Let me get this out there before I say anything else. This is not a review about graphics, outfits, story modes, krypts or any of those extras. This is a review about mortal kombat as a fighting game.
MK11 is the best MK game to date in my opinion and there are quite a few reasons for this. On top of that, I would even dare to say it’s the best modern fighting game available, but my reasons to feel this way are definitely the same reasons why some people hate MK11. MK11 is a game that favors neutral gameplay, with proper defensive mechanisms and it ditches the long combo and high pressure style that most modern games have.
Let’s be honest about new games, they are flashy, they are pretty, but they have been designed to give everyone a winning chance. The problem is that this is mostly done through the use of coin flipping mechanics. Before I go on, it’s important to define that allowing a game to have good pressure mechanics is not a bad thing at all. The problem comes when games emphasizes those mechanics and they give the defending player very little in terms of options to escape that pressure. This turns the game into a constant oki 50/50 nightmare.
In my opinion, and the opinion of many other players, a good fighting game needs to have a strong neutral game. There is no need for 30 hit combos, or dizzy bars that allow you to perform a 50/50 sequence and go for the kill. To me, a good player is one that is able to outsmart you and bait you to make mistakes in the neutral game and a good fighting game is one that allows for that scenario to play out several times per round.
It seems to me like many players are now too used to the “blender” mechanics. Meaning that they expect a fighting game to be all about fishing for that one neutral poke that allows them to start a never-ending combo, some 50/50 pressure and win. In my opinion, the more a game resets back to neutral per round, the more value your win is going to have over your opponent. On the contrary, the more the game pushes the 50/50 scenarios, the least value your win is going to have over your opponent. I have never heard anyone bragging about being good at rock, paper, scissors, and it makes sense because skill has nothing to do with winning such a game.
Before anyone jumps off their chair, I know that ALL fighting games have 50/50 mechanics, there is no question about that at all. The thing that separates good games from bad games is the amount of tools that are available to reset the neutral and avoid endless 50/50’s. The reason why MK11 stands out so much, is that it offers many tools for the neutral to be reset and for the guessing game to be kept to a minimum.
Mortal Kombat 11 is everything I have been expecting to see in a modern Fighting game. This is definitely NOT a game for casual players. The neutral heavy style and the complex defensive and offensive mechanics make it a very technical game. It requires quality footsies and knowledge of your character’s buttons to properly space your attacks and punish your opponent for their whiffs.
Most modern fighting games are heavily focused on the offense and on the blender style of gameplay. Everyone gets to have their Daigo moment now because comebacks are incredibly easy and it only takes a couple of 50/50 scenarios to dizzy your opponent and go for a final killing combo. A similar thing happens with MKX, with an emphasis on pressure and 50/50 scenarios. If you are expecting that type of gameplay with this game, you are definitely barking up the wrong tree.
MK11 is a game that favors strategy and proper spacing over endless combos and guessing. As I said before, I know that all fighting games have 50/50 situations, but MK11 has a very large arsenal of defensive options to allow you to reset the neutral. This is something that rewards skilled players and works against those who rely on the guessing game instead of relying on their actual skills to play mind games with their opponent and get the upper hand in a match.
One of the best things about MK11 is that you don’t need to build meter in order to make use of the most powerful defensive mechanisms. Every fight starts with two full bars for defense and two full bars for offense, but the beauty of the system is that those bars will regenerate even if you stand idle and they take less than 15 seconds to regenerate. This takes the game into a direction where nothing can be abused excessively and THAT is what makes MK11 such an amazing fighting game.
The zoning complaint
One of the most common things I have seen lately is that people are complaining about the zoning in the game. They are saying that this is going to be Injustice 2 all over again, but they say this because they haven’t even bothered to understand the mechanics of MK11. Zoning in MK11 is actually not easy to abuse. Most characters have a fast move that can punish most projectiles if they fail to connect, not to mention that a good number of characters have teleports, but the true icing on the cake are the different loadouts that players can use for their characters. Let’s take Kano as a perfect example. Kano’s main loadout is not ideal for zoners, but he does have a rolling attack that is very good to close in on zoning characters like Scarlet. With that said, Kano has an even deadliner move that can be used with a different load out, this move allows him to supercharge his kano ball attack and this gives the move armor against projectiles.
