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MORTAL KOMBAT 1 REVIEW: BREAKING THE MOLD


The Mortal Kombat logo, featuring the iconic dragon symbol, set against a backdrop of fiery, smoky background.
Image via NetherRealm Studios

Picture this: It's the '90s, the era of flannel shirts, grunge music, arcades, and extremely bad hair. Mortal Kombat emerges as a breath of fresh if not slightly iron-laced, air. What set this game apart was its edgy, no-holds-barred approach. Unlike the colorful, family-friendly games of the time, Mortal Kombat dared to go darker. To the generation that played that version and the one that has yet to play any of its iterations, we say, “Get over Here! Mortal Kombat is back, and it's as awesome as ever.” Its newest version, released just this year, is called Mortal Kombat 1, or MK1, and it has all the elements to define this era and make parents worry about their kids' video game choices. Sound familiar? No? Explore our gaming community to find out! Let's review what this remake of the classic title brings to the table. A Fresh Paradigm in the Mortal Kombat Saga Mortal Kombat 1 ventures into uncharted territory, departing from the norms established by its predecessor, MK11. These changes retain all the MK feels while introducing a breath of fresh air. So, what's groundbreaking and thrilling in this revised rendition? Let’s find out! Unifying the Meter Management One of the primary changes from the MK11 version is the restoration of a single meter governing enhanced special moves, breakers, and now jump cancels from uppercuts. The once-invincible fatal blows have relinquished their godlike status. Krushing Blows have vanished into oblivion. Character variations, wake-up attacks, and wake-up rolls have become relics of the past.

An electrifying scene featuring the iconic Mortal Kombat character Sub-Zero. He stands in a menacing fighting stance, clad in his signature blue ninja attire, and steely armor.

Kameo System: A Game-Changer However, the pièce de résistance is the Kameo System. For the first time in 30+ years, players can select a second character who swoops in as an assist during battles. These Kameo fighters possess their own meter, offering your character a plethora of additional capabilities. Each Kameo character provides at least three assist moves, enriching your character's arsenal. This opens the door to extended combos, converting hits into substantial damage, resisting projectiles, or making a swift escape to a safe distance. The Kameo System is a stroke of genius that magnificently enhances the core MK gameplay. See it like this: By choosing a Kameo, you can finally give a character lacking an overhead move an extra layer of offense or catch your opponent off guard with unfamiliar techniques. The Story Mode: (A lot) More to the Same Netherrealm Studios has retained its gripping story modes because, for its handful of faults, MK1 sure lives up to its predecessor’s reputation. It ushers in a completely new narrative for the series, rewriting its entire history and offering classic characters fresh appearances, backstories, and powers. The reimagined storyline takes a closer look at the lives of characters like Baraka and Reptile, who were relegated to mere henchman roles in previous versions of the video game. In Mortal Kombat 1, they step into the spotlight, owning their own chapters and defining story moments. All in all, Netherrealm’s knack for delivering story modes reminiscent of cinematic popcorn blockbusters is on full display. While it doesn't introduce groundbreaking gameplay innovations, the six-hour campaign is filled with grandeur, superb acting, and controlled absurdity at all the right moments.

Mortal Kombat character Kitana, outfitted in blue and gold, holds a fan made of blades.
Image via PCGamesN

Uncompromising Combat Mortal Kombat 1 retains the core feel of the series, featuring the classic dial-a-combo system, the need to hold a button to block, and somewhat rigid movement. Adjusting to its unique style might take time, especially after playing other fighting games, but once you acclimate, the combat shines as brightly as ever. Invading the Realms: A New Single-Player Mode MK1 introduces "Invasions," a new single-player mode that resembles a board game. It combines elements of The Krypt's themed environments, older Konquest modes, and the back-to-back battles of Towers of Time. Invasions present you with boards containing themed fights. You progress by moving around the board, clearing battles, collecting rewards, unlocking gates, and completing various challenges. While the RPG mechanics add complexity, Mortal Kombat excels when it sticks to straightforward, gimmick-free fights. There’s room for improvement with the chaotic experience in single-player mode, which throws a slight curveball into gameplay.

Unleash Your Inner Kombatant The character progression system in Mortal Kombat 1 is incredibly rewarding. With each level gained, you unlock boatloads of new gear, skins, taunts, brutalities, and fatalities. The depth of content ensures there's always something to strive for. We’ve got no complaints about the tutorials either. The video game offers comprehensive guidance from basic controls to in-depth explanations of combat mechanics. You can play it regardless of whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned player.

While character-specific tutorials could be more robust, the seven combo trials for each character offer valuable practice. Online Unchanged: The Good and the Bad Online play in Mortal Kombat 1 remains largely unchanged from its predecessor. The net code is reliable, King of the Hill is back, and Kombat League returns with seasonal rewards. Nevertheless, it's frustrating that you can't matchmake while in another mode. The absence of custom rooms with multiple slots for simultaneous matches is disappointing. Cross-play is in the works but isn't available in this version, marking yet another bummer for this game.

A screenshot from Mortal Kombat 1,  showcasing a brutal finishing move (Fatality) in all its gruesome, gory detail. Li Mei has won, her beheaded opponent laying before her.

A Visual Extravaganza The visuals in MK1 are second to none. Character models, already impressive in MK11, now approach photorealism without veering into uncanny territory. The stages are the crowning glory of the game, offering breathtaking vistas and gruesome dungeons. And the fatalities? More gruesome than ever for our bloodthirsty folks. Microtransactions and More Mortal Kombat 1 includes microtransactions in its store for premium cosmetics. However, you can only purchase them in bundles, which can be restrictive. Fortunately, the game offers a microtransaction-free Invasions Mode, providing engaging content without pay-to-win elements, along with daily and weekly towers and seasonal updates. Mortal Kombat 1: Yay or Nay? MK1 introduces thrilling gameplay changes with the Kameo System. It maintains Netherrealm's storytelling excellence in the single-player mode. However, some aspects of online play feel outdated, and Invasions Mode may wear thin during the grind for unlocks. Nevertheless, it marks a triumphant beginning for the next chapter of this legendary franchise, reaffirming that the old dragon still has plenty of fire. Want to know what else is fire nowadays? Check out our gaming news and reviews for the best games to spend your resources on. Be a wiser player through videos that contain step-by-step strategy guides for easier understanding. Follow us on Facebook for regular updates.


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