moments are just a few things important to becoming a top player of the MK world.
Environmental attacks are also another area of the gameplay that can give you an upper hand. These devastating attacks deal a fair amount of damage whilst providing a few moments respite to re-think a different approach (if you’re having your ass handed to you). The environmental advantages come in numerous shapes and sizes, from tossing a flame sconce at your opponent, utilizing a pillar to jump behind your opponent or chucking a nearby hanging corpse at them.
It’s not a game for a novice to pick up and master straight away, every fighter has a pretty large-sized move set that can be complicated to master for the more devastating moves, nevermind remembering them for the majority of fighters. Fighters have over 50 moves to remember if you include the Kombo attacks, basics, special moves, and finishers!!! (God help me then). Luckily for us, there’s plenty of tutorials and a learning mode in the menu’s to help novices become MK 11 know all’s in no time.
Fighter animations are flawless, whilst backgrounds throughout each stage look equally as eye-pleasing. The game holds up at 60fps very comfortably, helping to project a smoother, crisper image which stands out even more during story mode where you can see large armies on screen.
Wrapping this up, Mortal Kombat 11 is everything a fighting game should be, its violent, unforgiving, incredibly detailed and packed with things to do and unlock. With superb gameplay mechanics and gorgeous visuals the game delivers on its original foundations of being beat em up game.
Mortal Kombat 11 provides a large amount of replayability for the lore fans out there and going forwards the ranked league (alongside tournaments with cash incentives) will keep the online communities entertained. The Krypt is a grind, and for me, the worst part of the game. It is the only part of the title that doesn’t look high-budget. Yet I appreciate the intentions for it and why it is there. Perhaps some may argue there’s actually too much in the game and that they just want to fight a dude or girl 1 v 1 and kick ass without having to excessively grind to unlock a new skin or shiny weapon to slaughter someone with.
The story mode was a little flat in some chapters though I’m sure loyalists of the franchise will lap up the nostalgia of it all. The game is by far the most savage, horrific, and blood-thirsty fighter on the market, but that’s not a bad thing. If it was anything but, then it wouldn’t be true to its name. So go out there, “Test your might” and purchase this bad-ass game.
Many thanks to WB Games for the review copy, Mortal Kombat 11 is out now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC.