Mortal Kombat 1 | REVIEW | PC
Updated: 5 days ago
''IT HAS BEGUN... AGAIN''
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Published: WB Games
Release Date: Sept 19th, 2023
Platforms: Xbox Series XS / PC/PS5/NSW
*REVIEW copy provided to me by GamesPlanet and WB Games*
Mortal Kombat 1 is a reboot sequel of the long running Mortal Kombat series and its developed by NetherRealm Studios and published by WB Games. Coming off the lukewarm received title of Mortal Kombat 11, NetherRealm decided its time again to reboot the series for the second time since 2011. But was this reboot worth all the effort? or should they have kept tweaking the current formula to see if that yielded any success?. Only one way to find out, so GET OVER HERE.
After defeating Kronika and Shang Tsung, Fire God Liu Kang uses Kronika's Hourglass to recreate the universe before relinquishing control of it to Geras to become Earthrealm's protector. In time, he forms a tenuous alliance with Outworld under the auspices of continuing the Mortal Kombat tournaments. In the present, Liu Kang recruits cabbage farmers Kung Lao and Raiden, struggling actor Johnny Cage and former Yakuza member Kenshi Takahashi to compete in the latest tournament. It is now where the fight for Earthrealm truly begins.
It has begun... once again. Having now been rebooted for the second time in like 10 years with Mortal Kombat 9 and now Mortal Kombat 1, NetherRealm feels this time they have nailed what they were going for, which is a deeper driven narrative and improved gameplay. I have to be perfectly honest, I haven't really enjoyed a Mortal Kombat game to a full degree since Mortal Kombat 9 in 2011. I have played both Mortal Kombat 10 and Mortal Kombat 11 and while they're alright games in their own right, I personally just can't get over how sluggishly slow they feel and the sheer amount of microtransactions that impede on the ''fun'' part of the game. Heck, if you gave me a choice in a SAW like scenario of ''Play Mortal Kombat 10 or 11, LIVE OR DIE, MAKE YOUR CHOICE'', I'd probably just say, yeah... no, just give me a sequel to Shaolin Monks, ok? thanks. Seriously, that game was really fun, definitely deserved a sequel. Come on Ed Boon, hurry up and make it a reality or ill end up uppercutting you into a pit of fire or something - but anyways, we should really be talking about Mortal Kombat 1 and what it brings to this long and historic franchise that has quenched our blood thirsty hearts or made pearl clutching politicians squirm in their seats. What do you think when you hear the names Liu Kang, Sub Zero and Scorpion? other than the awesome fight scenes in the first live action movie, not the abomination of a reboot movie. I hate you Cole, you're garbage, kid. I'll answer that question for you, the words you and i are looking is ''iconic'' and ''symbolic''. Three legendary characters, spanning the course of three decades of carnage. Since the dawn of time, aka, Arcades, SEGA Genesis and Super Nintendo, the Mortal Kombat franchise has been linked side by side with brutal combat that ranges from uppercutting people onto spike hazards, spine ripping and decapitations, eye gauging, back breakers, splitting in half and... friendship. Huh? confused? well if you're new to the franchise, then maybe that's a good thing because for awhile there with Babalities, Animalities and Friendships, the franchise took a really weird turn.. but again off topic. Here in Mortal Kombat 1, as stated before, reboots what you knew previously and does in fact right the wrongs in some aspects that were lingering from Mortal Kombat 10 and 11, and instead of repeating the same mistakes, chooses to pull a complete shift in gameplay dynamics and pushes the boundaries forward more of what you'd come to expect and know the brand Mortal Kombat for.
