The fighting game genre has been one that I have avoided ever since my brothers moved away. Growing up, my mother would buy those games because more than one person can play at a time. This was key for my three siblings and me, as we could all participate together. Mortal Kombat was the premier fighting game franchise in the household. While difficult to identify, something special about the earlier titles on the original PlayStation kept us playing.
Despite Mortal Kombat being known for its fighting mechanics, I was more interested in the story behind each character. The game manuals provided me with content to pore through for information on the backstory for every character. Once my siblings moved away, however, I stopped playing Mortal Kombat and fighting games altogether. The skills required to master each technique—or even conquer the A.I. sometimes—never came naturally to me, so I decided to leave this franchise and genre behind. That was until Mortal Kombat 11 released this year.
MK11 has risen above every other title released this year and become my favorite game of 2019. The experimentation in character abilities, along with the Towers of Time game mode drew me back into the franchise, urging me to constantly explore and improve in ways that no other game has done before.
Leading to its release, MK11 had flown under my radar. When the May 2019 edition of the GameInformer magazine arrived, my interest was piqued by MK11’s exclusive feature. I was hooked. Raiden, one of the series’s main protagonists, is pictured on the front with a sinister red hue to his iconic lightning. Needless to say, I wanted to know more, turning to the cover story for the answers I sought.
I have more than 70 hours in the game, and I have yet to grow tired of it. For starters, I was intrigued by the number of customization options within the game. The different abilities felt simultaneously familiar and new. Each character has a list of special abilities that can be equipped, though limits are placed on the number of moves that can be equipped as well as which moves can be tied with one another. This leads to experimentation with characters in training mode to figure out which moves work best with one another.
The bevy of special abilities and access to a practice mode would have been enough for me. I would have been content to just experiment with the now 29 characters (with the recent release of Sindel) in practice mode. However, the Towers of Time is the perfect place to test the combinations you have come up with, for those with no interest in playing online like myself.
The Towers of Time are rotating towers that operate on a real-world timer, providing a sense of urgency for players to get rewards for their favorite characters. The towers also have unique challenges and difficulty levels that players have to overcome. For example, one recent tower had a fight modifier that rained blood that slowly diminished your health. These challenges can be countered by using items earned in-game, but in the absence of an available counter, the player must adapt.
The need to adapt leads to an endless cycle of customization, practice, and testing in the Towers of Time. This constant cycle makes MK11 so rewarding and captivating. The challenges required me to become better with more characters rather than just Kitana, my favorite, because some of the requirements force me to play as someone else.
The sheer amount of experimentation that exists, along with the Towers of Time, will make MK11 a game that I will keep coming back to. Challenges remain that I have not been able to overcome and gear to unlock for characters I have not tried out yet, but I look forward to conquering those obstacles. Mortal Kombat 11 ignited a desire to become better at fighting games while fulfilling a sense of nostalgia. The game is one that I will long remember as being the best game of 2019.