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Rambo Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate review: Another great guest fighter with a trickier move set than you'd expect

Posted by Steven 'Dreamking23' Chavez • November 20, 2020 at 7:15 p.m. PST • Comments: 6

The latest guest character to join Mortal Kombat 11 brings another 80s action film star into the fold to face off with the likes of Robocop and Terminator. With Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate's release, we now have the opportunity to get our hands on former military man and exceptional hunter, John Rambo.

Here in MK11, Rambo is packed to the brim with all of the awesome movie references and one liners you could ever ask for, but his playstyle veers off the beaten path for something a bit more on the tricky side. Rambo has shades of being Mortal Kombat's version of Rocket Racoon from Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and is effective from close range, but you'll have to condition your opponent quite a bit and be on point with your timing to manipulate them into your traps.

Much like with Mileena, NetherRealm Studios did an excellent job with the presentation for Rambo — for the most part. The in-game model looks a lot like Sylvester Stallone, who happened to provide the voice work for Rambo in the game, and whether it be attacks from the prone or flying off into the sunset on a helicopter, much of what the character has here looks great.

I did find myself getting tripped up, however, with some of Rambo's attacks. In particular, Rambo seems to have nearly an identical animation for four different attacks, which is an odd choice.

Not only does the kick animation itself look fairly stiff and not all that great, but seeing the same visual for several different attacks gives a sense of the character potentially being rushed. That same kick can be seen at the end of one of Mileena's combo strings as well.

All of these are different attacks.

On the plus side, Rambo has a handful of effective tools that should be beneficial for newcomers. Rambo does indeed have a combo string that pops the opponent up for a juggle and is relatively safe on block on the second hit, which allows players to fire off the string, see if it landed, then follow up for an easy bread and butter combo if it hit.

With tournament variation #1, Rambo also has his low rope trap special move that can be amplified and sets up a full combo. While Mileena is heavily centered around commitment and not having much time to confirm into her bigger combos, Rambo has more leeway on that front giving newcomers who will naturally gravitate toward the big guest character a few nice tools to work with right out of the gate.

Things start to get more difficult to navigate when you move beyond the entry level, though, as a lot of what Rambo wants to do revolves around setting up traps and finding proper openings to go in. Variations #1 and #2 are similar in that regard, while variation #3 mostly ditches that stuff in favor of rushdown and command throws.

Moves in the first two variations such as the low rope trap and Rambo's slide can low profile under projectiles and are great ways to create an opening against zoning characters. Each one has to be timed well, however, or else Rambo will get tagged, and the timing and options you attempt here vary based on position on screen.

Tools such as Rambo's claymore mine, in conjunction with his swinging log trap, make for a fascinating type of screen control that isn't simply hanging back and throwing projectiles. It can be difficult to create the proper situations here, especially against characters with teleports, but once the claymore is in place it immediately has to be respected. This allows Rambo to toss out log traps to control the air, which works fairly well, though I did find instances where opponents were able to jump over the log at certain ranges despite it being an air control tool.

Personally, it felt as though each of Rambo's three tournament variations where just lacking that little extra oomph to make the load out really suit me. I did find out that if you tweak his default variation, Marching Orders, and replace the Leopard Krawl with his FUBAR command throw, though, that solved the exact issue I was running into.

Making this change sees a tool set for Rambo that includes his bow and arrow shot, his low rope Snare Trap, his slide, and a command throw to tack on damage in combos and change the position of the opponent on screen. Thanks to Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate now allowing custom variations in actual ranked play, I can use the exact load out I was hoping Rambo would have in competitive play.

This altered variation is how I recommend newcomers play Rambo to start. The slightly tweaked Marching Orders makes Rambo into a more well-rounded fighter, and once you graduate beyond that you can begin to hit opponents with the really nasty stuff found in his other variations.

Closing thoughts: Overall, Rambo has a ton of interesting tools to play around with. Should you choose to play more of a zoning game with him, you'll find a unique assortment of traps and projectiles that you'll have to use creatively to keep the opponent at bay and force them into making mistakes.

Turn the dial more toward the rushdown side of things and you'll beef up the optimal position for Rambo, gaining access to scary command throws and even a move that passes through the opponent and has different follow ups to further mix them up. Rambo is another top notch example of an 80s action star turned fighting game kombatant, and he fits in very nicely with his fellow guest characters in Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate.

Be sure to check out our Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate Mileena review, if you haven't already.

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