Mortal Kombat 1 – Breaking Spines Never Felt Better

Mortal Kombat 1 - Breaking Spines Never Felt Better

It has begun! Oh yes, it’s time yet again for gamers around the world to gear up and dismember one another in a brutal fashion that would make Quentin Tarantino blush with envy. Don’t let the title fool you, Mortal Kombat 1 (MK1) isn’t a remake or remaster of the first game, it’s the honest and true sequel to its predecessor (Mortal Kombat 11) and picks up exactly where it left off, bringing back all your favourite characters and somehow making it more violent than ever before. Enough jibber jabber, let’s get into the review.

Firstly, let me just say this. The early trailers and demonstrations did not do this game justice in regards to its graphical appeal. Upon loading this title up on my PC, I was amazed at how beautiful the character animations, models and fighting stages looked. Perhaps it was the compression being implemented on various websites and their embedded video players, but early impressions didn’t exactly have me jazzed. Thankfully, this was instantly turned around, because this is easily the best-looking Mortal Kombat game to date and is very much in line with the graphical expectations we’ve come to expect from NRS and fighting games in general. 

As is the standard that NRS has come to be known for, there is a tonne of single-player content available here, you have invasion mode, towers and (as expected) a story campaign, which kicks off where MK11 left off. For those not in the know, Liu Kang, having seen the destruction of the time glass, has created a new beginning for the MK universe. Yes, this is another reboot, but in line with previous versions, it’s a reboot that is still carries through the story of the previous games. MK1 wastes no opportunities to give their past characters a new backgrounds and slightly different spins, whilst keeping the fidelity of past titles by having similar fighting styles and abilities. Liu Kang intended to give people the choice to live in peace and harmony. It is a noble cause, however, we all know these endeavours would never last too long in the MK universe and it’s not long before evil forces conspire to bring chaos, death and destruction.

Stylistically, MK1 changes things up yet again. Gone are the fighting variations and customisation within. Now, Mortal Kombat uses the Kameo system, which is essentially a tag/assist mechanic not unlike those seen in the Marvel vs Capcom games. Kameos can help you defend, attack or extend combos and every Kameo fighter will have different abilities. Who you stick with and how you use them is completely up to the player, giving the player freedom of choice to suit their preferred play style and not locking them into a fixed/optimised way of playing. From initial impressions, this feels better than the fighting variations seen in previous MK games, which could feel a little daunting from the outset, making it harder to fully learn a character and (at the higher end of competitive gaming) locking into a variation that is clearly heads and shoulders better than the other ones. I couldn’t imagine the nightmare of having to balance previous MK games in that regard. The Kameo system feels a lot simpler and more flexible as well as being a fun addition to the regular MK antics.

If you’re new to fighting games or well-versed, rest assured that the developers have your back for whatever level you want to play at. There are vast amounts of tutorials, for overall gameplay systems and individual characters, learn as little or as much as you want, no stone is left unturned in this game. NRS has even included a frame data tutorial for competitive players who really want to optimise their game plans, a much-welcomed addition that is quickly becoming a standard for any high-end fighting game out there. 

There are some criticisms though, a big one is that some of the characters (and Kameo combinations) are broken as hell. What do I mean by this? We’ve been seeing touch-of-death combos within the first few days of release and some specific move sets being highly overpowered. This wouldn’t be an issue in an anime fight (Mahvel anyone?) but for a game like this, it’s usually an oversight from the developers and I was a little surprised at how quickly these were figured out by the community/fanbase. These problems, along with some buggy issues (like the player 1 advantage) are being immediately addressed by the developers many of which have been fixed and eliminated. Balancing these games is always an ongoing process and it’s by no means a deal breaker for anyone wanting to check this game out, if anything, it’s more of an issue for the esports scene.

MK1 is, as expected, a very well-made game. It’s fun, gory and over the top in all the right ways. The Kameo system changes things up whilst still keeping to its core (kore?) gameplay and the story campaign and single-player content is rich and full. Looking forward, the DLC characters, which will be dropping over the next year, have me, and many others very excited. No matter what kind of fighting game player you are, there’s something for you here, this title deserves a spot in your gaming catalogue.

Mortal Kombat 1 was reviewed on the PC with code kindly supplied by the publisher

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