Not too long ago I wrote a piece about how Mortal Kombat killed my fandom. There were numerous reasons including the amount of over-the-top gore, the implementation of 3D environments in which you could sidestep your opponent, etc… With the announcement of MK 11 on the Switch I was a bit interested in the prospect of being able to play MK wherever I wanted and was also a tad curious as to what our Earthrealm protectors were up to these days. After all, I hadn’t touched a MK title since Deadly Alliance. So I began to read up on the story of MK 11 prior to release and I became even more intrigued. So….I took a plunge and pre-ordered the game one day prior to release with enough time to take advantage of the Shao Kahn pre-order bonus.
Just a few days after the official release my copy arrived. I inserted the game card and then proceeded to wait for about an hour for the rest of the game (that wasn’t a part of the 6 gb on the card) to download. Finally, I was able to set out with this new MK experience.
The first thing I tackled was the tutorial (it gives you bonuses so why not?). I was thrilled to find that MK had returned to its 2D playing field roots! The tutorial will guide you through everything from basic moves, to combos and I’m sure that if you spend enough time in the tutorials you will become quite the expert. I say this because some of the combos can be quite difficult to pull off; a far cry from the combos of MK 3 where you could just perform a series of button presses in sequence for a nice combo (like Kabal where you could do low kick, low kick, high punch, high punch, down + high punch….yes I still remember these and its sad, I know).
After spending some time in the tutorial I next set out on the story mode. I played through its entirety (not in one day mind you; don’t have a whole lot of time these days). The story mode is your basic run-of-the-mill story interlaced with fighting matches where you can do anything you normally could in a regular match with the exception of fatalities. The story actually was pretty engaging and I liked it for the most part but it left it WIDE open for pretty much anything in the next MK installment. This time a new villain, Kronica (the mother of Shinnok) has merged the past with the present thus bringing original fighters into the fold with our present characters in an attempt to restore “balance” between light and dark after Raiden disrupted it by defeating Shinnok. It was entertaining although I did have a few hang-ups with it such as the vast majority of the beginning is focused on Johnny Cage, Cassie Cage, and Sonya Blade but by the end of it they are nowhere to be found (with the exception of Cassie). Another thing that left me scratching my head was the scene where young Jax is on Shang Tsung’s island with his future daughter Jacqui and mentions that he was there before competing in the Mortal Kombat tournament. I started thinking back to the first game and I was like “Jax wasn’t in the first tournament!” Another shocker was Hanzo Hasashi (Scorpion) working together with Sub-Zero?!! Now you have to remember I haven’t played any of the titles between Deadly Alliance up to Mortal Kombat 11 but don’t worry, I went back and watched all the cutscenes from the earlier games on YouTube and got myself back up to speed. Saying that the story is convoluted would be an understatement but hanging around to the end of MK 11 is worth it with somewhat of a shock ending.
The voice acting in story mode was fairly much spot on. You noticed I said “fairly much”. Well not all the voice acting was really where it should have been and by that I am referring to Sonya Blade who is voiced by Ronda Rousey. Honestly, it was a bit atrocious and sounded like a “reading” and less natural. Richard Epcar (who voiced Raiden), Ron Yuan (Scorpion), and Matthew Yang King (Liu Kang) were phenomenal. The others were pretty great as well with an honorable mention going out to Andrew Bowen who voiced Johnny Cage. On that topic, I really like the amount of personality that has been added to Johnny and how much he has “grown up” since the earlier games. He is actually a very “like-able” character now and not so….2D (dun dun tsss).
Other modes in MK 11 include “Towers of Time” (where you have a series of ever-changing towers to move up, fighting a combatant (or should it be kombatant?) to progress to the next level), “Klassic Towers” (much like “Towers of Time” but completely offline, which we will get to momentarily), and the “Krypt” where you can spend your in-game currency to unlock new items to customize your characters with. The “Krypt” is completely randomized which means that you will never know what reward you will be unlocking. Unlike MK titles of the past, this means that you can’t go online and find a “krypt map” that will tell you the location of all the cool goodies to be had.
