A Triumphant Return
Remaining relevant for over three decades is a feat usually reserved for the likes of Mario or Link, but somehow, though all of the various controversies, Mortal Kombat has persevered and the newest installment is it’s finest outing yet. It isn’t perfect, the grind for in-game currency can be frustrating, but at its core is one of the best fighting games of the generation.
The key difference between this iteration and years past is that the combat has been slowed down. Running is no longer a key mechanic as it was in Mortal Kombat X, as in its place is a more methodical approach that requires you to learn and implement the various mechanics found in the game. Playing aggressively can leave you open for punishing counterattacks and Mortal Kombat 11 gives you a number of tools that will can quickly turn the momentum of a match.
Special ability gauges make a return but with a key difference, players will now have access to one for offense and the other for defense. Certain abilities can be amplified and many can create opportunities for linger combos. Defensively, landing a flawless block the ability to counter and get in a combo of your own. You can also roll forward or backwards when knocked down which can get you out of the way of an aggressive opponent.
Another new feature found in MK11 is the “Krushing Blow”, devastating attacks that require certain gameplay requirements to occur. Interrupting an opponents attack or utilizing a special move multiple times will normally activate a Krushing Blow. X-Ray attacks have been replaced by Fatal Blows, which players can only activate when their health falls under 30%. If you happen to miss on your Fatal Blow, you will need to wait a short period of time before you can initiate the attack again. Be careful as you can only use the Fatal Blow once per match.
Once you defeat an opponent you’re given the chance to finish your opponent with a Fatality. These are easily the best in the series and can be a spectacle. My personal favorites belong to Noob Saibot and Johnny Cage, with Noob’s being stunningly brutal and Cage’s being hilarious. There are a few that may make your stomach turn, but I did not find one that didn’t impress. How they got some of these included is a mystery with how gruesome they are.
The tutorial found in MK11 is a fantastic tool that will get you familiar with every mechanic in the game. Completing each lesson will get you acclimated to all of the new features. Also included is a character tutorial that will give you a taste of how each character handles and what they specialize in. If you were on the fence about a certain character, you might change your mind once completing the tutorial.
Once you find a character you’re comfortable with, there are 25 after all, you can customize their visual aesthetic, entrances, and most importantly their abilities. You’re no longer limited to set variations like those found in MKX, you are now free to give your players abilities that will cater to the way you want to play. It’s fun experimenting with all of the different abilities and can be incredibly satisfying once you found the right combination.
What makes these current Mortal Kombat titles unique is the inclusion of a campaign that completely alters the original timeline. These have all been fantastic additions and this years entry is arguably its strongest. Past and present collide as the new villain, the time keeper Kronika, is looking to rewrite history due to Raidens constant interference with her plans. It’s fun, features a number of twists, and allows you to play every heroic character, proving a diverse experience that ends pretty definitively all things considered. It runs at a breakneck pace, but luckily there are instances in where you can select the character which gives some replayability.
Outside of the campaign, players can engage in various online and offline modes. The towers make a return as you’re able to complete the Klassic towers, which act as a traditional arcade mode or you can engage in the Towers of Time, which provide unique encounters that reward players with loot. The Towers of Time constantly reset after a certain period of time, giving you a new challenge to look forward too. Some towers are more challenging than others, my favorites are the ones where you’re allowed to call in a partner.
Winning and completing challenges rewards players with in-game currency that consists of Koins, Hearts, and Souls, all which can be spent in the Krypt. This is an area in which you’re able to explore Shang Tsung’s island and spend your currency to receive rewards. The island has a number of puzzles to solve, but even these require the use of in-game currency. This is where the grind comes in and if we’re being honest, it can be a bit of a slog. While Netherrealm Studios has promised to make changes, the fact remains that the grind can feel pretty unrewarding especially given the costs of certain chests. With all of the things that Mortal Kombat 11 does right, this is a major misstep.
Fighting games have quietly made a resurgence this generation and Mortal Kombat 11 is easily one of the best. It is just welcoming enough to be appealing to new players but has a deep learning curve for those that want a technical fighter to sink their teeth into. There is more than enough content online and offline to keep players satisfied for a long time.