STAFF REVIEW of Mortal Kombat 11 (Xbox One)

Wednesday, June 19, 2019.
by Jennifer Dingle

Mortal Kombat 11 Box art Mortal Kombat was come a long way since I first laid my hands on the 1992 arcade classic. I have such fond memories of sneaking into the pool hall I was forbidden to go to by my parents to play the fighting game filled with extreme gore and violence. I’ve played nearly every game since then, so needless to say, my excitement for Mortal Kombat 11, released earlier this spring, was extremely high. After playing for nearly a month, I can confidently say this is probably one of the best in the history of the series.

A narrative that continues the saga of Mortal Kombat 9 and X, MK 11 offers a chaotic and completely over-the-top experience filled with time-travel and family legacies. I won’t go into detail regarding the story, but it’s a great place to start for those who may be unfamiliar with the series, as it introduces the fighting styles of each character in the roster.

Speaking of the roster, it’s a hefty cast of characters, including long-time fan favourites like Raiden and Scorpion, and newcomers like Geras, Kollector and Centrion. And players will be pleased to know that Shang Tsung, Nightwolf, Sindel and Spawn will soon be joining the fight in the first MK Kombat Pack.

I was incredibly impressed by the character customization available. It’s extremely deep and much more extensive then any MK game I’ve ever played! You can change how your character looks, with a wide variety of character skins, abilities, taunts, gear, Brutalities, Fatalities and entrance videos that can be earned by a variety of different ways in-game.

Which brings me to the Krypt, where you can randomly find these character customizations. I’ve always been a big fan of exploring this vast, creepy maze, and the Krypt in MK 11 is nothing less than awesome. It’s a nice distraction from the fast paced gameplay, to wander around Shang Tsung’s island, uncover ancient artifacts, open chests and smash vases. There are puzzles to solve, throwbacks to memorable moments in the series, lots of jump scares and numerous delightfully creepy moments.

My only disappointment is the chests themselves. I certainly don’t expect amazing rare loot when I spend 2000 Koins to open a chest, but I also expect something a little more substantial than concept art when I spend 10,000. It’s especially disappointing when in-game currency (Koins, Hearts and Souls Fragments) can be quite a grind to obtain. That said, NetherRealms rewarded players with 500,000 Koins shortly after the game released, which made traversing through the Krypt a little more enjoyable. Still, I burned through those Koins very quickly and have very little gear or skins to show for it, and have many, many chests that have yet to be opened.

The Towers of Time offers players a chance to test their skills, earn Koins, epic gear and Konsumables (which can only be used in this mode) in character specific towers that become increasingly difficult (and sometimes downright impossible) as you beat one character and move onto the next, until you reach a final boss. Defeat all opponents to complete a Tower and claim its rewards.

Playing through these Towers is no easy feat. In fact, there were many complaints at release that these towers were almost nearly impossible to play through. However, NetheraRealm listened to its community and updated these towers to make them more accessible. Personally, I still find them quite tough, and it’s probably my least favourite game mode. However, you are rewarded handsomely, so if you have the patience and skill, then the Towers of Time is the best place to grind for those precious Koins and experience.

The Klassic Towers offer five different levels, from Novice to Survivor to play through on whatever difficulty level you choose. It’s a great way to earn Koins and I quite enjoyed the old arcade style of this mode. It’s also great practice before attempting the Towers of Time.

With so much single player content, I must admit barely spent time online or facing off against an opponent locally. But fans of the series will be happy to know that multiplayer modes Versus and King of the Hill return for you to face off against opponents in ranked or Kasual matches online, or play locally against a friend or CPU. I ventured very briefly online only to be faced with utter humiliation after playing a random opponent! Still, it’s great fun to playing with friends, both online and off, even if they ignore you plea to wait while you figure out a move (I may or may not be this person!). Just a note, for those playing MK 11 on Xbox One. I was rewarded with a download code for the 1995 Mortal Kombat movie after playing a few rounds online.

Perhaps it was just me, but I noticed a slight change of pace from previous games, and felt the controls were somewhat slower. Though I don’t consider this a bad thing, especially for a somewhat unskilled player like myself. I was able to complete combos successfully and block at just the right time. I truly felt like I was a worthy opponent despite my skill level.

Fans will be pleased to know that the gruesome Fatalities and Brutalities have returned (no Babality though... I miss those!). And remember the X-Ray moves from previous games? Replacing that mechanic is the Fatal Blow; a devastating move that crushes your opponent with a gloriously gory cinematic. Despite the name, a Fatal Blow will not end the fight, but will deal quite a bit of damage to your opponent’s health bar. There also Krushing Blows, not quite as powerful, but a fighter will deliver a hit that is harder and stronger. Players are rewarded with a quick X-ray cutscene that shows just how devastating the blow to their body was. Both are delightfully over-the-top in true MK style.

I won’t lie. Despite my love of MK games, I am certainly not very skilled. I wouldn’t say that I button mash, but I have tendency to spam a move once mastered and always seem to take too long to perform a Fatality, disappointingly leaving my opponent to fall without backwards without a gruesome finish that I hoped for. Thankfully, MK 11 offers a fantastic tutorial system, and even the extreme novice can easily learn basic techniques such a block, how to implement intricate combinations, where to stand and how to interact with the environment. I was extremely pleased that after playing through this mode that I could successfully perform each characters fatality.

Visually, MK 11 was spectacular. I had the pleasure of playing on a 4K TV which made gruesome Fatalities and Fatal Blows look especially gory. Typical of an MK game, there are things happening in the background, and much like the previous two games, with a flick of the trigger button, players can interact with items in the background and use them to harm their opponent. The cinematic cutscenes in the story mode were fantastic, and I love how the cutscenes seamlessly transitioned into gameplay.

The character models looked amazing, the new costume designs were gorgeous and I definitely appreciate that the women’s outfits were not as skimpy as they were in previous games. The voice acting was great, with the exception of Ronda Rousey’s abysmal portrayal of Sonya Blade. And fans of the Mortal Kombat movie will be happy to learn that the actor who played Shang Tsung in the movie voices Shang Tsung in the game.

The grinding to earn Koins can be a bit tedious, and the Towers of Time is generally not very fun, but otherwise Mortal Kombat 11 was a joy to play. It’s also absolutely fantastic to look at, especially in glorious 4K. There is tons of replay value, with something for both long time veterans and newcomers to the series to enjoy.

The gameplay is still filled with the gruesome and gory violence that we’ve come to know and love, the extensive character customization is a welcome addition and the chance of pace is something this longtime fan appreciates. Mortal Kombat 11 is definitely something that any fighting game aficionado should add to their Kollection.

Overall: 9.0 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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