My first date with my soon-to-be-wife was a trip to an arcade called The Malt Shoppe and then out to see a crazy action movie called Mortal Kombat. We’ve continued this tradition of videogames and action films to this day, but we’ll never forget the one that started it all. Now we’ve got 11 games, as well as a full and much-needed reboot of the film franchise. Now we are seeing a similar reinvention of the Mortal Kombat game with Mortal Kombat 1. We got to go hands-on with the game at Summer Games Fest, and wow was it impressive. This may just be the best Mortal Kombat yet, and I’m happy to say that isn’t the hype talking.
Mortal Kombat 1 is technically the 12th game in the mainline numbered series. At the end of MK11, Liu Kang has become the God of Fire and one of his first acts was to reinvent Earthrealm in its entirety. More than a story point, this also allowed the team to reset the absolutely bonkers lore and return to their roots.
While we don’t know a great deal about the storyline quite yet, we got to play as four different characters, with three additional surprise visits (or “Kameos”) from classic fighters from the original game. There are a LOT more fighters to unveil, as well as a whole roster of these new Kameos, as well as some hidden characters per tradition, but to start we’d set out as Liu Kang, Katana, Kenshi, and Sub-Zero.
What was immediately clear is that these are the fighters we all grew up with and love, but with a great deal of polish and care applied to make them more approachable, but hiding a massive layer of mastery underneath. Launching foes in the air for juggles, ripping your foes apart with powerful combinations, and using their most insane powers are as easy as ever, but now they seem to flow more effortlessly. Animations easily transition from one to the next, looking smooth and natural. With practice and mastery, chaining more of them, reversing directions, juggling into sweeps and uppercuts, only to unleash powerful fatalities to cap it all off has never felt better. And then the Kameos appear…
During our time with the demo we got to see Kameo appearances from Kano, Sonja Blade, and Jax. Kano has a swagger that made me laugh every time, jumping in with a single button press to stab my opponent repeatedly only to spit on them as he backs away, opening his arms with a smirk as if to say “Yeah, that happened — what are you gonna do about it?”. Sonja’s square-wave and pulse attacks kept my opponents rooted to the ground, and Jax’s mid-air catch to backbreaker combo was the bane of anyone who started the fight with an immediate 45 degree leap at me. There’s an extremely short meter to triggering these, but you can effectively use them at will. In fact, you can use them more than once during a combination, starting a combo with a Kameo, using Kenshi’s double to attack from both sides, juggling them upwards with a sword strike, and then catching them mid-air with Jax to slam them back to terra firma. It’s hard to overstate what a game changer these Kameo appearances can be. While they do replace the environmental attacks that occurred with hanging objects or braziers in the battle space, they very much use that same environment to bash and smash your foes into mincemeat.
If you are a Mortal Kombat fan, it’s very likely you are already sold on what team NetherRealm has to offer here, but after playing all four towers with the available characters, it’s already clear to me that they are onto something very special for this installment. Part nostalgia, part reboot, and complete reinvention, there’s a lot to look forward to seeing unveiled as we march up to the September 19th release date on Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, PC, and somehow…Switch.
Stay tuned right here at Gaming Trend for all the MK1 news, and additional capture from the upcoming closed beta very soon!
Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming.
Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter.
Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 27 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).