5 months after release – I think it’s time I make a formal review of the game I spent more than 100 hours playing:
I have been a life long fan of the Mortal Kombat Franchise, but ever since MKX released in 2015, I started to take fighting games more seriously, and this year, competitively. So my review will be based on two things: being a fan of the series and being a serious competitor. With that said, I hope that I will be able to provide you with a completely unbiased review.
It’s no secret that the game had a very bad launch. Day 1, everyone that got their hands on the game complained about the AI difficulty in the Towers of Time and upon playing myself – although thinking ‘it can’t be that bad’ – let me say that it was, in fact, that bad. It was frustrating and simply not enjoyable.
I am not a pro, but I am a good fighting-game player and I can’t imagine what it was like for people who don’t play competitively, or just picked up the game because they love the franchise.
The game crashed often, especially in the Krypt, which was also a big issue for everyone. Not to mention that the game operates on a live server, which means that if the server has issues it’ll kick you out; and it often did.
Most of it was quickly resolved, however, and we got some shiny in-game currency for our troubles. Regardless, this caused a lot of problems for the game going forward as people flooded sites like IGN to give it a bad review because of a lot of misconceptions about the game. Some which we true, some which were false.
You couldn’t buy anything in-game with the currency that you can spend money on – which is a bit weird to me since you could in Injustice 2 – and I’m perfectly fine with that since you can earn that currency while playing the game.
The Krypt is still a random loot fest, with some static boxes such as heart chests and fire chests. Still, it wasn’t like any other Krypt we ever had and a lot of people jumped the gun in claiming it was a nefarious practice. And however you slice this, it kinda was.
This game came with a lot of single-player content, more than one would usually see in a fighting game. Must I remind everyone what game modes SFV had at launch? Yeah, it hurts me to talk about it.
The Towers of Time are a series of towers ranging anywhere from 2 fights to 10 fights which gives you specific rewards (koins, consumables, character skins and gear). Each fight is different, the AI has a ton of modifiers it can use against you. There are also modifiers you can use yourself to make it a little less rage-inducing. Though, it needs to be said, that modifiers don’t always prevent you from rage quitting.
There is also a more simple towers mode, the klassic towers where you fight through enemies and then the final boss (Kronika) and can watch a non-canonical ending for the character you completed the tower with. There are also trial modes for those towers, such as Survivor and Endless.
AI battle is a mode where you pick a team and you fight against other player’s teams online, but the characters are not controlled by you. Who wins and who loses, is determined solely on the AI’s performance (which can be aided with augments that go into every character’s individual gear slots). This mode gives you rewards such as augments and skins, although they are also random drops.
The Krypt is by far the most famous mode in Mortal Kombat games as it allows the player to explore a vast and open space filled with treasure, hidden locations, and puzzles to solve. You can spend your koins to unlock chests, spend hearts to unlock special chests with gear and skins, or, spend souls to open another type of treasure that also gives better than average rewards.
The game also came with an amazing tutorial mode that walks you through the most simple concepts of fighting games, to the more complicated ones like frame data.
The training mode is also pretty complete, having all the options you need to practice and lab anything your heart desires. Want to practice Krushing Blow combos? No problem, there’s a button for that! Want to get your ass repeatedly kicked by the Very Hard AI because you’re a masochist? Look no further.
All in all, it has a lot of modes to keep you occupied if you are only interested in the one player content. If you’re like me, however, and spend most of the time playing against other people, then this game has the usual online modes such as King of The Hill, 1v1 and Ranked matches.
1 month ago we were finally graced with the Kombat League which most of us online warriors waited patiently for. It’s an online ranked mode where you play against other players, gain points and go up the ranks from Apprentice to Elder God.
This is much better than their usual ranked mode that has no ranks, no rewards, and ultimately no incentive to play apart from self-improvement. However, the mode itself is not without its issues. You can only decline ping that is over 150mms, but the game starts to lag at around 115mms for most people. Which usually means that you are likely to encounter a few laggy matches here and there. I played around 200 matches in the first season and I only played 10 matches in this season and I encounter maybe 5 or so matches that were too laggy to really play.
But the biggest issue of all are the cable pullers. If someone is losing and they pull the plug on their internet, it’ll cancel the match, kick both players out and not give the player who remained in the game a win. It’ll actually award both players with a loss most of the time. I wish there was an easy way to fix this issue, but it seems that without a proper way to determine which connection failed, then they can’t penalize the rage quitter.
