Review: Mortal Kombat 11 (2019)

NetherRealm Studios' MK11 is the best and most accessible Mortal Kombat game yet

NetherRealm Studios is back with what is perhaps its greatest game yet. In the eleventh main instalment of the series, Mortal Kombat 11 brings with it a roster of iconic characters and a new level of gameplay that surpasses its predecessors. The quality of gameplay is quickly catching up to the level of gore the series is known for and with plenty features to dive into MK11 is ready to take on both new and returning players.

The story of Mortal Kombat 11 picks up where Mortal Kombat X left off and introduces us to new big bad, Kronika. With plans of rewriting history to remove Raiden from existence, Kronika uses her time bending abilities to bring past and present eras together. With so many characters and so much happening in the Mortal Kombat series, newcomers will unsurprisingly feel overwhelmed jumping straight into MK11’s story mode. However, fear not as Kronika’s time manipulation means that events from previous games are naturally brought to the forefront. Of course, a lot of lore will be lost but the relationship between characters and general plot are simple enough to follow. This story mode is also perfect for casual or returning fans with classic versions of characters once again becoming playable as part of the plot.

MK11’s story mode follows the same format as previous instalments and gives you around six hours of gruesome over the top combat. There are 12 chapters in total with each once again focusing on a different character, with some chapters giving you the chance to choose between two fighters. There are four to five fights in each chapter and you’ll probably spend more time watching the story play out than actually fighting, which is not really much of a concern considering the majority of hours put into any Mortal Kombat game is generally spent in its various fight modes.

In addition to MK11’s story mode, we also see the return of the Towers mode. Klassic Towers is a straightforward single-player mode where you face a series of opponents before eventually fighting Kronika. Towers of Time is the more challenging limited-time towers mode that features a constantly rotating series of opponents with unique modifiers that add an extra challenge. To help you in Towers of Time, MK11 allows you to use konsumables, limited-use items that level up the playing field. Konsumables are obtained as a reward for completing other towers or by spending accumulated in-game currency to unlock chests in the krypt. Unfortunately, what konsumable you receive is completely random, so you can only hope you get lucky and find what you’re looking for. The Towers of Time mode has so far received a lot of complaints over the difficulty. The modifiers that are placed on each match mean the odds are greatly stacked against the player and the rewards for successfully completing a tower have been deemed inadequate. However, NetherRealm has swiftly addressed these issues and has already rolled out a fix that minimises the effect of modifiers and has future plans to improve rewards.

The krypt in MK11 is navigated through a third person perspective and serves the same purpose as those in previous games. The sprawling dungeon is made up of numerous rooms which can be accessed by breaking down doors, solving puzzles, and retrieving certain key items. In the hundreds of chests that are scattered around the krypt you will find things like cosmetic items, artwork, character brutalities, tower konsumables, and crafting materials.

Each chest requires a form of in-game currency to be opened, which can be obtained simply by playing the game. Standard chests can be opened using koins, flame chests and Shao Khan chests are opened by hearts, and soul chests need soul fragments. The Shao Khan chests which cost 250 hearts contain pre-determined loot, but unfortunately the contents in all others is randomised. This means that sourcing important loot such as tower konsumables can become difficult and time consuming. The krypt is where you will also find the forge, which allows you to craft your own konsumables using the materials found in chests.

As you probably know, Mortal Kombat isn’t your typical beat ‘em up game and employs a button combo system to perform most attacks. These combos require knowledge of specific button combinations that need to be pressed in quick succession to successfully complete a move. This is obviously not beginner friendly and can be very complicated for newcomers, but luckily Mortal Kombat 11 has an incredibly detailed tutorial system that covers everything from the basics all the way to advanced techniques and fatality training. The game also features character specific tutorials which helps you get to grips with each character and gives you an in-depth understanding of each. You can also tag moves so that the combo sequence is displayed on the screen, which comes in very handy when playing as an unfamiliar character.

While the gameplay is very much classic Mortal Kombat¸ MK11 has brought with it a few changes. The gameplay has been slowed down a lot with walking speeds being reduced as well as the removal of the run button. There is also a new much simpler duel meter system in play. The offensive meter is used for enhancing special moves while the defensive meter does the opposite and allows you to up your defence by using combo breaking moves and environmental interactions. Another new feature is the fatal blow comeback mechanic, which every character can use once their health bar falls below thirty percent. While the name suggests that these moves are fatal, that is not the case and will often not even end a round. You can only use these fatal blows once per round so it’s important not to use it at the first opportunity, as this move can quickly become a game changer.

MK11’s fight mode is where you will find all local and online match options. If you want to play online all the expected options are available including ranked and casual matches, as well as King of the Hill. You also have the option to take part in an AI battle where you create a team of customised characters then put them up against an online opponent’s.

Mortal Kombat 11 does a great job of attracting new players and despite being the eleventh core game in the series it is very easy to pick up if you have little to no prior knowledge of the Mortal Kombat universe. There’s a lot to like about Mortal Kombat 11, and while the story does become slow, it is still very enjoyable to play through and watch the brutal and beautiful HD violence play out. The stunning graphics, the 20+ character roster, the customisation options, and the comprehensive tutorial system all work perfectly together to give an overall great gameplay experience.

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