Monday, April 29, 2024

Mortal Kombat 1 (Playstation 5, 2023) - Act One





We last left off with Liu Kang becoming the Fire God at the end of MK11: Aftermath. Now here we are at MK12, which for some reason they decided to call MK1 and reboot the series...again. With MK9 it was pretty necessary to reboot the series, really wasn't necessary. But I'm willing to go with it and see what they do with the concept. The idea being that now Liu Kang is running the show and can remake the timeline the way he wants it. Add in a bunch of "multiverse storyline no one asked for" because it's the 2020's, and you've got this game.

Back at the beginning of the MK story, Old Shang Tsung is now just a harmless old snake oil salesman. He sells bottles of goop that do nothing, then packs up and moves to the next town before everyone figures it out.

THIS TIME, though, a mob has formed and they want their money back!

Shang is largely powerless, with no idea that in another timeline he was a feared sorcerer.

He does have some powers here, though, and it turns out his old man form is just a form he takes to disarm people into trusting him.

He gets a visit from the mysterious Damashi, a traveler from another timeline who knows how strong Shang Tsung could actually be.

Shang decides that his time has come! No longer will he be a humble snake oil salesman!

This guy is basically the real main character of this game, and the best character, to boot. The game revolves around him and Liu Kang, when it comes down to it, which was a great return to basics. That said, they aren't gonna be able to top the Ultima Shang Tsung vs Fire God Liu Kang superfight from the previous game.

Raiden and Kung Lao are just regular guys in the new timeline, farming and stuff. Raiden has never been a Thunder God and doesn't even know what that means.

They brawl! Right off the bat, the visuals in this game are incredible, and way above everything else in the series to this point. The visuals are so good that while I kept pausing while playing just to marvel at it. Note that Kung Lao doesn't have his hat attack yet (or bladed hat) and Raiden doesn't have his superpowers.

Our heroes are attacked at their bar by a bunch of Lin Kuei ninjas, led by Smoke.

Scorpion and Sub-Zero both have slightly new designs, and more importantly, they're both good guys now.

Liu Kang plays the role Raiden played originally, recruiting people for the next MK tournament (which in this reality is a fun peaceful tourney and not Mortal at all). He picks Smoke, Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Kung Lao, Raiden, Johnny Cage, and noted yakuza gangster Kenshi. No Sonya, weirdly enough. His next stop?

Johnny Cage, seen here filming his latest flick.

This seamlessly evolves into Johnny fighting off a demon-spawn!

And that's a wrap.

Johnny is dating this gorgeous woman, and has a lot of Schmidt from New Girl energy.

His GF is pretty angry at him because he spent 3 MILLION on a samurai sword.

Some Kenshi guy shows up to get said sword, claiming that it was stolen from the yakuza. Johnny obviously isn't going to just give up a $3m sword that his girlfriend stormed out over.

Good time to mention that Kenshi in this game is a smooth customer, probably the coolest dude in the game. He's basically a John Wick character.

Their fight is interrupted by a knock at the door, and it's Liu Kang with Smoke and Scorpion. Since Liu Kang is an all-knowing deity now, I bet he waited until this precise moment so he wouldn't have to make two trips to recruit both guys.        

This would be a good time to mention that there's a good reason I'm playing this on PS5:

...the Switch version is basically a PS3 game. Also has half the framerate.

Kung Lao debuts his new razor-hat! Which was apparently inspired by his earlier fight with Sub-Zero.

Liu Kang holds a mini-tournament between his chosen fighters to see who will represent Earth against Outworld.

Johnny wants to win so he can make a movie out of it, of course.

He's hung up on that girl who left because he bought a $3 million sword. I'd be hung up too, she had a fantastic 'bod.

Liu Kang gets to play the big cheese this time and pick a winner. And that Raiden! He's returning the favor from the prime timeline, as the only one who remembers it. He also gives Raiden an amulet that gives him lightning powers, similar to what he had in the original timeline. That's right, Raiden didn't have any electricity up until now.

Liu Kang opens a portal to Outworld, which Earthrealm is on friendly terms with, and brings his team through. On one hand it's weird having them see all this for the first time, on the other hand it's kind of interesting. This isn't a retelling of the original Mortal Kombat at all, not the way MK9 did it, it's just a completely new scenario. Only real reason to have this be back at the beginning of the timeline was to un-dead all the characters they murdered up to now. Again. Maybe they should stop murdering their own characters if they want to bring them back?

Shao Kahn shows up and he's all scaly and weird in this one. He also bears a striking resemblance to Randy Couture. Either way, he's unimpressed with Raiden.