Sportsmanship, have you ever heard of it? Damn, boiz.
Now, this is where the competitive player in me will come out. If you’re not familiar with Fighting Game terms, my condolences.
Mortal Kombat 11 is probably the most balanced of titles NRS ever released without having a balance patch in the first few months. At this time in MKX’s release, we had seen many balance patches that completely changed the characters and the game’s meta. Nerfing some into oblivion, or buffing others up the tier list.
There are top tier characters in this game, no doubt. Cassie (my girl), Erron, Geras, Sonya, and Scorpion. A win against them is not impossible, the problem is most of these characters have tools that force you to play their game and not the neutral-based footsies game NRS had in mind. Which makes me wonder why they thought adding teleports in this game was a good idea, to begin with.
Combos feel smooth and so do the animations, but the hitboxes and hurtboxes for some moves and for female characters are hella janky and make no sense which results in hilarious, but often frustrating moments.
But, all in all, it’s the gameplay that is making me come back time and time again and as far as competitive fighting games go, this is one of the better ones. I do still have gripes with some of the mechanics in the game, but that is more my personal opinion rather than something that would take the enjoyment away from the game.
Facial animations are seriously next-level in this game, especially if you consider the fact that this game was made on a modified unreal engine 3, the same engine MKX had. The details on the costumes are incredible, especially if you’re lucky enough to have a PS4 Pro and a 4K TV. What would make these graphics much better, however, would be better costume diversity overall, but it’s not a deal-breaker. Not to mention NRS always adds a lot of skins as DLC in their games.
I also really enjoy the colors that pop and the bright stages that really get your attention. I feel like although MKX looked good for its time, the colors were too drab and depressing in contrast to what we see now in MK11.
There are a lot of stages, 3 times more than there were in MKX, and they all feel and look very unique. One, in particular, has the MK theme song, as well as arcade of past games and changes based on which FGC tournament is currently in the works.
The music is past Mortal Kombat games were always iconic, such as the menu theme in MK2 or the highly popular and overplayed theme song we all know and love. The music in this game is not bad, and it’s definitely noticeable, but it fails to really hint that this is a Mortal Kombat game.
Although the music does not deliver on nostalgia, sound cues and sound effects definitely do. From the announcer’s deep ‘Fight!’ or the tune signaling you’ve successfully performed a brutality on your opponent will always remain a classic aspect of the series, which they continue to pull-off very well.
Sounds cues and other sound effects ranging from punches to gunshots to nut kicks sound incredible and satisfying. However, after hearing the same high pitched scream from Skarlet after you’ve kicked her in the crotch several times does get a bit irritating after a while (which is why I listen to music when I’m not playing against friends).
The voice acting is amazing, for the most part. The only weak performance is from Ronda Roussey, and for the life of me, I don’t understand why they didn’t give the girl a voice coach, causeDAMN, some of the lines delivered are stiff and emotionless.
Kombat Pack 1 & 2
DLCs in fighting games are a must. Not only do they give players another character to learn and play around with, sometimes it changes the meta of the whole game – and for the better too. It’s been rumored that there will be 2 KPs for MK11 during its lifecycle as well as a boatload of skins and gear for characters.
My only issue so far has been how long we’ve had to wait for the new characters. We shot Shang Tsung last month, and we are getting Nightwolf in 2 weeks. However, NRS hasn’t given us any roadmap as to when we’ll be getting all of the characters, which has been frustrating, to say the least.
I don’t mind waiting, I’d like the characters to be ready when they release, I’d just like to have the dates since I paid for the DLC. As I’m sure most of you would agree.
Conclusion – Personal Thoughts
I want this game to succeed and have over 3000+ entrants at EVO next year. For that to happen, however, NRS has to fix a lot of little issues with the gameplay as well as some of the mechanics. Right now, the game is in a really good place and I have enjoyed all 5 months I’ve been grinding this game and entering online tournaments in hopes of maybe one day placing really well. It has enough depth to make anyone a better player, tho its lack of combos and it’s locked tournament variations do make it a bit stale in the long run and what I believe will affect the game’s life cycle the most.
Moving forward, I personally believe we need a balance batch to make slight adjustments to the top tiers and buff the low tiers. We would also need NRS to implement custom variation in tournaments as I don’t see anything that is game-breaking so far. This was the best part of playing the beta, being able to create my own variation and play the character how I want to play them.
This game has all that it needs to succeed, it just needs a little TLC. Draw outside of the lines NRS, break the law a little. Come on, give us custom variations!