Mortal Kombat 1 – Game Review


Mortal Kombat 1

PS5 review

Mortal Kombat 1 is the 12th mainline entry in the visceral fighting game series Mortal Kombat and serves as the 2nd reboot for the franchise after Mortal Kombat (2009) and now with Mortal Kombat 1.

While this game serves as a fresh jumping on point for new players, I would suggest playing NetherRealm Studios prior reboot trilogy since the plot does carry forward, even with the reboot, and it makes more sense when played after MK9, MKX and MK11.

Pros:

Story.

Since this game acts as a soft reboot after the events of Mortal Kombat 11 I was surprised with how much of an improvement the story was, over the mess that was MK11’s story mode.

The reinvention of the characters works surprisingly well with prior background characters or jobbers like Baraka becoming stand out stars of the new story mode and the relationship between Johnny Cage and Kenshi over the course of the game is probably my favourite character arc.

The story is more basic until the latter half but that helps flesh out this new universe and its reinvented characters that are very slightly different or radically different from prior games.

Graphics.

This is easily the best looking that the Mortal Kombat games have looked, with a big increase in the facial animations for the fighters, that is noticeable in the Story mode and intros for fights.

The backgrounds are the most impressive in the franchise, since now there is a lot more depth and detailing across the 19 stages. For example, The Living Forest stage now has the most foliage out of any natural biome, and Shang Tsung’s laboratory & Flesh Pits for the most technical details with all the background elements and hidden objects.

The new Invasion mode and Story mode also does a great job showcasing the art style with the different Mesa environments from the vibrant streets of Sun Do and the clustered environments of Johnny Cage’s mansion.

Roster.

The roster this time around features 23 playable fighters to choose from and while there are no brand-new fighters it does bring back a lot of the fighters from the 3D era of the franchise (MK4 onwards) who hadn’t appeared in NetherRealm Studios rebooted trilogy.

Since MK1 also features a soft reboot for the series, the characters this time have shaken up origin stories and personalities, but these for the main part are all well presented in the story mode and fight intros with the only main downgrade for a character being Raiden who has less of a personality in the reboot.

Soundtrack.

The soundtrack in this entry is another solid OST with more of a focus on heavy industrial music, compared to MK11 for the darker stages or remixes for returning stages, like with The Living Forest being a particular great remix that features the heavier industrial rock the more rounds that progress.

In contrast the game also has more subdued songs for stages like The Great Hall or the Tea House that make a nice change of pace, with their more relaxed themes that dial back the intensity.

Overall, every stage has a distinct and memorable theme to go along side it with no bad songs in the game in my opinion, as each fit that stage or character in particular.

Kameo mechanic.

The new assist mechanic in this game is to call in characters from prior MK games that aren’t in the main roster and with 15 to choose from there is a great variety since they all have very different assist moves that help them stand apart from each other reducing redundancy.

So, it’s a good way to get more character representation without having to spend development time to make them a full playable character, and they also have characters all the way back from the very first Mortal Kombat, up to even the more recent titles.

Cons:

Bugs.

This Mortal Kombat game has probably launched with the most bugs than any prior in the NetherRealm Studio series from broken subtitles during the story to audio not playing during matches (Both voice lines and background music).

Even the Fatalities have been broken either with their inputs (having wrong inputs or frame data) and the animations breaking. I even uploaded a YouTube Short where Shang Tsung’s Fatality broke causing the opponent to A Pose for half the animation and staying there on the end.

Shrine.

The new Dragon Shrine is the replacement for the Krypt where the player spends the currency they have been collecting for unlockable costumes or artwork.

But instead of having an open 3D environment for the player to run around in and choose which chests to open to single out a specific unlock. Instead, now it is just one screen where players offer up gold to the statue and get given a random reward.

The player also cannot offer stacks of gold to burn through their savings faster, instead it can only be the basic 1,000 koins and cannot be sped up in any way, so if the player has a lot of koins from gameplay it will take a long time to use them all at the Shrine.

The shrine just feels like a rushed option to avoid spending development time on the Krypt, by stripping out everything great about that mode and not replacing it with anything fun or interactive. Instead, just a slow single time unlock for something the player may not even care about instead of being able to choose.

Levelling.

The levelling system in this game feels so incredibly slow, making it so that it takes so much grinding either online or in Invasions just to progress through a character’s level ups to get more Brutalities or their second Fatality.

After finishing all of Invasion mode using the one Kameo character, they were only level 7 out of 15.

The solution here is an easy fix to double or even triple character and Kameo XP since otherwise it would take days of solid grinding just to unlock all combat options for one character and to not be limited during matches if you wanted to try a new character or Kameo out. 

Since the game is actively punishing you by locking you out of your full move set each time the player switches character. I would even take being able to boost levels with in-game currency since the player collects a lot and it can only be used at the Shrine, as otherwise it just feels like a massive grind.

Combos.

Combos in this game do a lot more damage compared to prior games, that feels too punishing, and they take a long time to complete each combo or string, making every online match so slow when either player just continually juggles the opponent in a combo string.

I would prefer the animations be sped up, so the player isn’t locked into a 15 second+ combo when the Combo Breaker doesn’t work due to the inputs glitching.

Invasion mode bloat.

The player goes through multiple worlds per each Invasion season but on those maps the player is limited to only 1 playable stage during the fights.

The player will also fight the same 4-5 NPCs on each map making it feel a slog to get through since there are upwards of 20+ fights, even when the player is only doing the critical path and ignoring all the side events and chests.

The game also heavily relies on giving the opponents Super Armour on every attack, so the player can’t interrupt their attacks or do meaning damage to them until they are out of it. This makes every fight a chore to get through as you slowly chip away at the enemy HP and spam throws since the Super Armour doesn’t protect against them.

With the towers on the maps, they include de-buffs that make them boring or annoying, for example, later towers have black mist that cause the players character to have a coughing fit every 5 seconds, that when combined with enemy Super Armour is extremely annoying. It can also have a seizure effect where the screen goes from pure black to bright light that even I found hurt my eyes while playing and had to take a break afterwards.

Invasion mode would have been a lot better if the maps were streamlined, with less waiting around in matches due to the enemy Super Armour or de-buffs and how slowly the player runs across the giant maps feels like it takes 5 minutes just to cross if they aren’t interrupted by the annoying Ambush fights that pop up every couple of nodes.

Cut content.

Gone is the Mercy mechanic giving your opponent more life at the end of a match to make online fights more intense. The friendships were another alternative way to end fights instead of the regular Fatality or Brutality, that brought back some light-hearted fun and variety in a match compared to the Fatality that the player is locked to until they spend several hours grinding a character’s level just to unlock more Brutalities and the one other Fatality.

One cut feature that I found strange was the interactive environments from the prior games have been completely cut, making it so that every stage just feels like the same 2D straight line with a different background. The player can’t even perform a stage Fatality too so there’s even less to do during a fight that helps them stand out from each other.

Online multiplayer connection.

The online fights I have experienced have all had terrible lag from my opponents, and I kept getting matched up with players continuously instead of new opponents.

The game also had a frequency to crash after online matches either to the PS5 home screen or just to have a continuous black screen that forced me to manually shut down the game and to restart it.

Conclusion:

A step up for the story single player but a downgrade in most other areas and has a host of glitches that needed to be ironed out before launch to help this game stand alongside the other NetherRealm Studios games.

Also due to the other reports I would advise players to avoid the Nintendo Switch port, as that version of the game has a lot more issues with it.

Score: 7.8

Reece Imiolek
Anime Amigo and Nerd Consultant

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The Next Axia10th July 2024
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