NetherRealm Studios are no strangers to fighting games. Injustice and Mortal Kombat have been a staple for their development team for many years now. How does their latest game, Mortal Kombat 11, fare after the highly successful Mortal Kombat X? To be completely honest, the answer to this question is not what you’d expect.
First and foremost, Mortal Kombat 11 is not for the faint of heart. The sheer amount of violence, blood and gore in the game is at an all time high with decapitations, stab wounds, broken bones and fractured femurs being standard fare throughout. If you’re not a fan of extreme violence in video games, this might seem disturbing to you and the shock value might put you off the game completely. For fans of the franchise though and for those that enjoy over the top action, the game will be an absolute treat.
Mortal Kombat 11 features a story mode and therein lies the best parts of the game. The story is broken up into 12 chapters and each chapter features gorgeous cutscenes which lead directly into battles through almost seamless transitions. These cutscenes are so well crafted, they could pass for a movie if you edit out the actual gameplay battles. The story of Mortal Kombat 11 directly follows the events of Mortal Kombat X but players need not have played the former to understand what’s going on in MK11 because of a brand-new character named Kronika.
Kronika, a time keeper, is introduced in an early chapter of the game’s story and she effectively mashes up timelines leading to a new one featuring past and present versions of series staple heroes and villains. Thanks to this, the story doesn’t involve much of the previously established background from MK9 and MKX but passing mentions to certain events do take place in some cutscenes. Nevertheless, newcomers can jump right into the story and will enjoy the tale it tells.
Each chapter of the story is captivating, and players will have a blast throughout. The only issue is the fact that it’s over far too quickly. The story mode will take players around 7 hours to complete and this is quite sad given how great it is. Being left wanting more might be a testament to the greatness of the storytelling but it left a bad taste in our mouths since it was over so soon.
Mortal Kombat 11 does feature other gameplay modes to give it extra longevity but the story mode is the true star of the show. The Krypt section of the game makes a return and has been given an overhaul. Kombat Towers also make a return and playing through these will unlock various different character endings.
Gameplay in Mortal Kombat 11 is slightly different to its predecessor. MK11 features a gameplay style that’s extremely similar to the franchise’s core arcade mechanics established decades ago. Fatal Blows make a return and the brutality of using these moves is truly a spectacle to behold. Players can also charge up certain attacks to inflict more damage and executing combos in MK11 is not all that difficult. Button bashing can lead to victory but if you’re able to pull off some of the more nuanced battle techniques such as combining blows that stun with throws and other special attacks, the game opens itself up as being quite a technical fighter. Being able to Kustomize your character’s special attack loadout, as well as appearance, also adds additional flavour to each fighter making them truly unique to you.
Speaking of Kustomization, MK11 features a metric tonne of customization options. For example, Cassie Cage’s sunglasses can be changed as well her battle armour and the robot she uses in battle. Outfit colours can be unlocked too and there is quite a lot on offer for each and every single playable character. The game also features a photo mode, so you can enjoy taking gorgeous screenshots of your fighters. The only drawback to all of this is the fact that unlocking these Kosmetics is an insanely grindy affair marred with a mobile phone application to boot. For a developer to be pushing gamers to download an app that essentially lets you automatically farm resources to unlock new kosmetics is quite an uncanny move on NetherRealm’s part. We would have preferred for this feature to have not made into the game in the first place and for a far more simplified unlocking system to be employed but alas this isn’t’ the case. Will people still be playing Mortal Kombat 11 six months down the line after unlocking everything automatically using a mobile phone app? The chances are slim.
Graphically, since the game uses Unreal Engine 4, it is downright gorgeous. The environments of the game even border on the photorealistic side of things with characters being slightly less so. Character models are still exceptionally good though and you can even see details like sweat on their skin. The intense depictions of blood and violence are over the top but thankfully, blood doesn’t seem to be vividly real and is instead, rather darkly coloured. This does help mitigate some of the shock value somewhat. Being a Mortal Kombat game though, the fatalities are obviously going to be visceral, powerful and brutal and MK11 delivers on this for every character. It’s a spectacle to behold and when you pull a fatality off for the first time, you’ll be in for a visual feast of blood and guts irrespective of the character you’re playing as.
The soundtrack used in the game is great and the voice acting is too apart for one particular character. Grunts, screams and battle sounds are authentic and overall, the music used fits the tone of the game quite well. The only gripe to be had with the soundtrack lies with the fact that Ronda Rousey voices Sonya Blade and her performance is less than stellar compared to everyone else’s.
Mortal Kombat 11 has satisfying arcade fighting gameplay with Kombos being enjoyable to pull off and graphics that are exceptionally great. The game runs smoothly and doesn’t suffer from any noticeable frame rate drops despite the action being quite flashy and graphically intense. The online component of the game seems to be functional but we would recommend you play the game locally unless you are knee deep into the online fighting game community and esports aspects of it.
Completing the story mode in record time will lead to disappointment since there isn’t much it unlocks except for a few characters. Perplexingly, NetherRealm decided to list paid DLC which unlocks a story mode character that can be unlocked at the end of Chapter 4. This is quite a predatory tactic in our opinion as not many people would realize this until it’s too late and they have already purchased the character. The fact that the season pass of the game also excludes Shao Kahn as a playable character is another strange decision since he is currently only available to those that pre-ordered the game. To make matters worse, Cyrax and Sektor, despite being enemies in the story, are not playable and one can only assume that they will be added as paid DLC in the future.
Overall, MK11 is a well-rounded fighting game with disappointing business decisions that mar it. The game would be a solid successor to MKX but alas, the grind for resources to unlock items and kosmetics as well as the predatory DLC practices of locking characters behind paywalls and pre-orders is disappointing. Whether you’re a fan of the Mortal Kombat franchise or not, MK11 is still however a great fighting game with a great story mode. It’s just over far too quickly so if you’re going to pick this game up, do bear that in mind and evaluate whether or not you’re going to be putting in a lot of game time into the online multiplayer component or Towers and Krypt modes.