So Mortal Kombat 11 has been out for about a week now, and in that time it hasn’t once been out of my console!
That’s a good start for any game, “Do I want to go back and play this more?” – That’s always the first question I ask myself, as a critic. Did I want to keep playing, or did I start to flag and want to go on something else? Mortal Kombat 11 has sucked me in big time, probably more than any Mortal Kombat before it and maybe even any fighting game. What really makes it stand out though? On the surface the game is just a prettier clone of MKX but there’s definitely a lot of meat there for you to rip and tear through!
One of the strangest things about the Mortal Kombat franchise these days is just how good the storyline is. Mortal Kombat 11 continues the epic yarn started by soft reboot of Mortal Kombat (2011) with Raiden having turned to the darkside after the events of Mortal Kombat X, his time fuckery finally gets on the nerves of mistress of time and Tilda Swinton look-a-like Kronika – Miss Timey Wimey decides to reset history and take another crack at it all, in doing so she recruits some old faces to her cause including Kano (Both young and old), Shao Kahn and Frost. The heroes obviously don’t go in alone with most of the former champions coming back to help fight the good fight along with their younger counter parts so you get to enjoy plenty of time hopping shenanigans and a few jokes at the expense of the 90s. The story keeps you fairly invested the whole way through and breaks up the usual formula where in you’d be given a fighter, do four fights at them and then move on to the next, with some chapters now having two warriors working together and you get to choose who you play as and others changing fighter mid-way through as the story dictates. The same method was used in Injustice 2 and I’d definitely mixes things up now and then so you don’t get bored with the same procedure every single chapter. Even with this though there are a few points in the story where things seem to go off the rails and a cohesive narrative is swapped out just for some fan service or a scene clearly made just to be “cool”.
Even with the rad story mode though what you really pick up a game like this for is the combat… Or Kombat I guess… either way the mechanics more or less stick to the standards set by Mortal Kombat 9 and X with a 2.5D perspective. The X-Ray attacks from the 2 previous games have been changed up with certain heavy attacks now leading into a brief X-Ray animation. The replacement for the brutal cinematic X-Rays now comes in the form of a “Fatal Blow” which as the name suggests is a massive over the top attack that deals huge damage and gives you a nasty video of the attack being performed, the only way to pull this move of is for your health to drop below a certain threshold and even then you can only pull it off once per match so timing is everything. Of course the Fatalities and Brutalities that the series is infamous for have returned and each one is satisfyingly gruesome and in some cases outright horrifying (I’m looking at you D’Vorah…). However, they now seem to be much easier to pull off this time around, with most requiring a shorter button input than usual and a bit more leeway given to the “mid” fatalities that previously needed a degree in geometry to work out exactly what distance mid actually was. A big addition to the gameplay is the mercy feature. Come the end of a match and you hear those either glorious or terrifying words “FINISH HIM!”, you can now throw in a quick button input (At mid-range) to pull off a mercy and let your opponent regain a small amount of health and let them have a second chance at victory. Either to ease your own ego, or to show genuine respect to a hard fighting foe; the mercy system can change a battle massively and is a fun feature to use, especially online.
Of course being a Mortal Kombat game, most of the game is contained within the Towers. Ascending fighters that you fight through to unlock character endings or, in this game’s case, new gear. These towers are pretty bog standard offline with increasing difficulty and number of fighters. The real challenges though are the Towers of Time, limited-time events that give huge rewards but are much harder than the standard towers. The Towers of time have become a bit of a sticking point with me and, if the internet is to be believed, most people. A challenge is one thing but some of the towers are outright cruel with unavoidable attacks coming from off-screen and stage hazards that harm you but not your opponent. With the new item system you can of course bring certain items to avert most of these problems, but if you don’t have the items then the game almost pushes you to spending your real money to get more… Not cool Netherealm… Ed Boon has already come out to say that the Towers will be nerfed, but it’s a pretty big issue that shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
All in all Mortal Kombat 11 is another excellent entry into a franchise that has just been on the up for almost 10 years now. With tight and fast combat and brutal visuals keeping it separate from its competition and a storyline that’s both deep and interesting, there’s a lot to love about this game that counterbalances the only real issues, which all stem from the money grabbing world we all live in. FUCK. MICROTRANSACTIONS.