NetherRealm Studios have become masters of fighting games, delivering intense and hugely satisfying combat, intriguing stories and, remarkably, crafting the experience in such a way that veterans and newcomers both enjoy it. It’s quite an achievement, and Mortal Kombat 11 carries on this tradition marvellously.
Mortal Kombat 11 continues the Mortal Kombat tradition of over-the-top combat where you inflict and endure devastating, bone braking and flesh splitting wounds. it’s a little slower paced than in the previous instalment, allowing you to use more defensive tactics rather than keeping the pressure on your opponent. That’s not to say it’s slow overall, combatants are still spritely and possess effective combos that can suppress your opponent, but there’s a now a little more tactical breath here. Of course there’s still the classic attacks from all your favourite characters, and button combinations that are consistent across the roster for unleashing those satisfying special attacks, but some modified as well as some brand new abilities have entered the fray.
A counter-based Krushing Blow enhances damage significantly and provides a gruesome and satisfying x-ray view of your character breaking bones. The Fatal Blow super move returns and can now be activated when your health is below 30%, allowing for a sudden and visually intense comeback where you unleash multiple attacks and watch the gory results. Meanwhile, Break Away allows you to break out of combos and regain control. All these mechanics help balance the fight with strategic variety that requires a little more thought than in previous Mortal Kombat entries and cater a little more towards defensive play.
Something NetherRealm Studios have absolutely nailed in recent years is the storytelling in both their Mortal Kombat and Injustice series. Mortal Kombat 11 is another strong story, weaving a clever tale with its special style of melodramatic action and surprising character depth. Indeed, there’s some touching and deep moments for characters here, and the voice acting does a tremendous job of delivering it. Meanwhile, the time travelling shenanigans, a troupe Mortal Kombat sure does enjoy revisiting, allows for some amusing interactions between past and present versions of characters. It also means the roster has a good variety of fan favourites returning with past a present skins, and the few new characters feel appropriate to the story and the world.
Mortal Kombat 11 takes character customisation to a new level with a huge amount of outfits and accessories to choose from, as well as fighting styles and even moves you can add to your fighter. You can dramatically alter how each character looks and fights to really make them your own. Once the story mode has been completed many customisation options are unlocked for the starring cast, and you will have earned enough in-game currency to unlock even more via the returning Krypt full of unlockable chests granting randomly generated prizes. The earning of currency, unlocking chests for rewards, and then using those rewards to customise your characters and aid you in the completion of other modes, is a compelling loop that’ll keep you hooked for quite some time.
Theses other mode offer the classic arcade towers where you’ll face off against difficult AI controlled opponents, as well as the Towers of Time which are special ladder battles with changing parameters and surprises that really challenge you. This is also where consumables come into play. Consumables are earned throughout the modes, can be crafted as well as found in the Krypt and offer you temporary buffs to help counter the surprises of the Towers of Time. It’s a odd addition to fighting game and a divisive one at that; while the Tower of Time surprises offer excellent replayability, they can be particularly difficult to beat and require consumable spamming.
Certainly the consumables and the challenge of the Tower of Time won’t be for everyone, fortunately strong netcode means taking the fight online is fast and responsive and where fighting game veterans will truly get their kicks. New comers may find learning the new offensive and defensive mechanics a little tricky, despite a good tutorials that helps prepare you. The more thoughtful nature of combat is absolutely where the series needed to go next but it means the barrier to entry for competitive play is now a little bit higher.
Mortal Kombat 11 is easily one of the top fighters on the market. It once again provides the remarkably brutal combat that we all know and love while tweaking the pacing and tactics to offer something new to master. There’s a lot of series characters not available in the base game, something DLC will probably address, and the consumables and challenging Tower of Time will be off-putting for some, but the well-told story and hugely satisfying combat makes this sequel a must play.