Loadouts in this game are all about giving characters ideal tools depending on their matchup. This increases the possibility of maining only one character, as long as you are able to learn to use all of their loadouts. Zoning was indeed a huge issue with a game like Injustice, but MK11 developers where quite aware of that issue, and they made sure that all characters had an effective way to move in on zoners. This game is as balanced as it gets when it comes to the tools you have at your disposal. This means that all players need to learn how to maneuver the 3 main ingredients of a good layer in fighting games, and those are the zoning game, the neutral game and the pressure game.
I remember I heard some guy complaining that rounds take forever to end. Why would this be an issue at all. It seems to be like many newcomers in the fighting community are too used to the endless combos and the endless juggles that are used in many modern titles. A good player should be able to handle the neutral game as many times as needed in order to win. If you are only able to win by putting your opponent through the 50/50 blender, you are a weak and very one-dimensional player. MK11 forces every player to learn to handle the neutral, the zoning game and the pressure game at equal measures and that is a brilliant move by the NRS team.
There are obviously some great pressure tools. One thing I really like is the way that amplification works. This brings a surprise element to certain moves that are extended when you amplify them, so this can keep your opponent on their toes when they are looking to punish moves. There is also the fatal blow, which has been designed to be a very powerful comeback mechanic, but never so powerful that it unfairly steals the round from someone who is dominating. That is the kind of balance that fighting games have been missing for a long time.
So to sum it up, if you are the type of player who capitalizes on a single opportunity in the neutral to do an endless combo, and win by 50/50’s alone, you are going to find yourself in the losing end of most matches in MK11. On the other hand, if you can stand the test of playing a match that resets the neutral quite often, and you are able to outsmart your opponent with proper spacing, optimal whiff punishing, and careful though, you are going to do very well in MK11. I want to clarify that a good 50/50 mixup is always a nice thing to do in a match, but any player that relies exclusively on 50/50’s to win fights is not going to be happy with MK11, and I for once, as well as many other players who come from the old school could not be happier about that. MK11 is a thinking man’s game. they may need to patch up some abusive strategies and moves, but this is a very normal process in any modern fighting game. I’m taking about the core of the MK11 gameplay, and that core is incredibly rewarding.
Story, graphics, extras
I appreciate the fact that they made this story quite fun and the humor is surprisingly good, but I did not spend $99 on this game for a story that I will watch a couple of times and never replay again. Fighting games are played for the gameplay and the story is extremely irrelevant. If you bought mk11 for the story, good for you, but to me it holds no meaning and no weight to even consider it important for the review process. MK11 could have no story at all or the best story in gaming history and it would have very little influence in my score.
Just a quick review on the graphics. I think these are the best graphics and character models in mortal kombat to date. I guess people find their species quite ugly if they prefer looks in characters that are not realistic. The truth is that mk11 features very realistic faces and I like this. It makes the characters feel more like actual people.
Now, to all of those people complaining about mk11 having no sexual appeal. Just go jerk off to something else. This is the dumbest complaint that anyone could ever have. I appreciate the female figure in drawings, in 3d models just as much as I do in real women, but I have no problem with MK11 not being a sexual parade. Everyone can get their fix anywhere else. End of story with that particular and idiotic subject.
That is all I have to say about this game and that is all that truly matters. The story mode, the extra customization for the looks of each character and the fatalities are all great, but they will never stand the test of time. You can only do a fatality or watch the single player story so many times and then you get bored, but a game that offers an excellent fighting experience is always something worth coming back to, and in my opinion, MK11 delivers in that department better than any other modern fighting game has been able to deliver.