Fighting game fans are getting a lot for their money with this one. The range of modes, collectibles, and customization options on offer in Mortal Kombat 11 is simply staggering. The story mode tells an admittedly thin tale, but it delivers a couple hours' worth of mesmerizing, nearly film-quality CGI scenes that set the tone by providing context for each arena and explaining the motivations of the main characters. It also gives players a brief introduction to each character's moves -- of which there are many -- before jumping into the tougher, more competitive realms of tower climbing, tournaments, local, and online play. With the ability to earn money and unlock all sorts of collectible, cosmetic, and usable gear in the Krypt -- much of which can be used to create personalized versions of your preferred fighters -- there's no shortage of stuff to do and objectives to achieve.
Of course, this massive array of content would be useless if the fighting weren't fun. Thankfully, it's a blast, and surprisingly accessible to boot. Fighters are instantly responsive to player inputs, and transition smoothly and satisfying between moves. A "Very Easy" difficulty level and simplified controls for some of the more spectacular moves ensures anyone can start having fun right away, even if they don't know any specific combos. But the intuitive training module and forgiving interface makes it easy for rookies to begin learning and mastering more advanced moves and strategies. That said, the violence may turn off some. It's meant to be so over-the-top as to makes players laugh at its creativity – and it largely succeeds. Seeing a face get ripped off, then the outer flesh and bone get sheared away, then the brain skewered, removed, and finally eaten is the sort of outlandish-to-the-point-of-being-comic gore that has helped make the franchise so popular. But it also occasionally veers into cringe-y territory. Take, for example, Kano's first fatality. He guzzles whisky, smashes the bottle on his opponent, plunges it into their chest, and then waltzes around with the corpse. He uses this move on both men and women, but it can't help but conjure an image of drunken domestic violence when performed on a female character. Mortal Kombat 11 is a polished and laudably accessible fighter, but it's suitable only for older players with a strong stomach who know what they're getting into -- and when and when not to laugh.