Mortal Kombat 1: A Fresh Take on the Classic Franchise
I recently got my hands on Mortal Kombat 1 and although a full review is still in the works, I can already say that it’s leaving a strong impression. One thing that Netherrealm deserves applause for is their ability to create unique gameplay systems for each new Mortal Kombat game while still maintaining that iconic Mortal Kombat feel. Mortal Kombat 1, in particular, brings a multitude of drastic changes that set it apart from its predecessor, MK11.
Firstly, Mortal Kombat 1 returns to a single meter system that governs enhanced special moves, breakers, and jump cancels out of uppercuts. Fatal blows, on the other hand, are no longer invincible on start-up, and krushing blows have been completely removed. Character variations, wake up attacks, wake up rolls have also been eliminated. Additionally, every character now has the ability to deal more damage without expending any meter thanks to a new air combo system. And the best part? Blocked crouching jabs are now punishable, making them less spammable than before. These changes not only add freshness to the gameplay but also address some of the pain points that the fighting game community had with MK11.
The Introduction of the Kameo System
The biggest addition in Mortal Kombat 1 is the Kameo system. For the first time in a Mortal Kombat game, players can choose a second character to assist them in every fight. Each Kameo character has their own meter, and each time they are called upon, half of their meter is used (or the entire meter in some cases, such as Goro’s unblockable stomp assist). Every Kameo character offers at least three assist moves, which adds new tools to the arsenal of the chosen character.
For example, let’s say I’m playing as Baraka, who lacks overheads or lows in the middle of his combo strings. This makes him vulnerable to opponents who block low once the first hit of his string is blocked. However, by adding Scorpion as my Kameo character, who possesses an overhead move, I introduce a new layer to my offense and increase the chances of opening up my opponent. Alternatively, I can choose Frost as my Kameo and use her quick, low-hitting attack that freezes to start a damaging combo. Other Kameo characters can be used to extend combos, convert damage from small hits, offer teleports or projectile invulnerability, and more. The implementation of the Kameo system in Mortal Kombat 1 is well-thought-out and enhances the already solid foundation of the game.
Continuing Excellence in the Mortal Kombat Series
Mortal Kombat 11 received high praise across the board, and its success continues with Mortal Kombat 1. The game offers methodical and deep combat, an absurd yet captivating story mode, and impressive netcode. The tutorial is comprehensive and helpful for beginners. However, the game falters when it comes to its drawn-out progression system, especially the frustrating and grindy barriers of the Krypt and Towers of Time. Despite this setback, Mortal Kombat 1 embraces the fighting depth that goes beyond the iconic Fatalities, making it an enjoyable and thrilling experience for fans of the series.
An Exciting Story Mode
Mortal Kombat 1 introduces a new beginning for the series with its story mode. The entire history of Mortal Kombat has been re-written, providing familiar characters with new looks, backstories, relationships, and powers. Set long after the events of Mortal Kombat 11, the story follows Fire God Liu Kang as he reshapes the world using the Hourglass of Time. Earthrealm and Outworld experience peace, and the Mortal Kombat tournament becomes a showcase of pride and honor rather than a tool for invasion. However, peace doesn’t last as outside forces threaten the realms. The story mode offers exciting new twists for classic characters and is filled with in-universe references that reward longtime fans. It may not bring any gameplay innovations, but it delivers a six-hour campaign that is bombastic, well-acted, and incredibly entertaining.
Room for Improvement
While Mortal Kombat 1 excels in many aspects, there is still room for refinement. One area that could benefit from improvement is the lack of guidance for new characters in each chapter. Players are thrown into the shoes of different characters without any information about their unique abilities, combo strings, or special moves. Learning on the fly through the move list and trial-and-error can be a bit frustrating. However, this minor drawback doesn’t overshadow the overall excellence of the game.
If you enjoyed previous Mortal Kombat games, such as Mortal Kombat 11, Mortal Kombat X, or Mortal Kombat 9, you’ll likely find Mortal Kombat 1 to be just as enjoyable. Neatherrealm’s approach of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” continues to work well in creating captivating and engaging fighting games.