With Mortal Kombat 11, NetherRealm proves they are still unparalleled when it comes to making deep yet accessible fighting games. The perfect execution of easy-to-learn but hard-to-master, this latest entry provides some of the series’ tightest gameplay. Mechanically refined and beautifully presented, this is the absolute strongest Mortal Kombat has been on a fundamental level.
It starts with a great tutorial that clearly and concisely introduces the game’s intimidating depth. Starting out simple before getting into the more complex aspects, it’s essential for those of us who are less confident in our fighting game skills. A handful of optional training modes compliment this initial setup. The standard training mode is present, of course, as well as one that allows you to practice executing those sweet, sweet Fatalities. The brilliance of Mortal Kombat 11 is its ability to cater to both veterans and newcomers.
Mortal Kombat 11‘s Blood, Spit and Polish
Mortal Kombat 11 is a technical triumph. It looks and sounds incredible. Particle effects and blood spatter fill the screen in a delightful mess that’s simply spectacular to behold. The sound design is so crunchy and impactful that you truly feel every punch, kick, and bone-snap. Even with its hilariously over-the-top motif, some of the ridiculously violent acts being unleashed on the characters will surely make you occasionally wince. The fantastic presentation alone makes it a blast to play and spectate.
However, MK11 is far from a one-dimensional glossy spectacle. Mechanically, Mortal Kombat 11 is incredibly tight. It takes the previous game’s foundation and builds upon it in some really smart ways. Much of what made Mortal Kombat X novel is still present. Character variations return, allowing fighters to have multiple move-sets and loadouts. Likewise, environmental attacks are also back. Despite the immediate similarities between this and its predecessor, the fighting system has been entirely tightened and refined.
Sprinting – an arbitrary and under-used mechanic added to X – is a thing of the past. Meanwhile, the meter system has seen a complete revamp. Instead of a single special meter, you now have separate meters for defense and offense. Defensive special moves like breakaways, rolls, and dodges will detract from your defensive meter, whilst enhanced moves that deal more damage or extend combos consume offensive meter. It’s an elegant change that allows for a more balanced approach, ensuring that you don’t neglect defense in favor of offense.
Exploring Mortal Kombat 11‘s New Mechanics
X-Rays are back, but they’re a little different. Now called Fatal Blows, these devastating bombardments become available when you dip below 30% health. They serve as a kind of desperation move, allowing you to unleash a spectacularly brutal onslaught on your opponent if you can land it (a skilled player can easily block or dodge them). These moves are where Mortal Kombat 11 revels in its hyper-violence. The camera zooms in, the world slows, and a detailed X-Ray view of your foe’s bones crunching and organs exploding unfolds. It’s quite ridiculous.
Krushing Blows are another new addition. These particularly devastating attacks will trigger under certain circumstances, like executing an uppercut immediately after dodging a high attack. They provide a slick slow-mo moment and deal additional damage. Some even open up opportunities for longer combos, sending characters flying in the air or stunning them. You can only trigger these powerful moves once per round, but they’re quite potent. Trying to set up a Krushing Blow is well-worth it.
Three new characters sit alongside familiar faces and series mainstays. These new challengers compliment the best-of lineup wonderfully, adding some fun and varied fighters with wholly unique move-sets and aesthetics. Geras, the time-bending meathead, uses his giant Power Glove-looking hand to smash his foes and bend the flow of time to his will. Meanwhile, Kollector, a creepy four-armed dude who likes to pack bodies into bags, jabs at his enemies with daggers and utilizes his chain-ball to great effect. Out of the three, he was my personal favorite. Finally, there’s Cetrion, daughter of Kronika and kind of nature-loving druid. She manipulates the elements and tears the Earth open to rend her foes, as well as twisting roots to her bidding. The three fit nicely among Mortal Kombat’s absurd comic book lineup.
Diving Into Mortal Kombat 11‘s Lore
Mortal Kombat 11’s story centers around Kronika, a mysterious figure seeking to rewrite time to her whims. She begins messing with timelines and people from the past begin to appear in the present. This essentially means you have the younger versions of every character interacting with their older selves. Quick, intense scraps bookend sharp-looking cutscenes in this suitably absurd narrative. Bombastic set pieces and an ensemble cast on par with the Marvel Cinematic Universe make for an exciting story with plenty of fun time travel nonsense. It’s a fun romp that moves at a thrilling pace, but it’s hard to avoid the suspicion that the whole time travel motif is simply a way to peddle cosmetics. The sheer volume of skins, outfits, and shaders you’ll see in the campaign is a little suspect.
