MK1 Story Reaction (Minor Spoilers Only)
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posted09/14/2023 05:48 AM (UTC)by
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johnny_cage_win
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02/27/2003 04:51 AM (UTC)

No major Spoilers, please! Leave them for another day! Remember, the game is only out in early access and most folks won't get to play it until the 19th. That said, there will be MINOR spoilers here, so read at your discretion.
These are some of my impressions on the storymode for MK1. When I say something negative or positive about a character, please bear in mind I'm ONLY going by story mode and not commenting on the roster at large or that character's place within it. There are plenty of good characters who really didn't shine in the storymode and honestly could've been swapped for any number of other characters and the story wouldn't have suffered or even changed much. That's a writing problem, not a character problem.
Anyways, here we go...
The Good
Edenia--I mean Outworld--is BEAUTIFUL. I can't believe how stunning it is. Good work, NRS! The attention to detail really shows and pays off.
The first third of the story is surprisingly good. Limiting team Earthrealm to only 4 characters worked really well as we really got a sense of team and who they were as characters. The first two additions they recruit to their team later on worked well, too, until they just disappeared unceremoniously, later.
You'll notice I only said 4. I'll talk about the Lin Kuei and their respective roles, later. The four I refer to are Kung Lao, Raiden, Johnny Cage, and Kenshi. Them coming together was somewhat reminiscent of the big three assembling in the first MK movie, and it was all the better for it. Their interactions were some of the highlights of the story.
Liu Kang, after spending almost two decades as either a villain or a proud jerk, is majorly redeemed here and comes across as a very sympathetic and genuine character. Hurray for that.
I can't help but add a minor spoiler here and say I'm so glad Reptile and Baraka weren't mere punching bags in this title. Both were more sympathetic than previous entries as well, to varying degrees. We've come a long ways since MK9.
The villain reveal was exceedingly well done. Let's just say that few will see it coming, even if they probably should (it's not a mystery up to Agatha Christie's standards, folks).
There were some standout characters. Sindel came across as a strong ruler capable of rising to the occasion and was portrayed with more depth than ever before. Kung Lao actually grew and learned some (but not too much) humility. Li Mei had a wonderful arc. Raiden was a bit generic but was still a fine character. Kenshi's arc was wonderful as well. And, like most recent games, Johnny Cage once again stole the show. His introduction was one of the more inspired story bits, even if much if it was ultimately a distraction from the main narrative. The point here is, the characters NRS nailed, they REALLY got right.
Whereas MK 11 tried and largely failed to make Baraka a more sympathetic character, the Tarkat stuff actually succeeded. Finally! One of the major sins of this story was not following up more with Baraka, but when he was there, you couldn't help but feel for the guy. His depiction also helped humanize Mileena, even if the writing didn't capitalize on that inherent sympathy that Tarkat provided quite as much in her case. I also mean that literally--her symptoms manifested in much different ways with much different levels of infection vs control in the two.
The Meh
Mileena's treatment was questionable. It was nice to see her new role in this timeliness, but she felt almost like a damsel in distress at times... until she wasn't, suddenly. Her interactions with Tanya gave her a little more depth, even if Tanya's role ultimately suffered because she was reduced to serving only this role, essentially. The writing was far too rushed, but I still enjoyed Mileena's depiction, overall.
Earthrealm didn't have a single female rep at the tourney? *insert eyebrow raise here* That said, the group we got was fantastic. It was just surprising to see.
Does Outworld ALWAYS have to be the threat? This one isn't quite that cut and dry, as you'll see, but why can't we have an MK where Earthrealmers have to fight off a different threat from a different realm for once? Like MK 4 was supposed to be. Maybe it's just me.
Reptile was so good, until he wasn't. I don't want to spoil anything, but let's just say they really dropped the ball with him after how well they set him up.
Shao was set up to be a warrior who valued honor and service... but we never see any sign of this? Sure, we're told that, but that's nothing. Show us, don't tell us, writers! He worked for the role he was given, but was definitely a very flat character. But then, were we really expecting much depth from Shao, honestly?
Speaking of which, Shao LITERALLY monologues what every Edenian in the room knows about Reiko just to make him seem important. Yes, it was supposed to be for our benefit, but it was addressed to Sindel and was just jarring and out of place. Too bad no one told Shao his second in command was just there as a punching bag and didn't deserve even a little bit of exposition. It wasn't BAD bad--it was just poorly written and could've been handled much better.
The final character you play as in story... let's just say I'm not sold on this either way. From a gameplay perspective, it kind of makes sense. But narratively? Well, it sucked in that regard. It was an interesting choice, though, and I'm eager to see what others think about it.
The Bad
