MK and I have had a strange relationship for many years.
I'm not the biggest fighting game fan nor am I the biggest MK fan but every single time a new piece of MK media comes out I feel this morbid urge to at least check it out to see if it's any good. Which I've always found very funny since I don't like MK as a game and I think MK as a franchise creatively bankrupt since MK 9 in 2011 which was a much needed reboot after Midway Game drove the 3D era into the fucking ground. After that I didn’t really like any of the MK games by NetherRealm, I've still yet to sit down and really play MK9 but MK10 was alright. It's not great and as a fighting game it's kinda dog water at times but it lets me play as Jason Voorhees so I automatically like it. (Yes it is that easy for me to look the other way of glaring flaws as long as Jason Voorhees is in it.)
That story though is pretty.............bad it's pretty bad. MKX's story is riddled with long strings of what feels like pointless character exposition toppled with a shallow narrative that never knows what it wants to do or where it wanted to go, until it just ends abruptly. The MK11 came into the picture where it promptly pissed me off so much I swear off from MK from that point forward (which didn't last very long). MK11's plot is so surprisingly convoluted and poorly written you'd think Ed Boon had handed off the story to some brand new intern who only had a vague idea of the MK characters and lore and tried to have them reboot the whole series not even 2 games into a brand new timeline. Along with fighting game mechanics that still annoyed the shit out of it, really annoying fan pandering, and disgusting live service bullshit MK11 left a super bad taste in my mouth; a taste that has honestly never went away.

So, why did I play this? Well for starters I rented it from my library so I didn't end up spending 70 bones for a game I knew I probably wasn't going to like. And mostly I was bored and I was kinda interested in how Ed Boon was gonna write his way around another reboot of the series. What I got was actually something I was not expecting, I got a piece of shit video game with a piece of shit story mode that gives the MCU a run for its money, and I'm not mad. Hell I'm not even pissed I wasted my time I could've used to learn a second language or something else productive.

MK1 (dumb name) is probably the most soulless MK game released by NetherRealm so far. It's chock full of the usual NetherRealm tropes that grind my gears, stiff combat with bad impact animation, bad UI, strange picks for the roster of fighters, and a really greedy live service system that ruins fun as we know it. I'm not gonna get into how the game plays since like I said before fighting games aren't my favorite genre so I have no interest in explaining my thoughts on why I don't like how NetherRealm does their games, I'm just here to talk about the story and why I think it's dogshit.

