Honed to perfection, NetherRealm Studios has been consistently blending fighting games with finely tuned gameplay and visual fidelity like no other. The first two Injustice games set a new standard for the genre, and with Mortal Kombat 11, the developers have reached an apex, creating not just the best Mortal Kombat ever, but also arguably the best NetherRealm game to date.
Even since its debut 27 years ago, the ultraviolent fighting game maintains its appeal amongst both the casual and the hardcore. Retaining its 2D fighting plane roots, Mortal Kombat 11 can appear simplistic at first glance, but go beyond the basic pair of punch and kick buttons, and a whole new world opens up.
The combo system is one of the most robust to date, requiring precise button combinations that can give rise to intricate and more importantly, damaging combos, that can devastate your opponents.
Having gotten a taste of such a system in Injustice 2, returning players will only benefit from one of the most complete and all-encompassing tutorials in video games to date. Basic fundamentals to zoning, frame traps, block advantage and the like, including key concepts to high-level play, can all be learned from Mortal Kombat 11’s wonderful tutorials.
It all plays into how Mortal Kombat 11 tweaks the formula you may have been familiar with. The speed of combat has been dramatically reduced, attacks more deliberate, and it becomes even more of a thought exercise with every bout. Go all gung-ho and prepare to be punished severely, as this is a fighting game of positioning and strategy.
Punishing is not only satisfying realisation of great defensive play, but the new Krushing Blows also give players even more incentive to defend well. These special critical punishes are activated at certain situations, such as countering with an uppercut, and can give technical fighters a great window to unleash juggle combos.
Not only that, you get to see your opponents’ bones and innards get crushed as they deserve.
The Offensive and Defensive meters play a huge part in that as well, giving players the options to pull off rolls, rising attacks, amplifying moves, extending combos, and more. Having sequestered such mechanics away from the powerful Fatal Blow gives players more freedom in matches.
The flashy and crushing Fatal Blows are often swift, and with only one per match, bouts can become even more exciting nearing the end as you and your opponents compete to see who blinks first.
Add to that the most gorgeous and gruesome Fatalities and Brutalities to date in franchise’s history, and Mortal Kombat 11 shines bright like a bloody diamond.
Not only is Mortal Kombat 11 great at combat, the story crafted by NetherRealm is also pretty enjoyable, bordering on the ridiculous that fares well with the franchise’s overall theme. We’re not sure how much involvement Mortal Kombat co-creator and NetherRealm Studios creative director Ed Boon had in the game (we’re guessing quite a bit), but topping off at about six hours, expect grandiose set pieces held together by some great acting, and a story that helps flesh out every fighter’s turn in the limelight.
Picking up right after Mortal Kombat X, we are introduced to the time-controlling Kronika, a powerful adversary that seeks to undo the actions of Raiden. His decapitation of the Elder God, Shinnok, has upset the balance of good and evil, and it does not sit well with Kronika.
Cue time travelling and a mind-warping clash of heroes and villains from past and present. Not only does this throw up some truly iconic moments that allow for reflection for the many characters in Mortal Kombat 11, it also sets up plenty for fans to chew on in terms of lore.
If multiplayer is more your thing, the online play in Mortal Kombat 11 is fantastic, and could be the main component that keeps players coming back for more.
With casual and ranked matches, King of the Hill, and the returning AI matches from Injustice 2, there is always a way to find your fix. Do take note, however, that ranked play only allows for two premade presets for each character, and these presets only exist in ranked play.
This means you literally have to practice with them against other players, or create them in order to familiarise yourself with the moves.
Ranked play also removes some of the more effective moves for some characters, like Scorpion’s Misery Blade, which gives both range and damage. If that is a bummer, casual matches place no such restrictions, so feel free to fight away.
Following Injustice 2’s gear system, Mortal Kombat 11 has also added their own twists this time around, with no stat bonuses to boot. With a substantial amount of customization options (over 60 skins, 90 pieces of gear, 10 techniques), your fighter will definitely stand on their own, especially in online play.
Aside from earning them in the story mode, Mortal Kombat 11’s Krypt and Towers of Time will be your main source of unlockables.
The Krypt lets you into a huge dungeon containing treasure chests that require currency to open, simple enough. Unfortunately, with randomized loot, your hard work could easily lead to mediocre gear that is simply not worth it. Overcoming near death only to be rewarded with concept art or more currency is just infuriating.
The Krypt comes across as explorable dungeon with loot boxes, and even with the inclusion of puzzles to solve and Easter Eggs to stumble upon, is too barebones to say the least.
The Towers of Time does not fare better, where a collection of challenging towers await with a central theme. This is totally fine, except that some of the modifiers can be downright annoying and not fun at all.
Rather than being challenging, it can be pretty unfair when you have to deal with opponents with twice your health while getting shocked if you stay close for more than just a second.
Using consumables can prolong your survivability, but cheesing it is not a way to enjoy the wonderful combat in Mortal Kombat 11. The balance needs to be found in Towers of Time, and fast.
While plenty has been discussed regarding microtransaction in Mortal Kombat 11, however, the Premium Shop is still currently empty, and we do not have any idea what can be bought with real-world money outside of the Kombat Pack that adds in six DLC characters, with only Shang Tsung being announced.
All other characters are unlocked at the start so players are free to choose who to start their journey with.
It can be worrisome, as the randomized nature of loot and progression of Mortal Kombat 11’s gear system can be easily exploited to take advantage of gamers. However, until we know more about the microtransactions, we are not at liberty to take that into consideration.
Counting out the rather frustrating gear progression and potentially dangerous microtransactions that await in the Krypt and Towers of Time, Mortal Kombat 11 proves it is more than just a gorefest.
Everything from its deep and robust systems, to the wonderfully silly story mode, to a roster of characters that cater to plenty of playstyles, Mortal Kombat 11 proves its worth and is undeniably the king of a bloody good time.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
The best Mortal Kombat ever made, there is no reason not to join the fight with gorgeous visuals to boot.
Gameplay - 9/10
Story - 9/10
Presentation - 10/10
Value - 9/10