Developed by:NetherRealm Studios Published by:Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Genre(s):
  • Fighting
  • Platform:
  • Microsoft
  • Nintendo
  • PC
  • Sony
  • Cost:$59.99 ESRB Rating:MATURE Players:1-2 (2 Online) Release date:April 23, 2019 Reviewed on:XBox One

    Mortal Kombat 11

    Growing up in my parent’s home, you didn’t play games you weren’t old enough to purchase without their consent. Of course, that meant that Mortal Kombat was totally off limits. I always thought I had missed out on playing this popular fighter; I didn’t get to play any of them until I turned seventeen. The good news was that Mortal Kombat was more than the fad that it created.

    The desire to go back and familiarize myself with the world NetherRealm created was prompted by its continued success. A success that was tied, not the least of which, to acts of unspeakable violence. That aspect is what other developers clung to when designing similar games. And while a few were better received than others (Killer Instinct is still a thing), most of them went the way of Primal Rage.

    One would expect the novelty of seeing combatants killed in comical ways to eventually wear thin. Instead, the opposite happened. Mortal Kombat stayed violent. More so, it “improved” on the violence. The games got bloodier as the fatalities, though still ludicrous in design, became more realistic – the entrails being pulled by hand from a person’s body look tangible enough to cause disgust. Mortal Kombat 11 sits at the top of this gory tower as it features some of the most brutal attacks ever.

    This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Thanks to today’s technology, the on-screen action looks very good. Too good at times; it’s okay to admit that seeing a fictional person being decapitated by a bladed hat is far easier to stomach when the characters aren’t as highly detailed. The violence continues to adhere to Mortal Kombat’s lore though. It’s always been about two combatants fighting for their lives as factions waged war over control of the realms. Like a good action movie with an absurd body count, the franchise’s campy narrative does well to color the constant fighting.

    Speaking of which, I was a bit worried about where the story was going to go. NetherRealm isn’t afraid to kill off a ton of characters. The risks were high as there seems to be an unwritten rule about adding too many new characters to the subsequent entries of a popular fighter; I don’t think we’ll ever see a Street Fighter that doesn’t include Ken or Ryu. MKX got around this by adding deceased/resurrected versions of its main cast. MK11 does the same by using a new antagonist’s ability to control time.

    Kronika, the goddess of time, isn’t pleased with the outcome of the previous title. Believing that there needs to be a balance to good and evil, she feels that Raiden’s actions have tipped the scales to an unreasonable degree. To set things “right”, Kronika partially resets time in hopes of amassing a small army; younger versions of popular villains are brought to the present, giving them a second chance to defeat their enemies. In doing so, she inadvertently summons old heroes along with each villain. Battle lines are drawn. New alliances are made. Johnny Cage slaps his younger self. Chaos ensues.

    The story mode is full of action packed cutscenes and great voice acting. Having fans play as/witness each event through the eyes of multiple characters is a NetherRealm staple that continues to impress. None of it works though if the game wasn’t fun to play. Thankfully, MK11 builds off of the solid fighting mechanics found in recent MK/Injustice titles. There are the background interactions (like slamming someone’s head into a tree) and cinematic moves that act as an equalizer for a losing player. It also combines the equipment system (injustice) and the various versions of characters (MK), creating something slightly different in the process. Players can now upgrade items, allowing them to be slotted with perks – like raising the damage dealing properties of Sub-Zero’s ice axe. They can also assign different special movies to three different versions of the same character.

    A point system governs what moves can be equipped. In that, each person is given three slots for special moves to be added; some of them cost two slots, limiting what can be added once picked. It’s important to test out which moves feel more natural/complements your preferred fighting style. These types of changes help in breaking up the game’s meta, giving players more options when it comes to countering certain picks. Character A might not be best choice against character B at first. Change their moves up a bit and that might change. None of the abilities feel overpowered (as of yet). Still, these custom builds are limited to causal matches and towers.

    The basic punching and kicking have also improved. When transitioning from 2D to 3D models, the fighting tends to go at a slower pace. MK 11 is no different. That said, NetherRealm has done a phenomenal job balancing the 3D animations with the more stationary aspects of a 2D fighter. The result is a weighty experience that feels slower but more impactful. The character animations must play out – unless canceled by a special move or countered by an opponent’s attack – thanks to the game’s physics. When attacks land, they do so with convincing force. Jax’s metal arms appear to crush a person’s face because of the weight behind each jab.

    Because of this, players have to be more deliberate when fighting; there isn’t much leeway for button mashing. The fights come down spacing. Ranged attacks are deadly but move slower enough to be evaded. Combos are tapped in before all the hits land. Once a person is juggled, the timing of attacks and specials take precedent. Players can stop such combos by using defensive EX moves. What’s interesting is that these moves utilize their own bars, separate of the offensive ones. Meaning you can counter a juggle (using up a defensive bar) and still have two offensive bars to use for combo extending/altering EX abilities.

    Adding to this are the Fatal Blows – attacks that deal double the damage while providing an X-Ray view of broken bones and such. These Fatal Blows must be prepped before being used. For instance, Sub-Zero would need to land the EX version of his slide attack three times (it activates on the third hit) to trigger a Fatal Blow. It can only be done once per match though. Basically, MK11 offers a more cerebral experience. It isn’t just enough to catch someone off guard. The spacing of moves, the speed of different attacks, when to use Fatal Blows – there are a bunch of things to consider when facing a tough opponent.

    Going beyond the story and moment to moment fighting, MK11 has a ton of content. Whether it be the various training modes or the new Krypt, there’s seemingly always something to do. Unfortunately, not all of it was created equal. MK always had towers to conquer. But, like Injustice 2’s multiverse system, MK11’s towers change over time. Each one has different enemies and modifiers to keep the fights feeling fresh. Early on though, the challenges they presented felt unfair; the only way to complete some of them was to find konsumables in the Krypt or by completing easier towers. These items would grant players perks or assisting characters to help them take down tough bosses. The problem was that you didn’t always get the needed items to win through play. The towers are random in nature and the Krypt is essentially a giant puzzle filled with loot boxes. Not only that, but players will need to acquire the different in-game currencies before they can open each box/magical container.

    One would assume that if the towers posed an unfair challenge that players would just skip them. The thing is though, the towers and Krpyt are the main ways to unlock MK11’s loot. The fatalities, brutalities, gear, costumes, and more are hidden behind these “walls”. It can take a really long time to unlock these items through normal play; there is nothing more frustrating than having played in the Krypt and such for as long as I have and still not have unlocked many items for my favorite characters. Even with recent patches that balanced out the towers’ difficulty and rate at which players get each currency, unlocking what you want vs. getting random items is still a crapshoot. Just a less grindy one.

    Mortal Kombat 11 is a beautifully disturbing, gore-filled fighter. It features an exciting story, awesome characters, tight combat and interesting gameplay mechanics. It also has a ton of content/game modes to dive into. The Krypt is a bit annoying and feels like a chore to complete. The towers are far a little better after recent updates. Some of them, like the timed boss attacks, are really fun. Honestly, I can easily see myself playing it months from now. The game’s combat is that good.



    MK11 is solid title. It features tight combat, a campy story, and new gameplay mechanics that help in spicing things up.



    The game looks good. Maybe too good; it isn’t for the squeamish.



    The solid voice acting and bone crunching sound effects help in selling the onscreen drama.

    Replay Value:


    MK11’s combat is entertaining enough to warrant constant play. The game can only get better from here; I am genuinely interested to see who the DLC fighters will be (besides Shao Kahn and Shang Tsung).

    Final Score:


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