Mortal Kombat II‘s tagline was: “Nothing can prepare you!” Well, 26 years later, I’m duly prepared, so suck on that, copywriters. By now I know what awaits me when I start a MK game, and that isn’t a bad thing since every Tom, Dick, and EA Sports keeps trying to reinvent the wheel. Now, with the release of Mortal Kombat 11, NetherRealm Studios is finally sounding the death knell for its competitors. There’s no point in disputing it anymore: MK is the king of fighters.
Look, it isn’t like Mortal Kombat 11 is a complete overhaul of Mortal Kombat X—a good game in its own right. Don’t expect an entire new gameplay system, radical features, or drastic graphical changes; it’s more about the tweaks and learning from its previous mistakes. For one, the aesthetic is more familiar than its predecessor. While there was nothing wrong with the presentation or menu system of MKX, this one looks, sounds, and feels right. Whether you’re setting up a quick one-on-one battle or taking on the dreaded Towers, it feels like you’re home again.
Tied to this homecoming is the return of many fan-favourite characters, such as Baraka, Kabal, Jade, Shao Kahn, and Shang Tsung, who were all missing from the MKX roster. Yes, the future and evolution of the franchise is important—and there are new characters here— but there needs to be a healthy balance of old and new, which is something that Mortal Kombat 11 has succeeded in achieving. That said, the absence of Reptile might ruffle more than a few feathers, but perhaps he might be included in a future DLC pack.
While MKX was about moving the legend forward and introducing new characters into the franchise, Mortal Kombat 11‘s story is ultimately a backtrack. Didn’t 2011’s Mortal Kombat deal with the time-travelling angle already? Because it’s back now under the guise of the goddess and new villain Kronika as she tries to bring order to the universe after Raiden tampered with time. Of course, nothing is ever permanent in video game narratives, but it feels like Ed Boon and his team painted themselves into a corner with some of the story choices in the previous two games and are trying to undo things here.
It’s a disservice to the new generation to revive figures from the past because the developers realised they made a booboo back then. Sure, not a lot of people were happy with some of the character deaths, but did they need to be revived so quickly? It turns this into a soap opera where you believe no one is truly ever dead; therefore, making the deaths redundant and pointless in the long run. Alas, this is Mortal Kombat and considering the damage these characters take on screen, no one should be alive right now, so there’s that too.
This gripe with the story aside, Mortal Kombat 11 is the epitome of fan service. It’s as if Boon and his cohorts scoured Reddit for everyone’s requests and consolidated it all here. Honestly, I don’t want to hear one single complaint about the gameplay, as it feels like nearly 30 years of combating excellence mashed up into one title—bar the Animalities and Friendships, which should stay dead and buried in the franchise. Fatal Blows and Krushing Blows are the latest additions, with the former being similar to the X-Ray moves from before and the latter setting off a cinematic variation of a move. Plus, all you block-lovers will be happy to know there’s now a Flawless Block system, which affords you a second wind in the game if you time it right.
In addition, Mortal Kombat 11 “borrowed” the Gear mechanism from Injustice 2, allowing you to change the look of your character. It’s entirely a cosmetic change and doesn’t really influence your character’s abilities, but it’s a lot of fun and laughs if you feel like giving Johnny Cage some extra douchey sunglasses.
Much has been made about the realistic violence in Mortal Kombat 11 and it’s a fair to say that it’s more brutal than ever before. At the same time, it’s almost comedic to witness and so over the top. It’s like a kill in Freddy vs. Jason; you’re going to laugh your ass off at how insane and silly it is through all the blood and gore.
Without being anything new, Mortal Kombat 11 pulls together everything that makes the franchise as beloved as it is. NetherRealm Studios ticked off the checklist and double-checked to make sure that everything is present. It’s safe to say that many kombatants will be thrilled with this latest instalment.
Mortal Kombat 11
Mortal Kombat 11 doesn't reinvent the franchise, but it captures everything that fans love about it in a formidable package.
- Returning fan-favourite characters
- Familiar surroundings
- Storyline 0%
- Gameplay 0%
- Graphics 0%
- Replay Value 0%
- Sound and Music 0%