If Marvel’s mega hit Avengers: Endgame (arguably) couldn’t get time travel right, then what hope does a video game known for excessive gore and violence have?
Thankfully though, Mortal Kombat has never been about a story. Recent versions have had a story mode, but it’s really just another way to keep players interested.
Here’s what you can do in Mortal Kombat 11 (MK11) -- play multiplayer battles, rise through towers in a battle for survival or just one fight after the other, play a story mode, run around in a “Krypt" unlocking what seems like an endless number of things you don’t care about, or “Kustomize" your characters.
On the other hand, here’s what you will do in MK11 (or at least I did)--run through the 23 pre-unlocked playable characters to see all their fatalities, and then rue the fact that you’re bored. It will get better for a while when friends come along, and either enjoy the game the way you do, or question how it lacks realism. After all, how did that guy/girl just stand up after having a spike driven through his/her skull!
And while you’re at it, you will realise how visually amazing this game is, assuming you do enjoy the gore. The blood is thick and red, skulls crack and bones break in the most satisfying manner, and X-Ray moves hit the spot. It’s everything Mortal Kombat is known for with even better graphics than before.
Having said that, there are some choices that just don’t make sense. MK11 has a story that is anything but engaging, but more importantly, you can’t do any fatalities while in the story mode. It makes sense in a way, because fatalities are basically killing moves in the game, and the characters aren’t really dying there. But then, the game lets you do the “Lethal Blow", a new feature that’s just as deadly as the fatality, but it happens mid-fight and lets the player stand back up, unless they’re out of health.
Sure, the game has never been about realism, but logic? And that becomes more annoying when you realise that the story really has no meat. It’s there for the heck of it, to make Liu Kang a combined fire+lightning god.
Moreover, you unlock only one character by playing the story--Frost. She’s fun to play with, and adds more fatalities, but that’s that. Remember that age old gaming tradition where bosses are unlocked when they are fought and defeated? Nope, MK11 didn’t think so. Annoying, again.
It took me all of three days to see the first fatality for all characters, and one more to see Frost’s, because the story takes just about four hours to complete.
On top of all of this, the game also wants you to grind. Every character has a second, locked fatality, which you can unlock either by spending “Koins" (earned by playing the game) in the Krypt or playing the towers. The problem is, I realised this well after I had run through the 23 characters, and was already somewhat bored. And I swear I’ve been a MK11 fan. Raiden’s electric fly is my favourite way to annoy people in multiplayer battles.
Back to the good
And that brings us back to the good. MK11 gets boring when you play it for long, but it’s still perfect for that quick hour-long distraction you need while working from home. Once you’re done with the initial novelty, seen all the fatalities, tried the different modes, you’re done. However, you will have fun playing multiplayer battles whenever a friend comes over, or just booting the game to have some random single player fights.
The fighting mechanics are not as fluid as the Tekken franchise, but they work once you get a hold of it. Honestly, I’m still not used to the combo mechanics, but I don’t even care. Whatever gets me to the “Finish Him" announcement works. THAT, is exactly what Mortal Kombat has been about since I was young. And I love a game that can stick to its roots, yet improve. Graphically, at least.
Should you buy it?
So, to conclude, if you’re buying MK11 for the sake of nostalgia, then definitely go ahead. If you’re buying it because you like fighting games, or like blood and gore, there are few that can do better.
However, if you’re buying MK11 for a nuanced story or interesting gameplay mode, this isn’t the game you’re looking for.