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14th Sep 2023

REVIEW: Mortal Kombat 1 is the bloody, komplete package

Rory Cashin

Mortal Kombat 1


Mortal Kombat 1. What a title. Is this a remake of the very first Mortal Kombat game from 1992, but with next-gen visuals and gameplay mechanics? Nope. Is it wiping the slate klean after the plot messiness of Mortal Kombat 11 in 2019, to make it easier for everyone using this as their entry point? Also nope.

While saying “I’m playing Mortal Kombat for the plot” is akin to declaring “I’m reading Playboy for the articles”, anyone who has actually read Playboy will know the articles are actually really good, and the plot of Mortal Kombat 1 goes to some lengths to make itself at least seem important.

Liu Kang has kreated a new universe after gaining some extreme superpowers in the MK11, and is hoping the fresh start with this new plane of existence. Except this new universe isn’t so different from the last one, with some of the same klassic kharacters being drawn to doing good, and others to being evil.

Through the early part of the solo player kampaign, you actually get to control some OG kharacters with a limited special move set… simply because they haven’t developed those powers yet. So we can play is Raiden pre-lightning, and Kung Lao pre-razor hat. It makes for an interesting learning kurve in the development of the characters that matches the players own learning kurve with the game itself.

Mortal Kombat 1 refreshes everything but doesn’t bring much new to the table

As for the gameplay, the mechanics of Mortal Kombat 1 feel lighter and faster than MK11, giving the fights a more edge’y feel. As do the return of the popup attacks, which means you’ve to be keeping your eye on your opponent’s off-screen tag partner, who kould arrive at any moment to disrupt your attack flow.

MK1 is a visual and aural highlight of the franchise too, with the kharacters, settings, and – of course – fatalities never looking better, or squishier. If you get into a groove with another MK lover, then you won’t notice hours going by as you attempt to master the 23 main characters, which expands initially with an extra six downloadable kharacters (which happens to include Homelander from The Boys, Omni-Man from Invincible, and Peacemaker from The Suicide Squad).

Aside from the kampaign and the one-on-one local/online battles, there is also the Towers mode, which is essentially how many fights kan you win using a single character/health bar. Then there is the Invasions mode, which is a very fun, delightfully odd, isometric runner around famous MK locations, interspersed with the usual fights. It isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel in the way some of the additions in Street Fighter 6 did earlier this year, but it is an entertaining diversion.

With more kontent coming down the line over the koming weeks and months, there will be plenty here for Mortal Kombat lovers to dive into for a long while yet. And everything here is pretty much the best version of what has come before, without actually adding anything new into the mix.

Mortal Kombat 1 is available on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch and PC from Tuesday 19 September.

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