In 1992, digital blood spilt across American arcades like a crimson tide. Mortal Kombat, a game that would soon captivate the world, emerged, bringing a fresh take on the fighting genre. This brutal masterpiece introduced Fatalities, and gruesome finishing moves that not only dominated the gaming headlines but also left a lasting mark on the industry. Fast forward three decades and the game still reigns supreme, defying expectations with its latest instalment, Mortal Kombat 1 (MK1). This strategic move positions the series for the present and future.
Following the events of Mortal Kombat 11, Liu Kang gains the power to manipulate time, reshaping the world to his liking. This explains the reset to MK1, ushering in an era of temporary peace. However, the Mortal Kombat tournament persists as a means to maintain balance among the realms, with Liu Kang guarding Earthrealm. But as fate would have it, a familiar foe reemerges, throwing the realms into turmoil again. Liu Kang must assemble a new team of warriors to face this impending threat.
The story mode in MK1 is a cinematic masterpiece, rivaling the excellence of Marvel movies in direction, cinematography, and voice acting. Drawing inspiration from films such as Black Panther and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings with a dash of ‘80s action movie flair, it weaves an entertaining narrative filled with twists, plenty of laughs, and, of course, copious amounts of blood.
Mortal Kombat 1
The one-on-one fighting mechanics remain intact, with two combatants squaring off on a single plane. However, MK1 introduces Klassic Kombatants, characters from the original 1992 game and more unlockable fighters, to assist you in battle. Much like Street Fighter 6, MK1 streamlines its controls for console controllers, making moves and combos easier to execute, allowing players to focus on strategy rather than button mashing.
Each character in MK1 brings a unique perspective to this altered timeline. Baraka, in particular, shines with an intriguing backstory and a chance to take the spotlight as a victim of a disfiguring affliction. The game also sheds light on underappreciated characters including Kenshi and Kung Lao while giving fan favourites such as Johnny Cage, Raiden, Sub-Zero, and Scorpion their moments to shine. The enigmatic villain deserves special mention for their outstanding performance.
Characters retain their signature moves with clever twists and restrictions, making fights entertaining with even normal combinations ending in satisfying flair. Special moves, in particular, are spectacles, perfect for an audience.
Beyond the story mode and the standard online and offline Versus modes, the Tower returns, challenging players to battle through a series of encounters to achieve a token ending. Seasonal content arrives in the form of Invasions, offering a unique way to unlock rewards in the game, which can be used to customise your favourite fighters down to the smallest detail.
Visually, MK1 is a feast for the eyes. It trades the dark, brooding environments for a rich, high-fantasy palette, featuring lush oriental backdrops, bustling market scenes, serene temples, and enchanted forests. Fighter models are meticulously detailed, down to the threads on their clothing, and animations are smooth and impactful. MK1 stands as the pinnacle of fighting game visuals, with blood and gore that, while excessive in certain moments, retains a cartoonish quality, albeit with a grisly undertone. This is a true next-gen experience, though the Switch port may not do it justice.
Mortal Kombat 1 offers an abundance of content that will delight longtime fans and welcomes new players with open arms. It strikes a delicate balance between competitive depth and accessibility, making it a must-play title this gaming season.