Mortal Kombat 1: A Flawless Victory of Nostalgia and Innovation | REVIEW

Does Mortal Kombat 1 live up to the previously released titles in the re-launched series? Let’s dive in and find out.

After reviewing Mortal Kombat 11 three times, I am pleased to see the continuation of the story that was re-launched back in 2011. Mortal Kombat 1 takes us on a thrilling ride with a newly created timeline, new origin stories for Klassic characters, and a fresh fighting system that adds an exciting dynamic to gameplay never seen before in the series.

The Birth of a New Age

MK1 picks up right where Mortal Kombat 11 left off: with the defeat of Kronika, the previous timeline keeper, and the foiling of Shang Tsung’s plans. Fire God Liu Kang decides to restart the timeline and begin anew. This not only resets things but also changes the fates of many in multiple realms. With the assistance of Geras, Liu Kang strips Shang Tsung and Quan Chi of their evil past and strives for a new and peaceful realm.

Mortal Kombat 1
Developed By: NetherRealm Studios
Platforms: PS5, Xbox Series S|X, PC, Switch
Release Date: September 19th, 2023

Despite Liu Kang’s well-intentioned changes, he faces both new and old challenges. After assembling a fresh team of Earthrealm fighters, Liu Kang discovers timeline alterations are occurring that should not be happening. He and his team investigate further, only to realize there is more to the situation than they could ever have imagined.

This is when the story of Mortal Kombat 1 takes off and starts to introduce all the new elements of this year’s installment. Though we have seen the time travel/timeline story in the previous release of Mortal Kombat, this story element doesn’t seem overused or stale.  What makes the story of Mortal Kombat strong is the continued connection over the last 12 years. Although the presence of Liu Kang made me feel better connected to the story that has played out for over a decade, the fact that it is set in a new timeline brought a fresh perspective to the narrative. This new timeline changed many of the kombatants origins and history as well.

While some of these feel shocking at first, they’re overall a welcome change that adds a new dynamic to the story we didn’t expect. In this new timeline, we see the likes of Scorpion, Mileena, Raiden, Kung Lao, and more have completely new origin stories. For example, in the original Mortal Kombat 9 origin story for Mileena, she was not the twin sister of Kitana. She was a creation of Shang Sung’s to help take the throne.

This time around, Mileena is the actual twin sister of Kitana but has been infected by a disease known as Tarkat. This disease has affected tons of former Outworlders and Edenians, disfiguring them and over sometime making them bloodthirsty monsters. This change makes a huge story change for not just Mileena, but Baraka and the whole Tarkatan clan of previous timelines.

As mentioned earlier, this occurrence is not limited to just one instance in the story of Mortal Kombat 1. This alteration affects the origins of numerous main roster characters that fans have grown to adore for the past three decades. Such revisions have been made before, but they were primarily aimed at refining and providing a more comprehensive and detailed backstory for many of these characters.

As I’ve grown up with the series, I’ve desired more from these games. The development team has shared the same sentiment. It’s not just about who can beat the game the fastest anymore. Many of us who grew up with certain fighting game series want to know more about the characters we’re playing. That’s why this “soft-reboot” of the game’s story is precisely what we needed.

After 12 years of a connected storyline, Mortal Kombat 1 manages to keep the connection to the classic story while also introducing new and retro characters into this new world with ease. Reintroducing these characters paves the way for a new direction that can open up story potential for future titles in the series.

New Features

The story wasn’t the only thing that stood out about Mortal Kombat 1. The game also introduces the Kameo fighters system; adding a new layer of excitement and strategy to the game. These fighters can significantly impact the outcome of your battles, as they can be used to counter attacks, string together combos, and save you from defeat when the battle gets close.

The Kameo fighter system also brings a 2v2 style of gameplay to the table, allowing you to experience more engaging battles. However, it may take a while to fully understand how the system works. Initially, I found it a bit confusing. After some practice, however, I discovered that there are many options in the fighting style with these fighters.

