In recent years NetherRealm Studios has had a streak of hits, with the Mortal Kombat and Injustice titles giving the studio plenty of repeat business from gamers who enjoy their fighting games.
Their latest offering is Mortal Kombat 11 (MK 11), and is perhaps their most rounded iteration in the franchise to date, learning from previous titles to deliver a game that’s well balanced, if a little short on the story mode side of things.
Having spent the past Easter weekend playing MK 11, here’s what we did and did not enjoy about NetherRealm’s new fighting game.
A quick brawl
One of the better aspects of MK 11 is the story mode. Over the past two decades the lore for Mortal Kombat has gotten rather weird, and it’s equally strange for this version. More specifically we’re greeted by a new antagonist in Kronika, whose time shifting powers sees her wanting to change the timeline from its current course.
As such it serves as a slight retconning for the Mortal Kombat franchise, but in all honesty, Kronika doesn’t quite feel like as menacing a presence as say Shao Kahn or Shinnok do.
Rather it’s the interactions between the different factions in the MK roster, as well as the addition of merging timelines and universes that propels the story mode.
It’s engaging, well-crafted, has enjoyable cut scenes and gives you a taste of all the fighters and the different styles on offer in Mortal Kombat 11. Our only issue is that it’s too short, taking roughly five hours to complete if you count all the cutscenes, and quite simply that’s not long enough in our books.
Perhaps it’s a credit to NetherRealm’s team that we were left wanting more.
Speaking of the different fighter styles, having given most of the known roster a try, it seems like there are three specific approaches available in MK 11.
There are heavy hitters like Kotal Kahn, counter attackers such as Kitana and quick strikers in the form of Liu Kang. Within that are of course a few variations, with some better equipped to deliver kicks over punches, but each of the styles have their advantages.
Heavy hitters are good in close quarters, counter attackers perfect for baiting and attacking, and quick strikers well equipped at stringing together multiple combinations.
Being big fans of Raiden, we naturally gravitated towards him while doing the AI battles, but over the course of the story mode, we found Kitana to be the most effective fighter in our experience, and opted for her once that campaign was done.
As such it goes to show that each fighter created in MK 11 has their value, and it’s not just the biggest or baddest option that you should aim for.
Sticking with the fighting, NetherRealm has changed a few things up from Mortal Kombat X. For one the angle of the fights is far tighter than it was previously, with the studio clearly having learned a few things from Injustice 2.
It makes the fights more intimate and immerse you in the action, not relying on switches to different environments or elaborate transitions to keep players interested. As such this iteration of Mortal Kombat keeps far truer to the arcade style that the game was first known for.
A few more aspects that MK 11 has borrowed from its DC superhero brethren is the gear system. It doesn’t play as huge a role in the story mode for MK 11 as it did in Injustice 2, but it is a part of the rewards you earn and the Kustomize option of the game.
As such you’ll be able to swap of cosmetic elements for your Mortal Kombat fighter, as well as the moves they employ. This will be particularly important for those who wish to fight online or craft their skills for esports tournaments. For the more general gamer though, it simply allows you to play with the look of your fighter.
Looking at some of the other changes that NetherRealm has made, the Krypt section has been given an overhaul. More specifically players will take on the role of a non-descript fighter as they explore Shang Tsung’s island opening up treasure-laiden chests, provided they have the Koin to do so.
A nice touch we also saw was the addition of Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, who plays Shang Tsung in the 1995 Mortal Kombat film, greeting gamers as they enter and make their way around the Krypt.
Mortal Kombat 11 has a little something for everybody. Fans of the franchise will enjoy the tighter, more arcade-focused gameplay, and newcomers can be engrossed with the engaging but short story mode.
The only thing missing is that loot is hard to come by, and despite there being quite a bit to earn, it never has the pay off one expects. Having finished the story mode for example, there was little in terms of rewards, apart from alternative skins for some of the characters.
As such there’s not enough to keep players coming back for more, unless of course they’re entrenched within the Mortal Kombat online or esports communities.
MK 11 may be a well-rounded game, but it needs more to keep you interested.