Flawless or fatality? Find out in our Mortal Kombat 1 review!
Mortal Kombat has a long and tumultuous history featuring nearly 20 different games including 12 main titles, numerous spin-offs, remakes and even a DC crossover. The characters from this world have over 30 years of team-ups, betrayals, deaths, resurrections and even an Armageddon.
Looks like a peaceful time…
So how does NetherRealm Studios keep things fresh whilst staying true to the MK series? A full-blown restart of the entire universe, that’s how! Introducing Mortal Kombat 1, not a remake but an entirely new beginning. However, does this new start cultivate victory or is it a brutal fatality? Find out in our Mortal Kombat 1 review!
Mortal Kombat 1 Review – Story
Whilst the front cover of this game is labelled as 1, the story does somewhat continue from the previous Mortal Kombat game. After a long battle with the game’s main villain, Kronika, Liu Kang who has merged with Raiden, defeats her, and becomes the new Titan in control of the hourglass of time. With reality already destroyed, Liu Kang creates an entirely new age, filled with his previous friends and foes.
Concentration or constipation?
Kung Lao and Raiden are now good friends on a farm in a small village, when Liu Kang puts them to the test against Smoke, Sub-Zero and Scorpion to see who champion for the next tournament of Mortal Kombat against Outworld will be. Liu Kang also recruits Johnny Cage, who is back to being his hilariously narcissistic self and former Yakuza member Kenshi.
Do you have a moment to discuss our lord and saviour Liu Kang?
Meanwhile Shang Tsung is a mere travelling merchant, by design, for him to not gain his full power as in the previous timeline. A mysterious hooded figure tells him as such and offers him a chance to uncover his potential. After a reasonably short tournament, the winner is announced by empress Sindel and her two daughters, Kitana, and Mileena. Although the outworld Champion and guard, General Shao, is secretly plotting behind their backs. He believes they must act before Earthrealm takes control of Outworld.
I’d be shocked if he wasn’t a bad guy with that helmet.
This leads Liu Kang to investigate the hooded figure and why they are interfering with his new timeline. Sending Johnny, Kenshi and Kung Lao out into the wilds to search for Shang Tsung and discover his nefarious plot. They soon reveal a much larger hand is at work whilst teaming up with Reptile, Barakka and Ashrah.
Yes, they gave Johnny a sword. No, you can’t use it. 🙁
Following multiple twists, turns and deaths in true Mortal Kombat style, the final chapter can only be described as epic and worthy of such a long running franchise. The ending is reasonably unsurprising but also opens a whole new world of potential sequels and spin offs. The fate of the Mortal Kombat series is in good hands and future iterations will be anything but predictable.
Avengers Assemble! Oh, wait wrong franchise…
Mortal Kombat 1 Review – Gameplay
Punch, kick, grab and jump your way to victory as the overall gameplay mechanics will feel familiar to any regular MK player. Almost all basic moves are the same with new combos, grab animations, brutalities, and of course bloody new fatalities.
Same same but different.
The real innovation in Mortal Kombat 1 is the Kameo feature. Every fight you encounter you get a secondary character to help you out. They have a few combos but are on a cooldown so you can’t spam their moves. They can also be used to block attacks and perform their own punishing fatality.
The house always wins.
The other plus side to this addition is for those hard-core fighter enthusiasts who study strengths and weaknesses of each character. The added ability of a partner in Kombat can bolster your weakness and round out your fighting abilities.
Like in Kombat, not the other thing…
Mortal Kombat 1 Review – Visuals
Kombat has never looked better with next generation graphics and more blood than you can fill a pool with. This sequel introduces a vibrant new colour scheme to match, including bright costumes for most of the Kharacters like Scorpion or Kitana.
A tale of ice and fire.
The realms of Earth and Outworld have been fully fleshed out and look stunning. From farms and snowy landscapes to the tournament festival, everything stands out and feels a part of the world.
I’m on my way from misery to happiness today…
Along with all new designs, Kombatants all have varying moves that are perfectly smooth and look flawless. Not to mention every fatality is as hardcore and gory as the last. Watching Sub-Zero impale an opponent through the face with his icicle spear in 4K is as good as it sounds.
That’s going to be one hell of a hangover.
Mortal Kombat 1 Review – Audio
Whilst a lot has changed a few things have carried over from the previous game like some of the main voices and the composer Wilbert Roget II. Gone is the techno syndrome of the original Mortal Kombat games, replaced with an Earthy, almost feudal vibe. This works exceptionally well and much more realistic than an over-the-top techno beat.
This wouldn’t be the same without Liu Kang returning with the same voice and that’s exactly what Matthew Yang King does. Alongside returning voices of Johnny Cage (Andrew Bowen) and Kenshi (Vic Chao) these three lead the ensemble cast and do a perfect performance as each character. Johnny is in fine form now with a social media presence and classic sarcastic humour.
Cage ripping off every popular franchise under the sun.
What Else? – Side Quests, Post-Game, Trophies
As per the most recent MK games, there is an abundance of additional modes to go alongside the story. There are the standard towers, like MK11, with various levels and even an endless tower. There are also online battles where you can verse your friends or other players via matchmaking. The biggest change, however, is the new invasion mode replacing the Krypt which is much more than just unlocking chests.
Many towers for all skill levels.
Invasion is almost like a sequel to the story and is best played after the campaign is completed. In it, you travel across the realms fighting many enemies and levelling up your characters and Kameos. This plays out on a game board style platform, where you move one space at a time, coming across 1v1 fights, towers, merchants, chests and even ambushes.
Such a fun way to enjoy more Kombat.
The great thing about invasion is you can choose any Kharacter from the MK roster and switch at almost any time. You can also equip different skins, Talismans, and Relics to help you in battle. Your rank affects your fighters’ skills and can be upgraded as you see fit or set to automatic.
All equipment has different pros and cons.
Each of the 6 worlds has a mini boss and then at the end you face off against the season boss. The season boss and maps change per season, which lasts 50 days keeping content fresh and enticing you back for more Kombat. This season is labelled Season of the Spectre with Scorpion as the end boss who has more health and does more damage.
The amount of customization for all Kharacters is refreshing, as you can change skins, colour palettes and 1 item of their outfit like Sub-Zero’s mask or Kung Lao’s hat. These can be unlocked or bought in the seasonal store which updates regularly.
Orange smoke is fire?
Lastly, trophy/achievement hunters will be pleased to know this 100% journey is one of the easiest in late MK history. With almost no hard challenges and only a few grinds to complete, getting everything done is far from impossible.
There are also rotating towers with different modifiers to test your might.
Mortal Kombat 1 is a perfect example of how a long running franchise still has a few tricks up its sleeve. By redefining the whole universe, the future is now a clean slate and can be moulded into new and interesting narratives. Adding a worthy multitude of additional modes with seasonal changes will keep MK lovers coming back long after completing the campaign. This is a new age for fighting games and the sequel just needs to get over here asap!
So, why should you play Mortal Kombat 1?
- Epic new story
- Fresh but similar combat
- Plenty of side content and additional game modes
But why shouldn’t you play Mortal Kombat 1?
- If you don’t like fighting games
- Story is quite short if that’s all you want
- You’re a bit squeamish of blood/gore