Scorpion was a playable character in Mortal Kombat II. The pads that scorpion wears are pretty thick, so I cut them out twice as big as I needed and then folded them over to get that thickness I was looking for. The plot conceits are regularly ridiculous, especially when family members and lovers get into fatal tiffs, but it’s a delightfully bombastic and outlandish visual spectacle if nothing else. One tower might pit you against a series of fighters who can poison you if they get a string of hits in, another might place a totem in the middle of the stages that electrocute whoever is standing closest. But the story mode hits that perfect balance of being just enough and not overstaying its welcome. When our review-in-progress was first published, the balance of difficulty seen in the Towers Of Time was in such a state that the odds were always stacked against you–negative environmental modifiers only affected you and not your opponent, AI difficulty was relentlessly high, opponents were more robust, and as a result the challenges often felt horribly cruel and unbalanced.
It is also the first fighting game in the series to feature more than one guest character from other franchises. The mode’s focus on using “Konsumables,” a variety of limited-use items that you can equip and activate during the fight, did little to even the playing field, and their method of attainment was too dependent on luck to even make them a reliable strategy in the first place. Running and stamina meters have been removed and dash distances feel shorter, honing MK11’s focus on always being within striking distance of your opponent. These helpful lessons focus on the most useful and practical abilities and combos for a particular character and give you suggestions on when to use them, the pros and cons of doing so, and what you could follow up with. Following the good work seen in Injustice 2, Mortal Kombat 11 features a comprehensive series of fantastic practical tutorials, with everything from teaching you basic attacks to more advanced lessons on managing the ebb and flow of a match, strategies on how to change or maintain the dynamic of a fight (like dealing with corners or projectile spam), and how to approach building your own combos.
Not only that, there are lessons on how to interpret that information and use it in a practical scenario–it’ll teach you what makes a move “safe” or “unsafe,” how to create pressure in a fight, and even how to perform frame traps. These kinds of challenges are a welcome exercise that push you to consider different ways to approach a MK11 fight, forcing you to, say, become extra defensive or keep a closer eye on your positioning. There are no Klassic Kostumes (which were given out by various retailers as pre-order bonuses) found within the Krypt. In addition to the game’s story mode, MK11 sees the return of Klassic Towers, a more straightforward single-player mode where you fight a series of opponents before eventually facing big boss Kronika. In fact, the drip-feed of rewards you received from completing towers were overall too meager (and random) at the game’s release to justify the amount of effort they demanded.
One week later, NetherRealm released a major patch (1.03) that acknowledged and adjusted a large number of variables related to the Towers of Time, reducing (and in some cases, eliminating) a number of unbalanced modifiers, normalizing the resilience and difficulty of AI opponents, and increasing the amount of rewards for completing activities across the board. It’s valuable information and knowledge that NetherRealm has been building upon in its last few games and is presented at its best in MK11.