Mortal Kombat 1 First 17 Minutes Story Analysis: So Far So Good?

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Mortal Kombat 1 First 17 Minutes Story Analysis: So Far So Good?

The weekend has passed, and hopefully, you've checked out the first 17 minutes of Mortal Kombat 1's Story by now.

I've watched it a few times and had some questions, concerns, and thoughts I'd like to share about it.

Shang Tsung is ALIVE…….and?!

From sorcerer to snake-oil salesman. Shang Tsung has fallen on hard times.
Image Source: NetherRealm Studios and IGN

Chapter 1 begins with a man pitching a supposed miracle potion to residents of Outworld. He's your average snake-oil salesman, and after a villager who purchased one of his potions called him out on his lies, the salesman gets an Outworld beatdown for being a phoney. Fans of the franchise can tell from this man's diction alone that he sounds a lot like Shang Tsung.

And surprise, surprise, it is. Somehow managing to be alive in Liu Kang's New Era, this Shang Tsung isn't a deadly sorcerer. He's no sorcerer at all. He's a con man who puts on makeup to disguise himself as an older man, as it lets him peddle his wares more easily. 

The New Era's Shang Tsung is very young, and, so far, there's no confirmation yet whether, like other characters, prime Shang Tsung now exists in the present era (In the previous timeline, he'd been alive for many centuries by the time of the events of Mortal Kombat 9) or if this part of the story is just a flashback. 

As Shang Tsung licks his wounds on his merchant cart, a familiar face approaches him: Kronika.

It would appear that Kronika is back in the New Era.
Image Source: NetherRealm Studios and IGN

Sporting a new nun-like outfit, Kronika appears before Shang Tsung, offering him a life where he could be much more than a sleazy merchant. This part of the story ends with Shang Tsung's frown turning upside down into a classic supervillain grin. 

Shang Tsung and Kronika are two characters I did not expect to see again (Or at least not so soon). The popular fan theory so far is that this “Kronika” is actually Damashi. Onaga is the only remaining big bad NetherRealm has yet to touch, and characters reference him in numerous intros, so it's possible. We'll have to see where NetherRealm goes with this. 

One thing I will say is kudos to the new voice cast. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa and Jennifer Hale do not voice Shang Tsung and Kronika in Mortal Kombat 1. But the new voice cast does an outstanding job matching how their predecessors voiced the characters in Mortal Kombat 11. 

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Kung Lao finally gets to win?!

Time has not been kind to Kung Lao in the NetherRealm Era. 

  • Neck snapped by Shao Khan in Mortal Kombat 9, and doomed to life as a revenant after Scorpion killed Quan Chi in MKX
  • Is disrespected constantly in MKX, referred to as Liu Kang-lite, and becoming the butt of even more jokes in MK11
  • Gets thrown into the Sea of Blood in MK11 Aftermath and presumably dies (Unless his pointy hat also functions as a flotation device)
  • Brutally murdered by Shao Khan in Battle of the Realms animated film
  • Killed by Shang Tsung in live-action Mortal Kombat movie

I don't know what Kung Lao did to people these past 12 years, but someone (Or someones) does not like Kung Lao. When I say I wish he caught a break, the one Shao Khan gave him in MK9 is not what I had in mind. 

Luckily for Kung Lao fans, if the first chapter of Mortal Kombat 1 is any indication, Kung Lao might finally be getting a real break and some real respect. 

It looks like Kung Lao might actually get to be a winner in the New Era.
Image Source: NetherRealm Studios and IGN

Kung Lao and Raiden are both residents of Fengjian and, in their spare time, train in martial arts under Madame Bo. During Chapter 1, Raiden and Kung Lao decide to have a best 2 out of 3 to determine who pays for dinner at Madame Bo's teahouse. The camera then shifts to Kung Lao's perspective, confirming the first chapter is his (Score!) and that he wins the fight against Raiden (Double score!)

After Kung Lao wins, he confirms that Raiden has yet to beat him even once (Triple score!!!). Granted, this is a Raiden who doesn't have his lightning powers yet (And Kung Lao has also yet to undergo all of his training), but still. It looks like Kung Lao finally gets to be a winner, for once.

But perhaps too much?

Kung Lao solos the Lin Kuei?!

Kung Lao "defeats" the Lin Kuei in Chapter 1, but not really.
Image Source: NetherRealm Studios and IGN

The rest of the chapter revolves around a conflict between the Lin Kuei and Madame Bo. They want Bo to start paying them protection money. She refuses, loses to Smoke, and the Lin Kuei begins trashing her teahouse. Bo's students, Kung Lao and Raiden, immediately rush to her defense, and Lao manages to defeat Smoke, Scorpion, and Sub-Zero. 

And this did not go over well with a lot of fans. And I totally understand. 

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Not only does it make zero sense that an inexperienced Kung Lao could defeat three top Lin Kuei, including the clan's Grandmaster, but it also makes the Lin Kuei look pretty weak. If they lost to a half-trained farm boy, how could anyone take them as serious combatants?

Luckily, we already know this combat encounter isn't what it seems. 

Mortal Kombat 1 Chapter 1 is just a test for Kung Lao and Raiden.
Image Source: NetherRealm Studios

The first 17 minutes of Mortal Kombat 1's Story Mode ends after Kung Lao defeats Sub-Zero. If fans go back and check out the first Gameplay Debut trailer, we already know how this chapter ends. In that first Gameplay Debut trailer, Fire God Liu Kang congratulates Raiden and Kung Lao for passing the test and proving themselves as worthy champions. 

This entire scenario was no doubt set up by Liu Kang, the Lin Kuei, and Madame Bo to test Lao and Raiden. Or did fans really think Protector of Earthrealm Liu Kang would sit idly by and watch the Lin Kuei extort and beat up an old lady?

I do hope that after Chapter 1, one of the Lin Kuei Kung Lao “defeated” challenges him to a rematch and soundly beats him. Lao's defeat should spur him to take training more seriously. Liu Kang knows as well as anyone how Lao's tendency to slack on training and his overconfidence can be his own undoing and prevent him from achieving his full potential. Surely he'd do something about this in his New Era?

A New Era and a Fresh Slate

Some things change, and some look like they will stay the same in the New Era. The first 17 minutes are enough to get fans excited for the rest of the story, but it doesn't have enough meat for me to judge what's to come just yet.

Mortal Kombat 1 is similar to Bethesda's taking on the Fallout franchise. Bethesda played it safe with Fallout 3 and took a fair bit of inspiration from previous games in the series before doing more of their own thing in Fallout 4. NetherRealm did change things up quite a bit with MKX, but Mortal Kombat 1 will be the first game where the Mortal Kombat story will truly be entirely their own (For better or worse).

Stay tuned for more Mortal Kombat 1 content as we inch closer to its September 19 release. The final roster reveals should be coming soon!

Mortal Kombat 1 First 17 Minutes Story Analysis: So Far So Good?
Xavier Geitz
When not busy writing about Esports, the latest and greatest digital gaming deals, and reviewing video game, you can find Xavier wandering Morrowind's Telvanni Coast, tirelessly petitioning for a Timesplitters 2 remake, or trying to understand the Concept of Love.