inside Mortal Kombat 1 Liu Kang tries to make the Mortal Kombat universe less violent and more welcoming. This innovative approach reflects the vision of the developers at NetherRealm to modernize the 30-year-old fighting game series. With this bold move, the studio moves away from the convoluted mythology that has permeated countless titles and points fans in a refreshing new direction for the series.
We were kindly given a key for testing, which has no bearing on our honest opinion.
Mechanical Innovation: Less is More
Mortal Kombat 1 represents a decisive turning point in the game mechanics of the series. While NetherRealm’s previous game was brilliant with its various fighters and their numerous variations, the studio is now taking the path less. With only 22 main fighters, including Shang Tsung as an exclusive bonus for pre-orders, the game focuses more on quality than quantity.
A special innovation is the 15 cameo warriors who can be called into battle as support. These figures are not only tactically interesting, but also serve as a nostalgic homage to the earlier parts of the series.
A feast for the eyes: graphical masterpiece from NetherRealm
It comes to graphics Mortal Kombat 1 New values for the series. Character models are considered to the smallest detail and many fighters have received impressive visual makeovers. Of particular note are characters from the series’ 3D era, such as the demon Ashrah and the ninja reptiles, who were not portrayed as favorably in earlier games such as Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. I will also wear them for eyes where fights take place in arenas. They are richly detailed and exude a unique atmosphere, which in some cases, such as the terrifying Shang Tsung Torture Cellar, even exudes a touch of horror.
Familiar Combat: The essence of Mortal Kombat remains intact
Everything feels instantly familiar as the punches and kicks fly in Mortal Kombat 1, especially to those who have played Netherrealm games over the past decade. MK1 stays true to its heritage as a combo-focused, tight 2D fighter. The animations may seem a bit stiff, but it’s a feature of the series that fans will appreciate. Another well-known element is energy metering, which allows players to boost their special attacks or break up long combos.
Kameo Fighter: A new tactical element
Unlike its predecessors, which focused on customizable loadouts and character variations, MK1 brings an innovative twist to the game: the introduction of cameo fighters. These support characters have their own special abilities, from extending combos to freezing opponents. You can even teleport the main character to the battlefield. In order to be truly effective in battle, it is crucial to match the skills of the Kameo Fighters with the main characters. Players have already discovered deadly combinations, such as Li Mei with Scorpion or Reiko with Darius. While some favorite pairings are already established online, experimenting with these combinations is an exciting aspect of the game.
Invisible Heroes: Cameo Characters in the Spotlight
Mortal Kombat 1’s cameo fighters may at first glance seem like minor characters who play more in the background. They appear quietly in and out of fights and stay in the background before and after fights. But despite their diminutive presence, they are impressively designed and represent some of the most iconic designs in Mortal Kombat history. In particular, characters that were more simply depicted in previous games, such as Mortal Kombat 2-era Sonya, Jax, and Kung Lao, have been recreated in stunning 3D.
Character Interactions: A Step Back
Compared to the most recent entries in the series, Mortal Kombat 1 seems to lack character dynamics. The pre-fight banter that provided added depth and entertainment in previous installments is less present here. It seems that the characters, whether friends or rivals, have less to say to each other and less to interact with the mode, reducing the atmosphere a bit compared to previous games.
Attack: An adventure full of ups and downs
Given the wide range of innovations that NetherRealm introduced in Mortal Kombat 1, the lack of character interaction seems like a minor issue. Of particular note is the innovative Assault game mode. In this single-player seasonal adventure, players explore maze-like levels and face various computer-controlled opponents. These battles are a wild mix of fun, weirdness, and occasionally frustrating elements. For example, magical fireballs can disrupt combat, chasing two fighters and interrupting combos. In other situations, enemies are equipped with a type of super armor that makes it difficult to perform effective combos. In extreme cases, the fight can even take place in complete darkness, which significantly reduces the entertainment value.
Raid Rewards: Collect all you can
Invasion Mode is still in its early stages and will launch with a Scorpion-centric season with an accompanying storyline supplement. As players progress through invasion scenarios, they collect special seasonal credits that can be spent on in-game cosmetic items, many of which are Scorpion-themed. The mode is generous with rewards including color schemes, equipment items and finishers earned as you progress. This reward system makes the mode an engaging experience, especially for collectors, as you’re constantly encouraged to jump from one event to another to fight.
Story: An epic narrative essay
The story campaign is undoubtedly the pinnacle of the single-player experience in Mortal Kombat 1. Netherrealm has been raising the bar for storytelling in fighting games for the past decade, and Mortal Kombat 1 is their most ambitious and best-produced work yet. A direct sequel to Mortal Kombat 11, the story focuses on Liu Kang training a new generation of champions. But it goes beyond a simple sequence of events. The developers took creative liberties to redesign the characters’ backstories and motivations. Scorpion and Sub-Zero are portrayed as brothers, while Sindel is recast as Outworld’s brooding queen and former villains like Baraka are recast as sympathetic characters.
Cutscene: A movie of the game
In Mortal Kombat 1’s story mode, it is noticeable that a larger portion of time is devoted to watching cutscenes than to actual combat. Although these cutscenes are visually impressive and can last up to eight minutes, they are enriched with a touch of drama and humor. Characters like Johnny Cage and especially the charismatic magician Shang Tsung provide entertainment. In the final third, the story takes a turn and falls into current blockbuster trends while maximizing fan service.
Online mode and training: room for improvement
Compared to other modern fighting games, Mortal Kombat 1 shows some weaknesses, especially in the tutorial, practice mode and online play. While the game offers solid basic training, the practice mode could be better, especially when it comes to learning the complex combos required for the competitive mode. Online, the game lags behind its competitors, as at launch it doesn’t offer cross-platform play or a Wi-Fi filter that allows players to find lag-free matches.
Conclusion: A bold move with room for improvement
With Mortal Kombat 1, NetherRealm took a bold step to revive the series and set it apart from the recent trilogy. In some aspects, such as story and audiovisual presentation, the game is a big step forward. But there are also some elements, especially in the online area, that are not up to expectations. Although it’s been four years since Mortal Kombat 11, the game still doesn’t seem to be fully developed in some areas. But with the promise of seasonal content and six more fighters already announced for the first Combat Pack, it’s clear that Mortal Kombat 1 still has room for growth and improvement.
More than just another entry in the long-running series, Mortal Kombat 1 is a bold attempt to reinvent the brand while retaining the essence of fan favorites. The developers at NetherRealm weren’t afraid to take risks, and the result is a game that appeals to both newcomers and veterans of the series.
The introduction of cameo fighters is a clever move that freshens up the gameplay while paying homage to the series’ past. The graphical overhaul is impressive and shows that the studio doesn’t want to compromise on quality.
Still, there is room for improvement, especially in the online mode and tutorials. Addressing these areas would be desirable for future updates to further optimize the gaming experience.
Overall, Mortal Kombat 1 is a worthwhile experience that shows that the series still has a lot to offer after three decades. This is a game I would recommend to any fighting game fan.