BY DEAN MOSES
Game: Mortal Kombat 11 Platform: Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Rating: M for Mature
Mortal Kombat is perhaps one of the most recognizable video game titles to a non-video game audience next to Mario and Tomb Raider. This long-running franchise has transcended the medium by branching out to spin-offs, movies, TV series, a web series, a children’s carton show, and even action figures. With such a storied history, how does the eleventh installment stack up?
The Past and Present Kollide
The Mortal Kombat timeline has gone through some confusing and convoluted subplots over the years, which led to the series getting a reboot back in 2011. But despite all the narrative intricacies, the basic premise is this: another realm known as Outworld yearns to invade and conquer earth; however, in order to do so they must best our greatest fighters in ten straight tournaments known as Mortal Kombat. Many epic battles were had yet ultimately earth was victorious. Since that time numerous heroes have become villains while some villains have transformed into heroes, enemies grew into friends and vice versa. This all really develops into chaotic territory when in this latest outing an evil being known as Kronika mixes up time, introducing combatants from the first Mortal Kombat to their selves of today. Not only does this provide an intriguing story and a dose of nostalgia for longtime fans, it also showcases how much each one of them have changed, some for the better, others for the worse. Fans can also look forward to the star-studded cast of actors who voiced their favorite characters: Rhonda Rousey (Sonya Blade), Andrew Bowmen (Johnny Cage), Troy Baker (Erron Black), and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (reprises his role as Shang Tsung from the 1995 Mortal Kombat film).
Originally Mortal Kombat wasn’t known for a deep fighting system, it was made famous by its unrelentless depiction of gore during a time when most games were family friendly. And while the gore level hasn’t dwindled, the gameplay has vastly matured with its fanbase, boosting a far more technical system. Things have certainly been refined since the early days. Fighters have their very own combos that can be pulled off through a set button arrangement, as can their singular special moves such as Sub Zero’s power to freeze his opponents or Liu Kang’s capacity to hurl fireballs. The player has to be mindful of which character they are up against due to each one’s unique move set—do you block projectiles or watch your back as some fighters can jump off-screen and appear behind you. Another feature has been added this time around in the form of the final blow. When the health bar drops to a dangerously low point, a special can be triggered which sees a brutal combo let loose that can truly turn the tide of battle.
Other than story mode, players can partake in the classic towers mode—pick a fighter and take on waves of enemies—time towers which change after a certain a-mount of hours, online modes, and the Krypt, a section where the player uses the coins they have earned throughout the game to open boxes full of rewards like new costumes and moves that can be added to their favorite fighter. We reviewed Mortal Kombat 11 on the Switch, so in sections such as the Krypt the visuals are noticeably lacking in comparison to the PS4 and Xbox One versions, and it lags slightly in some cut-scenes in story mode. However, it stands up impressively well in the fighting portions.
Many have complained about how much of a slog it can be to earn coins in Mortal Kombat 11, yet to me the game is enjoyable enough to make it worth the time. The franchise’s signature fatalities are back and bloodier than ever, this combined with a rioting story and comprehensive gameplay gives this latest iteration a flawless victory.