Mortal Kombat has remained one of the premier fighting series ever since its introduction in 1992. While the likes of Street Fighter and Tekken have come and gone, MK has remained strong for decades. Mortal Kombat 11 is the latest title of this world-famous property. With it comes many of the things that fans love, including the overblown violence and outlandish characters. However, this latest game also has a lot to get right considering the success of recent entries.
Fighting games are well known for their over-the-top stories. Oftentimes, the plots in the genre are comically silly. They also generally soon grow out of control with the sheer number of new installments. Mortal Kombat is no exception to this rule. In fact, the franchise might have one of the most bombastic and bizarre plots of any fighting game. Yet, it is something that longtime fans have fully embraced and expect with each new entry.
In Mortal Kombat 11, a corrupted Raiden has decided to rid Earth of all its enemies. He executes Shinnok following his defeat in the last game, beheading him as a warning to other conquerors. The goddess Kronika takes exception to this and uses her ability to manipulate time to undo Raiden’s actions. Establishing allies with other villains, she begins a plot to set time back permanently.
If all that sounds overly complicated then that is because it is so. The bizarre twists and complex events are a necessary mechanic. So many characters have been killed off in previous games that this ridiculous narrative is the only way to bring them back. Despite this, the story manages to be a fun and enjoyable ride. Don’t expect nuanced writing but the plot is a thrilling way to set the scene for the battles.
The basic fighting mechanics will be familiar to anyone who has played a recent Mortal Kombat game. There are only four main buttons that you have to use and no overly complex combos to remember. Instead, combat now feels a bit slower and more methodical. Impacts appear to have more weight to them and the game encourages players to mix up their moves during fights.
One new aspect of gameplay is the addition of an attack and defense bar. Located at the bottom of the screen, they allow you to add some extra power at decisive moments. Want to give an attack a little extra boost or ensure you deflect that incoming kick? The bumper buttons allow you to do that. Getting used to this mechanic can be fiddly at first but it soon melds with the rest of the action and becomes second nature.
Launching with 24 characters, Mortal Kombat now boasts a roster of 29 including DLC additions. This includes series regulars such as Johnny Cage alongside newly-introduced fighters. A series of individuals have also been introduced in DLC, while Shao Kahn is a downloadable character that was offered as a pre-order bonus. Impressively, the fighters are all reasonably balanced and there is no real standout or character to avoid.
There are several game modes in Mortal Kombat 11. They offer different experiences and challenges. The main one is the story mode, which lets you progress through the main plot using different characters. Between matches, you’ll get to see cutscenes that expand on the action and unlock bonus cosmetic items. Tackling the story mode is a good way to get familiar with the mechanics and roster while still making progress.
Towers also make a return. As you might have guessed from the name, these involve you having to battle through a series of enemies in order to reach the top of the tower. Although there is a classic variant, the most fun comes from the special Towers of Time. These give you access to rarer rewards and items for your fighters. On top of this are the Krypt and a far more sophisticated online mode. Fighting in online multiplayer feels better than ever with very little lag.
Mortal Kombat 11 once again focuses on fatalities and gratuitous violence. You can perform all kinds of gruesome moves. These can obviously cause terrible injuries that are gloriously shown on screen in all their gory detail. For those making their introduction to the franchise, this could seem all a bit too much. However, it is arguably the very element that makes Mortal Kombat stand out in a crowded field. Experienced players demand it and NetherRealm delivers it in spades.
But the same is not true of the character models and their facial expressions. While some performances are great, others suffer with both the voice work and general acting. Sonya Blade is a good example of that. She looks out of place when compared to many of the better performances from other characters. For the most part, though, the voice acting and sound design is strong.
Mortal Kombat 11 is a definite contender for the best fighting game currently on the market. It improves upon almost every aspect of the series. Featuring strong and in-depth combat in addition to an enjoyable story, it has everything you’d want. The only real complaints are some shoddy voice acting and the laborious grind to unlock all the content. Otherwise, this is a game that any fan of the genre will want to play.