Krazy Kombat

Mortal Kombat 11.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

As a fighting game, Mortal Kombat 11 is immense fun. Arenas are eye-catchingly detailed and vibrant, fitting the standard NetherRealm Studios have set with Injustice 2. The controls are tight and deliberate, though combat can still feel a little janky as combos and abilities can be awkward to pull off.

If this sounds daunting, a comprehensive tutorial mode goes through basics such as combo executions and abilities, to learning character-specific Fatalities and other advanced techniques. I applaud NetherRealm for adding such a deep and extensive tutorial mode, probably the biggest I’ve played in a game yet. The game even encourages players to complete these tutorials by rewarding them with some of the best character skins in the game.

It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with Mortal Kombat 11’s roster of characters. How couldn’t you? It’s such a diverse, colorful group of Elder Gods, Shaolin monks, cowboys, movie stars and sentient insects.

Plus, they all have distinctive personalities and playstyles. If you’re like me, you’re going to find yourself falling in love with Johnny Cage almost instantly for his goofiness and general A-holery.

With these quirky characters come an almost overwhelming amount of customization options. Even character specific abilities can be swapped out as you see fit, along with skins and intro/victory cinematics. NetherRealm have clearly put a lot of thought and polish into these cosmetics, because they’re all fantastic.

Having gotten acquainted with the cast over the course of the story’s roughly 10-hour runtime, I can safely say that Mortal Kombat 11’s story mode is enthralling. It revolves around the villainous Kronika. She believes that all the Realms have collapsed into chaos, and so wants to rewrite all of time and history. Predictably, her meddling doesn’t end well. Past and present timelines clash, bringing many of the main cast face-to-face with their past selves.

Don’t get me wrong, it certainly has its flaws. Weirdly directed cutscenes and editing issues stood out to me while playing, but it’s otherwise outstanding for a fighting game.

Next, you get two Tower modes. The classic version has you fighting waves of enemies, some of which reward individual character endings. The other is called Towers of Time, and this is truly a headache to play through. It has four different kinds of Towers, and they’re the best source of currency in the game. Unfortunately, they also contain insane difficulty spikes modifiable only through certain consumable items.

Without consumables, it can be impossible to progress. This becomes especially frustrating when it comes to Character Towers, as they are your best bet at unlocking corresponding gear and skins. In addition to their enormous difficulty, Character Towers cost 25,000 koins each to unlock with further 50,000 koins to unlock tiers! For comparison, an in-game battle usually awards only around 400 koins.

Krypt mode is also where fun goes to die. It’s a returning semi-adventure mode from previous games, this time taking place on Shang Tsung’s island. From a third-person perspective, you control a visiting traveller, looting the island of its chests and secrets. Shang Tsung guides you throughout your journey as you pick up various key items and solve some small puzzles.

Overall, the innate concept of exploring the island is very well executed. However, all issues with grind stem from the ridiculous amount of currency types; seven in total. You have koins, soul fragments, time crystals, ‘skip fight’ tokens, easy fatality tokens, gear level up tokens and hearts.

Chests in the Krypt are heavily padded with items that not only include said currency, but forge ingredients, character cosmetics, augments, concept art, music tracks, brutalities, fatalities and Krypt key items. If that already sounds exhausting then I have more bad news for you. Chests can cost anywhere up to 18,000 koins to open, and there’s still no guarantee what’s actually inside!

Mortal Kombat 11 is a truly fantastic fighting game at its core. It has enormously complex and fun gameplay, mixed with a great story mode and customization system, that easily make this a game worth checking out. However, all of this is hampered by its awfully bloated and grindy economy, demanding too much while rewarding with so little.

The silver lining here is that players who are only interested in the story and combat modes need not worry, as these grinding issues won’t really affect them.

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By Tim Augustin (GameAxis)