As you progress in the game, you can master the Kameo fighter system and make it feel like just another combo, enhancing your overall gameplay experience. It’s also exciting to see the return of Kameo fighters like Darrius (last seen in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon) jumping in to help you take down your opponents.

In the latest update to MK1, a new and exciting mode has been introduced – the Invasion Mode. This mode is designed to provide a unique RPG-style experience, with a tabletop game-like setup that is sure to keep players engaged. The mode offers a variety of challenges, including single-player quests and seasonal quests, where you must battle your way through a series of opponents.

Each opponent presents its own set of challenges, which could include being extremely overpowered or having stage and environmental attacks. These challenges are similar to the ones in the tower mode of MK11, but in Invasion Mode, they are varied and offer a more immersive experience.

By completing these challenges, players can unlock a range of items for character customization, new Kameo fighters, and other rewards. Whether you’re a seasoned player or a newcomer to the game, the Invasion Mode is sure to offer hours of entertainment and excitement.

Less is More…Right?

The Mortal Kombat series has undergone significant changes over the years, providing players with an increasingly cinematic experience. As someone who has played the franchise for 30 years, I have witnessed how it has become a living, breathing world. The game’s visual representation is crucial, as it can make or break a game from this perspective.

The latest upgrade to Unreal Engine 4 has taken the graphics to a whole new level. The graphics are cleaner, more dynamic, and the most realistic we have ever seen in the series. From the stages to the characters, every aspect of the game has been upgraded to provide players with a seamless gaming experience. Even the smallest details like the gore in fatalities have been improved, bringing the game to life like never before.

The upgrade has breathed new life into the Mortal Kombat franchise, and it’s clear that the developers have put in a lot of effort to make the game as visually appealing as possible. The game has made significant improvements over its previous versions. However, one area that seems to have taken a hit is the character customization feature. While the game still offers decent customization options, it falls short when compared to Mortal Kombat 11‘s Variation mode.

This mode provided players with an extensive array of customization options, allowing them to tailor their character’s moves, appearance, and overall feel to a great degree. The absence of this feature in MK1 is a letdown; especially for those who enjoyed the endless possibilities that Variation mode offered.

Something else that could have been improved in the game was the voice-acting. Some all around touch ups would have helped, but two specific characters did not meet my expectations.

Raiden has been one of the most significant characters in the game’s story since the relaunch of the narrative in Mortal Kombat 9. Richard Epcar has been the voice for Raiden in the game series since that time. I understand that a younger Raiden required a younger voice actor, but there are several instances in the story where an older Raiden is showcased and voiced by someone else. This inconsistency in the voice-acting made it difficult for me to connect with the character and the story. It felt disjointed and detracted from the overall experience.

Furthermore, Megan Fox’s voice acting as Nitara was disappointing. Her delivery lacked the nuance and depth the character required. As a result, Nitara’s character felt less engaging and less memorable than others in the game. Overall, I believe that better voice-acting choices for both Raiden and Nitara would significantly enhance the game’s storytelling and overall experience.

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Caleb Gayle
Owner @2ndOpinionPro | Content Creator at @Cinelinx | Married @Dara_Potato | @Poplco Ambassador | Partnered @DubbyEnergy | #GameIndustry Vet 16+
mortal-kombat-1-a-flawless-victory-of-nostalgia-and-innovation-reviewMortal Kombat 1 is an exceptional addition to NetherRealm's renowned series, which has been expanding over the past three decades. The introduction of the Kameo Fighter system, Invasion, and the upcoming DLC character make MK1 a thrilling experience with abundant replay value for both die-hard fight game fans and casual gamers. However, despite its many strengths, there are a few minor elements that detract from its perfection. The customization options lack the impressive flair seen in Mortal Kombat 11, and the voice acting in the game could have been better, leaving something to be desired. Despite these minor issues, Mortal Kombat 1 is still a fantastic game that any fan of the series should not hesitate to try out.