Game review: Mortal Kombat 1 (PS5)
Mortal Kombat has been around for 30 years now, featuring iconic-looking characters as well as bloody and gory violence. The violence in the game is the reason why we now have ratings for video games because parents were worried about its excessive blood content.
Despite its violence, Mortal Kombat has become one of the most popular fighting game franchises in history. The most recent Mortal Kombat game before Mortal Kombat 1 was Mortal Kombat 11 in 2019. However, as you may know from the name of the game, we didn’t receive Mortal Kombat 12.
Instead of continuing the story like a sequel, MK creator Ed Boon decided to come up with a different narrative where the timeline has been reset again. The God of Fire and Earthrealm protector, Liu Kang, decided to reset the entire MK universe to right the wrongs from the previous main timeline. Hence, this is why this is called Mortal Kombat 1.
Liu Kang planned to make evil beings like Shang Tsung and Quan Chi powerless in this new timeline. He is also hopeful this time around that Earthrealm and Outworld can now get along without going to war with one another.
Well, let’s just say in the story mode that things don’t go Liu Kang’s way, and some characters are planning for war. The story has lots of twists and turns, plus the game has an awesome battle near its conclusion. It arguably has the best story mode in Mortal Kombat history, as it’s my favourite single-player campaign in the entire series.
There are 15 chapters in total, and it’s the longest campaign in MK history. I played the story mode on the Normal difficulty setting, which was around six hours long, including cutscenes. It’s shorter than the 20-hour RPG mode from Street Fighter VI, but it’s much longer than Tekken 7’s disappointing story mode from 2017.
In terms of other single-player content, there’s a new mode called Invasions, as well as the traditional towers. The Towers mode is where you face off against a certain number of AI enemies, and you earn a character’s individual story endings.
It’s fun and will last you a while if you want to unlock all the endings.
Invasions is an all-new mode to Mortal Kombat 1, and it’s an interesting one to talk about. This is a seasonal mode that features a board game-like structure with some RPG elements sprinkled in. The first six weeks feature Johnny Cage’s mansion as a setting, but this will change as the weeks go by. It’s a mode you might want to play if you want to unlock more skins or concept art.
Gameplay-wise, Mortal Kombat 1 still features the series’ famous 2D-style fighting game engine. Many characters like Scorpion and Sub-Zero still have their iconic signature moves, plus you can end fights using their fatalities. The fatalities are brutal to watch, but they’re fun to use when you win matches. It’s best to avoid YouTube spoiling some of the best fatalities in the game, as part of the fun is being able to do them yourself!
As for its multiplayer offerings, Mortal Kombat 1 features both offline combat as well as the chance for you to play against others online. Sadly, the game does not feature tag-team combat like in some older Mortal Kombat games. Instead, MK1 includes a new feature called Kameos.
Kameos are support characters that aid you during combat. You cannot tag in these characters, but they can help you when you beat up your enemies with ease. There are tons of Kameo characters in the game, including the likes of Sonya Blade, Jax, Kano, and more.
That being said, I feel kind of sad that some Kameo fighters aren’t playable in MK1 at all. The aforementioned Sonya, Kano, and Jax have been a huge part of the MK franchise, but they’re not really featured in this game at all. Hopefully, these characters are playable in Mortal Kombat 2 or whatever the 13th game in the series will be called.
Speaking of characters, it’s sad some of them are featured in the story mode, but they aren’t playable in the game yet. Quan-Chi plays a big part in the story mode, but he’s not playable at launch. Ermac is also in the story, but he’s not available unless you pay for the game’s first DLC pack too.
Graphically, Mortal Kombat 1 is by far the prettiest-looking MK game in history. That is, of course, if you are playing the game on PC, PS5, and/or Xbox Series X/S.
The game has beautiful-looking locations from both Earth and Outworld. It’s hard to pick a favourite stage, but Johnny Cage’s mansion is up there as one of the best in the game so far.
I didn’t have a chance to play Mortal Kombat 1 on Nintendo Switch, but many people have shared their experiences online. Let’s just say the ageing Switch hardware isn’t capable of handling a game like MK1. The Switch graphics and performance are horrendous compared to the better versions available.
The only main problem I have with Mortal Kombat 1 right now is that it feels slow and grindy to earn more skins, concept art, and other extras. I remember back in the old days when you completed the story mode, you were able to unlock more characters and costumes in fighting games. Now, it seems publishers want you to open your wallets to get extra content.
Aside from the microtransactions, Mortal Kombat 1 is still a banger of a game. The story mode is excellent, and the graphics and gameplay really shine bright. If you love fighting games, you should buy this game!