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Mortal Kombat

App review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Mortal Kombat App Poster Image
Ultra-violent fighter hits mobile devices but lacks punch.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Ease of Play

The bulk of the gameplay is simply a matter of timing when tapping the screen. Players tap to attack, hold two fingers on the screen to block, and tap specific icons to initiate and carry out special abilities. There's some difficulty when fighting higher level characters due to the difference in power level and damage output.

Violence

Even in a mobile environment, this is still Mortal Kombat. The game features a gratuitous amount of graphic violence, including X-ray attacks which zoom in to show bones breaks and organs getting damaged in explicit detail, as well as the occasional appearance of signature Fatalities, with over-the-top blood and gore.

Sex

Many characters, particularly the female characters, have various outfits that present them in a sexualized manner.

Language
Consumerism

The game relies heavily on microtransactions for progress. While the free-to-play model does allow for players to move forward, it’s a long and grueling grind, particularly if you’re looking for any of the more powerful character variants. It's also the latest installment in the Mortal Kombat franchise.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some characters and their variants are shown drinking or smoking cigars.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Mortal Kombat is the mobile entry of the popular ultra-violent fighting game franchise available on iOS and Android devices. Players collect different fighters and create teams of three to fight against opponents using a variety of hand-to-hand martial arts, melee weapons, and even guns and magical abilities. Keeping with the franchise’s signature style, the combat is brutal and bloody, with no shortage of gore shown onscreen. Some characters and their variant outfits, particularly the female characters, are portrayed in a more sexualized manner and in revealing costumes. Some characters and their variants also appear smoking cigars, drinking, etc. Parents should also be aware that Mortal Kombat heavily pushes players to spend real world money for exclusive characters, equipment, and the like to help progress further in the game.

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What's it about?

The fate of all Earthrealm and Outworld literally lies in your hands, as the MORTAL KOMBAT tournament takes shape on mobile devices. Players can recruit the greatest warriors from across all the realms and throughout the Mortal Kombat timeline, then assemble a team of Kombatants and test your might in epic 3v3 battles. You'll face the challenge of Outworld’s towers and stake your claim as champion in single-player mode, or pick a side and take the fight online to prove your team’s mettle against others in Faction Wars multiplayer matches. It’s all the bone-crushing brutality fans have come to expect from Mortal Kombat in a portable package of destruction, leaving just one question to be answered: “Who’s next?”

Is it any good?

While this classic fighting franchise has made its way to mobile devices, it doesn't pack nearly as much of a punch as the console or computer versions of the games. It was way back in 1992 that gamers first heard the infamous battle cry, "FINISH HIM!", but since then, the Mortal Kombat franchise has dished out its own brutally bloody brand of combat, changing the landscape of the fighting game genre forever. Timed with the 2015 release of Mortal Kombat X on consoles, the deadly martial arts tournament finally made its way to iOS and Android devices. Now, the app has been tweaked and updated to coincide with the release of Mortal Kombat 11, including the addition of a Netherrealm map, the addition of new characters and new versions of existing characters, and a game engine upgrade from Unreal Engine 3 to Unreal Engine 4, bringing sharper details and more fluid animation to the Mortal Kombat tournament.

Although the game's been expanded and its presentation improved, underneath it all, the gameplay is fundamentally the same as it’s always been. Unfortunately, that also means the gameplay is feeling more than a bit outdated. Combat's just a matter of tapping the screen to attack and holding two fingers down to block. More recent mobile fighting games, including those developed by NetherRealm, have evolved into more robust outings and seem to have left Mortal Kombat behind. The basic gameplay isn’t helped by the fact that progress is a slow and repetitive grind. Earning decent rewards through gameplay feels like it takes forever. And while spending real-world money on any of the game’s multiple microtransactions is an alternate option, even that never feels like it adds anything substantial to the gameplay. Mortal Kombat’s mobile outing might not have been dealt a Fatality, but it’s a far cry from a Flawless Victory.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Mortal Kombat affected by how the violence in the series has changed over the years since the release of the original Mortal Kombat? What sort of impact can scenes of graphic violence have on younger gamers?

  • How much do free-to-play games rely on microtransactions? Would you rather pay a higher price out of the gate for a game without any (or at least as many) microtransactions? How much do you think is “too much” to spend on additional content?

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