Mortal Kombat 1 Review – Rebooting A Classic Franchise

NetherRealm Studios surprised everyone when they unveiled Mortal Kombat 1. Mortal Kombat is a popular franchise. Mortal Kombat 1 is an origin story for the franchise and its characters. It has an exceptionally well-written story, some secondary stories to go through with its “Invasions” mode, the classic towers that previous games have had, and more.

The Mortal Kombat franchise remains popular because of its fighters and fatalities. Mortal Kombat 1 does not disappoint in either area. The game features an eclectic roster of fighters, from classic favorites to new characters. Longtime fans will enjoy seeing how the legendary characters changed, whether it was their attire, weapons, fighting style, or gruesome fatalities. Favorites such as Liu Kang, Raiden, Shang Tsung, and Kitana appear alongside Tanya, Reiko, Li Mei, and more.

An Origin Story to Reboot the Universe

Mortal Kombat 1, Liu Kang
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Games.

The story of Mortal Kombat 1 begins with Liu Kang trying to recruit his champions. Though this is a reboot, the basic premise of the Mortal Kombat universe still exists. Liu Kang tries to find fighters to win the tournament and successfully defend Earthrealm against the Outworld. If one of the champions of Earthrealm wins the tournament, it will help to preserve the peace between the two realms. I don't want to spoil the story for you, so I will leave it there. The story does a great job of showcasing the origins of some of your favorite fighters. The way NetherRealm Studios presents it is a thing of beauty. The cinematics are top-tier and blend seamlessly into fights when needed. Once a fight is over, it shifts back into the cinematics to continue the story. The whole experience runs incredibly smoothly, and the story flows really well as a result.

Once you go through that, you have the “Invasions” mode to play. This part of the game will be constantly evolving. Different “seasons” will bring new content, fights, and additional stories. Each season will last approximately six weeks. That should give everyone enough time to work through the content. You are on an overworld map once you get through the opening cinematic. You go from point to point, engaging in fights or whatever other activity might be available. This mode functions like an RPG where you can earn items to upgrade your equipment to make you a more powerful fighter. You will come across occasional ambushes where you might get randomly jumped on the way to your destination, similar to how old-school RPGs used to do. Season one has eight different mesas for you to explore. The final mesa will take you to the big boss for the season, where you will have to defeat him. In this mode, you must win fights, unlock paths, find treasure chests, and implement upgrades. I am excited to see what the team will do with future seasons. If done correctly, this could last for years until we get Mortal Kombat 2.

If you want to see the ending for a specific character, you will have to beat the “towers” mode. Fans will enjoy this old-school approach to Mortal Kombat. You start at the bottom of a tower and then make your way up with each fight you win. You eventually get to the top of the tower, and once you finish that last fight, you get to see a cinematic. So, for example, if you go through the tower with Liu Kang, you will see his ending. You can do this with each character, so this should keep you busy for at least a while, and old-school fans should enjoy it.

See Where You Rank With Other Fighters Worldwide

Mortal Kombat 1, Kitana Vs. Johnny Cage
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Games.

In addition to all of that, there is the multiplayer gameplay as well. You can fight locally with friends on the couch next to you or fight a computer opponent. You can also go online and battle against others worldwide to see where you rank. You also have a tournament feature where you can fight your local friend with tournament settings enabled.

If you choose the online route that has its own rankings and rewards. The “Kombat League” will be where you compete in ranked matches to earn seasonal rewards. Some rewards you can earn here include Imperial Tournament Blades, Zaterran Cutters, Summoner of Absolute Ruin, and more. As you play, you will earn points to try and rank up your fighter to get better rewards. The season in this mode seems to run parallel to the “Invasions” mode, so keep that in mind. Both modes will do so simultaneously when Mortal Kombat 1 moves to Season 2. If you don't care about ranked competition and just want to have fun, you also have the “Kasual” route, where you can look for a standard versus match or play King of the Hill. You can also go private and invite one of your friends to a fight.

In addition to all the fighting, you have some extras to enjoy. As you play the game, you will earn different rewards. Some of this might be other gear, taunts, or finishers. You can customize your fighter with these as you earn them. You can also customize your “kameo.” Think of your kameo as basically your tag team partner. You can have them join your fight for a brief moment to inflict damage on your unsuspecting opponent. You also have a practice mode where you can work on your fighting game to see what works for you, in addition to an actual tutorial mode. Suppose you like the gruesome fatalities. In that case, you can practice performing them without winning a fight in the fatalities mode. I appreciate NetherRealm putting in this option since one of the main things about the Mortal Kombat franchise is the fatalities.

If you see yourself as a completionist, you have a “Kollection” that you can work on as you go through these different modes. Character art, environment art, music, and movies are available for you to unlock. Mortal Kombat 1 also has a shrine where you can use your “koins” to obtain randomized rewards. The first time I used it, I spent 1,000 “koins” and unlocked a nice piece of environment art. Mortal Kombat 1 should hold your interest for a while, especially with the season's format and these different modes.

My overall experience with Mortal Kombat 1 had a few technical hiccups. As I progressed through the story, I discovered instances where I would completely lose audio. The solution appeared to be backing out of the game on my Xbox and then resuming it, which only took about five seconds. Once I did that, the audio returned, and I continued playing. It's annoying, but at least it has an easy fix. With the aforementioned fatalities, you have an “easy” way to do them and the standard way. The easy way wouldn't always work for me, so I just performed them the traditional way. I had a bit of lag occasionally when I jumped into online matches. It wasn't egregious, but lag in a fighting game could lead your fighter to experience one of those fatalities. This doesn't always happen, but it can be jarring when it does.

Wrapping Up

Mortal Kombat 1
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Games.

Mortal Kombat 1 is a really sensational reboot of a beloved franchise. The story is well done, and the way everything flows together makes it a delightful experience. The invasion mode will keep me coming back once new seasons arrive. Seeing the origin story for some of the most iconic Mortal Kombat characters will be interesting for long-time fans. If you enjoy fighting games, check this out. If you like Mortal Kombat, you should enjoy what the development team achieved with this entry.

Rating: 9/10 SPECS