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How to Fight Shao Kahn in Mortal Kombat's Story Mode Final Fight

Updated on March 27, 2015

How to fight Shao Khan in Story Mode - Mortal Kombat 2011

He's big, he's bad, and he fights cheap!
He's big, he's bad, and he fights cheap! | Source

Many of your friends have died but now you alone face the emperor of Outworld in Mortal Kombat. This is a fight to the death! You find your resolve, clench your fist, and dive right in...and get knocked around by the emperor's battle hammer, dash attack, harpoon throw, and crippling X-ray attack. This is a guide to beat Shao Khan in Mortal Kombat 2011.

Shao Kahn's devastating x-ray attack.
Shao Kahn's devastating x-ray attack.

Warning! Spoilers included!

The story mode for Mortal Kombat 2011 has raised the bar for storytelling and presentation in a modern fighting game. The game follows a retelling of the storyline from the first three Mortal Kombat games. It starts at the first tournament depicted in the original Mortal Kombat and ends with Shao Khan's invasion of Earthrealm depicted in Mortal Kombat 3. The story differs slightly from the original games. In the story mode, you will confront Shao Kahn twice. The first time you fight him will be the conclusion of the second Mortal Kombat tournament held in Outworld. The final fight will take place oin Earthrealm during Shao Kahn's invasion. In the game's story mode, you are not able to select which fighter you wish to use for each fight. The first time you face Shao Kahn, you will have control of Liu Kang. For the final fight, you will be playing as Raiden.

Shao Kahn is overpowered and does higher damage than normal opponents. It is important that you stay on your toes and do not allow many of his attacks to connect. This may seem obvious since this is a fighting game, but there are many players who get in the habit of unleashing a relentless assault on the AI and count on doing massive damage to win the fight. If you try this on Shao Kahn, he will block, counter, and eat you for lunch. Your attacks will not stun him and will do less damage than on a normal opponent. Shao Kahn has the same shield that all three bosses have. Sometimes during a long combo he will flash orange. This means he has ignored your attack and will now continue with his own. He does not have to store a breaker to use this. Avoiding his attacks and then dealing a short counter-attack is the way to go. In order to face Shao Kahn and defeat him, you must first know his attacks.

Normal Combos: Shao Kahn has a few standard combos. They start with a punch, then a kick or two. Sometimes he just does the kicks. These are blockable, but even when blocked they whittle away health at a rate faster than a non-boss opponent. It's better to avoid these than block them. He will use this at close range. During the second fight, when the difficulty is ramped up, Shao Khan will follow up with a shoulder-charge or a hammer blow to pile on the hurt.

Hammer Blow: The starting animation for this is very similar to a hammer sweep. The difference between the two is the hammer blow is blockable while standing and the hammer sweep is blockable while crouching. Again, this will whittle away health at a faster rate than a normal opponent, so it's better to avoid it than block it. Shao Kahn uses this attack at close to medium range. It has a reach on it.

Hammer Sweep: The starting animation here is similar to the hammer blow. This is blockable only when crouching. Like the combos and the hammer blow, your best move is to avoid the hammer sweep altogether. Shao Kahn uses this attack at close range.

Hammer Throw: Shao Kahn pulls back his battle hammer and then throws it across the screen. This attack is not blockable, and if it connects while you are on the ground, you will be stunned and open to any of Shao Kahn's moves. The starting animation for this move is different than the hammer blow and hammer sweep. You should be able to pick this animation out of the others with little difficulty. Avoid the hammer as it flies toward you at a slow to medium pace by jumping over it or by teleporting.

Shoulder Charge: Shao Kahn will employ this attack at close to medium range. He will charge across the screen and crush you with his massive shoulder block. This attack is blockable. If blocking, know that sometime he will follow up one shoulder charge with a second, so keep that block up. Liu Kang will have difficulty avoiding this attack, but Raiden is able to teleport behind it. Practice both blocking and teleporting this attack. There is little to no warning animation that this attack is coming.

Rising Shoulder Charge: Shao Kahn likes to use this move as part of an air-juggle or if you try to jump in with a combo. It's similar to the shoulder charge, but he rises in the air as he does it. Like the shoulder charge, there is little to no warning animation when it's coming. The attack is blockable only if you are on the ground. If you are in the air, even if you connect with a punch or kick, Shao Kahn will still hit this move on you.

Harpoon: Shao Kahn uses this attack when you are at medium to far range. He summons a harpoon and throws it at you. The harpoon is blockable. If you are at medium range (not quite a full screen distance), then you can duck this and avoid it altogether. If you are at far range, you will have to block. It travels on a slight downward angle. Some players claim that you can dodge this by doing a crouching kick, but I've yet to accomplish this.

