Mortal Kombat 11 review: Great gameplay, excessively packaged

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Classic characters (klassic karacters?) Raiden and Johnny Cage face off in a nostalgic-themed arcade level.

Enlarge / Classic characters (klassic karacters?) Raiden and Johnny Cage face off in a nostalgic-themed arcade level. (credit: NetherRealm Studios)

The original Mortal Kombat arcade experience quite literally shaped my life in gaming—I’ve been a dedicated fighting game community member ever since. Looking back, the entire original trilogy of games feels special, and the early-year hype for Mortal Kombat 11 recently stirred up some of that nostalgia. After a long time of mostly ignoring the franchise’s releases, I was genuinely looking forward to trying a new Mortal Kombat game.

As a somewhat serious fighting game player, I’m good enough to know I’m not particularly good. Fighting games are a pretty deep rabbit hole, and there is always more to dig. I’m registered to compete this August in Street Fighter V and the new (and still unreleased) Samurai Shodown at Evo, the annual global fighting game event in Vegas. I run a weekly night hosting players for a multitude of fighting games (but mostly Street Fighter titles). No matter the preferred title, though, I’m happy to nerd out and talk frame traps or fighting game theory.

I’m a fan of the Mortal Kombat series in general, but I stopped paying much attention after the third arcade title in the mid ’90s. So before playing MK11, I caught up on some quick summaries of the rebooted franchise lore that came along with NetherRealm Studios’ (NRS) Mortal Kombat 9 in 2011. My perspective on the game may very much be that of a lapsed fan these days, but those early titles will always hold a special place.

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