It’s a fighting game series that continues to rip the spine out its opponents, spill buckets of blood, and make people question life itself. Mortal Kombat is back for its 11th installment in the series and the gore and cringe factor has been turned up once again. Dare I say, they’ve been turned up… to 11.
Oh, come on… you knew that was coming.
Title: Mortal Kombat 11 Platform: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC Developer: Netherrealm Studios Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Release Date: April 23, 2019 Price: $59.99
Netherrealm, Ed Boon, and the rest of the Kombat Krew are back once again with their latest offering into the fighting game scene. Mortal Kombat 11 brings 25 initial fighters to the table with plenty of returning favorites (minus Reptile… I miss him) as well as new playable characters in Geras, Kollector, and Cetrion.
Before we get to the features of the game, the biggest question on everyone’s mind is: “How is the Kombat?”
From the early beta access, people have noticed that Mortal Kombat 11 has slowed down compared to its predecessors, and they weren’t just seeing things, it really has. Gone is the Run button; although you can still perform a quick dash either forward or backward with a double tap of a directional button, but the slower walking speed brings the combat down to a slower, more methodical pace. If you’re used to the faster pacing, you might need to take some time to adjust as I did… especially if you’re used to hitting special moves as soon as you land out of a jump. I found myself buffering the moves a little too early, making me miss some.
The combo system is back and hasn’t really changed that much. You have your highs, lows, mix-ups, pop-ups, juggles… everything is there. Canceling specials is still there, as well as powering them up. This brings me to the new way that Netherrealm has handled your meter this time around. They split it into two meters: one for offense and one for defense. Offense can be used by powering up your specials while defense can be used to interact with the environment, wake-ups, combo breaking, and then some. This brings a different level of strategy into the game.
They’ve also added Krushing Blows and Fatal Blows to the game. A Krushing Blow acts as a 1-hit x-ray but they have pre-requisites in order to hit them. Each character has several pre-reqs for their Krushing Blows so make sure you take the time to learn them if you’re going to main that character. Also, the best part about them? Krushing Blows don’t use any meter and if they pop-up, you can go right into a juggle with them! Fatal Blows appear when you get low on health. They are, essentially, a fatality that doesn’t kill your opponent. They will deal 35% of your opponent’s lifebar in damage but you only get 1 per match. Miss it and you have to wait for it to recharge.
Combat can change based on your character’s loadout. You can customize your character’s moveset, gear, and set bonuses all through the Konfiguration system. You unlock new gear in the Krypt, by playing through towers, or through the story mode. While there a LOT of skins, they’re all just simple recolors. In reality, there are probably only 3-4 unique skins per character and then just different color variations of each one. The actual gear (usually helm, weapon, and accessory) can have stats added to them. Once again, you can find the resources for these stats in the Krypt or in Towers of Time.
The system allows you to customize a character to your specific playstyle. Luckily, all of the special moves are unlocked so you can switch those up as you please. Fatalities, on the other hand, are not all available and those have to be found and unlocked in The Krypt as well.
Speaking of The Krypt, let’s just jump into game modes by talking about this. This is your dungeon crawl mode where you run around and unlock chests for rewards. 95% of the time, you’ll unlock them with Koins that you earn from doing, pretty much, anything in the game. Other chests may require Soul Gems, some require solving a mini-game in The Krypt, some are hidden behind breakaway walls, etc. It’s designed to keep you coming back to unlock more and more of the treasures on Shang Tsung’s island. It will take you a while to unlock everything, to say the least.
The next big game mode is Story Mode. Here, the story picks up from the end of Mortal Kombat X. Shinnok has been defeated and Raiden cuts his head off, only to be discovered by Kronika. She looks to reset the timelines and eliminate Raiden all in one fell swoop, creating a brand-new timeline without the Thunder God in it. Because of this, past and present collide and those who have died, return. The story mode will take you about 6-8 hours to complete and has a pretty head-scratching, yet interesting, ending to it. What’s interesting is that there are some unplayable characters in story mode that you get to fight against and they just happened to have their own, fully fleshed-out movesets… hinting at possible DLC characters. Those characters are Cyrax, Sektor, Sheeva, and Kronika. They announced 5 DLC characters with Shang Tsung being one of them… how odd that there are exactly four more in Story Mode fleshed out and ready to go. Hmm….
