For those of us old enough to remember the early part of ‘90s, you’ll likely have fond memories of a fighting game that upped the ante by introducing gamers to some truly gory, bloody and brutal action. That game was Mortal Kombat. And now here we are in 2019 with the latest offering in the long-standing franchise – Mortal Kombat 11 – available to urge you once again to “Fight!”, to “Finish” him or her, and to try and work out just how to do those really cool and splatter-tastic fatality moves. So let’s see what this new MK entry has up its sleeve.
Of course, Mortal Kombat is famed for allowing you and some pals to literally bash each other’s skulls in or rip each other’s hearts out. And while that is clearly still a large part of Mortal Kombat 11, the pride and joy of this new release is the jaw-dropping story mode. Clearly following on from Mortal Kombat X, this story also manages to wonderfully tie together so much of the franchise’s history and past, meshing it fantastically with a mind-spinning, roller-coaster present and future.
Plot-wise, the uber-evil new bad girl on the scene is Kronika, an all-powerful being who is looking to rewrite time to go back and stop series fave Raiden from lopping off the head of Shinnok. And from there, the race is on to play through stage after stage, character after character, plot twist after plot twist, in what becomes a, dare we say it, subtle and well-paced narrative. After all, this is a franchise that has for so long been propped up on its sheer excesses. But the story mode is a truly beautiful thing, helped all the more by the ridiculous graphics and facial rendering on display. And yes, for those who’ve played the Injustice games, you may well feel in slightly familiar ground here, but that’s not to say that Mortal Kombat 11 is a knock-off of those games. In fact, MK11 takes what was seen in Injustice 2 and leaves it cowering in its wake.
Phew! So yeah, the story mode? Pretty darn brilliant. For the gameplay itself, however, there is still that all familiar cracking of bones, that all familiar splashing of blood, and all those other familiar tropes that have kept fans coming back to the Mortal Kombat series for nearly three decades now. Whether you’re a seasoned MK veteran or a complete newbie – the introductory and tutorial offerings are exemplary in how to get new players up to speed – this is a game that you can pick up and play with ease. We say ease, mind, but Mortal Kombat 11, while easy to get decent at if you put the time in, is a tricky beast to truly master. But then that’s kind of the point, right?
To add further to the scope and variety of MK11, there are a slew of customisation options available for fighters and, yes, there are also plentiful unlockables. While these unlockables can be earned by sheer will, determination and, y’know, actually being good at the game, there are certain issues with all of this. Not least, the Towers of Time mode, in which players have obstacles thrown in their way as they look to fight the good fight, is unfathomably difficult. As in, no it’s not just us being shit at the game, but more the fact that NetherRealm themselves have come out to say that they are already looking to fix this. Many suggest that Towers of Time was made so impossible merely to force people’s hands to purchase the additional content that would assist in those challenges, but maybe that’s being a little too cynical – even by our standards.
All in all, Mortal Kombat 11 really does feel like one of the greatest fighting games to have come around in years. The game itself never looks anything less than beautiful and bloody, and the various modes, character variations and alternative endings will keep gamers coming back again and again. The perfect fighting game, then? Not quite. But then again, it’s not a million miles away from being just that. Cracking skulls and ripping out hearts never felt so good!
MORTAL KOMBAT 11 / DEVELOPER: NETHERREALM STUDIOS / PUBLISHER: WARNER BROS. / PLATFORM: PLAYSTATION 4, XBOX ONE, NINTENDO SWITCH, PC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW