Mortal Kombat (2011 video game)

Mortal Kombat (2011 video game)
Mortal Kombat
Mortal Kombat PS3 Boxart.jpg
Cover art for North American version of Mortal Kombat, featuring Scorpion (left) and Sub-Zero (right).
Developer(s) NetherRealm Studios[1]
Publisher(s) Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Distributor(s) Time Warner
Director(s) Ed Boon
Composer(s) Dan Forden
Series Mortal Kombat
Engine Unreal Engine 3
Version 1.05
Platform(s) PlayStation 3
Xbox 360
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Fighting game
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer
Media/distribution Blu-ray Disc, DVD

Mortal Kombat (also known as Mortal Kombat 2011) is a 2D fighting game with 3D graphics (2.5D) and the ninth installment in the Mortal Kombat series. It was developed by NetherRealm Studios (formerly known as Midway Games) and published exclusively under the Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment label. The game was released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 systems on April 19, 2011 in North America, and on April 21 in Europe.

Mortal Kombat was officially announced on June 10, 2010, accompanied with a debut trailer which showcases the new presentation and gameplay features. Although set directly after Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, the game focuses on the earliest period in the Mortal Kombat series (the trilogy Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat II, and Mortal Kombat 3). The game's storyline involves the thunder god Raiden attempting to change the present by contacting his former self.

Upon release, Mortal Kombat received positive reviews, achieving an aggregated score of 85 out of 100 at Metacritic. The game is currently banned in Australia due to the extreme violence.



Mortal Kombat co-creator and creative director Ed Boon stated developers intended for Mortal Kombat to be accessible to the casual player[4] and more "engaging",[5] with experts on the fighting genre consulted[6] and new features were created to create a deeper fighting experience.[7]

Principal gameplay involves one-on-one fighting in a single 2D fighting plane, (at sixty frames per second)[8][9] although characters are rendered in three-dimension fashion,[10] the intent being to give depth and range to portrayals of various projectiles.[5]

Unlike previous Mortal Kombat games, four buttons on the game controller represent an attack and are linked to a corresponding limb. A "super meter" was also added which can be charged by various actions during battle such as performing a combo or getting hit by the opponent.[5] The super meter can be charged to three levels, with three special actions available. A single level can be used to deliver an enhanced version of one of the character's special attacks; two levels can be used to interrupt a combination attack, and the full three levels allow for the delivery of a special combination attack called an "X-ray move". During this attack, the camera provides an internal view of a defending character and shows bones and organs being broken or ruptured.[5][11] Extra features include the ability to play as multiple characters during the course of the story,[12] a Fatality training mode (allowing players to practice executing finishing moves),[13] the Challenge Tower, Tag team fighting and online mode.

Reptile (right) attacking Sub-Zero (left) with a special move (acid spit). Characters and levels are rendered in 3D, with gameplay in a a two-dimensional plane.

The Challenge Tower mode is a single-player option Boon described as "similar to an arcade ladder". It includes 300 specific challenges of various difficulties providing currency rewards upon completion, with players having the option of using in-game currency to by-pass other difficult challenges.[5][13] Amongst the various challenges are "Test Your Might" (requires rapidly pressing buttons and specific timing to destroy blocks of varying difficulty), "Test Your Sight" (following an object hidden under a cup or skull and revealing the object after a shuffle), "Test Your Strike" (destroying a specific block in a stack) and "Test Your Luck" (battles with certain conditions, such as no jumping[13]) respectively. The four player tag-team feature is an original feature, allowing two players to play together.[14] Characters can suddenly appear on-screen and perform "assist attacks" or "special entry attacks" while the second character disappears.[5]

Developers stated that online gameplay for Mortal Kombat would be a main priority.[15] which GamePro editors called a "smart move",[16] The development team stated interest in capabilities to link the player's progression feed to their accounts held on social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter, and recreate the feel of socializing with players in an arcade. The online mode includes a "King of the Hill" option, where up to eight players can act as spectators and play the winner of a fight. Spectators may also rate the fights and use the "forum" to determine how to perform various combos or moves observed during a fight.[5][12] A single-use online pass is also included with the game which is mandatory to access the online components. Online passes are also available from the PS Store and Xbox Live Marketplace.[17]


Developer Ed Boon describes the game as an altered re-telling of the events of the original first three Mortal Kombat games (MK, MK II, and MK3):

