Mortal Kombat 1 Preview

The reboot is shaping up to be another hit for the franchise.

by Christian Bognar
Mortal Kombat 1 Beta
Image: NetherRealm Studios

Mortal Kombat 1 is the reboot of the famous fighting game and has been the talk of the town for fans of the genre. With a recent beta available, those who pre-ordered and a select few got to go hands-on to get a feel of what NetherRealm Studios has in store for September. There was not a ton of content to play, but it was enough to give me a sense of what to expect for full release. Here are my impressions of the Mortal Kombat 1.

Mortal Kombat 1 Beta Impressions: A Classic In The Making

Image: Attack of the Fanboy

After playing the Mortal Kombat 1 beta all weekend, I can safely say that NetherRealm studios have something special on their hands. Coming off the cartoon-looking style of Street Fighter 6, I was ready to return to the brutal and gory nature that Mortal Kombat is known for. The reimagining of the first is shaping up to be a great addition, and it feels good to see that it’s sticking to its roots, not losing its personality, and still bringing new ideas to the table that work very well.

The first thing you’ll notice when launching Mortal Kombat 1 is how beautifully designed the arenas and characters are. This is the first game in the franchise to take advantage of the next-generation consoles, and it’s a pleasure to see that it does not disappoint. The graphics are excellent, and this is especially important for a game as gory as this one, as it now looks more realistic than before.

Fighting Styles and Kameos

Image: Attack of the Fanboy

I tried out every available character in my beta playthrough, including Liu Kang, Kenshi, Kitana, Sub-Zero, Li Mei, and Johnny Cage. While not all characters will please every player, each is designed phenomenally and has its own unique playstyle. Some playstyles are tuned to those who want a heavy-hitter versus one who favors a quick moveset, catering to players of all different preferences. I do think Kenshi’s animation speed should be sped up just a tad, but otherwise, each character felt great.

Playstyles are pushed even further in Mortal Kombat 1, as the game brings a new mechanic called Kameos. Kameos are where the game shines the most, as it allows you to create combos with background characters acting as sidekicks. Your base character, plus Kameo, makes for some incredible combos that weren’t necessarily possible in Mortal Kombat 10 and 11.

Kameos feel so great when you execute them correctly. It was so satisfying to throw my ice out as Sub-Zero for a freezing effect, to have Kano come in next and finish my opponent with a laser beam. This is just an example of all the possible combos when you mix the two characters successfully. The Kameo mechanic makes you feel like you’re working as a team, even if you’re the only one controlling both.

When it comes to fairness, it’s looking that Mortal Kombat 1 is going the more challenging route while also leaning toward more accessibility. Let me explain. Some combos are incredibly tough to get down, to the point where my fingers were cramping up. But, this is made fair when you’re allowed to throw your Kameo in for a hard-hitting blow with the tap of one button. This makes fights less punishing and gives you time to recover if you make a mistake and fail to execute a complex combo on the d-pad or analog stick.

Fatalities to Make Your Stomach Turn

Image: Attack of the Fanboy

“Finish Him!” These words have never sounded so sweet, as fatalities are just as brutal as past entries, if not more gory. While each character only had one Finishing move in the beta, they all were fantastic to watch (even if some made me feel quite queasy). Pulling off these final moves to rub a loss in your opponent’s face is what has made this franchise so entertaining, and Mortal Kombat 1 doesn’t lose one ounce of that entertainment.

Image: Attack of the Fanboy

The one downfall of these Finishers is that they were more complex to pull off than other Mortal Kombats, considering there was no indicator telling you how close or far you need to be from your opponent to execute them efficiently. The tutorial didn’t explain this, making me believe it’s a guessing and memory game. Regardless, this is a minor nitpick that can be easily fixed in a patch and when the final version is released in September.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I was delighted with my time in the Mortal Kombat 1 beta. I’m excited to see how the rest of the remaining roster feels in-game and what gnarly combos I can come up with as I mix and match characters with different Kameos. Fatalities look fantastic, the gameplay flows smoothly, Kameos are a brilliant addition, and it is a hell of a lot of fun to play. I genuinely believe that NetherRealm Studios has a hit coming out in September, and even gamers who don’t typically consider themselves “fighting genre” fans should give it a whirl.

- This article was updated on August 22nd, 2023

About The Author

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Christian has been a writer of Attack of the Fanboy for a year and has covered Shadows of Rose, Wild Hearts, Remnant 2, Lies of P, and more; his favorite genre is Survival Horror. He has a business degree but felt the need to take his love for video games to the gaming community. Outside of writing, you can find him listening to all types of podcasts, especially Always Sunny Podcast and Morbid True Crime.