It is worth mentioning that all the modes are locked to online with the exception of Klassic Towers, even story mode. While you can play story mode offline, you will not collect unlockable items while going through where as you would while playing through it with an online connection.
If you ever find yourself strapped for in-game currency, you can always hit up the in-game shop/eShop and use your REAL hard-earned cash to purchase more currency (time krystals….seriously, does NetherRealm not believe in the letter “C”?), characters like Frost (which is unlockable by playing chapter 4 in the story mode), Shao Kahn (which you can buy if you did not take advantage of the Shao Kahn pre-order bonus), or go all in and just purchase the “Kombat Pack” for $39.99 which will give you all of the DLC characters as they are released. One rumored/konfirmed (see what I did there?) character will be the Krypt guide himself, Shang Tsung and I have to admit that it really tickled my nostalgia button that his likeness and voice is none other than Cary Tagawa, who played Shang Tsung in the first Mortal Kombat film!
The controls in the game are exactly what I remember, albeit as I said before, some of the more complicated combos can be rather….well, complicated and difficult to pull off. I noticed, as with any game, this becomes easier with the more practice you have had so take advantage of the “Learn” mode on the main selection screen. In this age it is pretty common to use directional sticks for movement, however, with 2D plane fighting games I prefer to go old school and use the d-pad. Suffice it to say, my preferred controller was the Switch Pro Controller as I found using the directional buttons on the left joycon to be a bit tedious.
Mortal Kombat 11 looks fantastic on the Switch. Is it “Doom” level of fantastic? No, of course not, but you have to consider that the game released right alongside of the PS4 and Xbox One counterparts which is phenomenal in and of itself given that third parties typically push a Switch release past the other consoles due to having to get optimization just right, etc.. For that I have to give NetherRealm Studios, Shiver Entertainment (who handled the Switch version) and Warner Bros. Interactive kudos! One thing I did notice while playing through the story was that in some sequences it can get a bit choppy which was a slight distraction and at one point (one cutscene in particular) I wanted to just turn off the Switch entirely but it only lasted about a minute. I thought perhaps this was due to not being docked so I docked it but the problem persisted (perhaps a bad download?).
The sounds and music of Mortal Kombat 11 were outstanding. Wouldn’t expect anything less from a MK title being that the the soundtrack and sound effects have always been quite rich with deep base in all the right areas, ups and downs in the music at just the right moments to keep the player engaged. However, while the music was great…there isn’t one single track that could easily get stuck in my head unlike the games of the past (especially the arcade versions). This was something I truly missed. It could just be that I played the older games so much that the tracks just simply embedded themselves into my memory and maybe time with MK 11 is all that it will take for it to do the same?
While I have had my gripes about Mortal Kombat in the past, which ultimately caused me to turn away from the series entirely, MK 11 has breathed a bit of life into my fandom and somewhat awakened that younger me of the past that competed professionally in Mortal Kombat tournaments and could usually be found at the local arcade practicing up for the next competition or just playing it on a Friday at the mall with a group of friends or strangers. Although I will never be able to fully capture that magic I felt in my younger years (let’s face it, arcades WERE magic while the arcades today are mostly vacant and nothing more than ticket machines to spend on cheap junk at the counter) I really feel like Mortal Kombat 11 is a step in the right direction…although a little more grotesque than what I was accustomed to in the past. I can really see myself picking up the next game….BUT, it has to be on Switch (or whatever Nintendo console is out at the time and hopefully still portable)! AND, Mortal Kombat STILL has one of the best logos in video game history…
Did you guys pick up Mortal Kombat 11? What are your thoughts? Did you enjoy it? How long have you been playing MK? We would love to hear from you in the comments below and we thank you for choosing Nintendo Playroom today! Be sure to check out our Community while you are here!
SourceCode, aka Lucas Hughes, is the creator/owner of Nintendo Playroom. He spends his days primarily as a husband/father/programmer/gamer. He loves all things Nintendo and is very passionate about the Nintendo community.