Sunday, May 5, 2024

Mortal Kombat 1 - Act Three

May is gonna be the "finish unfinished things up" month. Have a number of things to wrap up, starting with MK.

Was wondering when this would be addressed, Liu Kang is reunited with his main squeeze Kitana. He's here on business, however, to tell her of all the treachery transpiring in her midst.

This leads to Li Mei going all "head of security" and beating up everybody.

Unfortunately things go sideways and confusion is the order of the day, and Li Mei / Liu Kang end up having to fight Mileena and Kitana.

Finally Liu Kang manages to get everyone to calm down by flexing his pecs, to the delight of the women. Or at least I presume he did something like that. Liu Kang tells Sindel to check Shang Tsung's laboratory for the hidden secret laboratory, and it'll corroborate everything he's saying. just like MK9, except in that game it was Kitana reporting it to Shao Kahn, and he already knew/approved of it.

After investigating things, Sindel now believes Liu Kang and is ready to confront the threat to both their realms. But wait!

General Shao (who isn't with Sindel in this realm, IIRC) launches an attack with all of his minions. Now they're just going to take over by force!

Things get REALLY convoluted now, as it turns out that Titan Shang Tsung (the uber-powerful one from the end of MK11) actually WON his fight with Liu one timeline, anyway. So now there are two timelines, one where he's the supreme being and one where Liu Kang is the supreme being.

Also, Titan Shang Tsung has been manipulating everyone (wait, was he disguising himself as Kronika?) into doing his bidding. So this timeline's Shang Tsung now turns out to mean well-a and gets his minions to join Liu Kang's side. He and Quan-Chi are displeased that they were double-crossed by the other Shang Tsung.

That's just the beginning though, as now Titan Shang Tsung is launching an attack on this timeline with his army of Dark versions of the characters.

Dark Sindel is probably the nastiest of the dopplegangers, and pretty much beats everybody up until Real Sindel manages to put her down.

Real Sindel dies in the fight, however, and declares Mileena to be the new Empress with her dying breath. I still can't wrap my head around Mileena being a good guy, or the rightful Empress, after so many games of her being either a villain or a rebel leader trying to usurp Kitana.

Shang Tsung and Liu Kang discuss strategy for going up against Titan Tsung. Even now that Shang is a face, he's still all smarmy.

So basically Titan Shang Tsung has a Dark version of everyone that they have here, putting them all on even footing. Shang Tsung posits that perhaps if there are two timelines, then there are others as well, and maybe they can draw fighters in from those timelines to bolster their ranks. Liu Kang isn't sure about this, as he only knows this timeline.

Things also get REALLY confusing at this point, with the story cutting between Titan Shang Tsung's forces and Liu Kang's forces. Everyone pretty much looks the same on either side, so you'll be watching a good guy version of Geras talking to Liu Kang, followed immediately by a bad guy version of Geras selling Liu Kang out to Titan Shang Tsung, then back to Liu Kang and regular Geras talking to "Good" Shang Tsung. It's a bit much.

Elsewhere, we get a break from all the convoluted timeline stuff to enjoy a simple refreshing scene: Johnny Cage flying a $30,000 drone and having a ball. He's using that to spy on Titan Shang Tsung's forces.

Titan Shang Tsung has his army hidden in these mountains, where he's trying to open portals to bring in more minions from his realm.

This includes Dark Shao, who commands the entire Dark army of Outworld. Not to be confused with Dark Kahn from MK8 who was a fusion with Darkseid. That's from some side-universe.

Shang Tsung (good guy) battles Dark Kenshi (bad guy). As if all these games and timelines and heel turns and face turns weren't confusing enough, now we have doppleganger characters on top of all of that. My God.

They recreate that one scene from...I want to say Deception, where Raiden combines his power with the Deadly Alliance to close a portal.

It's kind of cool to have the Deadly Alliance on our side for once. Wonder how long that's gonna last.

Shang Tsung battles Dark Kahn! Shang Tsung wins, finally getting him a big win over his former boss. I mean he did this in MK11 too but yeah.

He proceeds to steal Shao Kahn's soul / powers. This is totally gonna end well!

Elsewhere, Liu Kang crosses the timelines to try and find another friendly timeline for recruits. He finds one where Kitana is the Titan (AKA God) of that timeline.

This Kitana actually remembers the worlds where she and Liu Kang were together. Apparently this might be the prime timeline of MK11 before it splintered. You see, the fight with Kronika in MK11 is what caused all these separate timelines to begin with, because every time anyone time-traveled or changed an outcome in that game, it splintered things further. So there are basically infinite timelines as a result.

