When the credits roll after the finishing of Mortal Kombat 11’s excellent story mode, the slate is swept clean. After a variety of entertaining time-traveling hijinks, everyone’s second-favorite Shaolin monk, Liu Kang, has ascended to the divine and is ready to write a whole new chapter in Mortal Kombat’s history. It’s as close to almost perfect ending as you can get from the nearly 30 years of complicated lore this series has. This is our Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath Review.
Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath Review: About
- Platform: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
- Developer: NetherRealm Studios
- Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
- Genres: Fighting game
- Release Date: May 26, 2020
Official Trailer Video
Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath Review: Gameplay
But now there’s Aftermath, the optional expansion to Mortal Kombat 11 that adds a handful of new chapters to that story. And while the idea of a story-oriented add-on for this fighting game is an exciting prospect – and it certainly has its great moments – when the credits roll a second time, there isn’t the same sense of accomplishment.
At the beginning of Aftermath, which follows the end of Mortal Kombat 11, Liu Kang is interrupted by the evil wizard Shang Tsung. Along with righteous wind god Fujin and badass native shaman Nightwolf, the trio Liu Kang stops his reconstruction plans from warning them to go back in time to bring back a MacGuffin to avoid it. Over five chapters and a movie-ready two and a half hours long, the five Mortal Kombat characters now introduced in MK11 as post-release content get their mark on the story.
The chapters cover the hijinks of Shang Tsung, Nightwolf, and the banshee queen Sindel from the Fighters Pack 1 DLC, as well as two new characters introduced in Aftermath: Fujin and the four-armed Sheeva. Due to the short duration of the whole thing, it can usually be filled with great moments. The flair present in the original story mode is back in full force, as is the excellent fighting choreography that will make you want to jump out of your seat.
There’s still that disconnect when an extravagant cinematic battle turns into the more rigid nature of the game’s real one-on-one fighting. Still, some good moments lie in the gameplay parts, like the handful battles where you have an assist character to summon. The absolute highlight of the story – and probably the entire Aftermath package – is undoubtedly the performance of Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as he repeats Shang Tsung.
He’s wonderfully wicked, and the fact that he knows every other character is incredibly wary of his inevitable betrayal that only feeds his playfully arrogant ego. Excellent facial animations and expressions, along with the unscrupulous timbre of his voice, really help capture important moments here – his sly grin left a big impression on me. Shang Tsung is an absolute treasure, and the overall story is uniquely entertaining – the exception being Sheeva’s chapter, where the plot barely progresses.
But I couldn’t help feeling a bit ambivalent when it was all said and done since the story primarily survives the series in the same place. In a way, that’s a significant relief, and I’m glad the five new characters managed to get some time in the spotlight – this is a great selection. But that comes at the cost of taking away some of the grand prospects of endless possibilities we left behind last time – a new teaser for the end seems to narrow the scope slightly.
Aside from the redundant story, the other content in the Aftermath expansion is three new characters: the Sheeva and Fujin and the unique guest character Robocop from the 1987 Paul Verhoven classic (the only Robocop movie out there for as far as I know). Sheeva is a heavy-duty grappler with some great advancing options, best characterized by her flying stump disappearing from the top of the screen before crashing into her opponent.
Fujin is a quite flashy and unique character who is excellent at controlling the space with rebound crossbow bolts, able to push and pull his opponents everywhere with the force of the wind, and also has the beautiful ability to fly through the air to run and from above. I love both new characters, although your fun can vary depending on your favorite play style.
Robocop, on the other hand, I didn’t quite learn. He’s a shy character that focuses primarily on keeping opponents at bay with several projectiles and blowback options, a style consistent with the character. It can be a great strategy if you have patience and can read your opponent’s movements well, but unfortunately, it’s not something I excel at. As a result, I didn’t find Robocop so unusual for a character, movie tribute aside.
With the release of Aftermath, Mortal Kombat 11 also gets a significant update that adds new brutality finishes for each character and new stages, as well as the introduction of fatalities on stage – the Retrocade stage, in which a projector in the universe radiates classic Mortal Kombat stages. Accompanied by an appropriate soundtrack is one of my personal favorites. But friendships are the essential new addition – instead of killing your opponent by maiming them, each character now has the opportunity to show their playful side with bizarre performances of unabashed joy.
Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath Review: Conclusion
The friendships, new levels, and new finishers are available for free to Mortal Kombat 11 owners, and the only content exclusive to Aftermath is the additional story chapters and three new characters. While that’s a very welcome decision – free is good – it makes Aftermath less compelling when explicitly considered on its terms. Mortal Kombat 11 still remains one of the best games of this console generation, and the recent free update makes it better. Aftermath introduces some great characters, and the long story certainly has its highlights, but it’s not essential to enjoy an already great game.
After a variety of entertaining time-traveling hijinks, everyone’s second-favorite Shaolin monk, Liu Kang, has ascended to the divine and is ready to write a whole new chapter in Mortal Kombat’s history.