Mortal Kombat 11 has just released. With 27 years of experience and two great franchises under the belt of NetherRealms, is MK still the king of kombat?
1992 was a great year. We got Aladdin, Wayne’s World and Alien 3 (OK, maybe not so much the last one), and we also got the greatest fighting video game ever (we said it again), Mortal Kombat.
So, we’ve had 27 years of button mashing, ‘Fatalities’, outstanding characters and, most importantly, the argument over who was better: Scorpion or Sub Zero (Sub Zero clearly).
What makes Mortal Kombat stand out from other brawlers such as Tekken and Street Fighter? Well besides the iconic characters, stunning graphics and smooth combat, its Mortal Kombat’s gore-filled Fatalities. Getting to the end of a fight and hearing the announcer’s iconic “FINISH HIM/FINISH HER” – and, once you enter in the required button combination, being prepared for some truly gruesome final blows.
What further enhances Mortal Kombat 11’s Fatalities is the sound. Hearing your opponent gurgle and cough as their lungs fill with blood, or hearing the sound of teeth crack will make your stomach turn. Trust us, these are not for the faint of heart – or for kids.
For those who’ve been paying attention, Mortal Kombat 11’s story follows straight on from Mortal Kombat X. With its story reboot in 2011’s Mortal Kombat, and the continuation with the Warriors of Earth Realm fighting against Shinnok in Mortal Kombat X, Mortal Kombat 11 may seem like a strange place to jump in on the story if you haven’t been keeping up with the Kombatians (sorry).
The story can be a little hard to catch up on, especially with some of the newer characters like Cassie Cage and Kotal Kahn, and why Sub Zero and Scorpion are working together (and aren’t in their traditional outfits). Basically, in Mortal Kombat 2011, the Thunder God Raiden went back in time and changed events in the Mortal Kombat history. With Outworld having a new ruler, and Kitana and Lui Kang being evil overlords in the Netherrealm, a new foe has come into play and is trying to reset the timeline again.
The combat in Mortal Kombat 11 is the best its ever been. If you played the closed beta a little while back, you were given a small taste of what to expect, and now we all get the full meal.
We’re given 21 characters to play from the start of Mortal Kombat 11, (22 characters if you pre-ordered the game). Not only do the iconic characters of old return (Raiden, Cage, Sonia, Kano), but some of the newer favourites from previous Mortal Kombat entries are back (Erron, D’Vorah, Kotal). In recent entries, players could use the x-ray bar to deal a heavy combo (these attacks would trigger close ups and x-rays anytime you’d hit your opponent).
In Mortal Kombat 11, the additional damage bar/x-ray bar has been changed. If you now reach 30% health remaining, you gain a ‘Fatal Combo’. By hitting both of the triggers, your fighter will do a brutal combo, but these combos now no longer have an x-ray effect. There are now attack and defence bars on the bottom of the screen, which can be used to cancel combos or deal additional damage (if you hit your opponent hard enough, this will trigger an x-ray hit).
Mortal Kombat’s iconic tower mode returns, which acts as an arcade mode, as well as timed tower mode. This acts similarly to the multiverse challenges in Injustice 2, with rewards for completing towers and defeating bosses.
Mortal Kombat 11 has taken more inspiration from its spiritual partner, Injustice 2 (also made by NetherRealm studios) and we can now not only ‘Kustomize’ the colours of the characters (anything that usually starts with a ‘C’ starts with a ‘K’ in Mortal Kombat 11), and even some of their equipment. In Injustice 2 players could change their gloves, boots, chest, head and weapons, and these would adjust the character stats (some armour could increase your health, but lower your speed). In Mortal Kombat 11 the costumes and colours are cosmetic, but some of your character’s weapons and accessories can deal additional damage (after you’ve used the items enough to unlock their statistical upgrades).
There are hundreds if not thousands of different customisation options per character, so if you prefer Scorpion to be in more of a traditional outfit then the option is there. With the return of unlockables, we also have the return of ‘The Krypt’. If you’ve never played a Mortal Kombat game with this before, it may seem like a strange addition. Everything you do in Mortal Kombat will give you ‘Koins’, which can be used to unlock chests in The Krypt. These chests contain multiple items such as costumes, fatalities, concept art, music, character intros/outros, weapons, skins and even some… premium currency. There are microtransactions in Mortal Kombat 11, though the only things that they apply to are easy Fatality tokens (allowing players to hit one button to execute a fatality), cosmetics and ‘Time Krystals’ (the premium currency).
With so many items to unlock, it can get frustrating wanting to nab a particular outfit for your favourite character and either having to grind in hope that the outfit is in The Krypt, or is a reward in the timed towers. Thankfully microtransactions aren’t waved in the player’s face.
With smooth, fluid and gruesome combat, an entertaining story (although it’s a little in-depth for newcomers to MK), Mortal Kombat 11 is a standout entry in the series. Learning from previous outings, and the Injustice titles, NetherRealm not only hold the title for the best fighting game of all time, they’ve made it near impossible for any other contender to get close (well, except perhaps for Injustice 3?)
Mortal Kombat 11 is available now for PS4, Xbox One and Switch.