|System: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch|
|Dev: NetherRealm Studios|
|Pub: WB Interactive Entertainment|
|Release: April 23, 2019|
|Players: 1-2 Player|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language,Users Interact, In-Game Purchases|
by Jenni Lada
Do you ever read an installment in your favorite book or comic series or get into a few seasons of your favorite TV show and realize, “Hey, these people wrote themselves into a corner?” Like the creators did things you like, but maybe things feel like they hit a wall and need a bit of a reboot? Mortal Kombat might have left people with those sorts of thoughts after installments like Mortal Kombat X. Good characters, concepts, and ideas were introduced, but we found ourselves in a place where people who hadn't played in a while may be isolated, newcomers could be lost, or returning fans might not be so pleased with the way things went. Mortal Kombat 11 is our reboot, only handled in a rather tactful and interesting way. What do you do when you might need to shake things up? Bring in a goddess of time and rewrite history.
That may sound like a joke, but it's true. After everything that happened in Mortal Kombat 11, such as Raiden's corruption, Shinnok's defeat, Liu Kang and Kitana being brought back as revenants, and the daughter of Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage becoming one of series' main characters, it seems like we are reaching a definitive end. Within the first half hour, we see Cassie Cage, Jacqui Briggs, Sonya Blade, and Raiden make what should be a final strike to end the conflict against the Liu Kang-ruled Netherrealm for good. Except Kronika, Shinnok's mother, is upset about what Raiden has wrought and is merging the past and present together to create an entirely new timeline that excludes him.
It works well enough. The character models look great, the story offers opportunities for lots of comedy, drama, nostalgia, and thrills. Almost all of the voice acting is spot-on, though Ronda Rousey is probably the worst actress to portray Sonya and gives the most wooden performances. It does suffer from the forced character swapping that might annoy people who aren't fans of certain people's movesets. But then, for them there is the Klassic Towers mode. This is the standard arcade mode where you pick one person, go through matches as only them, then earn their specific ending. Basically, there are options. Just make sure that, if you want Frost for free, you complete the fourth chapter of the campaign and use a frosty, familiar face.
In fact, the option to have things like a traditional campaign, arcade mode, and the Towers of Time challenge mode as single player options and various offline and online multiplayer choices highlights another positive about Mortal Kombat 11. This feels like an installment for everyone. You have movesets that aren't too complicated, with people who really want an easy way out able to pay (with either earned or real cash currency) for easy fatality tokens. You have various difficulty levels for different areas of the game, like the campaign, to determine how simple or complicated you want things to be. Konsumables can be acquired and spent during Tower of Time series of matches to give yourself an edge. You can find and fight against people who are at your level. There's even a whole section devoted to training and learning to become a better player.
The roster is also impressive, but mainly because of the customization options there. There are 23 characters immediately available, with three people being new, and Frost is the only unlockable one available. If you preordered or purchased DLC, Shao Khan will be there too. Yet, because of the gear system, it can feel like people have more. Part of this is cosmetic, as you accrue different skins, animations, and weapons to change a character's looks. Some things, like augments, can help change how you play. But you can also bring in different or altered abilities. Say with Scorpion, someone could add the one slot Hell Flame to add that fireball special move. Or, they could use the two slot Hell Port Cancel to take his normal Hell Port move and have the option to cancel it. You can even set the AI for it, so you can try and make someone challenging to offer up as an AI character you share online.
There are only really two problems with Mortal Kombat 11. One feels like it is being sorted, and the other isn't. One addresses the grind issues and possibilities that bosses in the Towers of Time area and the collection element in the Krypt present. This is a game with four different currencies to earn, which are Hearts, Koins, Soul Fragments, and Time Crystals. Not to mention various materials that can be used for crafting Konsumables you use to get an edge in the Towers of Time. Accruing all of them, enough to acquire new things, could take so much time ahead of the main patch to remedy the issue. Even after the fix is rolled out, it seems overcomplicated. Why couldn't there just be Koins? Why did there have to be a Krypt, where things are randomly doled out as you expend currencies to open chests? It feels unnecessary, but at least some fixes are planned.
The main issue is how Mortal Kombat 11 often feels like an always online sort of game. Sure, there are obvious elements you expect to be online only affairs. These are things like the obvious online multiplayer elements or AI battles where you are pulling other people's AI characters in for fights to face them, even if they aren't around. But it seems like every other mode is infected with this constant need to check in, even if it shouldn't have to. Are you going through the campaign? You can't collect any rewards you earn until you go online again. Did you want to go through the Klassic Tower arcade mode? You don't get any rewards unless you are online when you play. Have you been yearning for new skins and equipment for your favorite characters and hoping to head to Towers of Time to fight for some or the Krypt to spend earned currencies on chests? You have to be online to do either. Did you want to customize a character with neat items you collected? If you're offline, it won't save any of your custom characters. There is no reason for these sorts of constant check-ins and requirements.
Mortal Kombat 11 is a chance to bank on a lot of goodwill. Worried about a storyline that has gone on for a long time? Bring the past and the present together to freshen things up and make sure everyone is familiar with every character. Want it to be accessible? Have lots of modes with different difficulty options, then offer tutorials and Konsumables to maybe give people an edge. If the grind gets cut back and maybe the internet restrictions relaxed, it could end up becoming one of the most solid and beloved entries in the series.