It was way back in 1992 that the first 'Mortal Kombat' game was released and it's famous cry of "FINISH HIM" changed the future of the beat 'em up genre forever.

Mortal Kombat 11

Mortal Kombat 11

Now, 27 years later, 'Mortal Kombat 11' is here and is as close to perfection as the series could get.

High praise, but it's certainly true that NetherRealm has outdone itself with the latest instalment in the franchise with a game that not only honours its predecessors but totally outdoes them.

What is particularly great about this latest chapter is that it manages to tread a fine line between appealing to hardcore fans of the series as a whole, and to those attracted by its legacy wanting to jump in for the first time.

For anyone new to the franchise 'Mortal Kombat 11' has a solid tutorial to ease the noobs in bit by bit, while reminding the veterans of some skills you may have forgotten.

This results in an incredibly accessible title, making it very easy for players to get to grips with how it all works before hitting the ground running. The game will teach you everything you need to know - and simply as much as you want to - to get the most out of your way of playing the game.

So, how does it play?

Honestly, very well. There are a wealth of new defensive abilities to help you get out of those tight situations, and even a sole combo breaker - the Breakaway, appropriately enough - which sees your character drop onto the floor to save yourself from a potentially devastating barrage of damage.

Each of the characters has plenty overhead hops, elusive escape roles and even wake-up attack options to help in battle, and it's all a nice tough.

This time round, the game also features two different meters (one of offense, one for defence), which are each split into two bars replenished over time, rather than through you own actions.

As you'd expect, a lot of the interesting machines will chip away at the meter depends on what it is you're doing.

While this could be an unnecessary complication - and it is at times - it does force players to be more strategic when it comes to using those big moves.

Similarly, Fatal Blows take a step away from the framework of most fighting games, in that they're only usable once per match. As with a lot of 'Mortal Kombat 11', it plays into the mind games.

That's how it all plays then, but what about how it actually looks? OK, some of the stuttered movements are always going to be there, because that's just now it works. You can duck, jump, and move side to side. It's simple, and there's no real need to change things too drastically.

But in terms of the actually graphics, the game is out of this world. The set pieces are stunning and striking in equal measures, with attention to detail at a level that really adds to the immersion.

Fear not, though - the actual fights are just as over the top as ever. The blood looks over-the-top ridiculous, with the laws of physics tested at every juncture. It doesn't always make a lot of sense, but it is a hell of a lot of fun.

NetherRealm has stayed true to form with its time bending story mode too, which sees old meet new in a wonderful and chaotic blend of characters.

As ever, this mode follows a similar pattern as before, with cut scenes interspersed by three round match-ups to keep things ticking along.

Where the game falls short is the Towers of Time and Krypt modes, with the latter essentially being not much more a dungeon full of loot boxes and the occasional jump scare.

To make matters worse, the loot is randomised which can make the process altogether very disappointing.

For Towers of Time - a collection of tower challenges connected by a theme - also has its issues, with some modifiers like the opponent having twice your health and assist characters making things les fun and more unnecessarily difficult.

Other challenge towers are hidden until you've performed certain tasks, which feel far too repetitive when you have to hit things like 50 uppercuts, 50 Fatalities, or even 75 Brutalities.

It results in these modes feeling like grind after grind without a guaranteed reward.

Thankfully, the matches themselves - and the story mode - are more than enough to make 'Mortal Kombat 11' an incredible and worthy addition to the franchise.

It manages to hit every other note, and really feels just as over-the-top and absurd as ever in all the best ways.

'Mortal Kombat 11' is available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One (tested), Nintendo Switch and Windows PC.

'Mortal Kombat 11' rating: 4/5

By Alistair McGeorge