3D Era character redemption? Nope. Almost all of them were generic, throwaway characters. Li Mei was the one standout exception. She was great. Ashrah was another they seemed to put a lot of effort into fleshing out... until they abandoned that plot thread entirely. The rest, though? Punching bags, or flat characters, the lot of 'em.
Disappearing characters--this happened way too often. Certain characters just seem to disappear and reappear on a whim in the latter half of the story. This is in sharp contrast to the excellent continuity of the first half. This story reeks of too many writers and shoehorned-in characters/plots.
Having the tournament consist of only champions was just... well, stupid. You'll see what I mean when you play it. It's not even really a tournament. I was pretty disappointed when that was all we got.
As mentioned earlier, the three late additions to team Earthrealm after the initial four disappeared much too quickly and never reappeared. The third one was barely featured at all and really didn't justify their presence in the story mode at all, to be honest. This character disappeared just as swiftly as they appeared.
Havik was the generic villain we all thought he would be. His presence and his whole side plot about his realm really wasn't necessary at all for the story. In fact, it weakened the writing. Why mention a whole realm and muddy up the plot if you aren't going to follow up on it? If they were that set on including him in the story, they should've just changed him to a denizen of the Netherealm or made him a corrupted Outworlder rather than do what they... or maybe they should've just used a different villain that didn't have the extra realm baggage rather than try to make it work. I dunno. To be honest, I never expected much from him story-wise anyway, but seeing the very little we did get be so poor was surprising.
Many of the characters, just like previous games, were mere punching bags or disappeared so quickly it didn't make sense.
Megan Fox's voice work wasn't very strong. It gave MK11 Sonya vibes, but I'd argue it wasn't that good. At the very least, not what you'd expect from an accomplished actress. Maybe she wasn't given the whole script and had to say her lines without context? I dunno. I just know it wasn't her best work. At least she didn't have as many lines as MK11 Sonya did.
The Lin Kuei honestly didn't do enough to justify their presence in the story. I know I'll catch flack for this, but once the focus shifted to them the story lost what momentum it had by switching to another group, only to have them accomplish nothing. Even the obvious Sub-Zero stuff you could see coming from a mile away didn't add anything to the story. The fact that Liu Kang didn't take them with him to a certain location early in the story and they didn't factor in again until late is demonstrable of just how unimportant they were, not dissimilar to how Sub-Zero was in MKX. Smoke is practically a non-factor, and Scorpion feels like he was shoehorn in out of obligation. Honestly, that's how their entire clan was treated. Massively disappointing. For all their popularity, Sub-Zero and Scorpion are far too often afterthoughts or irrelevant to the story. I thought that had changed after MK11, but I was wrong.
The ending was the biggest clusterf#$@ of all time. Everything devolved so quickly it was apparent the writers just lost the plot. It was jarring. In fact, I'd say it was bad. It's a shame, because the story was building so nicely until the Lin Kuei chapters, too. It really falls apart and devolves turns into a senseless punchfest. Sure, there was some novelty in some of the things we're shown, but it's horrible writing.
After the final conflict, the focus shifts once again to a small group of characters (that no one will be shocked by). I can't help but feel that the story would've been better served being smaller in scope and just focusing on that small group. It seems to me that's exactly what the first draft did, before other writers got involved. From the second the story shifted to the Lin Kuei stuff until the resolution to the final conflict, it feels like an entirely different story, and not in a good way AT ALL. The Li Mei stuff, though, felt very much in line with the tone of the earlier half of the story. MK 11 suffered from a bloated back end, too, but its writing was never as good as the early parts of this game, and it never felt like two or three different stories stitched together like this does. The beginning of the game until the Lin Kuei stuff, the Li Mei stuff, and the ending all felt like they were from a different script and the rest was crammed in, later. All of that was good. The crammed in stuff was so bad, though, that it dragged the whole story down with it. That ending discussion just doesn't mesh with the tone of the latter half of the story.
I know I literally just got gone saying it, but it bears repeating: the second half was such a let down, man. That ending scene, though, was great.
This is a minor spoiler, but the alternate timeline stuff has got to end. It sort of works for the story they were trying to tell, but MK really needs to move forward at this point.
The after credits scene promising more of the kind of action we got in the second half of the story? No thanks. If you do make story dlc, please feel free to flush that idea, NRS.
Summary
I can't believe how good the story was early vs how atrociously it fell apart at the end. I still say it reeks of another writer coming in and shoehorning in stuff and rewriting the third act. It's a shame, too, because the first half was exceptional. Hopefully others will like it more than I did. I suppose we'll see.
How did you feel? Agree? Disagree? Feel something else entirely? Let's hear it.