We get the long-awaited reunion. And that's nice, because from here on out it's NONSTOP FIGHTING.

Titan Shang Tsung finally shows himself, with his massive army in tow. It's gonna be the battle of Armageddon (just like MK7) only much earlier than it would have been before. So Liu Kang's new, better timeline just made Armageddon even earlier? Jeepers!

Also worth noting: The fact that there are two Shang Tsungs gets really confusing around this point. Maybe this game would have been better if they'd left the Liu Kang timeline Tsung as an old snake oil salesman toiling in the boondocks and let Titan Shang Tsung be the one doing all the cross-plane meddling. He could meet his other self briefly to laugh at how pathetic he let himself get, and that'd be about it for the second Shang Tsung. On the bright side, the second Shang Tsung was a great character earlier in the game. It's just weird now having two of them.

Titan Shang Tsung realizes that there are multiple timelines that Liu Kang is recruiting from, prompting him to also jump timelines to recruit all the bad guys and even things up.

So not only does Titan Shang Tsung have dopplegangers of the entire cast, he also has whatever evil cross-timeline characters he could scrounge up. Things just got super serial.

We finally get to play as Fire God Liu Kang, and he's got some insane moves. Especially his super moves (aka regular moves with R2 pressed at the same time as the last input).

He's got a Fire Flying Kick that uses up super meter and looks awesome. This dude is easily the most fun character to play as and I wish you had more time with him.

Liu Kang battles Evil Liu Kang, AKA the Liu Kang from the corrupted timeline.

There are also evil versions of Kitana and Mileena, who hold Liu Kang off while Titan Shang Tsung tries to destroy the Time Hourglass and make the Fire God timeline cease to exist.

Obviously the bad guys fail to destroy the hourglass, and retreat back to their timeline.

Titan Shang Tsung has lost this round, but he's going to come back with all the evil cross-timeline characters he can find and fight them on the field of Armageddon.

Time for the final chapter, the aptly-named Armageddon. We've got alternate-timeline versions of all the characters showing up now (which usually means female versions of the male characters). Not sure how MK11's timeline-splinters would result in completely different people being born >30 years previous, but at this point, just let them have fun with the concept.

All of these timeline clones also means that character death means basically nothing now. In any case, you get to choose a character for the final chapter, and of course I go with Fire God Liu Kang. The only options are the main timeline characters, none of the zillion cross-timeline characters who just showed up.

...seriously, where is Sonya at this point?

Titan Shang Tsung opens a portal, and from it emerges a massive army of cross-timeline characters, including Evil Sonya and more Quan-Chis than you can shake a stick at.

This is literally MK7, right down to there being a massive temple that the Battle of Armageddon takes place on.

And the more I think about it, the more this game should have just been called MK12. It's a follow-up to the storyline of MK11, a direct follow-up. When I heard "MK1" the first thing I thought was that they were remaking the original game and fleshing out the storyline a lot, which would be really interesting and probably a great game. This, however, had no reason to be called that, and calling it "MK1" just makes it difficult to Google-search for information on the game because most of the results you get are for the 1993 game.

They tried this rebooting thing once before with MK9 being called "Mortal Kombat" and at least in that case it really was a legitimate fresh reboot from the beginning (due to a similar timey-wimey reset to this game). This game on the other hand has nothing to do with the early MK games and is 100% a sequel to MK11.

At this point your chosen character has 9 battles with randomly-chosen characters from a massive, massive list of alternate-timeline fighters. Here's Fire God Johnny Cage.

I'm not sure if I'm playing as the main Fire God Liu Kang from the rest of the game, or a different Fire God Liu Kang from one of the timelines. His outfit is different all of a sudden and Fire God Liu Kang never changed outfits before this. It's all very confusing.

Here's Quantum-Chi! It's Quan-Chi...on steroids!

Evil Sonya has a metal skull-plate, like Kano. She's from a universe where SHE was the leader of the Black Dragon Syndicate, not Kano. was Kano a special forces guy in that universe? (Editor's Note: No, apparently this is just a fusion of Kano and Sonya)

You could make a zillion fanfictions off of this concept. The only real downside to it is that, as I mentioned, character death means nothing here. Characters are getting killed off left and right and it's all kinda whatever.

Which reminds me, funny that they keep rebooting the series to bring back all the characters that they keep killing off, yet at the end of this game they kill off half the characters again anyway.

Evil Sonya also wields a knife, just like Kano. As ridiculous as all of this is, it's kind of cool that they just went absolutely nuts with this game.

