Mortal Kombat 11 is a fighting game available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. The Mortal Kombat franchise originated when the four founding members of the development including Ed Boon, John Tobias, John Vogel and Dan Forden were asked in 1991 to create a fighting game to rival Street Fighter were the Bloodsport license was utilised to create a fighting game with a serious tone that would have seen a digitized Jean-Claude Van Damne taking on villains, although the Bloodsport license unfortunately fell through and with it so did the use of a digitized Jean-Claude Van Damne as the lead character; though the entire situation inspired one of the most popular original lead characters in the series in the form of a martial arts actor called Johnny Cage. The Mortal Kombat series debuted on October 8th 1992 when it was unleashed in the arcades followed by ports seeing release on the SNES, SEGA Genesis, Game Boy, Amiga, PC and more besides. Midway Games would never have predicted the growing success of the series that went onto see multiple live action films, a cartoon and live action TV series, comic books and music as well as over 20 games released across almost every platform when including spin-offs. Can Mortal Kombat 11 live up to the quality that has gone before it in the classic Mortal Kombat series, throughout the fighting genre and the quality fighting games created by NetherRealm Studios?
Story mode is effectively the equivalent of a live action film that tells of the gigantic battle between the Earth Realm in allegiance with Raiden versus Liu Kang’s NetherRealm, alongside Kronika’s manipulation of time and the affects that has on the battle.
Klassic Towers pit the player against an enemy fighter per level of the tower which is presented in a similar premise to that of Bruce Lee’s Game of Death as your chosen character has to continue to progress up the tower in order to unlock character endings by defeating every fighter within a Klassic Tower. There are five towers that escalate in their respective lengths and gameplay including a novice tower with five opponents to battle; a warrior tower with an additional three opponents to battle; a champion tower with a dozen opponents to battle; an endless tower that tasks the player to defeat as many consecutive opponents in a row without losing when specifically set to medium difficulty; and a survivor tower that challenges the player to survive a battle against 25 opponents, despite health carrying over from each fight.
Fight mode encompasses a local fight that sees the player having a one on one match against an A.I. opponent in any environment, while Test Your Luck was a standout feature in Mortal Kombat X due to its game changing gameplay modifiers that is rather oddly omitted.
The learn feature is the most appropriate starting position as it is split into three major categories including practice, tutorial and fatality training. All three areas are important as the practice allows the player to hone their skills against a customisable A.I. opponent who can remain as still or be as lively as preferred, while tutorial teaches the basics of the controls, advanced techniques, strategies and character lessons, alongside fatality training allows for fatality moves to be practiced against a dummy A.I. opponent for the purpose of learning the relevant combinations.
There are a wide range of 23 characters, alongside unlockable characters and costumes with every fighter having their own unique look and personality from costumes to wise cracks and even an entire set of their own fighting styles and moves, while every character has their own back story. The character roster sees the return of classic and popular Mortal Kombat characters including Johnny Cage, Cassie Cage, Sonya Blade, Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Liu Kang, Raiden and many more besides, while the roster of characters have such diversity in their character design from male and female fighters to otherworldly races and mechanical fighters.
Mortal Kombat 11’s vast array of fighting moves including chained combos of punches, kicks and grapples, alongside fatal blows, brutality and fatality moves that are all specifically adapted to the fighting styles and persona of each character. Every fighter has unique ability combos for each of their multiple fighting styles, while also having attributes such as grappling, rushdown, kombos, reversal, zoning and runaway, while augments can gradually be equipped.
Environment design is rather varied as there are a total of 21 arenas, although two of those arenas are unlockable, while there is also a random arena selection option. Arenas contain interactive elements such as objects that your fighter can spring off in order to evade their opponent’s fighting move or alternatively to utilise as an aggressive counter when your opponent has your fighter almost beaten such as smashing an object over an opponent’s head or grinding their face into a large cactus. Standout environments include Goro’s Lair, Kotal’s Koliseum, Kronika’s Hourglass, Shaolin Trap Dungeon, Wu Shi Dragon Grotto and more besides.
Kustomize is essentially the extras menu as it allows the player to view exactly how much gear, cosmetics and augments have been earned per character that is complimented by a photo mode that combines in perfect working harmony with the share feature as the photo mode functionality includes panning the camera, zooming in or out, rotating the character and orbiting the camera. Meanwhile, the collection area of the kustomize feature focuses on concept art for characters, environments and story, alongside extras such as character endings, recipes and music.