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JasonVPred
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... here's your Subzero, now plain zero.

09/14/2023 11:51 AM (UTC)
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I suck at writing stories but critiquing as a fan. I do agree the beginning was structurally more well done than the end. They really went crazy with spectacle which I admire taking the risk even if it wasn't as cohesively set out as it could of been. For me the ending has a specific point were I felt there was wasted potential, just there for shock value. I know it is Mortal Kombat but still.

Power levels were powerful except for one item. Liu Kang was portrayed extremely well minus one plot point which really didn't add anything to the story, just there for put up a smokescreen of "upping the stakes"; when in reality you could edit it out entirely and nothing would change; sacrificing a small sentimental character growth moment is well worth it to enhancing the overall pacing of the writing.

Those redeemed characters were fantastically handled in my opinion.and yes some disappear when their story lines are dropped when they could have kept going. really should of given us more of them by following through their journey right until the end. Callbacks are fantastic and there is one I find especially gut-wrenching watching it play out for the brief moments it showed up. Not lingered on but really pay attention to it and it is truly tragic: much praise for whomever added that part in. Overall very immersive! Fluctuates but the entertaining highs balance out the few lows written within.

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UltimateRyu
09/14/2023 06:59 PM (UTC)
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This was their chance to reset the franchise completely and they dropped the ball big time. After that ending I definitely don’t want more of this. With the end few scenes I thought they were going to set up a total reset but it fell flat completely. What were they thinking? As the OP said, set pieces and story were great in the 1st half and then everything just devolved. I like how MK can make fun of itself but this leaves little hope for anything better in the future of the series.

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Shinnokxz
09/15/2023 08:29 AM (UTC)
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What the hell is a minor spoiler in this case

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shrairyuwarrior
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PSN:athlos23

09/15/2023 07:09 PM (UTC)
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Up till the reveal of the final boss I was genuinely ok with the plot. I hated the ending

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travelingwilbury
09/18/2023 07:39 PM (UTC)Edited 09/18/2023 07:42 PM (UTC)
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MK 9: Reboot of 1-3

MK X- Reboot of 4 with good writing

MK 11-Reboot the timeline again

MK 1- Reboot the timeline and now have timelines

The writing for these games is nauseating. They keep going back to the old well again and again. It's becoming sad and tiresome. I didn't hate it, I'm just really disappointed

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johnny_cage_win
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No Cage? No sale!

