Console Game of the Year 2020: Mortal Kombat 11

Introduction

How weird is it that our console game of the year 2020 actually came out in March 2019? I mean, if you’re at all familiar with our page, it isn’t that weird at all. We are nothing if not unabashedly retro in our sensibilities. Something about this year dragged me kicking and screaming into a more modern gamer. Chris, however, remains steadfast in his commitment to retro gaming and I love him for it.

I know that “No H” is not cool anymore and I completely agree. Is bromance still acceptable?

True to gaming in 2020, MK11 reached its “final form” over a year and a half after being released. In April, Aftermath came out to continue the story, gave us friendships and new stage fatalities, and added three new characters. More recently, Kombat Pack 2 gave us 3 more new characters. So, you could absolutely argue Mortal Kombat was better to us this year than last.

It feels like I just wrote the article in that last paragraph. Well, I have a couple of days to rework this article and get it published.

Console Game of the Year 2020: Humble Beginnings

If you told me last year that I’d pick Mortal Kombat 11 for this article, I’d not have believed you. I received the game as a gift from a friend. In a true dink move, I didn’t touch it for the first few months I owned it. Actually, it wasn’t a dink move. Not consciously at least. The XBox was upstairs in the game room that became Aiden’s room. I was busy with school, too.

You’re probably tired of hearing that. But, it’s true.

Finally, after those few months of gentle reminders by said friend, I logged into the game. Not entirely understanding how the game might be different from the previous few iterations, I played a few games. Yep, this is Mortal Kombat all right. For good and for bad. Little did I know how much this game would come to dominate my life over the next two years.

Console Game of the Year 2020: Familiarity Breeds Contempt?

Not at all in this case. My friend gave me the version that came with Kombat Pack 1 already included. All the fighters were there for me. Sure, in some cases, I had to download them. Also, Shao Khan and Frost both cost and extra 5 dollars. Now that I think about it, the Frost thing had to be a classic Ed Boon MK troll because you unlocked her simply by playing through the story mode. Everyone was there, though. All the classics like Johnny, Sub Zero, Scorp, and my favorite Liu Kang. Throw in some Newbies like Kitana and Jax. Finish with a sprinkling of the next generation, Cassie and Jacqui. It’s all wheat and no chaff.

5 bucks for Frost? GTFOH.

Getting back to that story mode. Eventually, it hooked me on the game. I don’t remember how or why, but I moved the XBox into our bedroom and started playing the story mode. I wrote a review for the story. That’s how impressive I thought it was. Once the game got me hooked, my friend mentioned that you could “AI” the towers. Once I discovered that, I played the game daily to get those sweet, sweet cosmetics.

Console Game of the Year 2020: Aftermath

As happens with any game, I grew tired of beating the same towers over and over again simply to rise in the ranks and get a single new skin for being in the top 5%. I rediscovered Diablo 3. Quinn and I started an epic world in Minecraft. MTGA grabbed more and more of my attention. Because of Covid, I spent more time obsessing over online learning.

I simply had no time for Mortal Kombat 11. Then, Aftermath released. I did two videos (two of three or four this year, so more than recent years!) reacting to the trailer and friendships. The new characters got me playing towers again to get new skins. A weekly Kronika quest kept me logging in on a regular basis.

Console Game of the Year 2020: Summer Lull and Kombat Pack 2

Eventually, I tired even of the regular loot from Kronika and the towers started to repeat again at a nauseating rate. I played more Pokemon Go and went for 2 hours walks to kill the time. Don’t forget Diablo 3 and MTGA. There’s only so much Mortal Kombat one person can take. My limit is apparently a couple of months before I start to stray again.

Clearly, Ed Boon realized that and released Kombat Pack 2. I reviewed this last month. Ever since the release, I’ve played daily again to get the last month of skins on the Towers of Time. Except for yesterday, I’ve been grabbing the Kronika vaults again. It just completely slipped my mind. Damn, I’m sad now. Oh well, maybe there will be another way to get the items. Or, maybe I just won’t sweat it too much. Okay, what was I saying?

Oh yeah, it seems like every time I get bored with the game, something new comes along. It’s similar to the CCG treadmill. They can’t keep this going forever on MK11. And, it seems like this last Kombat Pack might be the last unless there is a surprise announcement early next year. However, it just feels like they’ve milked this cash cow dry.

The Verdict

Mortal Kombat 11 has some new strategies to it. I’m not capable of executing many of them. Hell, I’m still stuck on the Raiden combo in the tutorial. But, watching more and more streams lately, I can see that they’ve included a deep and rich fighting engine. It’s no Tekken or Virtua Fighter. But, it’s better than bully your opponent into the corner and juggle cheese.

The inclusion of new guest stars have kept the game fresh. Plus, I still have to play through the Aftermath story. There’s enough to keep me going in Mortal Kombat 11 until at least the spring when the weather starts to get nice or I buy a PlayStation 5. Even though I played much more Hearthstone, Mortal Kombat 11 is, by far, the most fun I’ve had with a game in the last year.

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