The first implementation to make their graces known is the introduction of the Kameo system that is in the vein of mechanics you have seen in the Marvel vs Capcom franchise, which inserting it into the Mortal Kombat gameplay with the amount of versatile characters there are, allows players to put the conventional means of playing to rest, and adhere to a more faster play style than in previous iterations of the series. Thank the Elder Gods for that, If I had to spend another minute moving like a snail for combat, I'd put Sindel's scream to shame. Yes this does in fact mean you can pull off audacious combos and various setups depending on your party members, even allowing you to pull off endless juggle techniques to gain the upper advantage on your opponents. But nope, not me, I absolutely suck, so all my matches were jump, kick, combo, do a few moves and then win, rinse and repeat. Even with past series mishaps, each new installment does introduce some significant gameplay deviations, but still somewhat keeping intact why people actually like this franchise to begin with, and that obviously continues here in Mortal Kombat 1. Kameo system aside, the game makes notable alterations that include a bringing together the meter management, into a single resource that allows for enhanced special movies, breakers, jump cancels from uppercuts and improvement of fatal blows, which no longer allow you the luxury of invincibility upon its activation. That's right folks, no more thinking you're a god of the realms during battles and mocking me before destroying me, now I AM your god, and this my friends, this is where you fall down. Expanding further on the gameplay enhancements in this iteration, all characters in this title, aside from Kameo characters for aid, increase in their potential for inflicting damage against their foes without having the need to expend their meters due to the games air combo system. C-C-C-C-C Combo Breaker! wait.. oops, my bad, wrong game. Thankfully in addition to the positive tweaking of the game, the long lingering issue of block crouching jabs being a main strategy for people to use, like me in the original Mortal Kombat game who couldn't win against Shang Tsung, so I'd do the duck walk and then just crouch and punch and kick to win - well thankfully that issue has been taken care of and is no longer viable to use. This in turn helps the game feel more balanced and more about timing and skill based combat that you're used to in the series. Its competitive without making it become overbearing with the learning curve. Oh well, at least I still get to spam my jump kick on Goro! hehehehe, kick! kick! kick!.
''CUT TO THE CHASE''
Once again giving praise to the Kameo system, because if you're like me, you're going to use it a lot because you're pretty doo doo at fighting games, you as a player have the opportunity to select a second character that can be summoned as an assist during battles, with each character possessing their own unique meter that indicates their cool down usage. Each character, such as Goro's stomp assist, offers you the minimum of at least three assist moves, all of with enrich your own fighting style immensely and can completely change how you play the game or approach a fight. For example, should you choose to play as a character such as Baraka, who looks like Sarah Jessica Parker on a good day, you will notice his character has overhead attacks such as jump spinning or up and down motion slicing, but this is also his weakness ,as he's not able to combat against opponents who's predominant style requires them to block low. I'm looking at you Jonny Cage, I'm not falling for it this time, I'll just hang out here in the back and wait for you to come to me. What? you're flipping ME off? oh hell no, it's on now bro. HMPH. Crap. Fell for it again. Right in the family jewels. Bleck. Silliness aside, to counter low blocking enemies, you can use a Kameo such as Scorpion who focuses on overhead attacks and lower attacks giving you more strategies to use in any scenario you take on. Have a character that focuses on air and overhead combat, Kameo that uses a short range or a low range fighting style for best possible outcome. Strategy is a major part in the game, making your job easier to employ new strategies that penetrates your opponents defense and crumbles their offense in a blink of an eye. I'm however not good at strategy so I basically only used them when I needed to run or hang back because I got terrified of losing and looking like a loser. Don't feel bad for me, I don't want your pity, in fact I spit on it. SAVE YOUR PITY FOR THE WEAK. The Kameo options extend beyond just basic combo extension however, with a few Kameo characters granting you the ability to teleport, obtain invincibility from throwable objects or retreat quickly to a distance should you get in trouble. This in itself makes Mortal Kombat 1 feel like a game of tag team and further boosting the series distinctive gameplay by incorporating something brand new, that actually, you know, works, into an already tried and true formula. It genuinely feels like its back to the gameplay style of Mortal Kombat's classic 2D fighting games, albeit with a bright coat of paint and new goodies at your disposal. It's like if Mortal Kombat 1 was like ''ok listen kid'', to the last couple entries, and was like ''YOUR SOUL IS MINE'', and then proceeded to suck all the life out of them, finally killing them for good and thus making the ultimate Mortal Kombat game. Well good riddance is all I say. That means I don't have to slit ya from ear...to ear.
