In the modern world where everything needs to be rebooted and reimagined, it’s nice to see that certain franchises remain true to their roots. Monster Hunter might be newer and shinier, but it’s recognizably Monster Hunter, for instance. Meanwhile, Mega Man’s latest outing is just as Mega Man as ever. Likewise, Mortal Kombat has made its way to the modern era largely intact, retaining all its gruesome glory and doing much to inspire the way fighting games work these days. Mortal Kombat 11 is no exception – it’s a fantastic example of everything great about fighters today.
The Mortal Kombat universe hasn’t been in very good shape lately. Since MK9, premonitions and divine intervention have caused all manner of problems, leading to a Kombativerse much unlike the one we knew in years past. Turns out that not everyone thinks that’s such a good thing. In fact, Kronika, the Titan of Time, is pretty against anything that messes with the timeline. She’s so against it that she’s going to rewind history back to the beginning, destroying the universe and starting a New Era. The only ones that stand against her are the Kombatants – well, what’s left of them after the last couple of games, anyway.
This is a fighting game! When I was a kid, we called these “punch-and-kicks.” Maybe that’s just me. If you’ve played one of the modern Mortal Kombats before you’ll probably feel right at home. Changes to the basic formula include the separation of your power meter into offensive and defensive pools, the addition of powerful Krushing Blow attacks that serve as rewards for particularly potent hits and a brutal set of comeback moves called Fatal Blows.
The variation system returns as well, this time incorporating the ability to create and customize your own variation, and you can choose from a wide pool of characters to do so. There aren’t too many complete newkom–er, newcomers, and not everyone from previous games returns. Sorry, Stryker fans. Still, re-imaginings of characters like Frost make for good times and chances are you’ll find someone you like.
MK11’s got several mode options for all your fighting needs. The series’ story mode is present and great as ever, for one, and we see the return of randomized mini-campaigns a la Injustice 2 in the form of the Towers of Time. You’ve got online fighting, offline fighting, the works. Throughout your punching and kicking adventures, you’ll earn various currencies (kurrencies?) that can be spent in the Krypt, presented here as a sort of Zelda-style mini-adventure with its own puzzles to solve and treasure to collect. You can earn everything from concept art to new skins in the Krypt, making it a great unifying mode that keeps the game feeling fresh, especially since recent updates have increased the amount of currency you get from gameplay so it doesn’t feel like much of a grind.
From a presentation perspective, well, it’s the latest Mortal Kombat game. Of course it looks fantastic. Why wouldn’t it? Characters typically benefit from fresh and interesting redesigns, they look great in action and, of course, the fatalities and brutalities are something to behold. I especially appreciated the new tendency to freeze-frame at the most gruesome moment of any given finisher, allowing you to really appreciate all the viscera. It’s great, really.
That goes for the whole game, all things konsidered. Mortal Kombat 11 is absolutely packed to the brim with content. Thanks to the solid fighting engine at its core, gathering the koins, souls and hearts you need to unlock all that content is addictive rather than painful. Even if you only pick this one up to play the cinematic story mode, it’s absolutely worth the time and money.