09/19/2023 04:08 PM (UTC)
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I've played through the story six times now, so I want to follow up just a little bit on my initial thoughts.

I'm just sick of these stories devolving into incoherence at the end. MKX, for all its faults, handled the ending well enough by focusing on the Kombat Kids. I know a lot of folks have a lot of different feelings about them, but the story itself still made sense, even if you didn't care for it. They set up Cassie to win early in the first chapter before she was even introduced, for instance (even if it telegraphed the victor to those of us paying attention), and they never focused on too many characters or too much action away from the protagonists.

In 11, they went for bombast and tried to give too many characters their moment and it utterly failed. They also couldn't commit to their own story. I'm still pissed they undid the only meaningful character development they ever gave Scorpion just to kill off Hanzo and give us Mr. Angry Yellow Pajamas again. Not to mention getting rid of Dark Raiden the second they could just to bring back classic Raiden. Heck, they couldn't even let the story with the revenants pay off and instead brushed them off to the side just to give us heroic Liu, Lao, and Kitana again. They couldn't commit to their own story and it showed.

That's exactly what happened at the end of this game--they couldn't commit to the idea of a new timeline. I'm still shocked NRS didn't learn a thing from it and did the same thing, here. They had a grand opportunity here to scale everything back and stop with these ridiculous 'end of everything' stakes and just tell a good story but couldn't/wouldn't. If now wasn't the time, then when? I'm afraid we all know the answer to that.

I still thought the story was better than 11's, but only because the beginning was so strong. I'm really surprised I cared as much as I did, because I actually didn't like the 3D characters the first time around and honestly still don't, but they made it work. It's really a shame they bungled the ending, because this was some of the best character development we've ever gotten for a good number of the cast (Baraka and Reptile, just to name two). Oh well. Hopefully if we get story dlc they manage to tone it down somehow.

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Volcan
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whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there.

09/19/2023 11:52 PM (UTC)
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I didnt buy the game, just saw the cutscenes and gameplay on videos, and it was overall what I was expecting. Nothing was really impressive, the graphics hardly are better than MK11, the facial animations are exagerated. MK11 already had a uninteresting story that tried to close the previous games as a trilogy and changed things for the sake of it (Kenshi and Takeda hardly mentioned after being mains in X, Mileena and Baraka returning after their death, shoehorning Cassie and Jacquie as the main protagonists). This game makes use of the multiverse comic rule and changes everything established without any reason other than try masquerading the fact that the studio doesn't know what to do with the franchise.

Anyway, apologies if it sounds like a rant, I agree with most of the points above, and after seeing the kombat pack and the JCVD skin as their 'must buy' strategy, I knew it was no for me.

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sss133
09/21/2023 10:22 PM (UTC)
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Up until the reveal I was all on board. I feel the last chapters kind of made everything feel meaningless. I personally am not a fan of multiverse storytelling. I’m ok with multiple timelines but not running concurrently. There’s one timeline running that restarts etc.

I’d have preferred if the big bad was Armageddon Shao Kahn. He managed to exist concurrently because of Raidens meddling. He had all the power of everything for defeating Blaze but Raidens mk9 spell deleted everything and Shao Was locked in the nexus.

he used the power of Blaze and all the Kombatants to watch everything and found that a weakened Shang Tsung and Quan Chi were able to be manipulated. Prior Deadly Alliances wouldn’t have risked bringing all conquering Shao back. He caused the death of Jerrod, created Tarkat, as Damashi convinced Mileena to leave the palace and be infected. The souls were to travel to the nexus allowing Shao to devour them allowing him to step through timelines. He caused the outworld civil war to have general Shao do the work and then he’d kill him and take his soul.

He recreated the pyramid of Argus to attempt to absorb current timeline fighters power. Raiden is able to unlock knowledge of Shaos weaknesses and power from the amulet. He and Liu Kang defeat the Deadly Alliance and absorb their power and then defeat Shao Kahn

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