Mortal Kombat 11 features downloadable content in the form of the Kombat Pack season pass that includes half a dozen gradually released playable characters, 7 exclusive character skins and 7 exclusive sets of gear. Kombat Pack season pass is the best way to upgrade digitally from the standard edition retail release to the Premium Edition that also contains a steelbook case in addition to the Kombat Pack. However, the ultimate retail release of Mortal Kombat 11 is the Kollector’s Edition that contains a steelbook case, magnet, Kombat Pack season pass, 1:1 scale Scorpion mask, a Kollector Box and a Certificate of Authenticity is exclusive to Game for a retail price of £279.99.
If you want a Vita native Mortal Kombat game instead of remote play, then the Ultimate Edition of ninth mainline Mortal Kombat is available for Vita at retail. Mortal Kombat 11’s remote play performance is excellent as the graphics, audio, controls and general performance retains the quality of the PS4 version. Remote play control optimisations include tapping the top left of the touch screen to flip stance, while tapping the top right of the touch screen to perform a block and tapping the top left and top right of the touch screen respectively to perform a fatal blow move. The fluency of the control scheme creates a home console experience during remote play that is quite amazing, especially given the quantity of combinations available to perform such a wide range of fighting moves without L2 and R2, while the capability of customising the control scheme results in a definitive control scheme to suit every player during remote play.
The controls are well mapped to the DualShock 4 and always feel incredibly responsive, especially considering the quantity of combinations from the vast amount of fighting moves, brutality moves and fatality moves with four preset control schemes that can also be customised to the player’s preferences. The default control scheme consists of pressing square to perform a front punch; pressing triangle to perform a back punch; pressing X to perform a front kick; pressing O to perform a back kick; pressing L1 to perform a throw; pressing R2 to perform a block; pressing R1 to interact with the environment; pressing L2 to flip stance; pressing L2 and R2 simultaneously to perform a fatal blow move; combining any of the basic fighting moves into a brutality or fatality move; changing the direction of the left analogue stick or pressing up, down, left or right on the d-pad to move your fighter and positioning the fighter in accordance with the fighting move; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu.
Vibration occurs after an opponent’s attack on your fighter has landed with the severity of the punch, kick, grapple, brutality or fatality resulting in a lighter or heavier vibration. There is no touch pad implementation, despite the amount of detail in the preset control schemes and the freedom offered to the player in creating customisable control schemes as tapping the touch pad could have played a greater part in any given move. There is no light bar support that could have produced multiple tones of colour to represent the remaining health of your fighter such as bright green for 91% to maximum health, dark green for 75% to 90% health, yellow for 50% to 74% health, orange for 26% to 49% health, light red for 15% to 25% health, dark red for 6% to 14% health and glowing dark red for 1% to 5% health in order to emphasise just how close to victory or defeat your chosen fighter is.
Graphically, Mortal Kombat 11 has significantly improved, especially in relation to brutality and fatality fighting move sequences, particle effects and lighting. Mortal Kombat 11 maintains a consistently impressive performance of 60 frames-per-second during gameplay on every platform including PS4, PS4 Pro, Xbox One, Xbox One X and Nintendo Switch, albeit dropping to 30 frames-per-second during cinematic cutscenes on all platforms. PS4 Pro support produces 2240×1260 resolution reaching a maximum of 1440p during fighting gameplay, while cinematic cutscenes display at 1800p resolution. However, Xbox One X produces a variable resolution of 2880×1620 up to 1800p with 4K cinematic cutscenes. HDR 10 standard is fully supported on PS4 and PS4 Pro that elevates the quality of the colour palette within the darker environments in contrast to the bright effects during combat and even throughout every story cutscene.
Mortal Kombat 11’s presentation is mostly good with exception to the continuous reminders of what basic features the player is missing out on when not online. The user interface includes the konquer menus, fight menus, kustomize menus and learn menus with their sub-menus, options menus and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the touch pad and the right analogue stick. Menu backgrounds focus on a towering crystalised material, while the highlight of the menu presentation is the 3D approach to the menu selection. Leaving the game idle on the title menu for around 20 seconds will provide a variety of gameplay demos showcasing different fighters, fighting moves and arenas.
