Mortal Kombat has enjoyed a long shelf life in video game history since it debuted nearly 30 years ago. From spine-ripping fatalities to hilarious match-ending friendships, it's always stood head and shoulders above its competition in offering the most brutal brawls a video game could offer. Each new installment surpasses the one before it and the latest entry, Mortal Kombat 11, continues that pattern with another fantastic fighter that delivers on its lofty promises. If you've been looking for something to satisfy that inner urge to tear your virtual opponents to absolute shreds, Mortal Kombat 11 is it — and it delivers that satisfaction in droves.
The game begins right around the time Mortal Kombat X ended, with a much more brutal Raiden overseeing the protection of Earthrealm (where the protectors of Earth linger). He's far more concerned about doling out his own brand of justice these days than he is about actually preventing violence from occurring, with his own bloody actions being just as evil as those of his enemies in some situations. One day, he's visited by the Keeper of Time, Kronika. She's come to erase Raiden from all realms of existence as she works toward building a universe devoid of the anomalies he's caused. As you can imagine, that's bad news for one of the most iconic Mortal Kombat characters ever, but also everyone else in the series.
Because Kronika has been messing about with time, Earthrealm's fighters have also been affected. That means your favorite Mortal Kombat characters — including Sonya Blade, Johnny Cage, Liu Kang, Kitana, and the rest of the crew — end up meeting their past selves, for better or for worse. Because they're all here narrative-wise, you can use these characters throughout a ridiculously huge selection of fights.
Thus, Mortal Kombat 11 has one of the best character rosters in the history of the franchise, with an ensemble that includes favorites like Cetrion, Geras, and Kollector. There are a total of 25 characters available initially, and more are on their way. You can play Story Mode to unlock some that you're missing, or purchase them, in the case of Shao Kahn if you didn't already preorder.
Mortal Kombat 11 is just as slick and raw as the previous entries, though it may feel a little different to those used to running around the match and attacking enemies with speed. The option to run is gone, and the X-Ray moves from the previous game have been removed, supplanted with Fatal Blows. You get one of them to use per match, and they'll pop up when you have just 30 percent health remaining, and if used at the proper moment, these moves could very well change the outcome of the battle. You can also utilize new Krushing Blows that trigger when you perform specific moves under certain conditions. Alternatively, Perfect Blocks let you mitigate damage before blows ever connect.
The missing X-Ray moves are sorely missed, especially since they added an element of renewed brutality that the game excelled at in Mortal Kombat X, but luckily there's a wide selection of over-the-top Fatalities that give the game its much-needed variety of graphic ends to each battle. If you grew up enjoying Mortal Kombat, you'll find them particularly satisfying, especially when you unlock further Fatalities that can be uncovered by trying out different game modes, like the Krypt.
Speaking of game modes, Story Mode lets you test your might over a series of several vignettes that comprise the game's narrative as different fighters. Starting with Cassie Cage, you'll work your way through a doppelgänger-filled tale. It finds all your favorite characters meeting each other and their past selves, then proceeding to be extremely weirded out by the fact that they're meeting. Of course it includes them beat the stuffing out of others on their quest to figure out why they're suddenly meeting themselves from the future or the past, depending on which situation we're talking about.
Even if you're not into playing through the single-player story, there are plenty of other options beyond the vanilla single fights. You can opt for the Towers of Time to complete different challenges meant to test your mettle as a fighter, or you can take the show on the road with a series of online matches with settings that you can tweak to your liking. If you're primarily interested in playing with others, the possibilities are nearly endless. There's so much to do in Mortal Kombat 11 that your head will spin with the richness and variety of offer — that's a good thing if you're looking for something to do after you complete the Story mode.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBC Universal.