It’s less than a month until release, and the Mortal Kombat 1 beta, which was made available to those who pre-ordered the game, provides a taste of what’s to come. While it doesn’t showcase the story mode or all the fighters available in the video game, it demonstrates how this soft reboot may rejuvenate the franchise in all the right ways. NetherRealm Studios listened, finding the sweet spot between past and present here.
After Mortal Kombat 11, fans asked the big question: Where to from here? Mortal Kombat 12 couldn’t be a simple continuation. The series evolved after the soft reboot of 2011’s Mortal Kombat, aka Mortal Kombat 9, introducing new characters and moving past the original storyline. Yet, while these changes breathed new life into the series, they also moved away from the spirit of the original series and a lot of what made Mortal Kombat what it is. Mortal Kombat 1 gets back to basics in terms of the look and feel but with all the benefits of modernised gameplay.
The inclusion of the classic costumes of characters such as Jax, Sonya Blade, and Kano hits right in the feels. Of course, they aren’t digitised actors like before, but the character models are terrific throwbacks to a bygone era of the franchise. They look great on screen, likely to evoke all the memories and excitement of long-time players of the series.
The Mortal Kombat 1 beta’s menu screens also boast a score that’s a delightful homage to the original arcade classic. As soon as the notes ring, a grin spreads, with the first thought being: “Now that’s Mortal Kombat.”
The game doesn’t descend into a nostalgia fest, though. The Mortal Kombat 1 beta incorporates a lot of what made Mortal Kombat X and 11 critically acclaimed in its design and gameplay. The stage designs pop and add to the atmosphere – along with the ability to choose to fight in the day or night here. This isn’t simply a background for the battle, as the stage plays a pivotal part in the overall ambience of the game.
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Kameos and Kombos
In terms of the fighting mechanisms, NetherRealm Studios doesn’t reinvent the wheel in Mortal Kombat 1. However, the developer expands on a few elements. The biggest new addition: Kameo Fighters. Much like Marvel vs Capcom, this is the ability to choose another character to be in your corner in battle. Throughout the round, the main character calls for backup, and the Kameo Fighter leaps in for assistance.
While the Mortal Kombat 1 beta features four Kameo Fighters (Sonya Blade, Kano, Frost, and Jax) to test, the standout is Frost here. Her freezing ability prove to be an asset in combat, while her quickness makes her an indispensable ally in tight situations. For those who are already thinking about spamming the button for the Kameo Fighter, think again – after calling in a buddy, there’s a delay before they can come in once more.
Mortal Kombat 1 also prioritises combos – specially creating chains – encouraging players to rush in and lay mega-hit combos for maximum damage. As a result, there’s a new fluidity and freedom to the fighting mechanics to enable these combo chains. In the beta, Johnny Cage and Li Mei stick out as the two most powerful fighters on display.
Cage’s repertoire values fast, impactful, and easy on the eye moves, as he combines different types of kicks, punches, shadow abilities, and good humour to become the total package. On the other hand, Li Mei holds the rare ability to execute powerful ranged attacks as well as impossible-to-defend close-quarter combos. While it’s too early to tell, since the other characters haven’t been experienced yet, she could become this game’s Jade in the sense that players gravitate toward her because of the OP fighting style.
From the moment the first footage dropped, hardly anyone doubted the game’s winning potential since NetherRealm Studios’ track record speaks for itself. The Mortal Kombat 1 beta paints a promising and bloody picture of what lies ahead for the full release. Speaking of gore, this may well be the bloodiest game in the series yet, as both players look like Carrie White by the end of every match – and that’s not even taking the brutal (and sometimes funny) finishers into account here. It’s crimson masks and splattered attires galore!
Sergio Pereira is a prolific and recognised journalist and writer from Johannesburg, South Africa. His expertise encompasses the topics of comic books, film, television, and video games. For over 16 years, he has built up his reputation and knowledge in entertainment journalism by writing for and learning from the world's largest publications.
Sergio is also an accredited Rotten Tomatoes reviewer and has interviewed numerous celebrities, such as Andy Serkis, Ben Barnes, Idris Elba, Letitia Wright and Frank Miller. He is the author of the highly rated fantasy comedy novel The Not-So-Grim Reaper and numerous short stories. In addition, he is the co-writer of the South African crime drama film The Lifesaver. As a regular columnist, he contributes to Looper, Grunge, Screen Rant, Ranker, CBR, SYFY WIRE, IGN Africa, Thought Catalog and Fortress of Solitude.
For Sergio, all he wants in life is to see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles eclipse the Justice League as the greatest heroes of all time. Then, he will sleep peacefully.