A Koncerning Reboot

Mortal Kombat 1 is a 2023 fighting game developed by NetherRealm Studios and published by Warner Bros. Games. It is the 12th main instalment in the Mortal Kombat series, serving as a sequel to Mortal Kombat 11 and the series’ second reboot following Mortal Kombat. It does get confusing at this point, but it can be considered a stand-alone game. You don’t need to play all the previous games to understand this one; so it is friendly to newcomers. I’m not sure if it’s depressing or not, but I actually played the original at the arcade and owned it on the master system all the way back in 1993.

As previously stated, I’ve played Mortal Kombat since childhood. It’s one of those games where I religiously buy every game. In this new revamp, the one and only Liu Kang from the original has changed the course of history. It does technically continue from the previous title. Starting the story, it does feel fresh. A lot has changed, and the first few chapters of the game are all about learning the combat. Which I admit is a nice touch, as you don’t have your powers yet.

The first new feature they throw at you is the Kameo mechanic, a tag team without switching to the other character. It has a unique touch for the more experienced and professional players; they will love mixing and finding the best formula between the main character and their Kameo, as each Kameo have their own skill set. Granted, it’s all down to one button and a directional pad. I can only imagine how in-depth the combos and mechanics can go.
Graphically it looks amazing, all the character models are impressive with subtle changes to previous games. Personally wasn’t a fan of the new Mileena design as she was always a fan favourite of mine. The stages and backgrounds are incredible, which they have always been. However, none of them really stood out to me. This is not a major problem, especially in fighting games but I’m still waiting to be wowed again like I did back in Mortal Kombat with the acid pits.

The story from start to finish is exciting and engaging; as previously stated you start off as two younger versions of well-known characters (Raiden and Kung-lao) in a struggling farming village. As the story develops you get your notorious powers. NetherRealm has really impressed me with their story modes in Mortal Kombat since MKX. My only gripe I would say regarding the story is that it just feels all too familiar. Fatalities are back in all their glory. As a young child who shouldn’t be seeing them all the way up to being an adult, I will never tire of seeing the gore and the new and inventive ways that NetherRealm comes up with when it comes to dismembering your enemy.

As much as I love Mortal Kombat and other fighting games playing against your friends in person, I have never been a fan of the online multiplayer. I just seem to get my rear end handed to me. I did delve into the online features in previous titles and this one. I found with Mortal Kombat 1 at the time of reviewing the game the online mode was very lacklustre. I never felt engaged with any of the features to make me say anything positive about it. I have read NetherRealm plans on updating with every season so it could be a wait-and-see if it improves. As it stands I have no reason I would personally would play it, especially after playing the Street Fighters’ recent attempt at updating an online mode. Creating a character and running around a mini world seeing other players was fun. Mortal Kombat 1 is just more or less exactly the same as Mortal Kombat X where you quick play or just join groups to fight. Feels very bare minimum.

Every character has different skins and customisable armour, body parts and colour palettes. It is a nice touch to make your favourite characters feel unique to yourself. You can make Scorpion and Sub Zero even look like their original skins. There is an issue though and that is the way you unlock these. For free-to-play gamers if that is the right way to phrase it, despite already paying for the game at full price., They are mainly locked behind a randomly generated reward system called the shrine. In-game and online you earn gold coins which you can spend on the shrine in the hope of getting a random reward. These gold coins aren’t easily come by either especially if you’re not that good at online like myself.

Now onto what I think as a gamer is such a major problem at this point. Microtransactions, why a fighting game needs this is beyond me. I understand and can get on board with season passes and that is fine. Neverrealm takes it overboard in this game in my opinion. The cost of skins and gold coins is not acceptable. You could spend a considerable amount of money just trying hopefully get the reward you want in the shrine. I can’t comment on the season pass and how valuable it is as it wasn’t released at the time of reviewing. Finally having to buy fatalities which Mortal Kombat is known for just hurts.

Overall Mortal Kombat 1 feels more like two steps back and one step forward if you are to compare this to Mortal Kombat 9 which in itself was also a soft reboot. The story mode was engaging and kept me wanting to play to find out what happens. New implementations like the Kameo system felt a nice new touch. Online mode though did not engage me, I just felt like there wasn’t enough in it to make me really get into it. On top of that the microtransactions did make me feel a little uneased with the future in which one of my favourite fighting games of all time is going.