When Mortal Kombat 1 was officially announced last month alongside a confirmed release date, I was filled with both excitement and confusion. Having previously reviewed Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath, I knew that the timeline would be reset by Fire God Liu Kang but I still had lingering questions on how they would connect certain characters or storylines from the previous game to this new entry while also keeping their signature gameplay formula fresh.
After spending hands-on time with the game yesterday, I’m not only pleased to say that some of my questions have been answered but also that Mortal Kombat 1 is firmly on track to be another flawless victory for NetherRealm Studios and the popular fighting game series as a whole. Here are more of my thoughts on the demo preview event and why this latest blood-soaked entry should stay on your radar.
It Has Begun…Again
As I mentioned above, Mortal Kombat 1 takes place within a new era timeline created by Fire God Liu Kang. As a result of this, all of the key characters have been reimagined, some of which will have completely different personalities, motivations, and roles than previously depicted. While the newly released gameplay trailer did tease some bits of the storyline, NetherRealm reps assured us that there are even more surprises to look forward to once we explore the full campaign.
The demo preview event started out with a brief introduction of the playable characters and their unique Kameo fighting partners in action. The four playable characters were Fire God Liu Kang, Kenshi, Kitana, and Sub Zero. The three Kameo fighters included Kano, Jax, and Sonya Blade.
It’s worth noting that there are two character selection screens where players will be able to choose a Kameo partner after selecting their main fighter. As expected, there were a ton of open roster spots on both selection screens and even though we know who some of these other fighters already are based on trailers, there’s still a ton of other character reveals on the way in the weeks and months ahead.
Mortal Kombat 1 is different from the previous installments in the series because of the introduction of Kameo fighters and how much they can impact the outcome of every battle. For my first tower matchup, I paired Kenshi with Jax which proved to be wildly successful. By simply pressing R1 on the PlayStation 5 controller, I was able to summon Jax whenever I wanted to deal more damage to my opponent. Not only are these attacks extremely effective but they also can be chained together with any combo, x-ray, or throw that your main character is executing at the same exact time.
The Kameo Effect
In addition to using special attacks, Kameos can also do fatalities once the Finish Him/Her screen appears. In my session, I did a Jax fatality called The Big Boot where he grows into a giant and squashes the opponent with his oversized foot. This fatality and many others are considered callbacks to their fighters and their deadly abilities in previous games which will be very nostalgic for longtime fans of the series.
Speaking of nostalgia, you’ll also notice that many of the Kameo characters will appear younger and wear throwback outfits that they had in previous games. This is one aspect that confused me at first until I saw some of the fatalities and realized this is all fan service to those who have been loyal supporters since day one. When thinking about things from this perspective, now it definitely makes me excited to see what other callbacks we will see once the final product drops.
Brutally Satisfying Kombat
Rounding out the demo experience, two other important things that I wanted to mention are centered on gameplay and graphics. Simply put, Mortal Kombat 1 is incredibly satisfying and feels exactly like Mortal Kombat 11 with the addition of a refined air combat system introduced in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon. For this reason, combat feels even more fluid and faster than ever before which greatly raises the stakes and intensity of every fight.
From a graphical standpoint, NetherRealm has approached every aspect of this game with painstaking detail and essentially is creating their best-looking title to date. The seamless transition from cutscene to gameplay is very impressive and at times it’s very hard to tell a clear difference between the two. These insane visuals carry over to the gory fatalities that while gruesome in nature are extremely beautiful to look at. If you have already seen Fire God Liu Kang’s fatality and how masterful that is then you have a very good idea of how creative and visually stunning the other fatalities will be. Below are a few additional pictures from the event.
While my time with Mortal Kombat 1 was brief, I’m absolutely floored by what I have seen so far. I still have a ton of questions and feel very confident that Ed Boon and his team will reveal all of these answers in due time. If you’re a fan of the series or thinking about becoming one, now is definitely the best time to dive into the series.
Mortal Kombat 1 launches worldwide on September 19th, 2023 for Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Are any of you planning on picking it up? Please feel free to let us know in the comments section below.