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Mortal Kombat 1 Review

Mortal Kombat 1 Review

Mortal Kombat 1 is the latest fighting game from NetherRealm Studios, and is a strong entry into the series. Mortal Kombat is always my first pick when I want to have some good, casual fun with a fighting game, and this title most definitely delivered on that front.

The story mode was my first port of call, and was also where I was initially the most uncertain going into the game. Considering Mortal Kombat 1 is another “reboot” I was expecting the same story again that we’ve already experienced a multitude of times. Despite this, its nature as a reboot only goes a short distance and is more of a backdrop for the world than anything else. In reality, it plays out as a sequel to Mortal Kombat 11, following up from Liu Kang’s newly created timeline, and tells a familiar, yet still incredibly unique and compelling story. Many of the mainstay characters are still here in full force: Liu Kang, Raiden, Kung Lao, Johnny Cage and so many more, yet are going through their personal journeys in a much different way. For starters, Liu Kang is now the protector of Earthrealm, instead of Raiden, who takes his place as Liu Kang’s protégé. They even manage to bring older villains and put them into an incredible new spotlight; Shang Tsung is my absolutely favourite character in the whole story, and steals the show every time he’s on-screen. The writing feels incredibly cheesy, but also incredibly charming. Some characters admittedly did have some issues in terms of their place in the story, for example, Sub-Zero just disappeared after a big turning point in his story, and while it sets up well for the Towers (a character based arcade mode with short but unique stories) it felt very disjointed. I had similar issues with a few other characters, who seemed to suddenly disappear from the plot even though they didn’t feel finished yet. As a whole though, I did find the story to be an utter joy to play through, and despite its issues here and there it may stand to be one of my favourite story modes in Mortal Kombat history.

mortal kombat 1 raiden kung lao

After the story, I dove right into Invasion, a new single-player mode taking the spot of Mortal Kombat 11’s Towers of Time, as a dynamic and rotating single-player activity. Sadly, though, I can’t say it was a particularly successful replacement. Invasion consists of the player character — which can be chosen at any time from the roster — exploring a set of locations, and defeating enemies in traditional battles. You’ll level up both your character and Kameos (which I will get into a little later) which allows you to increase stats while also unlocking new customisation options for your character. Invasion mode also tells a new story, which rotates each season which is a pleasant addition. Despite this, the fights are incredibly repetitive, and boss fights rely on cheap feeling gimmicks, primarily super armour (uninterruptible attacks), which makes any fight a sluggish mess. This isn’t a complete departure from previous entries in the series, as gimmicky modifiers have been a big part of the single-player for a long time, but this title seems to have dialled it back, and focussed in on the much more frustrating aspects over anything else. Invasion also directly ties into the game’s somewhat lacklustre customisation. The majority of the game's customisation items are locked behind this mode, and may take a while before you manage to get items for the characters you play. Mortal Kombat 11 had an incredibly in-depth customisation system, allowing you to change multiple different parts of the characters gear, along with outfits and colours, yet in Mortal Kombat 1, you simply have the choice to change a single piece of gear, along with alternate colours and outfits, which are much less in-depth than 11.

mortal kombat 1 change skins 3

Gameplay is the most important aspect of fighting games, no matter how good the story is, if the gameplay is terrible it won’t survive. And Mortal Kombat 1 manages to knock it out of the park. The biggest change from Mortal Kombat 11 was the addition of Kameos, additional fighters of which one can be taken into any game and used as an assisting character. All of these have unique abilities, some work well for damage and combos, while others are used for utility, such as classic Scorpion’s spear pulling you out of harm's way, or Kung Lao’s teleport, which teleports you behind an enemy. These work well with the game's much more fluid nature, as well as the bigger focus on aerial combos which is a fresh addition for the series, while also making the game look incredibly stylish and fluid. Fatal Blows return from the previous entry, and were a sore point for many players due to their cheap seeming nature. However, they seem much more toned down here: while they can still be used as a panic button, they are much easier to beat as they don’t get incredibly strong super armour as they did in their previous iteration. The game’s roster is fantastic too, having many of the classic characters, often in new and unique forms such as General Shao, along with characters returning from much older entries who haven’t been seen, such as Havik and Nitara. Each of these characters also feel great to play, with combo strings feeling incredibly intuitive and satisfying to land. For the first time since Mortal Kombat (2011) characters don’t have any variations, which while is somewhat of a step back, as the additional options allowed for more creativity, it allows NetherRealm to remain focussed on making sure each character is as well-balanced as they should be without having to fret about balancing each variation. Fatalities and Brutalities return as expected, and are just as gruesome and creative as ever. They do feel somewhat faster this time around, which was a very welcome change, as sitting through longer Fatalities did get relatively frustrating after a while.

Mortal Kombat 1 Reptile Scorpion Kameo 2 8.6.23

Online is an area I rarely dabble in for Mortal Kombat games, as I prefer them as more of a casual endeavour over anything else, but the few games I played flowed well. I had absolutely no issues with the netcode which is incredibly important, and a very big positive, as many fighting games are held back by this problem. Matchmaking was fast and didn’t have any issues either. I also am a big fan of the Kombat League, Mortal Kombat 1’s ranked mode. It functions like any other, but depending on how you rank in each season, you can earn a plethora of unique customisation items which adds much more incentive to getting good. Performance overall was for the most part perfectly fine, while there were a few hitches when going in and out of battles, the battles themselves ran incredibly fluidly, and I didn’t experience any crashing or other issues throughout my playthrough either.

Mortal Kombat 1 is a wonderfully fun addition to the series, telling an old but still fresh story with unique twists and turns, with fun new gameplay mechanics in the form of Kameos. If you’re a fan of the series, this is a great purchase.

8.00/10 8

Mortal Kombat 1 (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.

Mortal Kombat 1 is fantastic, having some minor issues in the story here and there, along with the underwhelming Invasion’s mode, but overall is a great time.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Jacob Sanderson

Jacob Sanderson

Staff Writer

It's not an obsession if it counts as work...