Mortal Kombat 1 Review Roundup: A (Mostly) Flawless Victory

Mortal Kombat 1 Review Roundup: A (Mostly) Flawless Victory

The Mortal Kombat 1 review embargo broke this morning, with early access beginning tomorrow (3 AM AEST for Australians) – and so far, it looks like the next installment in the iconic fighter franchise has had an almost clean sweep of very positive reviews.

Many outlets have thus far only produced reviews-in-progress due to a 36-hour turnaround following delivery of review code. Most, rightly, decided that trying to cap off an entire Story Campaign, training, settings and tutorials, online multiplayer and live service elements to coverage on a deadline that tight would be ill-advised. Thankfully, the early buzz is good — even those who’ve filed unscored Mortal Kombat 1 reviews have had mostly positive things to say about the story, cinematic quality, and grisly combat. 

Kotaku Australia shared our first impressions for the Beta test recently and said the game seemed “content to stay the course, making its setting and story the crux of its changes and letting its time-honoured fighting mechanics speak for themselves,” but overall felt positive about the direction it was heading as it neared release.

Some have called the game the “most complete Mortal Kombat so far,” while others have praised refinements to core gameplay over thirty years in the making. So far, criticism for aspects of Mortal Kombat 1 have mainly been levelled at the Test Your Might sequences and approach to unlocking characters and Fatalities through the grind-intensive Invasions and levelling. 

Mortal Kombat 1 sits at a comfortable 85 on Metacritic and 86 on OpenCritic, although these appear to be made up of mostly console and PC reviews only thus far, and will likely change as reviews for Nintendo Switch and more finalised review scores come through as critics get more time to experience the title in its entirety.

Let’s take a look at what reviews are saying about Mortal Kombat 1 locally in Australia and around the globe.

The Aussies

GamesHub’s Edmond Tran gave it four stars for his review-in-progress, saying “Based on my first dozen hours with Mortal Kombat 1, it’s proven itself to be a remarkably refined and confident instalment of a series that had already secured its strong, unique, and entertaining identity long ago. The story campaign is an entertaining journey, its foundational fighting mechanics remain strong, and the game’s focus on wide-ranging approachability and accessibility must be applauded. I’m certainly very motivated to stay with it for a while yet.”

Stevivor’s review was unscored with a focus on the Story mode, which Steve Wright called a “mixed bag,” saying, “this is a reboot as much as it is a sequel, with both positive and negative connotations.”

Press Start gave the game a 9.5, saying “Mortal Kombat 1 is a joyful reinvention of a series that is continually hitting its stride. A strong and varied roster is bolstered by an ingenious Kameo system that offers up a great degree of player flexibility unlike anything else. While it’s a bit of an odd choice to not have crossplay at launch and the approach to gear is bound to be divisive, Mortal Kombat 1 feels like the most complete Mortal Kombat experience so far. And perhaps even one of the best fighting games I’ve ever played.”

Mortal Kombat 1
Image: NetherRealm Studios / WB Games

The rest of the world

IGN’s review in progress was unscored, with review Mitchell Saltzman saying “so far, the Kameo system and smart changes to the fighting make Mortal Kombat 1 feel fresh and exciting, the story mode is predictably great, even if Invasions seems like more of a grind than I’m willing to put myself through to unlock the best cosmetic items.”

VG247 awarded the game 4 stars, and said “Mortal Kombat 1 is a generally positive step in a new direction. I find myself frustrated with Liu Kang’s decision to allow live service DNA to creep into his new universe, and I long for some of the features left behind (like the Krypt). Mortal Kombat 1 sets the stage for a new era of MK that you can’t help but get pumped up for. NetherRealm, like the characters in its ultraviolent universe, is staring right into the face of a brave new world and locking eyes with the future. Keeping those eyes in its head, though, may remain a challenge.”

Video Games Chronicle (VGC) gave it a whopping 5 stars, saying “Mortal Kombat 1 is the best Mortal Kombat game to date. It looks stunning, has a brilliant Story mode, its new Invasions mode will keep solo players busy and, above all else, it’s an absolute joy to play. Thoroughly essential for die-hards, lapsed fans and newkomers.”

ScreenRant gave a more muted 3.5 stars, saying “As someone’s first Mortal Kombat game, Mortal Kombat 1 is a perfectly adequate but not ideal place to start (that would still be Mortal Kombat 2011). For returning players who just want to see their favorite characters again, or for anyone itching to hear Johnny Cage come up with great jokes like “Reminds me of a terrible B-movie I was in called The Flesh Pits,” while walking around a room that looks just like the old MK level The Flesh Pits, this game will be a must-buy. If you were hoping to see The Great Kung Lao of myth, however, or an entirely new cast of characters, Mortal Kombat 1 isn’t essential, and brings very few truly new ideas to the table.”

COGConnected awarded the game a rousing score of 90 out of 100, and said “Mortal Kombat 1 refines and improves on its solid foundation to deliver a devastating tag-team blow. The Kameo system opens up new possibilities which allows you to experiment with offensive and defensive maneuvers. In terms of single-player content, the story mode kicks ass and Invasion gives you the incentive to keep playing. With its solid online net code and wonderful tutorial, Mortal Kombat 1 is a flawless victory.”

CGMagazine’s Justin Wood gave it a 9/10, saying “Mortal Kombat 1 is an excellent entry point for newcomers and returning fans. It outshines every previous Mortal Kombat in almost every way, with intuitive controls and interesting modes. NetherRealm cranks the gore up to 11 and I can’t wait to see what else they have in store for us.”

Bloody Disgusting gave the game 4.5 stars, saying “Mortal Kombat 1 feels like a return to form for the series while pushing it in new meaningful directions. It’s the perfect entry point for newcomers and long time fans of the series. It’s for die-hard fighting game fans with its combat depth, but also for the single-player looking for a ton of content. Mortal Kombat 1 is a game I absolutely love and can’t wait to enjoy for years to come. With no doubt in my mind, this is the best Mortal Kombat game since the 2011 reboot. Rejoice, Mortal Kombat fans. The golden age is upon us.”

It looks like so far, Mortal Kombat 1 is mostly capturing the hearts of critics and delivering on all the promised gore and guts (and then some) with a storyline that has been mostly praised for reimagining iconic characters – albeit with some criticisms for not reinventing the wheel.

As time passes and more reviews flood in, we’ll likely begin to get a bigger picture of everything the fighter game is offering, although given early access begins tomorrow, players will soon be able to make up their own minds on whether this new installment is indeed a flawless victory, or another fatality.

Lead Image Credit: NetherRealm Studios / WB Games

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