Disclaimer: Thank you Warner Bros. for providing a copy of Mortal Kombat 11 for the use of this review. That being said, the thoughts and impressions within this review are completely independent. This is an M-rated game, and has been reviewed as such. Enjoy!
Those were 500 dollar sunglasses asshole, says Johnny Cage. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Mortal Kombat is back. No introduction is needed for the major hit series from NetherRealm Studios, this marking their 11th main installment in their long line of gruesome, blood-soaked fighters. Mortal Kombat originally released back in 1992 on many consoles of its generation, and has since captivated players, and adapted and grown for just over 25 years now, yet still offers that iconic over-the-top violence that we know and love. Over this time, the series has forgone many changes, from 3D trends to the 2.5D worlds we see mostly today. That said, really, any fan of the series knows what to expect from an MK game, and thus, expect from this review.
Being a huge fan of gory greatness, it’s nice to see that NetherRealm brought a lot to the table on this front once again. MK 11 is packed full of face smashing, leg ripping, nut punching power, and doesn’t at all hold back. The ability of pushing someone’s face into a blade or even ramming them full pelt into spikes – piercing their eyeballs, is quite satisfying from a twisted point of view, and will keep players thinking “Shit, that’s F’cked up” for a good while yet to come. Mortal Kombat, as aforementioned, needs no introduction. It’s a side view 2.5D fighting game with lots of blood, entrails, and gore, and still to this day, the same gameplay methodology exists. MK 11 does, however, have a few tricks up its sleeve when compared to its immediate predecessor.
You now have two new bars in the bottom corner of the screen, one for attack and one for defense. Using the controller’s right bumper, you can either use these bars to deflect or make an attack stronger during the middle of a combo to cause more damage or break a combo, depending on the scenario. Depending which action you use, the bars will drain, but will refill again by hitting or blocking regular attacks. It sounds technical, but it’s not so bad once you see it for yourself. At first, everything can seem a little overwhelming but we’ll break it down and hopefully give you an idea on making MK a little easier to understand. Let’s start with the modes. Mortal Kombat has several modes to earn money and other currencies to buy more items and cosmetics. The basic modes for now; story and towers.
The story of MK 11 introduces a new type of disturbance in the MK universe. That being time itself in the form of a new female foe, Kronica, who can alter and shift time to her liking, and create new paths or erase existence altogether via a giant hourglass. Along this journey time will overlap and in doing so, fighters from the past and present will meet and scrap for what they believe to be the right cause. The story itself is well written and brings up old characters from the franchise, some of which are not even playable…yet. Outside of returning faces, the game also introduces new characters, such as Geras; who comes across more like a brick wall than a character – a powerful and loyal servant of Kronika. Of course, fan favorites are present and accounted for; Baraka, Raiden, Skarlet, Scorpion, Sonya Blade, Sub-Zero and the rest.
The story mode also, at certain points, gives you the chance to choose which character you’d like to fight as within certain situations, as most the time you always have someone else with you tagging along through the plot. Playing through the story mode casually offers rewards and cosmetics, so I’d advise starting with this mode first and foremost, as it’s a good introduction as to how each character works, and often gives you at least a sense of familiarity and insight. Moving on from story mode leads us to the towers. Towers are a string of fights in which you must make it from the bottom to the top, defeating a certain amount of characters and earning rewards for your troubles.
Now, there are different towers to chose from; Online Time Towers offer events to complete within the given time before another event starts. Klassic Towers are much like the original games, offering rewards and game endings for the character you complete the tower with. Time Towers are tricky and require a basic-to-good understanding of the game to avoid dying at the word go. I’d certainly start with the Klassic Towers just to get a feel for it, then maybe work to putting your name on the all important boards. During most tower challenges, online or not, you may come across modifiers. These are little aids during fights and helps give you an upper hand in the tougher bouts. These can be activated before fights and have a range of effects; like acid rain which will drain health from your opponent, or, even a meat head that will chomp its way across the screen for support.
Even calling for other character support mid-fight is possible and adds a fun approach to the game. Collectively, this will all earn you rewards and currency towards upgrading and personalizing your favorite character(s). Customization is another new element in MK, with the ability to change certain elements of a character to spice things up a bit. Players can customize their fighters with a variety of skins, gear, special abilities, intro and victory cinematics, taunts and brutalities; all that can be netted through natural play. A little disappointing is the confines of customization, with you only being able to change three personalized items per-character, four if you include the color of your outfit. Example; Lui Kang can only change his headband, nunchucks, and belt medallion.
There are a wide range of cosmetics to use, but only being able to change three types seems a little lacking overall. You can also tweak your play-styles as well by adding or removing moves that you like or dislike, providing you the tools to create a fighter of your dreams. Now, where can I collect these cosmetics? you ask! Well, in recent installments of MK there has been the krypt, and why should this one be any different? The krypt is the third-person playable shop of the MK universe. Using the gold coins, green orbs, or red hearts (all a type of currency earned from pre-mentioned activities) you are able to search for and open chests in a massive arena style area. In doing so will grant many goodies from MK art through to soundtrack music and yes, more cosmetics.
Rare drops of good items can take time to show, so don’t be shy, just run around opening everything you can afford. One new tool is the ability to reset the krypt and being able to buy the lesser chests from the start again, saving coin and hopefully finding some nice acquisitions; a bit of grinding can be expected through this experience. Grinding isn’t a strong point for me really, a game really needs to pull me in to get me grinding. So far I’ve had that much of a good time with MK 11 that it hasn’t bothered me just yet, and the plus side, I would much rather grind for some new fatalities than throw real-life money into the mix.
Call me old-school, but I miss the X-Ray moves. Okay, don’t get me wrong, they are still apparent in MK 11 as well, but not quite as featured as say, MK 9. All round though, I have to say that MK 11 has done a good job in moving forward. The new attack and defense bars certainly make things easier once you can master the timing. Multiplayer is there, of course, if you’ve got the guts to jump online and see how you fare. I know there’s some pretty kick-ass players here, so watch your backs. If you got a few extra bucks, you can grab yourself the Kombat Pack which will unlock new characters as and when they release. Rumor has it Ash Williams may make an appearance sometime down the track, but we’ll see. For now, MK is a solid fighter that looks great, sounds epic, and feels amazing. Further, it’s X-Enhanced and looks outstanding on the Xbox One X.
Mortal Kombat 11 delivers on what you would expect from the acclaimed long running series of iconic blood-soaked fisticuffs. The end result, despite a painful grind, offers a solid experience that looks great, feels amazing, and succeeds in keeping the franchise alive and revitalized, yet again. If you’re looking for one of the gen’s next best fighters, get over here!
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.