"Raiden is about to be killed by Shao Kahn, and just before he delivers the last blow, [Raiden] sends a mental message to his earlier self, and the camera rewinds back to Mortal Kombat 1. The Raiden from Mortal Kombat 1 then gets the message and experiences a premonition. The game then spans Mortal Kombat 1, 2, and 3, retelling the story with an enlightened Raiden, who has changed the course of events. Eventually, everything you've seen happen before — Liu Kang winning, the guys turning into cybernetic ninjas, has been altered. You might see a cybernetic character who wasn't before, and a different version of events."[18]

Following the events of Mortal Kombat Armageddon, both forces of light and darkness have been wiped out, with only thunder god Raiden and Shao Kahn remaining to represent their parties. A severely weakened Raiden is about to be killed by Shao Kahn, but casts a last-minute spell on his now shattered magical amulet, directing it to contact his past self with the vague message "He must win."

During the events of the first tournament hosted by Shang Tsung, the past version of Raiden sees visions of the future courtesy of a now cracked amulet. Raiden comes to the conclusion that fighter Liu Kang is to win the tournament and save Earthrealm from Outworld. Although Liu Kang succeeds, Raiden's amulet continues to deteriorate, a sign that future events remain unchanged. Disappointed with Outworld's defeat, Shao Kahn orders Shang Tsung's execution, but relents when the sorcerer suggests holding the second tournament in Outworld.

Raiden attempts to change the timeline by substituting Kung Lao for Liu Kang (the original winner of the Outworld tournament) as the champion of the second tournament. Shao Kahn, however, kills Kung Lao in combat, with Liu Kang retaliating and mortally wounding the villain. Raiden notes the timeline is still unaffected as his amulet continues to deteriorate.

Healed by the sorcerer Quan Chi, Kahn enters into an alliance with the Netherrealm and invades Earthrealm. Together with fighters such as Nightwolf, Kurtis Stryker, and Kabal, Raiden and Liu Kang attempt to stop Kahn, although many of their allies are murdered by Kahn's resurrected wife Sindel. Nightwolf, however, sacrifices himself to kill Sindel. Raiden confronts Quan Chi, and learning of the alliance with Kahn, realizes that the message "He must win" refers to Kahn himself — if he is allowed to merge Outworld and Earthrealm, he will be punished by the Elder Gods for a violation of the Mortal Kombat code for taking a realm without winning the tournament. Liu Kang, however, blames Raiden for the death of their allies and attacks an approaching Shao Kahn. In an attempt to change the future, Raiden accidentally kills Liu Kang. Grief-stricken, Raiden "surrenders" to Shao Kahn. The Elder Gods intervene, restoring Raiden's strength which he in turn uses to defeat and punish Kahn for breaking the Mortal Kombat code. After killing Kahn, Raiden vows to rebuild Earthrealm with survivors Johnny Cage and Sonya.

Quan Chi revealed to be the pawn of Shinnok, who intends to take advantage of the chaos and the elimination of Kahn to conquer both Outworld and Earthrealm in the name of the Netherrealm.


Boon stated in an interview with IGN that there was a focus on including characters from the first three games (Mortal Kombat, MKII, and MK3), claiming "If you have a favorite character from those games, you're probably going to see him or her in the game."[9] The game's roster offers twenty-seven characters (Baraka, Cyrax, Ermac, Jade, Jax, Johnny Cage, Kabal, Kano, Kitana, Kung Lao, Liu Kang, Mileena, Nightwolf, Noob Saibot, Quan Chi, Raiden, Reptile, Scorpion, Sektor, Shang Tsung, Sheeva, Sindel, Smoke, Sonya, Stryker, Sub-Zero and Cyber Sub-Zero - alternate character form) with the PlayStation 3 version featuring Kratos from the God of War series as a platform-exclusive character.

Game developers stated that the characters have been designed with the intent to make each character unique - each having their own individual stances, victory poses and Fatalities with no shared animations.[19] Lead designer John Edwards stated that characters are differentiated by features such as power and speed.[5] Producer Shaun Himmerick stated that the internal and external character design required "two months or ten weeks".[20] Boon stated that there is no exclusive character for the Xbox 360 version, claiming "Unfortunately, the circumstances didn't allow us to make a 360 exclusive."[21]


Logo for the newly founded NetherRealm Studios, developer for Mortal Kombat.

