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Mortal Kombat 11 improves on its predecessor, Mortal Kombat X, in many areas. The animations and overall art style are vastly improved — the colours, characters and stages all look gorgeous. In many ways, 11 pays homage to Deception by bringing back the less iconic, kult klassic kharacters such as Jade and Noob Saibot, though many are irrelevant to the story. Although reports of developers suffering PTSD are tragic and definitely deserve investigation, their studious efforts to make the gore and Fatalities look slicker than ever before certainly paid off. Unfortunately, aside from the superficial touches, almost everything else is a downgrade.
Gameplay-wise, I really don't feel 11. Dialling back on MKXs free-flowing engine that allowed for more creative combos and setups, 11s gameplay is much slower as it removes many movement mechanics such as the "Run" button which helped to give MKX such a frenetic pace. Mortal Kombat always tends to ape contemporary fighting game trends, and in this case it takes inspiration from the footsy-centric, one-flowchart-fits-all gameplay of Street Fighter V. New mechanics such as 'Krushing Blows' add some cinematic flair, but the centralisation of the new 'Fatal Blows', strong super moves that only activate when a character is near death, leads to match conclusions boiling down to who can activate theirs first. Like many cinematic super moves in NetherRealm Studios games, they look impressive the first few times but quickly become tiring to sit through. The preoccupation with aesthetics over gameplay has often been this franchise's downfall. Then there's the tedious anti-konsumer Krypt grinding.
I'll always stan Mortal Kombat 9s story mode as the best in any fighting game. Mortal Kombat X didn't quite live up to it, but was still a worthy and enjoyable follow up. However, Mortal Kombat 11s storyline is a severe misstep. Blithely throwing out basically everything that was set up in the previous game, 11 instead follows every typical writing sin imaginable in time travel plots. It's an unfocused, poorly structured, incomprehensible mess. Even though I have misgivings with the increasingly militarised 'Hollywood' aesthetic these games have taken (as flawed as previous games could be, the low-budget, "Dragons Up the Yin Yang" Grindhouse aesthetic was always charming), the Special Forces characters and their mostly self-contained storyline was the most compelling emotional core of 11s story. Whenever the focus shifts back to stilted exposition between the magical characters, I switch off. Liu Kang is given a cathartic reclamation of his title as The Hero, but he only becomes the main focus at the very end of the story.
Also, never ever buy the horribly optimised Switch port of this game. It's a disgrace on par with Game Boy ports of the old games. In the words of Shao Kahn, THAT WAS PATHETIC!
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