Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath review

Fantastic content, just not that much of it

Posted by Steven 'Dreamking23' Chavez • May 29, 2020 at 10:21 a.m. PDT | Comments: 17

Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath has arrived, stepping through a fiery portal from the NetherRealm into our homes — and our hearts. The follow-up expansion to 2019's blockbuster hit introduces new characters into the fold and a new set of story chapters for fans to play through.

With Aftermath, fans can look forward to three new playable DLC characters: RoboCop, Sheeva, and Fujin, as well as five new story chapters all for a price tag of $39.99 USD. It's a fairly steep asking price for such an expansion, but does the content justify the money you'll drop here? Let's get right into it.

Aftermath's story takes place immediately after the events of Mortal Kombat 11. With Kronika defeated, Fire God Liu Kang and Raiden stand at her hourglass and aim to reset time back to its proper point.

Shang Tsung, Fujin, and Nightwolf emerge from a portal to inform the two gods that Kronika's crown is required to achieve what they've sought out to do. The trio is sent back into the past to retrieve the crown, defeat Kronika, and restore the timeline.

The main character throughout Aftermath's story is none other than original Mortal Kombat boss character, Shang Tsung. Thanks to the top-notch acting skills of Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa and the amazing facial animations that bring Mortal Kombat 11's characters to life, there is a compelling draw here that will make you want to find out what happens next.

In these new story chapters the heroes have no choice but to begrudgingly believe Shang Tsung and follow his lead, and neither do you. Tagawa does an outstanding job here, from the powerful one-liners to his wry smiles that leave you yelling at the screen. "He's going to betray you, you fools! I know it!"

Despite being Shang Tsung-centric, Aftermath provides a variety of characters to play as throughout the adventure. You are given the opportunity to get acquainted with newcomers Sheeva and Fujin, revisit some of the past DLC characters that joined Mortal Kombat 11, and command a handful of warriors from the launch roster.

The quality of the story mode cinematics are exactly what you would expect from a NetherRealm Studios fighting game. From the cinematic choreography of the cut scenes to the epic score that backs it, these new chapters really do give you that blockbuster film feel.

"Overall, Aftermath's story is another great entry in NetherRealm's strong track record of outstanding cinematic experiences. The biggest issue with it is that there's just not that much of it to play through."

I found myself really impressed with how cut scenes transitioned into the fights that you are prompted to play during the story mode as they were smooth and kept you right in the action. I wasn't quite as impressed with the outro transitions, however, where after a battle your character would typically say something to the opponent in a quick cut scene using the gameplay graphics and then quickly switch back to a cinematic. The switch over almost always felt jarring, and sometimes it felt like those outros were lower quality visually than what you'd see during actual gameplay.

As far as the story itself, you'll find yourself running into a bit of repetition with how things play out at some points. A handful of characters go off to complete a task, they get ambushed by a couple of other fighters accompanied by a small gang of goons, and then it happens again with a different assortment of kombatants in the next scene or the one after that.

It felt like that rut was more front-loaded as the further I got into the story the less it happened and the more I found myself entrenched in the experience. There are some truly fantastic moments residing in Aftermath's chapters and a number of genuine plot twists that had me going. Also, Sindel and Shao Kahn just might be my favorite couple ever — you know, aside from all the killing and stuff...

Overall, Aftermath's story is another great entry in NetherRealm's strong track record of outstanding cinematic experiences. The biggest issue with it is that there's just not that much of it to play through.

I ran through all five of Aftermath's chapters in a little over three hours, and I was left wanting more. On the plus side, there is a bit of replayability due to the branching paths you can take at different stops on the road.

You'll come across moments where you can choose to fight as one character or another, and doing so will change up what you get in terms of the cut scene. But even with this option, it still feels like there could have been more.

Aftermath's other big draw is its three additional characters. RoboCop, Fujin, and Sheeva are great picks for an already diverse roster, and all three characters feel fully-polished and come with that immaculate attention to detail that NRS is known for.

These picks cover three standard archetypes in fighting games, making them a strong assortment for players to choose from. RoboCop leans toward the zoning style, Fujin is more rushdown, and Sheeva is the grappler of the bunch.

Each new contender looks fantastic, and from their Fatalities to their intro dialogue, all three characters are home runs. With that having been said, RoboCop does feel a bit limited compared to the other two fighters, but these are early impressions and I'd like to dive in deeper with him.

I love that despite it having been years since I've played Sheeva in a Mortal Kombat game, the first thing I tried to do with her in Aftermath was her stomp by pressing down, up, and it totally worked. For the returning characters, there are things that you know and love that remained intact, and all three fighters have interesting tools at their disposal.

At this point in time, the only way to acquire these characters is by purchasing Aftermath in some capacity. So you'll either have to pay $39.99 for the expansion (for those who already own Mortal Kombat 11) or $59.99 for the Aftermath Kollection (which includes the base game and the Kombat Pack), and honestly, that feels like a high asking price for what you're getting here.

If we go off of the standard price of an individual DLC character, you're looking at $5.99. This means you'd be paying about $18 for three additional fighters, making Aftermath's story ringing up at about $22.

You also get some new skins with the Aftermath package, but it's hard to say that the numbers check out here, especially with the new story segment being about a three to four-hour experience.

Having said that, the content included here is definitely high quality and if you are willing to shell out the money for Aftermath, you won't be disappointed. Right now, though, it feels like diehard Mortal Kombat fans and those who are brand new to the experience (and opt to purchase the Aftermath Kollection) are going to get the most value out of the deal.

It is also worth noting that players can now access Friendships, do battle on new stages, and perform Stage Fatalities. However, all of this content was added to Mortal Kombat 11 as a free update, so we are not factoring in any of it here in this Aftermath review as it exists separately from the bundle.

Closing thoughts: Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath adds a fresh, compelling story experience to NetherRealms' already impressive fighting game story mode portfolio. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa does a sensational job as Shang Tsung, and though the repetitive nature of some scenes might take you out of the experience for a bit, the top-notch acting, blockbuster action, and twists and turns will pull you right back in and keep you there.

When it comes to Aftermath, limited content is the only thing that's really holding it back from being a total win across the board. Story mode won't take you long to beat, and though the three new DLC characters are welcome additions, it's tough to justify what's included for a $40 price tag.

Pros

+ New story chapters add another impressive entry in NetherRealm's fighting game story mode portfolio.

+ Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa's acting as Shang Tsung is remarkable.

+ The three new characters are great additions and cover several gameplay archetypes.

Cons

- Story mode is very short.

- Some parts of the story mode are repetitive.

- Content feels limited for the asking price.

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