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Mortal Kombat 11: The Not So Subtle Art of the Brutality

mortal kombat 11 brutalities

Last week, Mortal Kombat 11 Patch 1.07 brought a great number of balance changes to NetherRealm Studios' newest fighting game, fine tuning and adjusting almost every character on the roster. Additionally, MK11 Patch 1.07 focused on Brutalities, adding an additional Brutality pose for every fighter and introducing brand new Brutalities for fans to discover. In celebration of this coup for Brutality lovers everywhere, let us take a moment to appreciate the beauty that is the Mortal Kombat 11 Brutality.

RELATED: Mortal Kombat 11 Adds New Secret Noob Saibot Brutality, Tweaks Others

The History of the Mortal Kombat Brutality

mortal kombat 11 brutalities

Before diving into the Brutalities of Mortal Kombat 11, though, a history of MK's second string finisher may be of interest.

First introduced in the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo ports of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, Brutalities are Mortal Kombat finishers that are based around combos and criteria. In their original incarnation, they were performed after the "Finish Him" or "Finish Her" screen had appeared, and a Brutality was executed by inputting an eleven button combo. When done successfully, Brutalities would cause an opponent's body to explode in a burst of flames.

Due to the less than spectacular effect of Brutalities in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, combined with the difficulty of executing them, these finisher were not extremely popular and were dropped for Mortal Kombat 4. Brutalities would make their return with 2005's Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, where they were rendered in three dimensions and were not as challenging to perform. Additionally, Brutalities in Shaolin Monks were much more visually elaborate than in UMK3, and they served as something like a power-up that turned normal attacks into combos.

It was Mortal Kombat X where Brutalities really found their legs, though, and their implementation was very different than what had been seen with them previously. In this game, Brutalities acted as ways to instantly kill an opponent, in a spectacularly gruesome fashion, by meeting a set of specified criteria. This might mean that a player would need to execute a certain special move or be a particular distance from their opponent to perform an MKX Brutality, and the final criteria always required that a player make contact with a move that would fully deplete a foe's health.

As an example, Scorpion's "Get Over Here" Brutality in Mortal Kombat X required a player to be at over 50% health and deliver a killing blow with an enhanced Double Spear. The effect of this Brutality was that Scorpion would whip his spears into the body of his opponent, exploding them and instantly ending the match.

Additionally, Mortal Kombat X introduced Stage Brutalities, which allowed players to use the environment to finish their opponent. For instance, on the Dead Woods Stage, players could execute a Stage Brutality that would cause their character to launch one of the logs from the level directly at their opponent, impaling them in the process.

Brutalities in Mortal Kombat 11

mortal kombat 11 brutalities

Brutalities in Mortal Kombat 11 build on what was established by MKX, functioning as gruesome, criteria-based alternatives for finishing matches, and they reach entirely new levels of viciousness. As in Mortal Kombat X,  the Brutalities of MK11 look to rival the game's Fatalities, though they do not quite match the elaborateness of these more standard finishing moves.

That said, what Brutality fans will perhaps find most exciting about Mortal Kombat 11 is the commitment NetherRealm is showing to these finishers. As previously mentioned, the most recent MK11 patch made efforts towards improving Brutalities as well as adding more of them, but the developer's commitment goes beyond that.

Indeed, NetherRealm has been adding new Brutalities for fans to discover ever since the release of MK11. This includes new Brutalities for Jax, Cassie Cage, Jade, and more. With the developer indicating that it plans to support Mortal Kombat 11 for longer than any other title in the franchise, there could certainly be an extremely vast number of Brutalities for players to enjoy when everything is said and done.

The Beauty of the Mortal Kombat 11 Brutality

mortal kombat 11 brutalities

Conceptually, there are three primary types of Brutalities in Mortal Kombat 11, and they all have their charms. The first and most common type focuses around immediacy, offering players a very straightforward option for escalating the violence of their finishing blow. For instance, a new Cassie Cage Brutality simply gives her Dual Wielding special move the ability to explode the arms of her opponent — not the flashiest of finishers, but effective none the less.

Furthermore, this type of Brutality goes even deeper in MK11, as every character is able to administer "the Klassic": a Brutality that simply gives a fighter's uppercut the ability to remove the head and spine of their opponent. While the successfulness of Brutalities of this type vary, they are often quite sublime in their stripped-down viciousness, and many fans are certain to appreciate them as stylishly gruesome tools to be added to their arsenals.

The second type of Brutalities in Mortal Kombat 11 are those that look to mimic Fatalities of the past. For example, Kabal's "Soul Scream" Brutality in MK11 is an almost direct translation of one of the character's Fatalities from Mortal Kombat 3, and Kitana has this type of Brutality as well. Certainly, these Brutalities are among the game's most satisfying, as they are both more intricate than the first type, and the added reference to MK history gives them some additional depth.

However, the best Brutalities in Mortal Kombat 11 are those that fall into the third type: Brutalities that unfold over two parts, with the second part embellishing on the violence of the first. A new Nightwolf Brutality demonstrates this beautifully.

The first stage of this Nightwolf Brutality shows the fighter lodging his hatchet directly into the shoulder of his opponent, a gruesome act without question, and one that could mark the end of a more simplistic finisher. However, the Brutality goes even further, as Nightwolf than proceeds to pummel his opponent senseless with his gunstock war club. It is this secondary stage that escalates this type of Brutality to a level of its own.

Certainly, the violence of Mortal Kombat has always been about extremes, and it is most successful when it finds a way to take a heinous act and make it even more shocking. This sort of escalation is what makes the third type of Brutality in MK11 so wonderful. Not only do they surprise us with their extremity, and sometimes their cleverness, they also elicit two visceral reactions in rapid succession.

Moreover, they do all of this over the course of only a few seconds and flow seamlessly out of the action of a match. While Mortal Kombat 11 Fatalities may trump most Brutalities in their gruesomeness and elaborateness, they miss out on some of the delights that arise from the restrictions imposed by a Brutality's duration. In short, Brutalities are the haikus of Mortal Kombat 11's poetic ultra-violence.

RELATED: Geras Brutality Features Gruesome Avengers Easter Egg

Additionally, the requirements for executing a Brutality in Mortal Kombat 11 gives them an added level of artistry. That is, they allow players to demonstrate their prowess in a way that a Fatality does not, demanding that they be skillful enough to meet the requisite criteria within the heat of a match. While few players will have trouble regrouping and executing a Fatality in MK11 when the time is right, not everyone will be capable of winning a match while working towards closing it out with a Brutality.

This means that performing a Brutality serves as evidence of just how much better a player is than their opponent. In a genre such as this, giving players the ability to add insult to injury is part of a game's art, and Brutalities in MK11 are a shining and bloody example of exactly this.

With Mortal Kombat 11, NetherRealm has further refined the Brutality, and the effect is certainly something special. From its humble beginnings as an exceedingly complex and visually lackluster move to its position as a full blown Mortal Kombat finisher, the Brutality has definitely come into its own, and I cannot wait to see what else NetherRealm has up its sleeves with MK11 Brutalities in the future.

Mortal Kombat 11 is out now for PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One, with a Stadia version in development.

MORE: Mortal Kombat 11: Who Are the Unannounced DLC Characters?

Source: Mortal Kombat Wiki

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