Mortal Kombat 11 is the third game in the successfully rebooted franchise. As a result, it shows the refinement and polish that comes from develpers who are truly at the top of their game. It also shows tendencies towards some of the worst trends in gaming today. The end result is a game that is both enthralling and infuriating.
What Is It?
Since the release of Mortal Kombat on the previous generation of consoles, the series has seen a return to form. The story was retold and expanded upon in some very effective ways. Main characters were not safe, and their deaths helped to tell a darker, more believable dark fantasy story.
This installment has the player going through a number of modes, with the Story mode being well worth the player’s time. The Elder God Kronika reveals herself to have been pulling the strings of time, manipulating the actions of everyone in the numerous realms. Raiden’s meddling disrupted her plans, and to set things right in her mind, she takes matters into her own hands. Merging all of the timelines into one causes chaos, but it also allows her to shape events once and for all… or so she believes.
This narrative device also allows for some very interesting character development for many of the main characters. Johnny gets to see just how much of a jerk he actually was when he was younger. Jax faces his inner demons. Kung Lao’s jealousy starts to show through. Those things just add a level of believability to the narrative that the older titles never had.
Playing through the story will have you facing off as several characters, with the occasional option to choose which character you want to play as part of the current chapter. You might want to follow Sub-Zero’s line, or you might want to see what Scorpion gets up to. It’s nice to be given the choice.
Why Should I Care?
Apart from the Story mode, Mortal Kombat 11 offers up a wealth of content, both single player and multiplayer. This is where the game starts to get confused. There are the expected Local fights, online multiplayer, but there are also AI battles where you can pit your fighters AI against that of other players in a sort of asyncronous multiplayer mode. There’s very little reason for this to be in the game, as it’s one of the most boring modes available.
The single player progression in Mortal Kombat games has always been tied to climbing towers whilst defeating opponents along the way. This remains true here, though the game takes it to a level of excess that’s just more irritating than it is fun.
There are the Klassic Towers, where you’ll face off against a set number of fighters. An Endless tower has you go for as long as you possibly can. There is also a Survival Tower where you’ll have to reach the top with a limited amount of health. If they had stopped there, it would have been fine, but they didn’t.
Mortal Kombat 11 has a Towers of Time mode where you can take on numerous challenges with different levels of difficulty and fight modifiers. These are refreshed every few days and provide an endless source of replayability. At least, that’s what NetherRealm would have us believe.
What it actually does is throw you into an unending grind for GGear and Augments for your character. Yes, Mortal Kombat 11 has fallen victim to the Live Service trap, and the result is irritating. There are hundreds of pieces of Gear, Skins, Augments, Konsumables, Forge Items, Currencies, and many less trvial things like Fatalities, Brutalities, Intros, and Taunts are locked away.
The game is throwing items at you so often that it’s more annoying than it is pleasing. Add to that a season pass and you end up with a game that is nearly drowning in Freemium mechanics.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
Here is where we get to the crux of the issue. When you are actually fighting in Mortal Kombat 11 the experience is a massive amount of fun. Whether on the sofa with a friend or playing online, the actual fighting is smooth, responsive, and offers an immense amount of depth.
Then there is the Krypt, which in this game is a third-person tour of Shang Tsung’s island from the original Mortal Kombat game. You can walk around here, open chests, solve puzzles, and enjoy the scenery. It’s also where the majority of the game’s unlockables are. It’s a neat touch, and seems like a natural evolution of the concept that began all the way back in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance.
These big sweeping features are all well and good, but sometimes it’s the little things that make a difference. MK11 has a number of options that can be toggled to help make the game more playable and enjoyable for those with visual or hearing disabilties. Having Shang Tsung read off the menu names is a nice touch, and shows a level of care that you just don’t see in most games. A Text-To-Speech voice would have sufficed, but that’s not what they did. The same goes for the audible chime when you are near an interactive area of the stage. It’s little things like that that also make the game more frustrating. Not because of their presence, but because it’s clear that many at NetherRealm Studios care a lot about making this game. When all of these various layers of crud are put over top of it, these little details can get lost.
Mortal Kombat 11 is a really fun game to play. It’s just a shame that it’s buried under so many layers of Freemium nonsense.