X-Ray Attack: Talk about pain! This attack will take 51% of your life bar. Make sure it does not connect. You cannot block this attack. Shao Kahn will hold his hammer over his head and jump forward, bringing the hammer down in a strike on your head. He will then take your arm while you are laying prone and break it. After this, he picks you up and gives you the Outworld headbutt of doom, shattering your skull. Avoid this at all costs.

The Taunt: At times, Shao Kahn will stop and taunt. There are two animations. The first is that he points at your character and says one of a few lines. My favorite is, "It's official. You suck!" The second has him place his hands on his hips, face the camera, and laugh. These moves will not do any damage to you and leave you an opening for a counter-attack.

Keep this list handy. When you fight Shao Kahn, make a note of all the animations and attacks listed. Soon you will be able to pick out which attack is coming next and be able to avoid it and counter it!

Fighting Shao Khan as Liu Kang

For the first fight as Liu Kang, the difficulty is not ramped up to frustrating levels yet. Shao Kahn is not difficult to beat. Your best bet is to keep your distance and try not to let Kahn trap you in the corner. If you can keep a medium to far distance, Kahn will likely spam harpoons. Fire off a low fireball every time to deal a bit of damage. Make sure you immediately block after the fireball. This ensures you will not take full damage from a hit if you are at a far distance and the harpoons clips you. For this first fight, Shao Kahn is cocky and will taunt. A lot. For every taunt, hit him with a dragon kick. This will deal 5% damage and it does not give him a chance to counter-attack. If you use the bicycle kick, there is a chance Shao Kahn will active his no-breaker-needed counter attack. After using the dragon kick, jump away or dash backward. You do not want to stay close to Shao Kahn since he will whittle down your health with his hammer attacks. Make sure to jump over his hammer throw. If you are quick, you can hit him with a fireball in the head before you land. Keep your distance, I can't reiterate this point enough. Wait for the taunt, the harpoon, or the hammer throw, and counter with Kang's ranged attacks. If you're on the ball, you will knock Kahn out easily. If you miss some opportunities, you can still win by a time victory as long as you keep your health up.

Fighting Shao Kahn as Raiden

The second fight may have you pulling your hair out. It's probably the reason why you're reading this article! Raiden has a very different strategy than Liu Kang since Raiden has the teleport ability. While it does no damage to Shao Kahn, it gives you more opportunities to damage him. Raiden has ranged attacks in the form of an electric "fireball" and his flying tackle. These are effective when Shao Kahn taunts you, just like the dragon kick for Liu Kang, but ineffective for everything else. Raiden's electric "fireball" is slower than Liu Kang's fireball, which leaves Raiden open during the harpoon toss. Shao Kahn also blocks a lot of attacks you throw at him, and if he blocks the flying tackle then you are left open for a hammer blow or air-juggle combo. Since Shao Kahn taunts a lot less than the first fight, these attacks are not very important at all.

Unlike the first fight, you want to keep a medium to close distance from Shao Kahn. This will bait him into using the shoulder charge, hammer blow, hammer sweep, and normal combos. You want these attacks. Teleport as soon as you see one coming. Shao Kahn's attack animations are a little on the long side, so when you appear behind him he have an opening and won't have to worry about being caught by whatever he's thrown at you. When I started this strategy, I would immediately sweep. Raiden's sweep has a bit of a reach, and the only time this will miss is if Shao Kahn used his shoulder charge, which puts him out of range. Once you get used to the strategy and improve your timing, you can dash forward once to put you in range of everything else Raiden has. Some players use uppercuts to send Kahn flying. I like to use Raiden's kick combo as it takes off a bit more health. If you're playing on the PS3, this combo is X X O. You will have to work on your timing to get behind him in time to unleash this move. If he uses the hammer sweep or hammer blow, then you're better off going for the sweep since he can turn around on these two moves quickly. If he used the hammer toss, you have a larger opening to plan your attack. A word of warning: Do not follow up your teleport with a flying tackle if Shao Kahn uses his hammer throw. It is possible to fly across the screen faster than his hammer and run into it. When this happens, you will be knocked out of the tackle and take damage.

Don't get overzealous and try to air juggle Kahn as he can break combos with no combo breaker. Whatever you do, don't try to jump in with a punch or kick as he can unleash a rising charge faster than anything else. Raiden has an added benefit over Liu Kang in that he cannot become trapped in the corner easily. He can just teleport out behind Kahn.

Keep practicing and learn to watch for Kahn's moves. After a few fights, using the strategies outlined above, you will be able to take out the emperor of Outworld with both fighters!


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