In a November 2008 interview, Boon stated that game sales for Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, would dictate what features would appear in "the next game".[22] During 2009, Midway Games Chicago had filed for its bankruptcy and was purchased by Warner Bros. Interactive.[23] This led the game to be developed by NetherRealm Studios,[24] becoming the first installment in the series to be published exclusively under the Warner Bros. label.[25][26] On June 18, 2009, Boon confirmed on his Twitter page that developers were performing motion capture for the game and that it would not feature superheroes.[27] Dan Forden was also expected to return as the music composer for the game.[28] In late 2009, Boon stated that the franchise was returning to its bloody origins[16] and that the production team were aiming for a "Mature" rating, as opposed to the "Teen" on the previous game. Boon also showed concern about content being classified under the "Adults Only" rating.[29][30]

Mortal Kombat was officially revealed on June 10, 2010 with a release for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in 2011.[8] It was revealed at the Sony E3 press conference that Mortal Kombat would be 3D compatible,[31] and Boon stated that in dealing with the 3D capability, more attention to detail was required so as to not obstruct the gameplay.[32] Ed Boon stated that the extras mode from previous games ("The Krypt") has returned with an "elaborate and sophisticated unlocking system"[33] and puts "the other games in the series to shame."[12] Some mild humorous elements are also included, such as the Babalities feature.[34] Boon also stated that the production team are considering a PC port of Mortal Kombat as "there seems to be a market for [PC video games] in Europe."[35] On April 5, 2011 Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and NetherRealm Studios announced Mortal Kombat was finished and ready for mass production, with pre-orders having gone "gold".[36]


Mortal Kombat runs on a heavily-modified version of the Unreal Engine 3, similar to the engine used by its predecessor, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe.[9] Developers recreated the entire fighting engine so that it was restricted to a 2D plane of fighting,[14] with senior Producer, Hans Lo, stating at Gamescom 2010 that the change from a 3D styled gameplay to 2D gameplay was advantageous for Mortal Kombat, as it increased graphical detail for characters, arenas[12] and improvements in gameplay speed.[37] Another new mechanic is the inclusion of "blood physics" (blood loss is portrayed as being more natural and being clearly visible on characters or surroundings).[20]

According to Dave Pindara, the art lead for Mortal Kombat, environments were developed to create active objects and effects such as "scripted cinema events", "dynamic lighting effects", and "characters and objects that animated and reacted to the fights." Arena development began with 18 arenas but development of environments with different times of day and original arenas related to the plot, scaled up arena development to roughly 30 arenas.[38] One unique feature is included with each stage[12] such as "The Desert" which has a "sand tech", allowing for realistic sand motion during characters interaction.[20]

Dan Forden, lead sound designer, stated the intent was to create a "cinematic game audio experience". Sound effect design included use and enhancement of the "bone-crunching audio design" of previous titles, and while the "dynamic experience" was vital, small details such as the "rustling of fighter's clothes" and background sounds were also included. Music for each stage was similar to previous games but with "a completely new arrangement".[39]


On September 28, 2010, the slogan "Kombat Begins In..." appeared with a clock counting down on the Mortal Kombat official website, the countdown ending on Monday October 11, 2010.[40] At the conclusion of the countdown, a link to the Facebook page was added to the website, and an accompanying Facebook application was also released that showcased a teaser trailer for the game.[41][42] On August 31, 2010, a teaser trailer called Shadows debuted on IGN. The trailer included a track titled "Another Way to Die", from the band Disturbed's album, Asylum.[43][44] On October 4, 2010, the Environment Bio trailer of the Mortal Kombat arena, The Pit, was released to explain the in-game backstory on its origins and evolution.[45] Similar videos featuring The Living Forest,[46] the Deadpool,[47] and Kahn's Coliseum [48] were released afterward, also explaining background information on the stages. In a similar fashion, character profile videos were released for Scorpion,[49] Sub-Zero,[50] Mileena,[51] Liu Kang,[52] and Raiden.[53]

On June 10, 2010, a trailer was released which featured 2D fighting and also showcased other new features including a tag team mode.[54] On March 8, 2011, a demo was released for download globally exclusively for PlayStation Plus members. As of March 15, the demo is now available for non-PlayStation Plus members. The demo (an arcade ladder with single or two player capability) showcases four characters - Johnny Cage, Mileena, Scorpion and Sub-Zero - and the stages The Living Forest and The Pit.[55]

In May 2011, Performance Design Products sponsored the inaugural National Mortal Kombat Championship in Las Vegas.[56] Mortal Kombat was also internationally represented in the 2011 Evo Championship Series, by being recognized as a "main tournament fighting game".[57] Mortal Kombat was also the only game during the Evo Series' finals in which eight game characters were represented.[58] PDP Nationals champion Justin Wong and Evo 2011 champion Carl "Perfect Legend" White spoke positively of Mortal Kombat's place in future tournament events.[59]