The story opens up with Liu Kang now lord of all space and time going along with the normal Mortal Kombat timeline. He's looking for earthrealm fighters to fight in Mortal Kombat for the honor of earthrealm only this time around Raiden is the chosen one and the champion of thunder and Johnny Cage's character only exist to spew MCU one liners. Along with that instead of Mortal Kombat being a competition to determine the fates of outworld and earthrealm; it's just a friendly competition between realms where no one dies. The reason why Mortal Kombat is like this is because Liu Kang propagated the idea to Sindel the current Kahn of outworld as a way to keep the peace between realms, and if your wondering why Shang Tsung wasn't the one who started Mortal Kombat; well in this timeline Liu Kang banished him into being a snakeoil huckster which doesn't last very long when some mysterious outside force brings out the true power of Shang Tsung and this timelines versions of Shao Kahn and Quan Chi. After the Mortal Kombat part of the Mortal Kombat game finishes the rest of the story is just centered around the fighters of earthrealm trying to find Shang Tsung and stop his plans to do.......something. It's very vague but it has something to do with Shang Tsung using his powers of deceit and magic to raise an army of the dead to overthrow Sindel so Shao Kahn can take the throne as ruler of outworld and wage war on earthrealm so he can..........umm....take all of their souls so he can become more powerful and then......."flips through pages'' I..I think that's it? Yeah, yeah that was it.
The base plot of MK1 is so fucking paperthin it feels like I'm playing through the equivalent of a DLC story for MK11 rather then it's own game, or even a continuation of the story from MK11. The story is so poorly structured characters will show up for the story and then leave as soon as they show up. There is a whole chapter dedicated to Baraka and Ashrah, a character reintroduced from the 3D era, these whole chapters do little to progress the story and the cutscenes in between fights are nothing but dialogue exposition between two characters as they slowly walk through a forest or in a dungeon. I swear to god that whole portion of the earthrealm fighters hunting down Quan Chi goes on for nearly an hour and almost none of it is worth wild for the story besides reintroducing Ermac into this timeline and showing how Quan Chi became pale white which.....I didn't think needed to be shown at all, he could've just been pale white because he lives in the netherrealm which is basically hell but....okay I guess. So nothing really happens for 3 chapters besides Sindel finding out about the evil plan, Shang Tsung creates his army of undead soldiers, and Sub Zero betrayed Scorpion, and the Lin Kuei clan; causing to Scorpion to disband from the Lin Kuei and creates the Shirai Ryu clan off screen.
Anyways, eventually secrets are revealed and we find out that mysterious outside force that's been puppeteering Shang Tsung and gang for the whole game is....."long exhale" Shang Tsung from MK11. So let me break it down, after Liu Kang defeated Kronika and took control of the hourglass which is the artifact that controls all of space and time Shang Tsung (through some DLC story shenanigans) tries to take the hourglass from Liu Kang so that he can create a whole universe where he's the god of all. At the end of the DLC you get to choice which person you want to win the hourglass, obviously the canon ending is Liu Kang winning with him creating MK1's timeline; but this Shang Tsung that's been meddling with Liu Kang's timeline is from the ending where Shang Tsung beat Liu Kang and took control of the hourglass and made his own timeline where he was a god. This then opens up a whole host of new problems because now that Liu Kang finds out that their exist multiple timelines of almost every conceivable MK character beating Kronika and taking the hourglass and rewriting the timeline in their mind, creating a makeshift MK multiverse........."extremely long inhale and exhale".
Now...I don't need to be the person to tell you that multiverses are an overused trop in Hollywood blockbusters let alone pop culture, but the way this game ends......."long exhale" calling it an MCUrification of MK is being generous, in my opinion once the multiverse shit is brought into the plot it just becomes noise.
So now that MK11 Shang Tsung knows about the existence of other timelines he now plans on using and manipulating all the other "evil" versions of MK characters from different timeline so that he can destroy all other timelines so that he can becomes god of all timelines and ruler of reality itself. So then Liu Kang contacts all the good versions of MK characters across the MK multiverse and then it ends with a huge fight with all the evil and good versions of all the MK characters across all of the multiverse battling it out on the MK Armageddon for some reason. You then fight and defeat MK11 Shang Tsung where then Liu Kang who is now a lord of time again erases Shang Tsung and Quan Chi from all conceivable realities. Then it cuts to the fighters of earthrealm (who've been out of the story since chapter 6) having a bite to eat talking about how crazy the ordeal they just went through was, then Liu Kang walks out congratulating everybody for basically doing nothing since they didn't partake in the battle of the gods of the multiverse, and then he walks out and says something about the realms finally being in ending was just nothing but a cacophony of noise and blood, it felt like Ed Boon stopped writing in the later half and pulled the Steven Moffat why of writing Doctor Who stories, which is basically just banging MK toys together and making that the finale.
If what I told you sounded like a half assed mixture of random assorted MK characters and moments thrown together with tired and lame plotlines that don't even feel finished then that's exactly what it is. I can't even hate this like I did with MK11. This is just sad now. It's just an embarrassingly pathetic attempt to keep the MK series afloat when it's very clear Ed Boon hasn't had a good idea since MK9, which was 11 years ago.

MK1 is a pathetic excuse for a fighting game, it's a pathetic excuse for a live servies game, and it's a pathetic excuse for a Mortal Kombat game. The best visualization I can give you, is picture someone throwing in all the most memorable bits of classic 2D and 3D era MK into a blender, turning it into a fine and marketable paste, then slowly pouring it onto the skeleton horribly greedy live service mobile game tier game. But they didn't pour that fine nostalgic paste completely over the skeleton, they only poured enough to where you can only make out little fragments of that classic nostalgic MK you knew and loved while being drowned out by cosmetics and paid fatalities, and loot boxes, and a seasonal rpg style game and a item show and all of that AAA horseshit.
MK1 is an embarrassing, bland, and pathetic video game, and the death nail in the coffin that Mortal Kombat is a dead series in my eyes in the hands of WB Games and NetherRealm Studios.

Reviewed on Dec 03, 2023

1 Comment

2 months ago

I confess I haven't read the full review (though I agreed with everything I read and would most definitely support the rest too), but I needed to say that the "intern" who's writing the story is no intern at all, but a shithead named Dominic Cianciolo who has been ruining Mortal Kombat since MKX. I don't even know if Ed Boon has any say in the story anymore - if he even cares. John Tobias created this fantastic world and people like John Vogel were keeping the lore alive in the Midway era. All those either left when the company died and became the shitshow we know today as NetherRealm Studios or were increasingly overpowered by Dominic.

"MK1 is an embarrassing, bland, and pathetic video game, and the death nail in the coffin that Mortal Kombat is a dead series in my eyes in the hands of WB Games and NetherRealm Studios." It pains me to say this, but 100% this.