Growing up as a kid and all the way into my adulthood I always gravitated towards the “Mortal Kombat” franchise. I don’t know if the hyper violence was super taboo, or I’m just a sick individual, or they’re just really fun games with memorable characters, I like to think it’s the ladder. NetherRealm Studios have been working a good pattern and going from a “Mortal Kombat” game and then switching to an “Injustice” game. With “Mortal Kombat 11” being their latest release in 2019, I was fully expecting their next project to be “Injustice 3.” As a DC fanboy as well, the news of another Mortal Kombat being next up was a little disheartening, but once the game was revealed earlier this year to be “Mortal Kombat 1” and in fact rebooting the franchise of sorts, I couldn’t help but being very intrigued with what was in store with this new release. Now that it’s here, does it live up to our bloody expectations? Of course, it does!
This isn’t an ordinary reboot, because the events of the previous games still have happened. At the end of “Mortal Kombat 11” Liu Kang defeated the big baddy named Kronika and not only became a new elder god, but had the ability to restart the timeline, this time, in his own image. So, what does this mean exactly for “Mortal Kombat 1?” Well, the game obviously makes it approachable for new gamers to jump in, but for ongoing fans, the little differences in each character’s backstories are tweaked a little differently. For example, Scorpion and Sub-Zero aren’t mortal enemies, but are now brothers. Unfortunately, Liu Kang’s new peaceful Earth realm is still not without living in threats. The Mortal Kombat tournament between Earth realm and Outworld is still a thing that needs to happen to maintain peace. So, the story for this game is Liu Kang recruiting familiar faces, such as Johnny Cage, Kenshi, and even Raiden to be Earth’s champions for the tournament. The story continues on and I don’t want to get too spoiler heavy, but an important takeaway I got after completing the main campaign was, they really wanted to introduce the concept of multiverses into this franchise and use that to pull off some really crazy and wacky ideas. All-in-all, it’s not the most engaging or inventive story they’ve done, but certainly serviceable, and still very fun to watch.
Before I completely move on from the story, I must say, the CGI cutscenes in this one are absolutely incredible. NetherRealm spared no expense for some lengthy and well detailed scenes that probably span around four hours, making with the gameplay, the campaign being about a five- or six-hour adventure. Aside from the big story reset, the biggest change this game offers is the new Kameo system that they’ve created. This new feature adds its own separate roster of characters to select from. From this selection you can have one of these fighters assist your main fighter during a fight. There isn’t too much else to it, you basically hit R1 when you want the fighter to come out and do a quick attack and then they quickly run back off screen. This does add a new element of strategy to your fights though, and even makes some combos more complex which is pretty cool. I’m a little bummed that many of the Kameo characters are only able to be used as Kameos and not playable characters, it’s cool that Kano and Sonya Blade are in the game, but it hurts that I can’t use them.
Like every Mortal Kombat, you have your usual tower system where you can fight a list of opponents and you unlock individual character endings. There is also of course online play and local play, a training area, but one thing I noticed was missing was the Krypt! The Krypt was always this spooky dungeon area you’d explore and open up chests with points you’ve accumulated from playing the game, unlocking various items. In replacement of the Krypt, we now have Invasions mode. A very unique and brand-new mode which I have some opinions about. Invasions is essentially a giant board game RPG mode where you can’t exactly wander around wherever you like, there are these tiles on the ground that you can only walk to specifically, and the only way to get to each tile is to complete whatever task (or fight) is on that specific tile. As you complete these tiles on this large map you also begin to level up a fighter’s mastery level, which goes up to level 35 and every time you level up a fighter it unlocks something new. This is where the game’s real hook I think lies, because not only can they get really weird and crazy with who you’re fighting, but they’ll often add random handicaps like fireballs falling from the ground. This is also why I believe they incorporated the multiverse system in the story, with infinite possibilities and variations of each character, you will often see hybrid versions of some of your favorite characters. Like a General Shao, but with ice abilities, or a female Reptile, and so on.
There are about eight different zones or maps for this Invasions mode and each one is pretty lengthy to complete. While I miss the Krypt, I appreciate this new big swing they took here and apparently, they will be adding new maps to this mode every season, so that will be nice. You heard that correctly, every season, meaning they’re really trying to turn this into a “game as service” game. While that should be a good thing, to keep the game’s longevity strong, I couldn’t help but notice how expensive the currency is in the online shop to purchase even small trivial items for characters like gear. This seems to be the new trend, since a few months ago Capcom did something similar with “Street Fighter 6” (check out my review HERE), even though that game had an RPG element with their World Tour mode. While this may not be my favorite Mortal Kombat ever to be released, it’s certainly the most well refined, and still manages to come up with new ways to entertain… and horrifically kill people with fatalities. I’m very curious how NetherRealm will continue to support the game over the years, but I’m thinking while it’s been nice visiting Outworld in their last two games, it may be finally time to switch to an “Injustice 3” next.
To learn more about Mortal Kombat 1, please visit MortalKombat.com or join the community conversation on Instagram (@MortalKombat), TikTok (@MortalKombat), Twitter (@MortalKombat), Twitch (NetherRealm), YouTube (Mortal Kombat), Facebook (MortalKombat), Discord (MortalKombat), or Reddit (MortalKombat).
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