But enough gushing about the Kaemo system, lets move onto other things about this title, such as its campaign mode. The campaign mode in this title or rather its story mode, represents both a reboot of the franchises story, as well as extends on story arcs from Mortal Kombat 11, thus making this a sequel boot, a sequel reboot? a Seeboot? and Noob Saibot? I don't know, call it what you will. The story this go around acts as a reimagining of everything you knew about the characters as the title unveils a new universe where the entire history of the franchise has been scaled and re-written to a brand new image, one with the goal of creating peace without the evils from the likes of Shang Tsung and Quan Chi or even Shinnok. With this series change, you see once familiar characters get complete make overs, which includes alterations to their appearances, their lore and backstory, relationships with other characters and even a tweaking of their own abilities as well. This new world of Mortal Kombat, is forged by the Fire God himself, Liu Kang, by making use of the Hour Glass Of Time to reshape this universe piece by piece to his vision and his liking. Good thing I'm not the Time Keeper in this scenario, I'd just create a world of Bo Rai Cho's and make a universe of burps and farts. Hahaha. No? yeah ok, I know, that joke was lame, sorry. Notable differences to this timeline that veers completely the other way from the story you know, is that Earthrealm is now at peace, which obviously hasn't been the case for a VERY long time, hell, our OWN earth hasn't been at peace either since we got Mortal Kombat Annihilation, we never freaking recovered. Outworld in this game is no longer a hell hole ran by demons and Shao Khan, and is instead, beautiful, prosperous, and ruled by Queen Sindel, who, like Liu Kang of this era, presides over the Mortal Kombat Tournaments between Earthrealm and Outworld. Through both Sindel and Liu Kang's action, peace between the realms has been maintained and Mortal Kombat in good spirit. However, history is to repeat itself, as with all peace, comes disruption from within Queen Sindel's political make up. Which suffice to say, goes from Zero to One Hundred pretty damn quick, in true Mortal Kombat fashion.
As you move through the narrative story, you will notice that characters, some being fan favorites such as Baraka and Reptile, now take center stage and instead of being background characters who do the bare minimum, now are vital to how the story plays out, complete with their own playable chapters and pivotal story moments that change the course of this timeline forever. Even though the story can only run you around 6 hours or so, it still keeps you engrossed enough to making you want to know more, as well as feel delighted to see how characters like Kenshi becomes blind and how he is able to see, get fully introduced to Johnny Cage's world as the start of his chapter you're literally playing through one of his hollywood movies that is basically his version of Indiana Jones, complete with one liner cheese and all, which is awesome and hilarious, find out just what is wrong with Mileena and how her face got as deformed and disfigured as it did, and even get some backstory pertaining to why Reptile is even working with the bad guy's to begin with. It's all extremely well done and manages to give a fresh take on classic characters, while also honoring and staying true to their original origins and backgrounds. Unlike... Mortal Kombat 2021.. I know I know, I'm whining at this point, but sheesh I hated that movie. My point being is that the story mode can act like an over the top B movie that leaves it feeling like a popcorn action flick that is EXTREMELY well choreographed and gets you in the same mood as you get when you watch the original Mortal Kombat movie with its bad ass theme song that always makes you feel you can fight better than you really can. Me? I end up looking like the old Star Wars meme dude. Having said that, the story mode isn't 100% perfect, even though I do find it great and well acted. Each chapter you partake in throws you into a mix of a different character, so with there being 15 chapters, that's potentially 15 different characters you will play as. Sounds awesome right? well yeah, until you find out you are just immediately thrown into battle, not knowing how a character moves, anything about the attributes, combos, launchers or even special moves. You go blind into every battle not knowing how to play that character, so you either have to wing it and hope for the best or quit and leave story, go to tutorial mode and learn the character and then go back to the story more prepared... which is tedious as hell. Then once you're finally telling yourself, ''Alright! I got this character down good now, let's go'', you're then transitioned over to the next chapter and another new character to play as and learn. Don't get mad, just calm down, take deep breaths and tell that bottle of Tylenol to GET OVER HERE and then move on.
''YES, HIS BREATH DOES STINK THAT BAD''
When you're done playing through the twist and turns of the story mode by experiencing events from the eyes of Johnny Cage, Kitana, Mileena, Kenshi, Baraka, Reptile, etc etc, you're able to move over into a brand new single player experience named Invasion. Its basically the death version of Mario Party, or for an easier understanding for the Mortal Kombat base its like if The Krypt and Kongquest modes had a baby and this was the end result. Huh? who would've thought, Babality actually came in handy for once? well I'll be. Usually the only one's I find via babality are fished out of a lake, but that hasn't happened in awhile, so... what? DANGIT, AGAIN?. Invasion mode has you move across a gameboard, the first of which being Johnny Cage's Mansion, which has a throwback to the old blood code from SEGA Genesis with his mansion password being ABACABB, and take part in fast paced battles similar to Towers Of Time, which is another in depth mode that's a take on the Living Towers and Klassic Towers with extra rewards, play styles and incentives. But sometimes too much is just a little too much. By moving space to space, each will feature a specific fight with a different character, such as Reptile or a super overpowered Kung Lao on a appropriately punned named level of ''Kung Wow''. The goal of invasion matches? ehh.. go across the board, fight decent to semi challenging opponents, collect rewards and currency Koins, find keys to unlock secrets, complete Test Your Might challenges which will give you blood blisters on your fingers, etc etc. RPG tactics can be used in this space, again, its much like Kongquest mode, but its really only useful with boss battles of each area, otherwise there's really no point if I'm going to be honest. Just like there's no point to Mortal Kombat 2021... ok I'll stop, that's the last time, I swear. To be fair, this mode is a breeze or at least feels like it, and its only real complexity comes from Kameo damage types, knowing the advantage and disadvantage chart for harder enemies, status bonuses using tailsmans and relics that add to your effects in both a positive and negative manner in the form of buffing and debuffing. Even though this sounds great, its not really meaningful unless you push through the LATER boards, after hours and hours in order to make your hard work or patience come to fruition with the use of RPG tactics you learned. The straight forward combat of this mode is there and its superb, but the mix of Krypt and Konquest mechanics together on top of it, create a very weird hybrid that DOES have great ideas, but ultimately falls short of the weight it puts upon itself by trying to carry too much at once. Fun in spurts, but the longer you play in one sitting, it ends up feeling like a laborious chore.
