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Mortal Kombat 1 Preview: A Resurrected Klassic Shines Bright

A PS5 code for the "Mortal Kombat 1" online stress test was provided to Zaaz by WB Games for this preview. Mortal Kombat 1" will be released on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and PC on September 19, 2023

This weekend marked the online stress test for "Mortal Kombat 1," giving fans a sneak peek into a beautifully renovated iteration of the iconic classic that was first introduced in 1992. The test offered a chance to measure the game's performance under high demand while whetting the appetite of fans of the long-running franchise. We had the opportunity to join in on the fun and couldn't be more optimistic for the game's full release later this summer. Here's what we learned.

Visually, "Mortal Kombat 1" strikes an impressive balance between retaining the classic elements we fell in love with decades ago and incorporating modern, polished graphics that enhance the overall experience even more than "Mortal Kombat 11" succeeded in doing. During the test, Sub-Zero, Kenshi, Kitana, and Liu Kang were the only playable characters available, while Kano, Sonya Blade, and Jax were on offer as the Kameo Fighters. Each character has been faithfully brought back to life, their designs beautifully updated without losing their original essence. Seeing a babyfaced Kano without his beard and Jax without his cybernetic arms were especially fun and refreshing callbacks to the early days of the franchise. The limited environments, too, were incredibly detailed, adding an extra layer of immersion to the game's mythical worlds.

Kameo Fighters: A strategic new layer in the Mortal Kombat experience

A standout feature in "Mortal Kombat 1" is the addition of Kameo Fighters. These are iconic characters from the "Mortal Kombat" universe who, while not part of the main fighting roster, can be called upon during battles to lend a powerful hand.

Summoning a Kameo Fighter into the battle is as simple as a single button press. If a certain direction is pushed while calling out a Kameo partner, they will execute a distinct attack — Kano's eye laser attack is esspecially effective. Moreover, players can weave their Kameo's moves into their own fighting strategy, allowing for seamless combos between the main fighter and their summoned ally. This combination of maneuvers adds depth to the combat mechanics, further intensifying the dynamics of each battle.

To maintain game balance and strategy, the use of Kameo Fighters is governed by a meter that restricts how frequently they can be called upon. This limitation ensures that while Kameos offer a unique advantage, their usage must be carefully planned and timed, especially since they too can be attacked, which cancels their attack.

One particularly exciting aspect of the Kameo system is that the full roster will allow for a mix of new and classic iterations of some of the main fighters. Some Kameo options represent older versions of characters from the original "Mortal Kombat." This will allow for intriguing combinations — for instance, players can play as the latest version of Sub-Zero while teaming up with his younger self from the past as the Kameo Fighter.

The introduction of Kameo Fighters in "Mortal Kombat 1" is indeed a welcome addition. It not only amplifies the strategic depth of the game but also provides a fun twist that keeps each match fresh, engaging, and nostalgic.

Masterful Kombat mechanics

The fluidity and responsiveness of the combat system are nothing short of impressive. "Mortal Kombat 1" remains true to the original's control scheme, integrating them seamlessly with some of the finer aspects of contemporary fighting game mechanics. The result is a game where combos pack a powerful punch, fatalities retain their brutal shock value, and the overall pacing manages to satisfy both long-time fans and newcomers alike.

Like any good fighting title, each match in "Mortal Kombat 1" can effectlively be won or lost at any moment. If you're on fire with some tight combos and not allowing your opponent to gain a foothold, it can be easy to take control of the round. On the other hand, one misstep can quickly snowball into disaster. It's this dynamic that makes matches all the more thrilling and challenging, encouraging players to stay on their toes at all times if they want to come out on top.

Game balancing has clearly been a priority in "Mortal Kombat 1." Each character feels distinct in their abilities and play styles, but none seems overwhelmingly powerful. The stress test online matches demonstrated a strategic depth and balance that made every win feel truly rewarding.

No stress here

Of course, the biggest focus of the "Mortal Kombat 1" stress test was the online matches, and it was gratifying to see just how seamlessly they operated. Being matched up against other online players resulted in high-octane, strategic battles with impressive fluidity. The system held up admirably under the high demand, providing stable and consistent match-ups for the most part.

That isn't to say there weren't a few wrinkles. There were occasional laggy moments that momentarily disrupted the flow of a few matches. However, given that this was a stress test designed to identify and resolve such issues, these instances were few and far between. It's clear that NetherRealm has made significant strides in ensuring smooth online gameplay, and these minor hiccups are likely to be ironed out before the full release.

In addition to online matches, players also got to explore the Klassic Tower mode during the stress test. The single-player arcade mode provided an excellent opportunity to try out different characters and difficulties. This familiar mode is a staple of the franchise, and it was great to get another taste of it during the preview weekend.

Overall, the "Mortal Kombat 1" stress test provided an exciting glimpse into what's to come, with online matches working smoothly and an array of characters to eventually unlock and explore. It's shaping up to be a true homage to its roots, yet modern enough to capture the hearts of a new generation of players.

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