It was 1992. I was just 9-years-old and, at the time, martial arts movies were my breakfast, lunch and supper. Bruce Lee was my hero and I had worn out the Enter the Dragon VHS tape we owned. Naturally, like a moth to light, I was drawn to the most violent fighting game of all time. As a kid, I remember spending most of my summer holidays, and my valuable pocket money, at the arcade playing Mortal Kombat.
It was revolutionary. Imagine, a game where you could challenge friends to physical fights using supernatural powers which could result in their heads being decapitated. That was exactly my cup of tea.
Plus, the characters were all unique and unforgettable. Sub-Zero had the ability to manipulate ice. Scorpion had the ability to manipulate fire. For Raiden, it was electricity. Johnny Cage doing the splits was classic. Lui Kang was a Bruce Lee knock off. And Sonya Blade was badass.
Over the years, I’ve followed the franchise closely. I played the games, I watched the movies, and I read the comics.
Last weekend, pre-order customers for the PS4 and Xbox One editions of Mortal Kombat 11 were given the opportunity to try out a sample of NetherRealm Studios’ upcoming sequel. Five characters were on offer, alongside a short single-player tower and access to online battles.
However, for the first time, I’m starting to feel Mortal Kombat fatigue.
Perhaps it has something to do with the increase in violence in the game, which is now more realistic and gory than ever before. Or, perhaps it has something to do with becoming a father in the last year. Or maybe it’s just that I miss the simplicity of the previous releases. There were far less cut scenes and more focus on hand-to-hand combat in previous versions.
Or maybe I’m just getting old. Or older.
Don’t get me wrong, Mortal Kombat 11 is still a great achievement for Ed Boon and his team. However, for the first time, I feel like it was just too much.
I run the risk of sounding like my grandparents here, but the game could probably have done with the option to tone down the violence – similar to how you needed to turn on blood the Megadrive version of the game in the ’90s. While Mortal Kombat has always been on the forefront of being controversial and being ultraviolent, this wouldn’t hurt the popular brawler in any way.
With that out of the way, let’s get back to what works well in Mortal Kombat 11:
1. Mortal Kombat 11 Is A Beautiful Game
Given the series grisly, horror art-style, it looks great. In fact, it’s never looked better. Each animation and cut scene has been fine-tuned with impressive character details and visuals. The models, which are now available in various skins, have never been more realistic. It genuinely feels like a martial arts movie come to life. Even the blood, which is now fully 3D in the fatalities and during fights, has been improved.
2. The Gameplay Has Been Refined
Mortal Kombat has always showcased an impressive combat system and that hasn’t changed here. In fact, I would argue that it’s the best fighter out there. Leaps and bounds ahead of Street Fighter or Tekken. The gameplay feels fluid; it’s easy, flawless and, most importantly, fun. That said, it does seem a little slower than before. But that’s not a bad thing. It gives players the opportunity to think about and plan their next move rather than button-smash. The result is that it feels more realistic.
3. The Roster Looks Great
While there were only five characters (Scorpion, Baraka, Kabal, Skarlett, Jade) available in the beta, all of them were really great. There are plenty of design options to use with each character, allowing each fight to feel different.
Of course, Scorpion is probably the most fun. The character has aged well and he is probably more badass here than he has ever been before.
4. Online Play Runs Smoothly
NetherRealm has ensured that online play would be flawless, and it is. I’m pleased to report that there were no lost connections during fights.
5. The Soundtrack Is Better
For the first time in a long time, the music in classic brawler has improved. Immensely. The more uptempo rhythms help make fights more exciting and fun. I just wish they used the track from the 1995 movie too.
When all is said and done, Mortal Kombat 11 seems to be shaping up to be a worthy entry in the long-running series and possibly even one of the best. Call me old, but I just wish it wasn’t as violent.
Is it still a Klassic? The short answer is yes.