Mortal Kombat 11 might include time travel and just finish me, please

Mortal Kombat 11 might include time travel and just finish me, please
Credit: WB Interactive Entertainment/Twitter

WB Interactive Entertainment today revealed the first gameplay footage of Mortal Kombat 11, the latest installment in the venerated fighting game franchise in a splashy reveal event, and I’m already dreading the continuation of the story.

In terms of what you’d expect from Mortal Kombat reveals, the show delivered. The new game looks incredibly gory and weighty, and the team have added such new features as customizable fighters (a feature you might recognize from its embryonic form in Injustice 2). The team both showed off and teased a motley crew of new and returning characters, including Skarlet, a character who finally seems to have figured out what clothes are.

For the record, this is what she looked like in Mortal Kombat 9:

Also, Ronda Rousey is apparently replacing Tricia Helfer in the role of Sonya Blade. This is a great role for her, because I saw Rousey in Fast & Furious 7, and as an actress… boy, she’s a hell of a fighter.

So, yeah, jolly good and all. Can’t wait to play. But oh dear, I hope this game doesn’t try its hand at a time travel story in an attempt to erase what happened in the last game. Maybe I’m naive, but I’m hoping we avoid that tawdry cliche.

Yes I know, it’s a fighting game, so I shouldn’t expect much from the story, yada yada yada. And sure, I don’t go into the average video game dust-up expecting a grandiose literary backstory on the level of The Count of Monte Cristo. But, at least as far as MKX goes, Netherrealm Studios devoted a considerable amount of time and effort into the story — and I actually kinda liked it.

Quick *SPOILER* warning: For starters, it didn’t shy away from the downer ending of MK9, making Liu Kang, Kitana, and other heroes from that game major villains instead. It introduced a new generation of fighters so we weren’t looking at the same three or four ninjas. Sure, the story was cheesier than a brie pizza inside a fondue pot, but I found it rather charming at the time.

And I appreciate when a franchise at least tries to shake things up. Otherwise, what is Mortal Kombat, besides a succession of progressively more realistic Sub-Zeros and Scorpions spewing more and more syrupy blood at each other?

Now it’s looking like the game is desperate to undo that story, and I can already tell this time travel stuff is going to be a headache. It was a headache when it was used to reboot the series at the beginning of MK9, and I see no reason for it to be different now.

The reason I’m getting a serious “timey-wimey” vibe from the reveal is primarily the design of the new characters. Tall drink of water Geras (who seems to have the sandman-esque powers of MKX‘s Tremor, strangely) has a time-freezing ability he uses in his X-ray move. Another new addition is a character named “Kronika,” named in the prologue trailer as “The Keeper of Time.” Yeah, if that doesn’t sound like a time-traveling villain in an off-brand episode of the Power Rangers, I don’t know what does.

The many new characters from MKX are absent from the proceedings. Also, the characters we do see are looking suspiciously young or refreshed considering their circumstances. Liu Kang and Kung Lao look less undead than they were at the end of the last game. Sonya Blade no longer looks old enough to have a 20-year-old daughter (though that could be because Ronda Rousey is only in her 30s, but still). Baraka returns even though he straight-up died in MKX.

The idea that we’re going to just undo everything that happened in the last game, so we can have yet another story line where Liu Kang is good and the new kid characters are erased just feels…cheap. Please please, Mortal Kombat, don’t do that just because you think fans only want to see the old characters.

And if you do — well dammit, at least make the fatalies extra gruesome.

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