NetherRealm Studios (studio)
04 May 2019 (released)
04 May 2019
For over 25 years, Ed Boon and his team at Nethrealms have refined the fighting genre into what it is today. While other series such as Soul Calibur and Tekken have their presence in the industry, it’s no match for Mortal Kombat. Since MK IX, we seen a whole world of lovable fighters evolve and the game which was hated by parents and seen as senseless yet mindless fun, has become something much more. It has gravitas, it has great writing and discipline that it’s almost what we could expect from a Mature rated Marvel Movie (not Deadpool, but imagine Avengers directed by Paul Verhoeven).
MK11 is finally here and I have to say, this could be the best in the series.
Mortal Kombat 11 takes place shortly after the events of the last game, with Raiden having to restore blanace and suddenly some freaky time traveling maniac shows up and declares that everything needs to change. This means ripping the fabric of time, allowing younger members of the MK roster to clash with one and the possible resurrection of a big bad evil! No there’s some fairly tense stuff here.
While MK IX felt a little long for its own good, making every scene end with a fight. MK X and MK XI thankfully are focus and determined to tell a rather good story. It’s nothing new in terms of structure and the core of the plot is essentially what makes up most super hero movies. But this really is a good thing as the writing here is pretty awesome with great characters, motivations you can understand/relate too (in the same way you would with a super hero movie) and has good pacing. MK 11 manages to structure the plot where events unfold naturally; remaining engaging by raising the stakes when needed, gives every character their own screen time and just has fun.
The time bending elements do make for some great comedic moments, like when young Johnny Cage meets his older self and seeing Young Kano get his arse handed to him is just hysterical. Plus there’s fan favourites such as Frost making a comeback which is totally awesome! Not forgetting the amazingly executed cut scenes which ooze with high production values, looking, sounding and feeling epic as all hell! Seeing the MK cast battle it out, interact with one another in interesting ways and just seeing the story unfold was totally enthralling throughout.
Now Mortal Kombat 11 is flawless with its execution of gameplay. Netherealm studios have been very careful in expanding the fighting systems they had for over a dozen characters. Each character as their own set of basic moves, combos, breakers and specials which new players to the series can learn quickly and veterans can master without any sense of grind. There’s enough here to grasp whether you’re a noob or an advanced fighter, pulling off combos in their sleep. MK 11 caters to everyone in some way and the depth too many of these combos and moves is staggering.
However there are some small changes which level the playing field in some interesting ways. This helping those who are new and toning down the advantages some veterans take for granted. Small things like not being able to run will give players extra time to think through attacks or plot out that critical manoeuvre which wins the match. Those crazy x-ray moves can only be activated when a player reaches less than 30% health, which can really make or break the fight for either player. But also removes an elements which some players didn’t like, having to wait through those mini cut scenes (which are awesome!) at in certain matches with certain players, possibly a few times.
But these are small changes and with its impressive roster, there’s plenty of character to choose from whether you rely on ranged attacks, heavy, fancy controlling some more agile or just go for Sub-Zero and Scorpion (they are the easiest to learn from and the hardest to master). Plus there’s plenty of those inventive and utterly insane fatalities to drool over (I’m not a sicko or anything, they’re just visually impressive!).
Plus everything looks and sounds really nice from the epic arenas, the multitude of customisable gear for each and every character and of course, those lovely and gruesome finishers.
Multiplayer still holds strong with classic modes and the return of King of the Hill. This is the Spectator mode that allowed players to watch matches between the raining champion and those willing to take their place. King of the Hill is a brilliant mode that allows anyone to simply watch the best of the best or those willing to observe and plot that potential brutal takedown and be crowned king!
Now apart from the campaign and multiplayer modes, another returning feature in this instalment is the beloved Kyrpt. Now I was massively curious when I saw that it shifted into a 3rd person mode and still had elements of exploration and finding key items to progress to new areas. It was awesome, until I found out all the boxes were randomised. Now it’s not a major crushing blow but I did get some vibes of loot boxes here which made me a little uncomfortable. The Kyrpt is still very entertaining but could be so much more.
This wouldn’t be such a problem if the grind wasn’t so apparent. It really is from the extra challenges you can par-take in from the “Time Towers”. These are a host of extra fights and challenges with a wide variation of modifiers and objectives attached to them. Now in previous games, these were harmless fun and good to earn some extra Koins. But it’s clear that many of the modifiers are just outright shameful. I mean, they’re often tedious and infuriating to say the least. Now there are quite a few good which again have a creative spark which we admire and love about Ed Boon and the team. But when you have ones such as “fight in the dark” while you opponent is maxed out and can end you within a few hits, is not really that much fun. It’s annoying that the grind for some extra Koin is just so obvious.
The developers have addressed this and will hopefully lessen the grind (or remove it completely I hope) soon.
But despite the anoying grind and challenges, this really is the best Mortal Kombat ever. Netherealms have slowly and surely built confidence with their beloved series and evolved it into a massive spectacle that’s funny, massively entertaining and utterly thrilling. The fighting is brutal and intense, the visual style just eye meltingly beautiful and immense amount of content will keep you invested for a long while.
Mortal Kombat 11 is the ultimate fighting game of the generation and will be a tough component to beat.
++ Excellent story
++ Awesome and refined fighting gameplay
++ Looks and sounds amazing
-- the Towers of Time (please fix them)
Editor's notes: after the publishing of this review, changes have been implemented towards the Towers of Time.
A PS4 review copy of Mortal Kombat 11 was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.