- Developer: Shiver Entertainement, NetherRealm Studios
- Publisher: WB Games
- Release Date: 23/04/2019
- Price: £54.99 / $59.99
- Review code provided by: WB Games
Say it with me now – MORTAL KOMBAAAAT!!
Full disclosure – I haven’t played a Mortal Kombat game extensively since MK 3 on the Super Nintendo (SNES). Way back then, the offering provided on the Nintendo home console was a slightly modified version, with blood being replaced by a purple slime like substance. Now, almost 25 years later, I get the privilege of playing a Mortal Kombat game for review, and like its predecessor, there are some significant differences between this version and the PS4 and / Xbox One versions.
In the game’s main story mode, the entirety of it’s twelve chapter story is played out through some very impressive cinematic cut scenes. When the on screen characters decide they’ve thrown enough quips, and it is time to fight, the camera pans around to a 2D perspective and battle commences. On the PS4 and Xbox iterations, this is a seamless experience and really makes it feel as though you are playing out a part of a movie. Unfortunately, and not surprising considering the nature of the Nintendo Switch, the same can’t be said for this version. The change from cinematic to gameplay is jarring, often stuttering along and tearing the screen in the process. It must be said though, once in-game, the performance is silky smooth, offering 60FPS solidly and a real fluid fighting experience.
Whilst on the subject of the games main story mode, and as alluded to earlier, the production values are off the chart. This is truly an AAA, current gen title, the likes of which we haven’t really seen too many of on Nintendo Switch. The animation is stunning, the character models and lip syncing are perfect, all paired with the voice acting which is varied and engaging. The fantasy worlds of the Mortal Kombat Universe all look sublime too, both beautiful Earthrealm locales and the eerie, dark depths of Netherrealm too.
On top of that, the story line is just stupid fun. The premise of time travel and merging timelines is just about as far fetched as you can get in a fantasy epic, but in the case of Mortal Kombat 11, it’s a roaring success. As someone who hasn’t played a Mortal Kombat game in nearly 25 years, this worked especially well as it showed me whole spew of familiar faces that tethered me to the games campaign.
I’ve touched upon the transitions from cinematic to gameplay being a little ropey, but how does the game hold up in general? In docked, I rarely had any issues, with things ticking along nicely at 60FPS and, despite the visual downgrade, still looking pleasant enough. In handheld however, things took a turn for the worse on occasion and, whilst still offering a smooth performance, the muddy textures would often make the game less than enjoyable for a prolonged session. Not to mention my Switch would often be so loud that volume at max would barely be audible, which was both frustrating and terrifying. That being said, you have to appreciate the enormity of this game, and the fact that it is playable at all on a handheld system is an impressive feat and Warner Bros. games and Havok, who handled porting duties should be commended for.
Aside from the quite excellent story mode, Mortal Kombat 11 offers a whole crux of alternate game modes. You can play locally against a friend, or CPU, you can find a match online and duke it out with the best the internet has to offer, or you could head to the Tower and experience some traditional arcade style, Mortal Kombat goodness. Kind of?
There are two offerings available in the Towers, the Klassic Towers, akin to the Mortal Kombat I grew up playing; an offline mode that has a selection of fighters that must be bested, and the Towers of Time. The Towers of Time is an interesting proposition. After clearing four very agreeable tutorial Towers, you are introduced to seven constantly revolving towers that seemingly offer perpetual game play options. There are a perplexing plethora of scenarios that once discovered are hard to walk away from and offer an addictive mode that has taken the concept of the Klassic Tower mode and reinvented it for the modern day gamer. Again, it plays on the nostalgia of the legacy titles and in turn offers some incredibly moreish content.
Unfortunately, the Krypt didn’t offer the same level of addictive game play despite its evident promise. The premise of this mode is to use the coins that you have been accumulating in every other game mode, and to use them to go on a good old fashioned looting spree. However, the random nature of the loot generation and the reliance on hearts to open premium chests makes the Krypt feel like a bit of a cash grab. Simply put, the easiest way to progress in the Krypt is through the usage of IRL currency. Although not necessary, it certainly speeds the process up and as a busy adult, it really is the only foreseeable way to progress swiftly.
This section of the game plays out like a 3D action adventure and see’s you navigating a whole host of familiar places in order to unlock all kinds of items to be used in game, as well as things such as concept art. In practice it’s fine, it just grows tiresome very quickly and after a while simply feels like a bit of a slog. In the humble opinion of this simple scribe, it is certainly the weakest game mode.
Mortal Kombat 11 has no right to work as well as it does, but it succeeds in offering some truly brilliant gameplay moments, as well as an utterly enjoyable story campaign. The frustrations of other game modes, the Towers and Krypt being the main offenders do mar the experience somewhat. The graphical downgrades, a necessity of the platform, do take away from the overall experience, however, they’re not game breaking issues, just aesthetics. With the sheer amount of content available, with the Towers and Krypt offering a huge amount of content, Mortal Kombat 11 will keep you entertained for good while, at least until Mortal Kombat 12 arrives.
- Silly, fun story
- Gorgeously presented, despite faults
- Opportunistic and nostalic
- Performance issues
- The Krypt is a real slog
- Despite the impressive roster, some key players missing