Mortal Kombat 11 marks the latest instalment in this long-running series of over-the-top fighting games that was originally launched in arcades back in 1992.
For the unfamiliar, Mortal Kombat involves magicians, monsters, and martial arts masters from different worlds duking it out in a series of gentlemanly one-on-one fisticuffs in an eternal battle of good versus evil. Much like other stalwarts of the genre, such as Street Fighter, the game requires players to master timing, strategy, and intricate button combinations – or to just mash the controller until you punch your opponent to death.
What sets Mortal Kombat apart from its contemporaries is its enthusiastic indulgence in gratuitous, edgy violence. Blood and guts are spilled liberally across the screen as you decapitate and disembowel your opponent using cinematic Fatality moves.
The gore may be too much for gentle souls, but the onscreen violence is so ridiculous that it shouldn’t be taken seriously. Some examples: a man uses his hat as a buzzsaw. A movie star bludgeons opponents with a knock-off Oscar trophy. Two colour-coded ninjas use frost and fire powers like they’re rejected characters from Power Rangers. This is Looney Tunes-level ultraviolence, but with photo-realistic graphics.
MK11 continues the story since the series’ reboot in 2011. Here, a time-travelling god called Kronika seeks to change history and wipe out the goodies, and brings several classic heroes and villains from the past to the present.
This B-movie schlock provides an opportunity for developer NetherRealm to revive fan favourite characters who’ve been killed in earlier titles, unpick the game’s convoluted story, and replay the greatest hits in a way that allows it to both satisfy long-time fans and welcome newcomers.
A story mode lasts about five hours and lets players experience most of the game’s 25 playable characters. A Tower mode has you fight through a series of opponents, and a tutorial system helps you graduate from button mashing to combo master. There’s plenty of single-player content before you ever feel the need to venture online and fight other players.
As brilliant as it is bloody, Mortal Kombat 11 is the best fighting game in years.