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Mortal Kombat 11 review: Flawless fighting marred by tedious grinding and content gating

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Mortal Kombat 11 review: Flawless fighting marred by tedious grinding and content gating (Pic: WB Games)

Mortal Kombat 11 has a really decent core. Theres something at the heart of the game thats compelling, addictive, special – a fighting game that delights in its silliness and gives players the tools to customise their experience, providing a decent springboard for competitive players and casual fighting fans alike.

But that solid core is let down by some bizarre design decisions around the rest of the game: around the insistence that everything is locked behind multiple different in-game currencies, that every challenge is balanced in favour of your spending money, that the player should be punished for wanting to unlock everything as soon as possible.

Mortal Kombat 11 borrows a lot of ideas from developer NetherRealms previous title, Injustice 2, but rather than using that game to iterate on ideas and make the newest Mortal Kombat more player-friendly, NetherRealm has gone the opposite direction, taking an actively more hostile approach when it comes to balance, grind and content gating.

And frankly, it ruins the experience.

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Thanks to the way Mortal Kombat 11 works, you need to be online pretty much all the time in order to collect items – and not just cosmetic items.

Certain pieces of armour or custom character loot will impact your moves: making some specials more powerful, making some moves more deadly, or allowing you a realistic chance against boss fights in the Towers of Time mode.

In order to beat these Towers and unlock, say, your favourite characters skin, you need to fight through increasingly tough levels of enemies that get buffs applied to them as you get debuffed. This may mean that your opponents start to get regenerating health as you start to dodge missiles thrown at you from around the stage – not exactly a fair fight.

NetherRealm wants you to offset these harsh conditions by customising your fighters – and youll often only get the item you need to beat a boss… once youve beaten a boss.

Fatalities, Brutalities and more are locked behind the games Krypt (where everything costs one of three currencies to obtain) or locked away in Towers.

As a newcomer in this game – especially if you just want to play Mortal Kombat with friends and enjoy all the silly ultra-violence – this is incredibly intimidating and convoluted. The lengthy grind to level up items and unlock new gear pushes players into using only one character and sticking with them for the long haul.

We get it – its nice to specialise, but with a game as varied and stuffed to the brim with content as this, its a shame to feel corralled into maxing out one character.

At least in the story mode, theres some respite from what seems like a very aggressive tactic to push players into buying premium currency. As ever with NetherRealm games, the story takes center stage, and draws on the last three decades of history to compose a story thats as insane as it is brilliant.

We wont spoil anything here, but over the 12 chapters (of four fights each) the Story mode focuses on, you get a decent grounding of current and historical MK lore. Its loud, dumb, silly and the most part, fun. Its built with Hollywood cinematography and wouldnt feel out of place in the overwrought DC cinematic universe – its that on-brand.

This is the best place to feel out the fighting in the game, too: for the most part, the balance is on point (NetherRealm has clearly learned its lesson since vanilla MKX!) and there's a character for every player type – whether you're stoic, rushdown, a zoner or whatever else you'll find a character and a playstyle that will fit to your strengths and test your weaknesses. We can't gush enough about how well MK11 plays when you're fighting.

You can probably blitz through Story mode in one sitting, if youre patient, as it takes maybe two to three hours to finish up. Then, it's time to jump into the Towers – and that's where things get disappointing.

(Pic: WB Games)

There are two types of Tower: Klassic (standard arcade ladders that anyone that's ever played a fighter will be familiar with) and Towers of Time. The latter are constantly changing challenges that put the focus on items and power-ups, rather than your raw fighting skill.

In theory, that's a great idea – it demonstrates a lot of creativity from the minds at NetherRealm, and keeps the game fresh forever. But without good augments, decent power-ups and (again) this ludicrous grind, many of these challenges are frankly unfun.Read More – Source