For the first time in Mortal Kombat franchise history, the end of Story Mode is not the end of the story. Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath is exactly what it says it is. It contains the aftermath of the main MK11 story. However, this is no mere epilogue.
Aftermath's story accomplishes quite a lot. It plays off the ending of the original MK11 story, goes back and rewrites much of the climax, and also sets the table for the future of the MK franchise as a whole. But more than anything else, this is the Cary Tagawa Show and that alone goes a long way towards making Aftermath one of NetherRealm's best solo experiences ever.
Escaping the Void
As implied, Aftermath's story takes place immediately after the final moments of the main MK11 Story Mode. Those who haven't played it should play that first and skip this impressions piece for now. Fortunately, NetherRealm makes it really easy to select between the base Story Mode and the Aftermath content in the main menu.
Aftermath sees Fire God Liu Kang and now-mortal Raiden preparing to reconstruct history following the final battle with Kronika. However, Shang Tsung, Nightwolf, and Fujin enter from one of Tsung's portals, imploring him to stop. According to Tsung, Kronika's crown is required to operate the Hourglass without accidentally wiping out all realms. With the crown destroyed in the final battle, Tsung offers to go back in time with Nightwolf and Fujin to retrieve an earlier version of the crown from his island.
What follows is a Cary Tagawa tour de force. Aftermath puts a lot of spotlight on characters like Fujin, Sheeva, and the various players in the final climax. However, this is Shang Tsung's story and it shows throughout the narrative, offering him many character moments, cool action scenes, and callbacks to his performance in the 1995 Mortal Kombat movie. Plus, the story puts him at the center of a key plot point: What happens when (not if) the sorcerer inevitably betrays everybody?
While not as lengthy as the original MK11 Story Mode, Aftermath is roughly three hours on its own and offers a chance to play with many of the game's DLC characters. It should be noted that it doesn't offer a chance to play with everybody. The story is still kept to the main players in the MK universe, so anybody hoping to see how Terminator, Joker, Spawn, and Robocop fit into this wacky world will be disappointed. And those hoping that the Cages will be more than bit players in the climax this time around will likewise feel a little let down. However, there are ample opportunities to jump into single-player story content with many of MK11's DLC characters.
Is Aftermath's story essential? Thinking about it more, I would say yes. There are two endings and one clearly appears to be more canon than the other, but there is a sense that the end of the core MK11 Story Mode is changing ever-so-slightly. Those who want an idea of where the franchise goes next may want to play through Aftermath's tale.
The Aftermath story allows for some opportunity to get familiar with Aftermath's other major addition: three new characters. Getting up close with Sheeva and Fujin, they fit into the fold just fine, offering their own distinct play styles.
Sheeva is a mean, up-close grappler, who can toss her opponents around at nearly any angle. She doesn't have a lot of striking range, so players should be a little wary of trying to catch opponents with uppercuts. But the fact that she can end multi-hit combos with strong command grabs makes her a fun addition to the cast.
Fujin is a quick striker and one who can juggle his opponent with the power of the winds. His tornado specials make him an anti-air beast and he can even walk in the air to keep his opponents off-guard. He has some truly scary multi-hit combos capable of lopping off chunks of health in one go. He will likely be a lot of casual and pro players' picks going forward.
Robocop is not featured in the Aftermath story, but he's definitely a gimmick fighter. He moves as mechanically as one would expect, but he makes up for his slow movement with heavy firearms. Robocop's pistol is good for a quick projectile, but the heavy artillery like his Cobra Assault Cannon hits multiple times and launches opponents for follow-up combos. He's also a defensive player, able to protect himself with his Riot Shield move. His slow and awkward movement may turn some players off, but Robocop is definitely fun to try out.
The End... for now
Aftermath feels like it definitively ties up the Mortal Kombat 11 story, while its three characters breathe some new life into NetherRealm's fighter. If this is the end of MK11's DLC train, it's going out on a high note.
If nothing else, Aftermath is a must-play for both newer fans of the modern Mortal Kombat narrative and old-school fans who enjoyed the 1995 Mortal Kombat movie. While there have been offshoot projects like the Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion's Revenge movie that released earlier this year, Aftermath's story shows once again that there are no better tellers of the Mortal Kombat lore than the NetherRealm team themselves.
These impressions are based on a PlayStation 4 code provided by the publisher. Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath is available now as a standalone DLC for $39.99, a bundle with the Kombat Pack for $49.99, or as a full collection with the base game and the Kombat Pack for $59.99. The game is rated M.
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