But don't feel damper just yet because Invasion mode isn't the only content to do or achieve after the credits have rolled. So come on, stick around a little longer and I'll explain. If there's one thing this title over achieves at, its the rewards you get for actually playing the dang game. i know right? a game actually rewarding you for playing it, that feels like a lost art. This comes in the form of rewarding us as players with character specific tied unlockables the longer you dwell into the gameplay mechanics and attempt to master your favorite characters. By playing through the main story mode and Invasion mode, you will be able to obtain an abundance of content that ranges from new gear for each character, new skins for clothes, new taunts, brutalities and special fatalities that tie in with your characters continued progression the more you play with them. So what happens if you're like man, I really want to play as Sub-Zero but you never got a chance to get a feel of his character? simple, play the extremely comprehensive tutorial mode on the main title screen that gives you the ins and outs of the basic controls, to the more intricate mechanics involving offensive strategies, how to deal with a knocked down opponent, frame trapping and how each move is performed in the easiest fashion possible. With seven combo trials to attempt per character, by the time you're finish, you will have the full grasp on how well each character can be used to their fullest. So what if you still get your butt kicked even after practicing? well then that's on you buddy, just like Shao Khan, I HAVE NO NEED FOR YOUR EXCUSES. But were forgetting something, what about the online play? welp.. sadly to say, if you didn't like how it was in Mortal Kombat 11, then you're going to hate it here, to an extent. The netcode overall stays fine and features like King Of The Kill and Kombat League are back in their full glory, that's great and welcomed, as well as offering season rewards, currencies, skins, profile pictures, different gear and incentives for ranking up, however even with that, Mortal Kombat 1 stifles it a bit by not allowing you to initiate a match while you're engaged with other modes at the same time, an issue that's unique to this title and not an issue with other current on the market fighting titles. On top of this, there is not an option at this time to create custom rooms with multiple spots for simultaneous matches, and it forces you to wait for other matches to conclude before thinking about joining. With the last bummer to the online function being at launch, there's no crossplay as of yet, even though its coming, its a shame it's not here at launch to bolster each install base to have fun together. Do they not know that Crossplay means the fate of MILLIONS of players boredom is in their hands?
''MARIO PARTY WITH DEATH''
At the end of the day, Mortal Kombat 1 saves the franchise from the rut that it's been in for quite sometime and finally gives it a look a bright future and road to walk down. Sure, yeah, it's far from perfect with no crossplay at launch and Invasion being fun but a bit underwhelming for what its hyped to be, however with its amazing graphics and detail to each environment, exceptional voice acting by all actors and actresses in their roles, minus Megan Fox, yikes, great implementation of tag team mechanic with the use of Kameo's, faster and quick thinking fighting that makes the game faster to play and fun to master, a great narrative story that mixes the old school with the brand new in a coherent way that doesn't disrespect the series past, Living Tower, Tower Of Time, Klassic Tower challenges, and the abundance of collectibles to be found in the game just by playing it, that lessens the stance of having to buy microtransactions. All of these far outweigh the bad and gives me confidence enough to say Mortal Kombat is back and the future for this franchise truly has begun. So with all that having been said, my verdict is clear, GameNChick says ''TOO BAD YOU. WILL DIE''. Huh? go away Sindel and eat a breath mint, your breath be hella stank. So again, with all that having been said, my verdict is clear, GameNChick says BUY NOW.