PAX East 2019: Mortal Kombat 11 – First Impressions

Mortal Kombat is coming to the Switch! Is it worth playing on this platform? Well, once you get past the idea that a Mortal Kombat game will be appearing on a Nintendo family product, it’s easier to… wait… nope. Nope. Still weird.

Anyone familiar with the series knows its hook is extreme, over-the-top, gore-laden graphic violence, something that doesn’t seem to jive with Nintendo’s clean-cut, family-friendly image. But here we are. Does it stack up? Well, yes and no, but those both might be good things if you’re really looking for a version that makes sense on this particular platform.

The port for the game was given to Shiver Entertainment, with NetherRealm overseeing production, so it’s not an in-house creation. This may be why it actually, surprisingly, works on Switch despite what’s clearly a downgrade in the overall visual quality. Priority for the port was given to the fighting mechanics rather than the visuals, with a goal of 60FPS.

This shift in emphasis is quite apparent when it comes down to the details. Muscles look painted on, there’s some weirdness happening with shadows and textures, and some of the Fatal Blow details are… well, messy. But here’s the thing—if you’re playing on Switch, maybe that’s exactly what you want. Not everyone gets excited by highly detailed viscera, even Mortal Kombat fans.

And ultimately, that’s not the point. The point of the port is the gameplay, so what determines whether this version is a success or not (from a production point of view) is whether the game plays exactly as expected or better. After our demo, we’d argue that yes, it does, and it does so without any compromise. The attacks are seamless and rhythmic, the animations are smooth and nuanced, and the controls respond just the way you want them to (barring user error, of course).

The end result is a Mortal Kombat game that plays like a Mortal Kombat game, looks like a Mortal Kombat game, sounds like a Mortal Kombat game… but has a little blurring around the edges. If your draw to the series comes from a love of anatomical precision when it comes to bones and internal organs and how they’d explode/implode/tear apart/etc on impact, this maybe isn’t the version for you. But if you’re drawn to the fight mechanics and controls, you won’t be disappointed.

Grab it on April 23rd.


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Author: Dave View all posts by
Dave will tell you that he likes to play video games, this is in fact a lie. What he really likes to do is buy games, and leaving them sitting unopened on his shelf. He is a monster.

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