30 years since the outset of arguably one of the greatest fighting games of all time, Mortal Kombat makes a return for yet another edition in the franchise — with a twist. Neatherrealm Studios doesn’t overlook the game’s gore and violent legacy, instead plays on it deeper. It does so by keeping the core structure intact while changing things on the outside — and to put that into motion, Fire God and Earthrealm’s greatest warrior and champion, Liu Kang has restarted the timeline in Mortal Kombat 1.
If you think of it, this is a bold move to reset the timeline — it could make or completely break the game and the loyalty offered by the fans.
The cinematics look crispier than ever, making you watch the cutscenes in awe, and well, sometimes in disgust. While Kameos opens up the game to more chaos and wider perspectives, the return of familiar characters such as Liu Kang, Jax, Li Mei, Sub-Zero, Kitana, and more should ignite a sense of nostalgia for the veterans.
MySmartPrice got some time on the beta version of the game (PS5), and here’s what we think about Mortal Kombat 1.
Gameplay and Characters
Straight off the bat, I’m playing Mortal Kombat after a long time, probably after the PlayStation 2 era. Now, the Mortal Kombat franchise is notorious for being one of the most rebooted fighting games. Despite that, after getting into the first fight, it just felt very familiar. In the beta version, I had access to the Kampaign, Online, and settings. In the story mode, you get to see the Klassic Towers — you start at the bottom, paving your way towards the top as the story continues. In our limited time with the game, we could only complete about two tiers of the tower.
Speaking of the Kameo characters, initially, my understanding was something close to the tag team mechanics of the WWE universe — though, I have to say this feels limiting, yet refreshing. In the beta, you could choose from four different Kameo characters. Frost, Jax, Kano, and Sonya can create utter chaos on the field — and they do so with a push of the R1 button. Worry not, as these characters are said to be part of the main character roster too, and not only locked to Kameos.
During my game time, I mostly stuck with Frost, as the idea of breaking the ice with a swing and a half got me excited. Although, positioning and timing are key with Kameos — there’s a learning curve with valuable returns. In some scenarios, I could see Jax just walking past me because of my poor timing. Peak betrayal moment.
The Kameo characters love to join in on the combo moves, adding a bit more flair and damage to the opponents. More importantly, when a block is timed immaculately, the Kameo character helps you get away from that situation making room for your next plan of attack. Fatal Blow — a move introduced in Mortal Kombat 11 can be seen here too.
During these sequences of attacks, the Kameo tags along for a chain of blows. The fatalities — skull breaking, back-breaking and organs flailing around are just as gross and disgusting as ever, but you can now watch it in pure cinematic, and honestly, the graphics look stunning, especially on next-gen consoles.
As for core characters, the full roster hasn’t been released yet. I had access to Kenshi, Lin Mei, Liu Kang, Johnny Cage, Kitana, and Sub-Zero. I mostly chose Kenshi — the blind swordsman, he’s agile and can execute moves very easily. Johnny Cage, on the other hand, was a bit tough for me to handle.
Before moving on to the combat techniques, I have to address the sheer brilliance of transitions in the game. After choosing your characters, both the fighters indulge in a small banter session, which then seamlessly transitions into the fighting arena. The same can be noticed when going from Round 1 to Round 2. And of course, the audio cues are amazing too — how can you not appreciate ‘’Finish Him’’, and ‘’Fatality’’ — this is where it truly maintains its legacy.
Combat Mechanisms and Controls
Even though I am accustomed to fighting games, having played Street Fighter 6 (Review) fairly recently — the control system was a bit overwhelming for me. It took me about an hour or so to eventually get a crux of it — sadly the beta period ended by then. For a veteran, this should not be an issue at all. This is where I was instantly reminded of the modern control system from Street Fighter 6.
Since Mortal Kombat 1 is going through a revamp and a reset, now would be a good time to lure in a young audience. Don’t get me wrong, they are surely doing their part with the beautiful cinematics and more, but a simplified version of the control system would help unseasoned players like myself massively. For a complete delve into the control mechanism, I’ll need to spend a few days with the game, so keep an eye out for our full review.
Despite it being a beta build, the game was surprisingly smooth with no hiccups at all. The animations, as mentioned earlier are seamless and the level of detail in the graphics is commendable. The combo system is also quite rewarding, and now you can perform them in the air too, which is nice.
Mortal Kombat 1 is still the fighting game most of you have all loved and grown up with. It brings a breath of fresh air with a reset in the timeline and the chaotic entries of the Kameos. Whether you are looking forward to the exciting storyline that it has to offer, or the never-ending button-smashing sessions, Mortal Kombat 1 feels like the start of something new.
Mortal Kombat 1 will be out on September 19, 2023, for PC, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox Series X/S.