“MORTAL KOMBATTTT!” screams Dave Bautista at you from all manner of social media advertising. Yes that’s right, Mortal Kombat is back with a whole new timeline in Mortal Kombat 1. This new entry to the series is brighter, faster and wilder than ever, but is it a proper successor to 11 or should it be confined to the acidic depths of the dead pool? Let’s get down to it and see what it has to offer!
Getting right to it, Mortal Kombat 1 is the textbook definition of that most confusing of phrases, a soft reboot. Taking place after the events of MK11’s Aftermath DLC, Liu Kang was made the Keeper of Time and immediately set about changing the timeline to make sure it was a wee bit less… murdery. So, in this new timeline, good guys seem happier, bad guys seem worse off and Liu Kang has hung up his hourglass and settled down as Earthrealm’s protector, a position usually occupied by Lightning God Raiden, however in this new time Raiden is now a simple Shaolin and mentored by Kang to be the latest of Earthrealm’s Champion! Suffice to say, things don’t go according to plan for the new Fire God and events conspire to test the new peace. I won’t go into any more detail to avoid spoilers though I will say, while the last few entries in the series have had well crafted stories start to finish, this time around things begin to drop off a little in the second half. I was fascinated and intrigued for the first few hours, excited to see certain events pay off as the game went on. However, I was left disappointed when most of the major plot points are solved early on or nearly entirely ignored by the game’s end. The final chapter, while fun in its own right, seems very tacked on and nearly pointless to the rest of the story.
While the story isn’t quite there in this entry, how about the gameplay? Off the bat MK1 has one of the better starting rosters for a Mortal Kombat game. A lot of its quality can be put down to a willingness to bring back lesser known or weaker characters for a second chance. Among these are MK Deceptions Ashrah and Havik, both receiving updated looks and backstories. One of the other returning fighters is MK Deadly Alliance’s Nitara. While it’s cool to see the vampiric vixen back in action, her entry is harmed by an incredibly weak VA performance by Megan Fox. Who knew she wouldn’t be the right choice huh?! Poor performances aside, each character handles incredibly well, with great combos and with a slew of new special moves each, which a treat to learn! I’ve already found myself maining Geras who returns from MK11 where I couldn’t stand him. If that’s not an example of evolving mechanics then I don’t know what is.
If fighting one on one has never been your bag then MK1 has you covered. Introducing Kameo Fighters! When selecting your character for a battle you now get a new choice for your ally. The small roster of Kameo characters come from the series history such as Goro, Shujinko and the original timeline’s Scorpion. Each has a list of their own special moves to jump in and perform at your beck and call, and if that wasn’t enough for you, they even have Fatalities of their own! These backup fighters really help to mix up gameplay and make for some interesting set ups to trial while you establish your main.
The story is middling but luckily there are other options for those looking to take the game for a spin. Obviously the arcade towers return for you to smash through and unlock character endings. New to the series however is Invasion mode. Invasion is a board game-like mode where you pick your favourite character (or change whenever you fancy) and make your way through different boards stopping now and then to deck an enhanced enemy for Kombat Koins, new cosmetics or upgrades for your chosen character. I’ve so far completed one board and found it a fantastically entertaining experience! It was a bit reminiscent of the Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2 story modes board game style, and for that detail I’ll endorse it till the end of time.
There are a few exciting story beats, a great new game mode, and a super fun roster, so overall a good game for sure, but not without a few negatives worth talking about. The weak second half of the story aside, one of my major gripes was with how the game has launched. You may have seen that iconic series villain Shang Tsung was made a preorder bonus. This seems like a very unusual choice as Shang shows up near endlessly in the story mode! What is the goal with locking him behind a preorder and holding him there for a while? Depriving fans who couldn’t afford it at the time and punishing them until he eventually becomes downloadable for all? At a cost I assume… It’s not a trend I want to see more of and one I already thing needs the Fatality treatment. I’m giving Mortal Kombat 1
7 / 10
Written by Will.
Edited by Alexx.