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Mortal Kombat 11 - Hands-on preview with Joker

Joker has traveled across the multiverse to join the battle in Mortal Kombat 11 and Shacknews recently had a chance to go hands-on.

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The Mortal Kombat 11 DLC roster has offered a good mixture of returning characters and special cameo characters. We've already seen the debut of the Terminator, but he was the beginning of the cameo train. The latest special guest fighter comes from NetherRealm sister series Injustice. However, those expecting the Injustice version of Joker are going to be quite surprised. This is not the Injustice incarnation of the character. This merry prankster has a few new tricks up his sleeve and Shacknews got a first look when we went hands-on with the newest DLC character earlier this week.

One would look at Joker and expect him to bring in a lot of gadgets and gimmicks. He certainly does that, but nobody would really expect him to be a zoner or a trap character and he's definitely one of those. Players looking to maintain their distance will freely use Batsy-Poo, Joker's deadly puppet designed after his arch-nemesis. Batsy-Poo is a quick projectile that can keep opponents at bay, while the Enhanced version sends out a rocket that launches opponents on contact.

Mortal Kombat 11 - Joker

Opponents who somehow manage to get close can be kept under control with Birdboy Beatdown, a command grab that sees the Clown Prince of Crime bash foes with his cane before knocking them across screen. The Enhanced version connects for multiple hits, but also keeps the opponent close, so be sure to have a follow-up move at the ready. It gets a fair amount of distance, but is easily blocked, so be careful.

Both of Joker's variations feed into him as a tricky zoner, as do some of his custom abilities. Joker's first variation is Trickster, which relies heavily on gimmick specials. The Jumping Jester is a jack-in-the-box that's mainly used as an anti-air move, perfectly catching anyone trying to jump in. Meanwhile, Getting Lit sees Joker pour down gasoline and light it on fire. The latter move's range depends on how long players hold the button down. The issue with both of these is that they take a little time to set off, leaving Joker momentarily vulnerable. Trickster's best special is Batsy Pew Pew, which sees Joker place his trusty puppet on the ground for a low projectile. It's at its best when it's Enhanced, where it will send out four shots and can be tough to block.

Devious Clown is Joker's second variant, which gives the villain a slightly different set of tools to complement Batsy-Poo and Birdboy Beatdown. It's also going to prove to be the variation that's more suited to advanced players. The two variation-exclusive moves are Hostage Hop and Puppet Parry. Hostage Hop, as one might imagine, involves Joker having a bound and gagged hostage bunny hop across the screen before the maniacal villain blows them up and launches his opponent if they're caught in the blast. Grasping the timing will take some practice, since the hostage only moves for as long as the player holds the button. On top of that, Joker is left entirely vulnerable while executing this move, so it's not one to just throw out there clumsily.

The other move is Puppet Parry, which has Joker hold out Batsy-Poo and respond to a physical blow by bludgeoning his adversary with his puppet. This parry is not a reliable move and is very easy to get around. Players can hold the button down to extend the parry window, but opponents will have several ways to get around this. Going low, executing a command grab, or tossing out a projectile is just a few different ways that opponents can get around the Puppet Parry. Those who want to master this move will only bring it out when they're looking to totally surprise their foe.

Those who aren't into either variation can dip into some of Joker's custom moves and those can be pretty fun to play with. Anyone willing to part ways with the Birdboy Beatdown can trade it in for KAPOW, which uses Joker's extend-o-matic boxing gloves to hit opponents multiple times. Meanwhile, BOING isn't a teleport in the traditional sense, but it does send Joker springing to the skies to quickly send him to the other side of the screen. Then there's the gimmicky Corpse Trot, which has Joker do a little dance with a dead body before chucking it at his foe.

It's hard to say whether Joker will be viable as a top character, but I can't deny that he's crazy fun. The gimmicks, the wacky movements, and his interactions with the game's other characters are all a hoot. If you want to get your hands on the scourge of Gotham, you'll need the Kombat Pack. Joker will be available to all Kombat Pack owners for early access on January 28, while those looking to pick him up a la carte can do so a week later. And as is always the case, those looking for more of a free trial can try Joker out in the MK11 Towers of Time mode for a limited time after his arrival date.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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