REVIEW – Mortal Kombat 1 reinvigorates the franchise, adding new mechanics and exciting single-player content to the familiar fighting dynamics. Introducing the latest entry, which adds new gameplay elements beyond the refinement of the classic franchise. Kameo Fighters and Invasions mode are just the tip of the iceberg. In this article, we’ll explore the deeper layers of the game and the updates that will make it even more appealing to new and returning players.
Following the apocalyptic events of Mortal Kombat 11 and its story expansion, Mortal Kombat 1 opens a new chapter in the lives of the franchise’s characters. While the series has always claimed to do so, the more time I spent with Mortal Kombat 1, the more I felt like this latest installment was treading familiar ground – and that’s not a problem.
Fierce duels, massacres, executions – this is the real Mortal Kombat!
Mortal Kombat 1 takes the already dynamic gameplay of its predecessors to the next level. Every punch, kick, throw and special move feels powerful and effective in this brutal battle of characters. Once you’ve played a few matches with your chosen character, the gameplay really comes to life. You begin to understand how to combine different combos and special moves, and the latest episode’s new addition, Kameo Fighters, is added to your repertoire.
The game’s main cast is made up of the franchise’s unique and beloved characters, who bring unique fighting styles and tactics to the screen. Strong, melee characters like General Shao and Geras will challenge players who struggle with ranged combat. Personally, I prefer more agile characters like Kitana and Li Mei. Add in franchise icons like Liu Kang, Mileena, and Johnny Cage, all of whom have impressive character designs and moves, and you have one of the best rosters the series has ever seen. The only disappointment is that one of the key characters, Shang Tsung, is only available as pre-order DLC.
Beautiful everywhere except on Switch
The graphics in Mortal Kombat 1 are stunning. The characters and environments are detailed and the light and shadow effects add to the atmosphere of the game. The locations in the game are varied and interesting, such as the desert oasis, the Chinese temple or the secret laboratory. The motion capture technology used in the game brings the movement and facial expressions of the characters to life, enhancing immersion. The most spectacular elements of the game, however, are the Fatalities, which are brutal and bloody endings to the battles. Fatalities are so creative and shocking that sometimes I can’t believe what I’m seeing. The graphics in Mortal Kombat 1 are not only beautiful, but stylish, which fits the tone of the franchise perfectly.
The Switch graphics in Mortal Kombat 1 are really not up to par with other platforms. The game dynamically changes the resolution to try and achieve 60 fps, but this often results in lower values than 900p in docked mode and 720p in handheld mode. Textures, geometry, lights and shadows are also much simpler and less detailed than in other versions. Character faces are expressionless and flawed, which detracts from the immersion. The gameplay also suffers from graphical problems, as frame rate decreases when more fighters and visual effects appear on the screen. Load times are also longer than on other platforms, and some graphical glitches occur, such as objects flickering in the background. The Switch version therefore does not offer the experience that fans of Mortal Kombat 1 expect from such an expensive game.
Bruce Lee would love it
The story of Mortal Kombat 1 is like watching a movie. The development team, NetherRealm Studios, does a great job of combining combat sequences with storytelling, without sneaking in inappropriate, distracting moments that would only set the stage for the next fight. The story has excellent production quality, with the most advanced facial animation and some of the best cut fight choreography we’ve ever seen in this genre. I especially liked the way Liu Kang tries to keep the new timeline in order, even if the final twists and turns are a bit nerve-wracking at times.
But Mortal Kombat 1 offers plenty of single-player content even after you’ve played through hours of the story. In Invasions mode, you can take part in cross-realm missions where you can earn rewards by completing a variety of challenges. Creative challenges range from simple combat to complex, multi-phase boss battles, obstacle-avoidance survival challenges, and test-your-might tasks. While I really enjoy this mode of play and like the possibility of nine hours of fresh content every six weeks, the gameplay does get a little monotonous after a while. However, I do enjoy being able to play through a series of challenges in the evenings and get new cosmetic items for my characters.
In terms of more traditional gameplay, Mortal Kombat 1 brings back the single player arcade-style Towers mode with a small package of online options. The King of the Hill mode has too much wait time when it comes to watching other players battle it out, but I enjoy testing my skills in ranked matches in Kombat League. While the story and invasion missions remain my main focus, the three-on-five matches against another player add a special tension, and these moments are some of the most memorable experiences in Mortal Kombat 1.
When the first Mortal Kombat game was released more than three decades ago, the series quickly gained a reputation for its literally bloody fight scenes and violent resolutions. The series’ signature “Fatal Blows,” “Brutalities,” and, of course, “Fatalities” appear in Mortal Kombat 1, but over time the game series has become increasingly prominent in other areas as well. For example, the game’s single-player content has become more prominent and has become an industry leader with the unique and meaningful challenges that players are presented with.
In addition, the series’ incredibly precise and tight combat mechanics are gaining recognition. Mortal Kombat 1 not only preserves these positive aspects, but also enhances them, allowing the game to continue to evolve the genre.
In other words, Mortal Kombat 1 represents not only the evolution of the series, but also a fantastic year for the fighting game genre as a whole. The new elements and mechanics that will appear in the game are all designed to raise the bar even higher and ensure that players will return to the world of Mortal Kombat time and time again.
+ Adding new mechanics and exciting single-player content to the well-known combat dynamics
+ Stunning graphics and detailed character and environment design
+ Versatile and rich single-player modes, including the new Invasions mode
– Gameplay can become monotonous over time
– The graphic quality of the Switch version is lower and it also suffers from technical problems
– Some key characters like Shang Tsung are only available as pre-order DLC
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: NetherRealm Studios
Style: Fighting game
Release: September 19, 2023.