Before you cry about spoilers about those story-mode characters, I should point out that Netherrealm already spoiled them by featuring all four in the official launch trailer for the game. Don’t believe me? Go back and watch it!
Now we get to the controversial part of the game that has drawn people’s ire: The Towers of Time. Sure, there are the classic “Choose Your Destiny” towers that became popular as far back as Mortal Kombat 3, but the Towers of Time change every so often. Some of the towers have to be unlocked, while others are extremely punishing and feel as though they cannot be completed without using Konsumables… items that power up your character or counteract some of the effects of the towers… such as getting poisoned, getting punished for being too close to a character, getting shot at with homing missiles throughout the fight, etc. Of course, you find Konsumables in The Krypt, or you can buy them with in-game currency. Don’t have enough in-game currency? Just buy the things you want for real-life money!
Welcome to Microtransactions!
Of course, you can earn things such as skins, intros, taunts, icons, etc by completing Towers as well as The Krypt but farming them takes a long time. It’s almost if it were developed in such a way where you feel like it’ll just be easier to spend real money on them! That mobile mentality is ever-present here and not a lot of people are happy about it.
Thankfully, Netherrealm stated that they are going to look into the Towers of Time to see if they can tweak them for the better.
If you’re battling online, Mortal Kombat 11’s netcode is about as solid as they come. Even with people running on poor connections experienced very little to no lag. For those who love to play the game at a frame-perfect level, the netcode will do you some justice. Of course, the internet is the internet and no God-tier netcode can perform well 100% of the time but when it works (and it works well 99% of the time), you’ll be sure to have a great experience crushing the competition.
Lastly, one thing I have to give props to the game for is the amazing tutorial system they placed into the game. It teaches you the basic of basics such as walking and jumping all the way down to how to perform combos. It even goes further beyond that and teaches you about frame data and how moves are broken up into frames, how many frames it takes to block, how many frames you’re left vulnerable for and more! They even have tutorials for individual characters in the game, too. It is an encyclopedia of knowledge to help both new and advanced players alike. I haven’t seen a tutorial as in-depth as the one in Mortal Kombat 11. Even if you’re EVO level at fighting games, play through it for a ton of free Koins to use in the Krypt.
All-in-all, Mortal Kombat 11 has its flaws but the core of the game… the fighting engine and the fun factor are there. If you live for local or online combat, then this game is damn-near perfect. If you’re here for the other fluff, then I’m sorry to say that you’re going to have a frustrating time farming up and unlocking everything. The Towers of Time really need some serious help as they are completely unfun to play. You might as well just do classic towers if you want that challenge. Story Mode was tongue-in-cheek in terms of voice acting and excitement but if you just want to kick back and enjoy a 6-hour interactive movie, then go ahead and check it out.
Completing chapter four of story mode will unlock the 24th fighter: Frost.
Of course, number 25 is Shao Kahn which you can get by pre-ordering the game or paying $5.99 for him on the online shop. If you’re a fan of Mortal Kombat, this is a must-have game. Everything that makes Mortal Kombat what it is shines brightly here. Once Netherrealm figures out how to not piss people off with towers and unlockables, playing through the fluff of the game might actually be worth it. Until then, just master a fighter and crush plebs online. It’s what you plopped down the $60 for anyway, right?
Mortal Kombat 11
Mortal Kombat 11 serves up everything that you would expect from an MK game. Gore, broken bones, fatalities, brutalities, great combat, and a solid netcode. The Story Mode was entertaining for a bit but felt a bit cheesy. The Towers and The Krypt are things you could skip if you don’t care about cosmetics.