I rarely get excited for new video-games. I am stuck in my usual routine of Overwatch and Grand Theft Auto and I barely have time for anything else — but when I first saw the launch trailer for Mortal Kombat 11 starring Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Shang Tsung I got hit with and overwhelming sensation of nostalgia… but he is not in the game!

Oh, how disappointed I was to find out that Mr. Tagawa was not in the game. Heck, Shang Tsung wasn’t even in the game. Perhaps it was my fault for not doing my research, but for some reason I expected the rest of the fighters to have their film-cast counter parts as playable skins too, but that was not the case at all but I quickly got over it, because — oh boy — the new characters look great anyway! And not just the characters, the characters and animations are spot on too.

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Shang Tsung

Having amazing visuals really helped immerse me in the game’s story-mode. NetherRealm’s Studios did an amazing job creating believable characters, and of course I am referring to the Earth realm crew; a time-bending Bjork lookalike is not so believable, but the relationship between Johnny Cage, his daughter Cassie and wife Sonya Blade definitely has some real and even emotional moments… and let’s be honesty here, Johnny Cage is by far the coolest character, and he has been ever since he was played by Linden Ashby.

That takes us to the most important element of Mortal Kombat 11, game-play and fighting mechanics. I can’t really comment on the other characters, but Johnny Cage is an absolute blast to play with. At first it was a little overwhelming with the new fleshed out controls and all, but if you understand the basics of Mortal Kombat and played Mortal Kombat 9 you should be to at least get through the game on normal difficulty. If you are new to Mortal Kombat or just want to step your game up there is an extremely detailed tutorial you can go through which I really recommend checking out; I guarantee that just playing through the tutorial will make you significantly better than most people, because a lot of people are unfamiliar with a lot of the mechanics that can give you a huge edge in the game.

That’s about where things stop being great and start becoming OK. If you want to unlock new items for your fighters you really have to grind away — and most of this grind happens in the towers. But to unlock the good stuff you need to complete the towers of time. They are towers that you need to complete in an allocated amount of time, but there is a twist; most of these towers require you to have modifiers to advance, such as: missiles, farts, slippery blood etc. This means that the CPU has these two, and it adds up to some terrible fighting experiences. You can assign A.I. to take on the towers for you, but you’d have to pump them full of mods to get anywhere and they cost coins.

It is a bummer. What could have been a perfect game got held back by a ridiculously grindy and tedious end-game which is obviously just there to push the purchasable currencies and costumes you can buy from the store. So, yep; micro-transactions. You can purchase Frost for AUD$12, that’s a character that you unlock if you finish the story-mode — and there is absolutely no disclaimer warning people that they are paying for something you unlock for free.

All in all Mortal Kombat 11 is a great game, I would even go as far to say that it is the best fighting game available right now but it is sad to see it polluted with micro-transactions and an annoying grindy end-game. Didn’t Warner Brothers learn from EA’s mistakes?