Mortal Kombat 11 Review
Fernando Mendez | Posted on September 03, 2019
Choose Your Destiny!
Mortal Kombat 11 had one of the roughest starts compared to other Mortal Kombat games. As of right now, the game has 3.2 user score on Metacritic. The majority of the complaints include micro-transactions, small roster, single-player content, and female designs. To say that the game got bombed is an understatement. For me, this was the Mortal Kombat game I wanted to take seriously in competitive play. So seeing the game get review bombed was a bit surreal. After some time with Mortal Kombat 11, I feel like I understand why some people are disappointed by this title. However, as a newcomer, I must say that MK11 keeps drawing me back in.
The main issue that MK11 suffers is with the single-player content. Don’t get me wrong, the story mode is fun, but anything beyond that is exceedingly tedious. This is mainly due to the game’s main method of collecting gear which is the Krypt. The Krypt has the player exploring Shang Tsung’s island to find collectibles. These collectibles are found by opening random chests across the island by paying in-game currency: koins, hearts, and souls. However, to grind these items the player has to play the challenge towers. The challenge towers contain a gauntlet of different fights with various prerequisites and conditions. While currency can be obtained by playing locally or online, it’s usually faster to go through these challenge towers. When the game first launched many complained that the challenge towers were too difficult, which Netherrealms fixed in about a week. For me it doesn’t matter how easy or hard it is to go through these towers, the main issue I have with these challenge towers is that they are boring. I don’t want to play a fighting game just to fight a couple of AI opponents while some projectiles ruin the flow of the gameplay. It’s a tedious chore that makes this AAA game feel like a mobile game. This is mainly why people complained about microtransactions since it can eliminate some of the grind. The funny thing is that you don’t even have to go through the towers. There is an option to have an AI go through the tower for you with no setbacks. This is why I believe that the single-player experience for MK11 is dull, which is disappointing considering the previous installments. MK11 has little value beyond its story mode which is why I recommend casual players to stay away from the game.
However, MK11’s gameplay gives a slick, refreshing coat of paint that drew me in more than it’s previous installments. Gone are the awkward animations and lack of color from MKX replaced with smooth, quick gameplay accompanied by bright environments and characters. The main issue I had with previous MK games is that I find them clunky. In previous games, subtle things such as blocking an attack or performing a combo felt unsatisfying and unclear to me. MK11’s combat is quick-paced and satisfying with clear indications and sounds to keep me engaged. The controls carry from the previous games with two punch and kick buttons accompanied with a throw, block, and interact button. The single bar seen in the previous games is replaced with an offensive and defensive bar that each has two slots. Offense meter can be used to power up special moves, usually leading to high damage combos. Defensive meter gives the player the ability to escape an air combo by the cost of two bars or use a getup attack or roll escape at the cost of only one bar. With this new mechanic, players have the choice to go all out with enhanced moves for combos while still keeping their defensive options. It’s a unique system that fits well with the game’s faster combat. There are also crushing blows which are the high damaging version of certain moves if certain prerequisites are met. When a Krushing blow is performed a small cut scene plays showing the brutal damage in regular MK fashion. I like the crushing blow mechanic because it changes up the playstyle and creates exciting comebacks. What I hate about it is how inconsistent the Krushing blow requirements are handled throughout the roster. Some can be as simple as hitting a special move two times in a row or be as complicated as charging a special move for 5 seconds hoping your opponent will be dumb enough to get hit by it. On the other hand, fatal blows are the game’s main comeback mechanic. Fatal blows are brutal supers that can only be activated when the player is at low health. Fatal blows keep the match intense, especially when both players are at low health. And of course how can we forget about fatalities! In this game, each fatality is beautifully orchestrated to finish the opponent off and each one ends with an epic slow down. I understand fatalities are not everyone’s thing, but it’s Mortal Kombat so I have to mention how awesome they are. Overall the game’s core mechanics are well-done despite its flaws.
Mortal Kombat 11 is, unfortunately, a game that always has to be online. When you’re offline you can’t access any of the online modes, in-game currency, play the challenge towers, and more. This does pose a problem for the Nintendo Switch version, in that you won’t be able to play many features offline even if some of them don’t need the Internet.
Either way, the game’s online modes are well-done. There’s ranked, casual, king-of-the-hill, and private matches. There are also competitive seasons for players to compete for exclusive gear. In my experience, the online feature has been pretty good even with moderate connections. For reference, I’m playing the game on PC and the game has been running fine.
In tournament and ranked mode only two variations are available
As much praise as I have with the combat, there are several issues that I have with the game. The first issue is the custom variations. In Mortal Kombat 11 players can create presets that give a character certain special moves. Thankfully MK11 provides the freedom for the player to pick any combination of special moves right off the bat, as well as change the way their character looks. A major improvement from Injustice 2 where you had to grind for these moves. One issue I have is the limitation of customizability. If you play any casual mode the game has two preset variations along with any custom ones you made. However, if you play tournament or ranked, the variations are completely different. This is an issue because it divides the playstyle players are going to have in both modes. Of course, an easy solution is to create a variation for casual that mimics a competitive variation, but the player shouldn’t be limited in how they play. Several new and exciting special moves have been added to this game, yet many of them are unavailable in competitive play. I understand that it’s meant to balance the game, but the competitive players should not be tied to one playstyle. For example, let’s talk about the competitive variations of the most recent DLC character Shang Tsung. In his trailer, Shang Tsung was shown to have several special moves that pay homage to the classic Mortal Kombat ninjas, which got people hyped for his release. However, for some strange reason, the ninja moves that were prevalent and hyped up in the trailers are not available in any of the ranked variations. However, if you’re interested in playing the game casually you do have the freedom to customize your character in any way you like. It’s just a shame that competitive players are held back and I hope the developers at least give us more competitive variations to try in the future.
Another issue that I have seen brought up is the game’s lackluster roster. I’m gonna defend MK11 a bit here. MK11 has a roster of 24 base characters (not including DLC). Other successful fighting games have had the same number. Dragonball Fighterz had 24 characters in its initial roster, Soul Calibur 6 had around 21 characters, and Street Fighter V had around 16 characters at the start. So considering that this game starts with several characters similar to other fighting games, I don’t mind it as much. Although I can sympathize with people that don’t want to pay around $45 for the game’s DLC, which is a bit much. The current roster is fine.
A Game that Keeps Bringing Me Back
Netherrealm StudiosFuture DLC characters for MK11
Despite my gripes with the game, Mortal Kombat 11 is still the most fun I have had with a Mortal Kombat game. As a person that enjoys playing traditional 2d fighting games, MK11 was a smooth transition for me. Of course it was rough getting adjusted to the game’s mechanics, but in the end, I had fun. However, the game is not for everyone. I highly advise casuals-or anyone looking for an in-depth single-player experience-to stay away. While the story mode is fun, once it’s over the game does not have enough of a backbone to keep the player interested. Instead, MK11 relies on its multiplayer and challenge towers, with the ladder being a dull experience. If you’re looking for a fun new fighting game or if you want to get into the Mortal Kombat franchise then I recommend Mortal Kombat 11. In Combo Breaker, a popular Midwest fighting game tournament, Mortal Kombat 11 had the most attendants over any other game and it continues to be a popular fighting game in tournaments. With high tournament attendance and the first wave of DLC getting announced, I am confident that Mortal Kombat 11 will continue to be the king of gore-filled combat.