NetherRealm Studios had a tall order to fill with Mortal Kombat 1. As the game is positioned as the franchise’s second lore restart in 12 years, the team had to find ways to make this new era of Mortal Kombat feel as fresh and new as the storyline demanded, all while maintaining the high bar of quality the fanbase has come to expect over the series’ 30-year lifespan. Mortal Kombat 1 mostly accomplishes this goal through fun new mechanics and an unpredictable storyline, but the overall package lacks the depth needed to make this a masterpiece.
Mortal Kombat 1 picks up right where MK11 Aftermath left off, with Liu Kang ascending to godhood. As the Keeper Of Time, he is able to create a new universe as he sees fit, and his creation puts familiar faces on new and interesting paths. Raiden, for instance, is no longer the all-powerful Thunder God; instead, he is a simple farmer from a small village. Every character sees some kind of fundamental change, though some are less noticeable than others.
This results in a playable roster that features only returning characters from the series’ past; there’s not a single brand-new fighter to be seen. However, because of the game’s narrative focus, each character feels like they’re new–or at the very least has some new elements to their style–which creates the sense of discovery normally reserved for brand-new faces. MK1 takes existing names and reinvents them and it’s a novel idea that works really well across the majority of the characters, though some don’t feel as revolutionary as they could have.
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