Retail versions

Mortal Kombat was available for pre-order in three different editions, being Standard, Kollector's Edition (a copy of the game, art book, Sub-Zero and Scorpion figurine bookends and a downloadable content skin, dubbed a Mortal Kombat Klassic costume), and the Tournament Edition (includes fight stick controller as opposed to bookends and an art book) respectively.[60] A European version of the Kollector's Edition was also released (includes the game, art book, a Scorpion & Sub-Zero figurine, a Steelbook case and downloadable skins.[61] In the United States preorders at retailers Toys "R" Us and Wal-Mart were provided with classic Mortal Kombat skins for Kitana and Mileena.[62][63] A classic Jade skin was also included with preorders of Mortal Kombat or Mortal Kombat: Annihilation on Blu-ray (both released April 19, 2011).[64] GameStop, Best Buy and also participated in preorder bonuses and included classic costumes and fatalities for Scorpion, Sub-Zero, and Reptile respectively.[60] Mortal Kombat-themed costumes were also provided for the owners of Xbox 360 avatars who preordered any version of the game.[65]

Extra features

Netherrealm Studios released the Klassic DLC pack (containing the classic outfits and fatalities that were exclusive to pre-order deals) on June 7, 2011.[35] Downloadable characters include Skarlet (a red female character based on a rumor in Mortal Kombat II), [66] Kenshi (a blind swordsman first introduced in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance), Rain (first seen in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3)[67] and Freddy Krueger from the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise.[68] A free compatibility pack is available alongside each character that contains "klassic" skins for two characters and is available to all players.[67]

A "Season Pass" available to Xbox 360 users offers the first four DLC characters together at an overall discounted price.[69]Warner Bros. is one of the first few game companies that introduced the concept of season pass - a long term, pre-paid, post-launch downloadable content plan.[70][71]


 Mortal Kombat
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings (PS3) 86.30%[72]
(X360) 86.18%[73]
Metacritic (X360) 86/100[74]
(PS3) 84/100[75]
Review scores
Publication Score A-[76]
Eurogamer 7/10[77]
Game Informer 9.5/10[78]
GameSpot 8.5/10[79]
GameZone 9/10[80]
IGN 8.0/10[81]

During its release month, Mortal Kombat sold two million copies between both PlayStation 3 and Xbox versions according to Ed Boon.[82] Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, publisher of NetherRealm Studios’ Mortal Kombat, reported that Mortal Kombat has shipped close to five million units, which, according to Warner Bros., covers the cost for the entire Midway asset acquisition.[83] Prior to the game's release, Techtree listed Mortal Kombat as "one of the reasons for people to own a gaming console in 2011",[84] with PC Magazine and 2D-X editor Jeffrey L. Wilson claiming this was one of the most anticipated titles of E3 2010.[85] News24 stated players will be able to "experience some real Kombat again".[86] The E3 2010 showcase version of Mortal Kombat received the Best Fighting Game of E3 and Best Stage Demo of E3 awards by GameSpot,[87][88][89] and the Best Fighting Game of E3 award by GameTrailers.[90] Mortal Kombat received the Best Fighting Game of 2011 award in the 2011 Golden Joystick Awards.[91]

Reviews for Mortal Kombat have been positive. At GameRankings, the combined reviews for the game are currently 86.30% for the PlayStation 3 version and a close 86.18% for the Xbox 360 version.[72][73] The two versions received similar scores at Metacritic.[74][75]

GameSpot praised the quality of the story given the fighting game genre,[79] while 1UP compared it with a "full length movie". Gameplay was well-received due to its balance, violence, and use of a "classic 2D template".[92] GameZone stated claiming Mortal Kombat was "a fitting reboot for the series would be an understatement", as "while offering plenty of nostalgia" the game is "a major step up for the series".[80] Eurogamer referred to the new online mode "King of the Hill" feature as a "welcome addition", despite some "noticeable lag" at times.[77]

One complaint concerned the shifting levels of difficulty in story mode, being described by IGN as "needlessly cheap" that "forces you to fight cheap tactics with cheap tactics."[81][93]


In February 2011, the game was refused classification by the Australian Classification Board due to "violence that exceeds strong in impact".[94] Warner Bros. unsuccessfully appealed the decision to the Classification Review Board,[95] who ruled "the impact of the violence in Mortal Kombat is higher than strong and thus could not be accommodated within the MA15+ classification".[96][97] The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service lists the game as a prohibited item.[98] The Australian Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor has asked to be briefed on the Mortal Kombat decision, citing "public disquiet on the issue".[99]


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