Impressive production values are ever-present throughout the campaign, from its gorgeous visuals to the impactful audio design. The whole thing is a distinctly brilliant affair. Unfortunately, there’s one thing holding it back: Ronda Rousey. The famed wrestler guest stars in Mortal Kombat 11 as Sonya Blade, bringing a dismal performance to the role. Flat and lifeless, the poor quality of her lines stand out in every scene. The rest of the cast is fine. They provide perfectly solid performances. I don’t know how or why her involvement came about, but it adds nothing. In fact, it only serves to detract from her engaging arc, which plays a big part in the story.
Climbing Mortal Kombat 11‘s Towers
Several modes accompany the story mode. Like the series’ iconic Towers, which are more present than ever. They divide into two categories. The Klassic Towers allow you to fight through a gauntlet of foes as a single character. Facing Kronika and emerging victorious will earn you that character’s ending: a fun cutscene establishing what they would do with their new-found ability to manipulate time. Meanwhile, the Towers of Time are ever-rotating challenges that you must complete within a time frame. They can last between a dozen hours and several days. These mighty tests of skill employ gameplay modifiers, like health-draining poison or deadly obstacles on the stage, to toughen things up. The rewards are quite lucrative if you can tackle these challenging gauntlets.
While engaging in mortal combat in the Towers, you have access to a myriad of consumable items. These limited-use tools vary greatly in effect, allowing you to heal mid-fight, stun your opponent, or resist certain types of damage. They make engagements significantly easier, giving you an edge when you need it most. Sometimes they can feel a little too essential. When Tower scraps become too difficult and the modifiers too overwhelming. These items are pretty common, though. You’ll find plenty during your time with Mortal Kombat 11.
Exploring The Krypt in Mortal Kombat 11
The Krypt is where you go to spend your in-game currencies in Mortal Kombat 11. This pseudo-dungeon-crawler dishes out your cosmetic goodies through third-person exploration and light puzzle-solving. You’ll find a huge number of chests requiring Koins – the game’s primary currency – to open. There are also chests for your Hearts and Skull Fragments. It’s all in service of earning character skins, fatalities, cosmetic items, and more. There’s a staggering amount of stuff in this game, but the vast majority serves no real purpose. Concept art, for example, is far too abundant. The presentation of the game’s reward system is novel. It turns the act of earning rewards into a game itself. I just wish the returns were more consistently meaningful.
Furthermore, the standard slate of online features are all here. Ranked and unranked, 1v1, King of the Hill tournaments, and the upcoming Kombat League, which becomes available about a month after launch. I’m far from a fighting game expert, but I had a blast scrapping with people online. After picking a main and getting comfortable with him, (Kabal’s a boss) I found I was actually surprisingly competitive. Whether I’m a late-blooming fighting game talent or Mortal Kombat 11 is simply an intuitive game, I’m not entirely sure. For my ego’s sake, I’ll go with the former.
There’s also a mode that lets you pit a three-person team of AI fighters against another player’s. You can customize them to your liking, allowing you to tweak their strengths and weaknesses with some handy sliders. It’s an odd little mode, but a fun one nonetheless. Watching the AI duke it out is enjoyable when you tire of doing it yourself, at the very least.
Mortal Kombat 11 Review | Final Thoughts
Ultimately, Mortal Kombat 11 is a fantastic entry in NetherRealm’s equally brutal and cartooney series. The fundamentals are tighter than ever, offering a refined experience that’s deep yet more accessible than ever. If you’re a novice, don’t fret. The tutorials provide a clear and detailed introduction to even the most intimidating systems. With an exciting story mode, an enormous Krypt, a ton of Towers to tackle, and incredible presentation supporting it all, this is a hefty chunk of high-quality Mortal Kombat.
More About This Game
Mortal Kombat 11 offers a fantastic middle ground of depth and accessibility, providing tactical excitement in a beautifully presented, densely packed, and easily digestible package. NetherRealm's latest title is a resounding success.
- Tight and Refined Fighting
- Incredible Presentation
- Fast and Exciting Story Mode
- Great Tutorials
- Krypt Rewards Are Padded Out With Junk
- Ronda Rousey