Voice-overs bring life to every character throughout all game modes with exceptional performances from a talented cast including Troy Baker voices Erron Black and Shinnok having previously voiced numerous major characters in Batman videogames and animations, Sam Drake in Uncharted 4 and The Lost Legacy, Talion in Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War, Joel in The Last of Us, Jack Mitchell in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Delsin Rowe in Infamous: Second Son; JB Blanc voices Kano having previously voiced Moneybags and Nevin in Spyro the Dragon Trilogy, Bane in LEGO DC Super-Villains, Telltale’s Batman: The Enemy Within, Batman: Arkham Origins and Batman: Arkham Underworld and Boldo Holomek and Sid Pereira in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus; and Kelly Hu returns as the voice of D’Vorah having previously voiced Jane Teng in Sleeping Dogs and Khai Minh Dao in Battlefield Hardline and starred as Chen Pei Pei in Martial Law, The Sorceress in The Scorpion King, Jiyoung in The Air I Breathe, Pearl in The Vampire Diaries and China White in Arrow. Meanwhile, some of the Mortal Kombat X cast has been re-cast most probably due to scheduling such as Ashly Burch’s (Chloe Price in Life is Strange) Cassie Cage being voiced by Erica Lindbeck having voiced Celica in the Fire Emblem franchise and Futaba Sakura in Catherine: Full Body, while Tricia Helfer’s (EDI in Mass Effect 2 and 3) Sonya Blade is voiced by UFC fighter and wrestler Ronda Rousey having previously starred in Mile 22 and The Expendables 3; complimented by an equally talented cast. Sound effects include punches, kicks, grappling and a variety of moves as they are aimed, blocked or landed with environmental destruction when a fighter has an object thrown at them or is thrown through an object, the crunching impacts of brutality and fatality moves and the screams of pain when such a dangerous and damaging move has been performed on an opponent; complimented by atmospheric climactic instrumental music. The DualShock 4 speaker produces a sound effect to reflect when your fighter has landed the first move on the opponent during a fight, while also optionally producing a sound effect to inform the player of when an interactive environmental object is nearby.
The trophy list includes 59 trophies with 50 bronze trophies, 7 silver trophies, 1 gold trophy and 1 platinum trophy. Easier trophies include the Klassic bronze trophy for completing the novice, warrior or champion Klassic Tower once; the Disco’s Not Dead bronze trophy for flipping stance 50 times during a match; the Oh My Days bronze trophy for ducking 100 times during a match; and the Thank You For Being A Fan bronze trophy for reaching the credits after completing the novice Klassic Tower on very easy difficulty. Harder trophies include the What’s Next silver trophy for completing story mode and the Master of Time gold trophy for completing 250 towers. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 40 to 60 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are five difficulty levels including very easy, easy, medium, hard and very hard with the major differences between each of the five difficulty levels being a significantly increased amount of aggression when attacking an enemy, an enhanced effectiveness when preventing enemy attacks and increased movement. Therefore, increasing the difficulty level elevates the chances of the A.I. controlled fighter landing an attack on an enemy, while reducing the chances of the human controlled fighter landing an attack on the A.I. controlled fighter.
Local multiplayer has been reduced in its feature set as Test Your Luck, Kustom Kombat and Test Your Might are no longer included despite being a major part of Mortal Kombat X’s local multiplayer, while local is the equivalent of Player vs. Player from Mortal Kombat X, alongside the introduction of local multiplayer exclusive tournament mode combined with tournament settings.
Online multiplayer features comprise of Towers of Time that provides ever evolving towers with gameplay modifiers, while the Krypt has become an RPG esque third-person exploration to unlock a vast quantity of potentially game changing items in exchange for in-game currency. Kombat League and ranked sets of best of five round matches, alongside casual versus, king of the hill and A.I. battles in the style of Injustice 2 in addition to private 1 vs. 1, custom lobby and practice with the ability to join or create a room.
However, there is far too greater an emphasis on players having to be on Mortal Kombat 11’s servers such as not being able to earn rewards for gameplay progression during any single player mode, despite them being clearly shown as earned before immediately reducing to 0 in each category of gameplay reward, while the krypt area for unlockables cannot even be visited without being online. It certainly impedes the gameplay, especially in such circumstances of living in the wilderness, not having the most recent update for your chosen platform or patch for Mortal Kombat 11, while it is also important to state that this was not the scenario with Mortal Kombat X.
Mortal Kombat 11’s replayability stems from the natural unpredictability of the outcome for every fight against A.I. and human controlled opponents, a compelling story mode, fun Klassic Towers gameplay and a fair quantity of online multiplayer modes that will collectively have Mortal Kombat fans returning for quite some time, although there are less local multiplayer features in comparison to Mortal Kombat X.
• Title: Mortal Kombat 11
• Developer: NetherRealm Studios
• Publisher: Warner Bros. Games
• System: PS4
• Format: Retail/PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: No
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1-2 (Local Multiplayer)/2 (Online Multiplayer)/Online Leaderboards
• Hard Drive Space Required: 40GB