Mortal Kombat has been one of the pillar games of the fighting game community for quite some time now. The series has spawned several sequels and spin-offs, and now, after several decades, NetherRealm Studios has decided to start things over again from the top by rebooting the entire series with the upcoming title Mortal Kombat 1. Fans finally had their chance to go hands-on with the game with its recently concluded pre-order beta. After playing through the limited beta, I’m convinced the game is turning out to be everything I expected.
The pre-order beta gave players access to six characters: Sub Zero, Johnny Cage, Kitana, Kenshi, Liu Kang, and Li Mei. It also featured four Kameo characters, including Frost, Sonya Blade, Kano, and Jax, the last three notably looking like their original appearance in the series. It also featured the Kampaign tower mode,without narrative elements, and a versus online mode. It’s worth noting that as a reboot, Mortal Kombat 1 changes several narrative and character backgrounds completely and has its own unique storyline and continuity.
While the beta did not feature a story mode, it did show players a glimpse of it with its many character interactions, specifically in the online versus modes. Some characters have interesting dialogue with each other, hinting at some rivalries that may be explored in the full game, while others have dialogue that show no rivalry whatsoever and seemed more like friendly banter.
As for actual gameplay, I have to admit that I love the feel of combat in Mortal Kombat 1. Attacks feel precise and easy to execute, and moves can be chained into combos almost effortlessly and feel amazing when you do while still being challenging to pull off. Doing this with some characters like Johnny Cage, who has a moveset that’s very easy to keep attacks and combos going, is easier than other characters like Kenshi, who needs a lot more effort and precision to execute his combos due to how tight the timing for his moveset can be. It’s also worth noting the limited roster only featured balanced characters and some zoners like Kitana and Li Mei. It didn’t feature any heavy hitters or glass cannon characters, which was a bit disappointing. However, all the characters featured were great to play, and I had fun with their relatively simple movements, especially Li Mei and Sub Zero, who have amazingly versatile move sets.
The Kameo system is also the first time the series has received a team-combat-like mechanic that’s seen in many arena fighting games. After trying it out, it works quite well and exactly how I thought it would. Before every match, players will pick a Kameo character to assist in battles. With the push of a button, the character will help out players with a close-ranged attack, jumping attack, or a far-ranged attack. What’s cool about this system is that each type of attack has its own dedicated controls and isn’t just random. That’s why players can use Kameos for extra damage or for chaining combos together, and they work well in both cases.
I’m also happy to report that I had no disconnections during online matches, and the rollback netcode is impeccable so far. The only issue I had with the beta was that it did not feature a training mode, despite having a limited roster. Because of this, I could only learn character movesets in the tower mode before heading online to face real opponents, which was annoying. Beta players also couldn’t use normal roster characters as Kameo characters and vice versa, which was disappointing as it felt like a missed opportunity, but more specifically, I really wanted to play as Frost.
Other than that, Mortal Kombat 1’s visuals are impeccable, as I expected. The models are incredibly detailed, the lighting and reflections are amazing, and the motions are crisp. However, my favorite parts are the amazing arena backgrounds, which are all themed and sport intricate details, and the cool visual effects seen with every advanced move, finisher, and Fatality.
Overall, I greatly enjoyed my experience with Mortal Kombat 1. Though limited, the beta provided a great experience that left me wanting more, and I can’t wait to see what else the full game has to offer.
Abdul Saad is an avid gamer and computer scientist. He's been writing for four years on news, reviews, previews, and more on multiple gaming sites. When he isn't writing or playing the latest JRPG, he can be found coding games of his own or tinkering with something electrical.