I also fought Kang Quan, a fusion of Quan-Chi and Liu Kang. Not sure how FUSIONS have also become a thing. Cross-timeline versions of characters I get, but most of these fighters are fusions of multiple other characters.

Here's a version of Goro that wields four of Shao Kahn's mallets. I guess this Goro is the Emperor of Outworld in his timeline.

We meet Mime Cage, a version of Johnny Cage whose biggest hit movie was Ninja Mime, so he presumably just became that character in real life.

Emperor Goro gets revenge for the movie by killing all 3 of these Johnnys when they knock him off the temple and he drags them with him. VENGEANCE IS GORO'S! HIS TIME HAS COME! ...except he's dead but whatever

Behold! It's... a fusion of Shao Kahn and Sub-Zero!

Yeah, I was right, I haven't been playing as the main Liu Kang, I've been playing as some other guy. The actual Fire God we know from the rest of the game is over here. I guess this is so that you can play as any character you want in the final chapter and still interact with Liu Kang. If I'd known this I would have picked someone else as the hero, to make things less confusing. Kung Lao would be a good choice.

An odd moment follows where the New Generation from MK10 show up as bad guys and Kitana single-handedly kills all of them, ending by beheading Cassie Cage. Her head then rolls all the way down the temple steps, and that's...the only time we see the New Generation in this game. Kinda feels like the developers were just shitting on them here.

Titan Shang Tsung makes his intentions very clear. He also briefly fights Face-Turn Shang Tsung, kills him, and absorbs his soul. So that's over with.

After defeating Female Scorpion and the aptly-named Stung Lao (fusion of Scorpion and Kung Lao) - no, I'm not making this up - I reach the top of the temple, where Main Liu Kang is already fighting Titan Shang Tsung.

This was the big uber-battle of MK11, and here's the rematch. Same versions of the characters, same power levels. Quan-Chi joins the fight and gives TSS the advantage, allowing him to subdue Liu Kang temporarily.

This allows your chosen character to step up. TSS talks like you're not playing as Liu Kang, saying that you've got no chance against him if even Liu Kang couldn't stop him. Well, this guy I'm playing as is probably a lot less powerful in-canon than the Liu Kang he just beat, so...yeah.

After a quick, one-round fight, Titan Shang Tsung is defeated, and that's that. The real Liu Kang steps up and makes TSS turn into sand as he gets deleted from the timeline. It was all a bit anticlimactic for a final battle, MK11 did it better.

After the Battle of Armageddon, everyone magically gets warped back to their timelines, and everything goes back to normal.

Cut to the heroes back at the bar, where they're having tea and talking about their adventures. I thought Johnny Cage died fighting Goro? I guess that was some alternate-universe Cage.

Johnny Cage announces that he's going to make a movie about Mortal Kombat, and it's going to be based on everything that happened. The studios and the fans won't realize that the story is actually true, but that's okay, he just wants to make tons of moolah.

Liu Kang takes off to go do God Things in the universe, knowing Earthrealm is in safe hands. He does note, however, that Bi-Han has taken the Lin Kuei and gone rogue. Maybe Sub-Zero will be the villain of MK13? That'd be interesting.

But wait! Back at the Temple of Armageddon... did no one clean up all the corpses after the war was over? No burials or anything? WTF.

Havik shows up, and he's apparently the Titan of some other dimension that found his way here with a few of his minions. He decides that he's going to cross over to the nice prime dimension and mess everything up.

So... Havik is gonna be the bad guy of MK13? Kinda unfortunate, Sub-Zero would have been interesting and new. I have no idea who Havik even is. Had to look this up, but apparently he's the lord of Chaosrealm, some barely-seen fourth realm that was only really a factor in MK6: Deception. Oh, I get it, so Deception is gonna be the framework for MK13. Makes sense, considering that

MK9: MK1/2/3 remake
MK10: MK4 remake
MK12: MK5 and 7 remake

MK8 doesn't count, so really all they have left to redux is MK6. Maybe after the next game they can go back to covering new ground like MK11 and the second half of MK10 did.

So, final thoughts on this game? Not sure if I have any, because I've pretty much covered everything there was to cover here. I wish they'd named it something else, and I wish they'd do actual modern remakes of MK1 and MK2 (maybe as budget games) with HD visuals and some fleshed-out story. Not too keen on MK13 being Havik and Deception redux but it is what it is. Even though they aren't really doing anything I want to see at this point, this was a high-quality game with incredible visuals and solid gameplay. I prefer MK11 in most regards, but few things show off the current gen of hardware like this game does. Very solid game overall. I'm glad the MK series is over, that was a long trip.

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