Only recently announced and now released, Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath is an expansion to the original Mortal Kombat 11 release. As with the base game, we’re reviewing it on a PlayStation 4.
I’ll go ahead and admit that in recent years I’ve become a bit of a fan of NetherRealm’s approach to their fighting games. I was around as a teenager back when Mortal Kombat was released in arcades and shocked people with its use of realistic graphics and gore, but it wasn’t until the release of Injustice 2 that their games started feeling like the videogame equivalent of, for example, the last two Avengers movies.
With constant switches between characters, a high paced narrative and explosive on-screen action that uses cinematic camera angles to great effect, Injustice 2 and Mortal Kombat 11 were a joy to play and watch. That holds true even if you’re not a diehard fan of fighting games who has mastered every move and combo out there, along with all the strategies involved in beating different enemy fighting styles. That’s not me either, but I had a blast feeling like I was pummeling my way through a cinematic adventure that I was the star and director of.
From that perspective, the release of Aftermath feels like a logical step – but within the genre it isn’t. Tekken 6 and SoulCalibur 6 have been getting a ton of post-release content, but it’s all about characters and stages. Aftermath has three characters as well (more on them later), but the centerpiece is a brand new campaign that takes place right after the events of Mortal Kombat 11 when Shang Tsung arrives back on the scene.
He tells Liu Kang that his defeat of Kronika might be short-lived if he doesn’t travel back through time to retrieve her crown – essential in resetting the universe to where it should be, or so Shang Tsung claims. He can’t be trusted, but since Liu Kang can’t count on what will happen otherwise he’s set on the course of a new adventure anyway.
During this, we also run into two of the new characters for Mortal Kombat 11: Fujin and Sheeva, who appear alongside recurring stars from the franchise that play a role in Aftermath and sometimes get a bigger and/or brighter spotlight than they did in the base game. There’s a third new character as well, and it’s one that’s been featured prominently in the pre-release trailers for Aftermath: RoboCop. The star of the 1987 Paul Verhoeven film isn’t part of the narrative here, but can be enjoyed as you face off against the Mortal Kombat regulars of some of the other guest stars: Spawn, Batman’s The Joker and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 Terminator. They might feel like silly sidesteps from the core Mortal Kombat experience that feel more at home in the Injustice franchise, but popular culture fans will certainly get a big kick out of them.
As with Mortal Kombat 11 (and Injustice 2), the fighting itself is solid, and thrilling to watch as well. Characters are gorgeously detailed and animated, the camera frequently goes in for close-ups, the scenery around you changes in the middle of a fight and the guest stars do the source material justice. RoboCop’s a little less stiff than he was in the movie and has a few new tricks up his sleeve, and the way that Arnold’s Terminator walks forward while reloading his shotgun never gets old. The core roster’s characters come alive especially well during the Aftermath content though, where the battles tie into the storyline perfectly.
Which brings me to my conclusion that Aftermath is an absolutely brilliant expansion, though it feels overpriced towards those who paid full price for the game initially. The upgrade doesn’t come cheap, and the new Aftermath-inclusive bundle that was released feels like it rewards those who initially held out – for 20 Euros/Dollars more they’re getting everything that was released for Mortal Kombat 11 thus far, including the base game. Still, if you enjoy the story mode in your fighters more than you enjoy the arcade or versus mode, then Aftermath represents far more value than all of those Tekken and SoulCalibur season passes did.