Outworld is about to be ruled by the Twin Princesses, Mileena and Kitana. It looks like Sindel might still be officially in charge until the torch is passed. Shao Kahn is basically a general, and isn't all evil like he normally is.

Li Mei (of Deadly Alliance fame) is the head of security at the palace...and Raiden's first tournament opponent! Did I mention I can't believe how good (the PS5 version of) this game looks?

Speaking of looking good, Sindel, am I right? Much like everything in this overall game, she isn't quite up to the level of MK11 Sindel.

A banquet is held where everyone from Earthrealm and Outworld can hang out and get along and stuff. It's a new era! It's #AllFriendsKombat!

Next tourney fight is Kitana versus Raiden.

So there's a ton of political intrigue going on here, to a level that 5th grade me would have been hugely into. So Mileena is next in line to fight, but Kitana replaced her because Mileena is ill. But also, Mileena is next in line for the throne officially, even though The People want Kitana, Sindel made her decision. But wait! Mileena is inflicted with Tarkatanism, a disease that makes people sometimes look like Baraka, and they're keeping it secret from the people. Wait, so they're retconning Tarkatans to not be a race, but instead just people with a disease that makes them look like that? Not sure what the point is.

Also, Shao Kahn has been talking to a certain sorcerer who believes Earthrealm has bad intentions to invade Outworld.

This leads to Raiden vs Shao Kahn in the final fight of the tournament. Kahn is super-skeptical of Earthrealm despite Raiden's insistence that they have common ground., Outworld does NOT look like how I remember.

Raiden unleashes the Superman Attack! Special attacks can be charged for extra oomph, as seen here with lightning.

With the tournament over and Earthrealm victorious, Liu Kang has a secret mission for Team Earth. Turns out that some unknown manipulator has lifted Shang Tsung out of the life of obscurity that Liu Kang created for him, putting him back on track to become a problem. So their objective is to capture Shang Tsung for questioning.

They find Shang Tsung out in the wastelands, trying to get Tarkatan bone marrow for some reason. This makes him foes with both Baraka and our heroes. Course he transforms into a random Tarkatan and escapes.

An uneasy alliance is formed with the common ground of wanting to track down Shang. Baraka knows where the sorcerer's lab is, so off they go.

This leads to a fight with Rain (like his old design more), and it looks like Kenshi has started using a sword. It isn't THE sword, though, that's still on the wall at Johnny's house.

They find Mileena sleeping in the lab, then...

...she goes rabid and attacks! Now they know she has Tarkatan Disease. Man, this change is so bizarre and I really don't get it. It basically turns half of Outworld's population into lepers.

After Mileena stabs Kenshi in both eyes with her sais (making him now Blind Kenshi), Shang Tsung saves the day by leaping into the fray and tranq-ing Mileena.

The other Outworlders show up! Our heroes say that Shang Tsung is conducting evil experiments here, and Shao Kahn is enraged at all of the "Earthrealm lies". It really doesn't look good to have a bunch of Earthrealmers breaking in here without permission and having a violent brawl in Shang Tsung's lab, which is operating above-board by Outworld rules.

Kahn also says that "the sorcerer" was right about Earthrealm launching an attack. Wait, the sorcerer in question wasn't Shang Tsung all this time?

Our heroes get hauled off to Outworld jail, as we find out that... My God. The sorcerer... Ariel Helwani?? Nope, it's Quan-Chi. He's got Shao Kahn completely believing that Earthrealm are the bad guys. So far Liu Kang's utopian new timeline is running into just as many problems as the old one did!

After Kahn leaves, we find out that Shang Tsung and Quan-Chi are in on this whole thing, and working for Kronika. Didn't Shang Tsung kill her in the previous game? But now it's a new version of both of them, working together again. Man, at this point, the MK storyline is almost impossible to keep track of.

In any case, it's imperative that the Deadly Alliance here make sure the two realms go to war, so that Kronika can swoop in and take over the scraps. To get there, they'll manipulate both Earthrealm and Outworld as much as they need to.

Good game so far, amazingly good-looking, but I gotta say it's upstaged in a lot of ways by MK11. That game may not look quite this good, but it's got a better version of a very similar story, and it's basically entirely new. This one on the other hand ends up retelling Deadly Alliance and Armageddon. Probably the one between them too. Basically what I'm saying is that this is a worse version of MK11, or at least that they aren't different enough to really tell the difference. It's what they wanted to do, and it's not like it's bad or anything, but MK11 is better.


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