Back in 2011 Mortal Kombat rebooted but in a way that had the previous events happen. Armageddon had backed them into a corner and NetherRealm studios taking over introduced a plot point that Raiden sent a message back to himself during the events of the original Mortal Kombat to prevent Armageddon happening. That game was epic, retelling a now altered version of the story of the first 3 games. Then 2 games later a new villain was introduced and the game ended with the timeline being reset again. With much apprehension and jokes about resetting the plot again, let’s see how they did.
It’s quite interesting that both Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat released new entities close to each other. It does lead to comparisons both in story, character and gameplay but I would like to think we as gamers now look at these and go “Oooh more fun for all” But onto the game itself.
MK1 is called that since the events of the previous game and its expansion story ended with Liu Kang, now a god using Kronika (big bad of the previous game)’s hourglass to craft a new timeline. This game explores that new timeline. First thing you will notice is just how much brighter this game is from the last few ones and some of its contemporaries. Booting up the game you get an explanation of Liu Kang making this new timeline before getting your selections. However, the first thing you should do is story mode. This is because all other modes with the exception of practice are implied to take place AFTER story so you will get spoilers.
The story is broken into several acts each with a few chapters and each chapter has you control a different character. The first act does its job showing how different the new timeline is. Lui Kang puts it perfectly “no one dies in Mortal Kombat” (that’s story, fatalities are still there) While other acts start to delve into a plot as a force works behind the scenes which leads to an interesting reveal given how the last game ended. Completing story unlocks a character but more importantly means you can now play the other modes without worrying they will spoil details of the plot.
Ok so now the other game modes. The core single player modes are Story, Towers and Invasion. Towers are your standard single player arcade mode runs. Face a bunch of opponents followed by the final boss and you get a character ending. Nicely, while other endings were non canon in comparison to the main story, it would seem each character’s ending is more like an epilogue for the story showing what’s happening with them after the main story is over.
Invasion mode is your big grind and challenges mode. It is a seasonal mode which has you run through maps as a character facing different opponents with different challenges added to those fights depending on the season such as a poison sky that will damage you if you jump too high. Playing this mode will get you A LOT of character customization items.
Each character, despite the classic joke of Scorpion, Subzero, Reptile, Smoke and such all being ninjas who were just recolours… are now quite distinct in move pools, with only Scorpion and Subzero the ones that you might, on first glance, mistake for one another (they are brothers in this timeline so they are intentionally similar).
So onto the fighting. Or Gameplay as it could be called. The fighting is very solid though there are people far better suited to say its strengths and weaknesses than I. While it lacks a simplified controls option that is present in many modern fighters, none of the special moves are too complex, they are all about 2 directions and a button press. What is more complicated is the combos and when you have 22 characters before DLC it’s usually a good idea to settle on one for the most part and work on learning all those ins and outs… I’m using Smoke. Throw in Air combos (combos done in the air) and I start getting overly headachy if I try to work out more than one at a time.
The new gimmick for this game are Kameo fighters. These are characters from the earlier timelines that you choose alongside your person who, with a few button presses, will do a special attack or other moves to aid you.
Since this is Mortal Kombat Fatalities are of course back, the cartoonish violent finishing moves that mutilate your opponent to the point you go “yeah they aren’t just unconscious”. As well as these moves you get Brutalities for your character you can unlock as your mastery rank for each character goes up… though to my annoyance and many people’s annoyance there are additional button presses the basic instructions don’t tell you unless you click advanced information… given you can’t do these moves except for the uppercut that knocks the head off without these button presses, that should have been default info. Kameo characters have their own Fatalities and Brutalities which are at least with the Fatalities a little less flashy but often call backs to their playable appearances.
Honestly my only real complaints to the game are 3 facts.
First: the final boss while not a cheap annoying fight (see Shau Khan in MK 2011) really leaves you underwhelmed, which is extra bad for story mode. You’re left feeling “that’s it? not some bit extra thing that feels like a boss?”
Second: the exp you get for mastery to unlock more cosmetics, brutalities and the like is far too small, you really feel that’s going to be a long grind. And when taken for you have to do that with EACH character… you’re probably going to give up eventually.
Third: the person they got to voice Nitara. While everyone else does a good performance here you just feel how flat this performance is. It really comes off as some guy on top demanded they get some “famous” actor to voice them for name recognition. And no, they can’t voice act it’s distractingly bad.
Obviously this game has an intended age rating as it’s Mortal Kombat the over-the-top violence has been a selling point for the franchise since day one. I’d imagine the monetization though is more dangerous than that however. Still the game is fun and Invasions should give you a good amount of things to do each season. From my friend who owned the previous game he vastly prefers those to the last games challenge feature.
The first DLC character (not counting pre order dlc) has just recently come out with Omni-man from Invincible and I’m interested to see what the rest will play like. BUT honestly, I’m far more interested in how this new setting will advance. The different Towers and character dialogues in vs mode give a fair few bits of information as to where the story will go and I want to see that. Still got a lot of DLC to come, it’s only the first year.