We gave Mortal Kombat 11 to a proper MK nerd to review, and it almost killed him.
About Gord and the History of Mortal Kombat:
(hint: skip this bit if you only care about the verdict).
Hello. I’m Gord. I’m an old friend of LW Mag. We go way back. I’m also a massive Mortal Kombat nerd, to the point where – given that I’m 37 – it should probably be really embarrassing. But it’s not. ‘Cos Mortal Kombat is the shit. And fuck anyone who doesn’t think so.
I jolled the first one back in 1992 so broken that I used to travel to specific arcade-machine locations where the coin-operation was cheaper, or the controls were in better condition. All of my pocket money went to Mortal Kombat. I think, between my homies and I, we could have bought an arcade machine with the money that we spent. Then MKII came out, and it was even better. MK3 was considered a disappointment to some, but I loved it. Especially when Ultimate MK3 came out, bringing back Scorpion (of whom I have a massive tattoo on my forearm), a second, masked Sub Zero, and a bunch of other pallet-swap ninjas.
By this time, the console era was beginning, and I jolled the shit out of those three on Sega’s Mega Drive. MK4 – the first to use polygons instead of digitised video – was massively underrated, but I smashed it on the PS1. Its gameplay and storyline made up for the lesser graphic realism.
I only bought a PS2 so I could play MK Deadly Alliance. I saw it at a Look & Listen and within 24 hours, from a flat-broke student base, had sold enough of my things and borrowed enough to buy it. Some consider the PS2 era (Deadly Alliance, Deception, Armageddon) the “low point” in the game’s history. The fight mechanics changed to a 3D arena environment (where you can sidestep like Tekken, instead of only going back or forward, pretty much), they deviated from traditional MK moves (where everyone can uppercut, sweep, roundhouse and fly-kick in the same way), and Midway was failing as a business, before WB/NetherRealm Studios arose from the ashes. Didn’t faze me, though. I smashed every side quest, Krypt item, and unlockable whatever. And felled forests of cannabis in the process. I got fucking bedsores on my ass and became genetically bonded to that couch. It was epic.
I will admit that the Mortal Kombat 9 reboot for PS3 was a huge improvement, though. I rejoiced at the return to the original trilogy storyline, characters and the traditional fight mechanics. Doesn’t mean the others didn’t also rule, but it did feel like Mortal Kombat was “back”. I resisted buying a PS3, because I was ageing and becoming less dedicated to gaming as time went by (and games just kept getting harder and less arcade-ey, which I still think sucks, generally) but MK9 was released, and I bought the whole setup. Couldn’t help it. I know there was that MK vs DC game on the PS3 before that, but we don’t talk about that. It was a total flop as an MK game, and officially does not count as canon. But, it ultimately led to the Injustice franchise, which loads of people love. So, you know, swings and roundabouts.
Then, I tried to resist buying a PS4. And MKX. And for a while, I succeeded. But after a few goes on friends’ consoles, I could no longer fight it. I bought that shit, and I sessioned it broken. What a game. But that game came out years ago. Four, I think. Or five.
Then, new hype started (a.k.a “The Actual Review of the Game”)…
Honestly, I didn’t think MKX could be improved upon without a new-gen console to support major enhancements. When the MK11 hype started, I was totally sucked in. I was glued to the social media teasers. But all I really expected from the game was a new character roster, with some new and some old faces to make it interesting, and maybe some new, peripheral gameplay features. A sequel in story, more than in gaming application, if that makes sense?
And in a sense, that’s what this seems to be at first glance. It feels and looks a lot like MKX when you first pick it up. But that’s only at first. This thing is just so polished. It’s so smooth. It looks and feels so good. They’ve taken all the best things about MKX, and improved all of them just a little. But the collective weight of all of those improvements adds up to a real, elevated overall experience. It’s smooth, fast, intuitive, and just so fucking slick. Little things, like Jax’s arms glowing redder, the more punches you land, the sheer blunt-force trauma of Shao Kahn’s hammer, the grinding of Kotal Kahn’s saw, and the intense sense of real electricity bursting out of Raiden… they just make the kid in you go “holy shit!”. You feel like you’re eleven again, in an arcade, doing some shit you’re probably not supposed to be doing.
I smashed the Story Mode in a weekend. It was really, really good. Legitimately captivating, moving in places, disturbing in others, and at some points, genuinely funny. Johnny Cage realising what a douchebag his younger self is, results in some really funny moments. The acting is great.
I just had loads of fun. And it satisfied the fanboy and the kid in me. And that’s what gaming is about for me. Just a great time, where you lose track of the hours, say “Holy shit! Holy shit! Holy shit!” out loud, many times, and just enjoy the jol. Again, the storyline is really new and interesting. And the ending makes you wonder what the HELL is going to happen next. It feels like the conclusion of a solid trilogy (MK9 reboot, MKX and now this one) and as such, its ending is worthy of the whole saga, and pretty mind-blowing.
I know a lot of people bitched about the roster in the build-up. But, given that you cannot include every MK character in every game, that’s to be expected. Plus, a lot of people are just on the Internet (and the planet, I guess) so they can dislike things. I also would have liked to see one or two of my personal favourites make a comeback, but this line-up is really solid. I was super stoked that Frost is back. I’ve always loved her (although the Internet bitched hard at the announcement, calling her “pointless” and “Sub-Zero lite”) and as a kind of “Lin Kuei Cyborg v2.0” she’s menacing as hell. I also hope some of the characters that you fight but can’t use (Sektor, Cyrax) become available as DLCs. And that when the inevitable half a dozen DLCs do come out, they’re as awesome as the horror movie icons that made it into MKX. Still so much to look forward to. Still so excited!
I LOVED this game. But then I’m biased as hell. So maybe take my review with a pinch of salt.
I have to give it 9/10.
I wanted to try to give it 8 or 8.5, just to try seem (and feel) more credible as a reviewer, but it really is just that good. That said, if you’re not a fighting game fan, or you’re not wild about Mortal Kombat to begin with, then sure, you might not rate it as highly as I do. But if you liked MK9 and/or MKX, this will blow your tits off.
It hasn’t reinvented the wheel. It hasn’t totally overhauled the whole world of MK. And it hasn’t deviated from a great recipe that’s working. Because it didn’t need to. It’s just more of the same… only better in every aspect. It looks and feels so good. With plenty to satisfy MK geeks, and loads to suck in new or casual fans who are just after a really fun, brutally violent game.
Buy it now. Jol it now. Jol it hard. Finish it. Buy the DLCs. Get a tattoo. Name your child “Raiden” or “Kitana”. Become a Shaolin Monk (Liu Kang and Kung Lao are so dope in this, btw). Die defending Earth Realm. Be resurrected as a Revenant. Become ruler of the Nether Realm. Live eternally as a god.
Best of luck.