Today, we’re discussing the ranking of Mortal Kombat games. With the recent release of Mortal Kombat 1, marking a somewhat new beginning for the series, there’s no better time than now to take a look at each game that led to this moment and rank them from worst to best. The original Mortal Kombat game was a historic moment in the gaming world, pushing the boundaries of gaming consoles at that time with realistic fighters that stood out from the typical cartoonish image associated with fighting games in that era.
From there, Mortal Kombat, violent and innovatively terrifying, continued to evolve over the years, racing towards the cutting edge of interactive entertainment. As you’ll see in our list below, this evolution often led to overwhelming successes, but not always, sometimes resulting in dreadful failures.
There were movie adaptations, dramatic shows, Saturday morning cartoons, and comic book stories over the decades, but nothing surpasses the core game series that tells a comprehensive story across multiple timelines. Most of these games were fantastic and perfect for weekend get-togethers with friends, looking forward to some relaxation by tearing through opponents. On the flip side, there were also some Mortal Kombat games that were downright terrible, leaving players puzzled and disappointed.
So, without further ado, here’s our list ranking Mortal Kombat games from worst to best:
Mortal Kombat 4
After the big success of the first three Mortal Kombat games, fans were super excited about the fourth one in 1997. Everyone hoped it would be amazing, but it turned out to be a big letdown. It was the first game in the series to have 3D graphics, but the graphics ended up being way worse than before. If the gameplay had been good like the earlier games, it might’ve been forgiven, but the controls were bad, the new characters weren’t cool, and the story was boring. That’s why this game stands out as a really bad one in Mortal Kombat history.
Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe
If you’re wondering about the reality of this game, yes, it did happen! The game was released in 2008, serving as a bridge between the previous 2006 Armageddon game and Mortal Kombat 9, considered the start of the series’ modern era.
Before its release, the game gained tremendous momentum. The idea of the mightiest DC comic heroes like Superman and Batman facing off against the deadliest Mortal Kombat characters was tempting and exciting for players. However, the final result was a bit disappointing, giving us a game that was almost too tame due to its low age rating.
The fighting was mediocre at best, the story wasn’t very logical, and the brutal combat scenes that defined the series were toned down. Fortunately, the best thing that came out of this game might be the seeds it planted for the fantastic Injustice series.
Mortal Kombat: Armageddon
The game Armageddon, released in 2006, was supposed to be the pinnacle of evolution in the series and the game everyone was looking forward to due to its previous successes. Not only did Armageddon include every character from Mortal Kombat (at that time), but you could also create your own fighters to join the roster.
Unfortunately, by the time Armageddon arrived, the standard 3D fighting had become somewhat outdated, and many characters from that era lacked charisma and appeal. Additionally, the extensive roster came at a cost, as each character had two different fighting styles instead of three, which lowered the gameplay quality and diminished its excitement significantly. Despite these frustrating aspects that made the game a missed opportunity, it was still great to have a game featuring such a massive array of fighters.
Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance
When the Mortal Kombat series shifted its focus to home consoles instead of arcade games, developer Midway started thinking more about developing a suitable story mode. In 2002, Deadly Alliance arrived with three new fighters, alongside the massive reveal that two of the series’ most evil characters, Shang Tsung and Quan Chi, had joined forces.
With the implementation of diverse fighting styles and the introduction of a balanced character roster, there’s a lot to like about Deadly Alliance. Additionally, fans of the series 3D era will look at Deadly Alliance as the game that paved the way for the series to follow the right path.
Mortal Kombat: Deception
That game released in 2004 took everything Deadly Alliance did and did it better. After the aforementioned Deadly Alliance, consisting of Shang Tsung and Quan Chi, completes their mission to defeat Earthrealm, the sorcerers turn against each other. However, a bigger threat looms on the horizon in the form of Onaga, the Dragon King. In Deception, you don’t just face this monstrous enemy, you can either love or hate him, as the expanded Konquest mode gives players an insightful look into the dramatic backstory of how Onaga came to power.
While Midway could have certainly chosen a more exciting character to build a long story-driven campaign around (as seen in Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks), the Konquest mode proved to be, at the very least, an interesting gameplay experience. Moreover, the characters had unique weapons, death traps appeared within stages, and many other elements made this game stand out as one of the best in the Mortal Kombat series.
Mortal Kombat 11
NetherRealm Studio embarked on creating an ambitious and fresh experience built on the solid foundation laid by MK9. The result was Mortal Kombat 11 in 2019, a game that leaned on the authenticity of Mortal Kombat traditions and the foundations of its character universe. It introduced another set of unforgettable characters, embracing the Mortal Kombat community in unprecedented ways – in short, a love letter to the entire series.
In this game, character variations expanded significantly from the system presented in Mortal Kombat X. Each character had numerous variations that players could create and customize with different moves, abilities, and cosmetic options, allowing for more diversity. Crushing Blows, powerful cinematic attacks triggered under specific conditions during a match were added, and Fatal Blows were special moves that could be executed when a player’s health dropped below a certain threshold. The Flawless Block mechanism opened opportunities for counter-attacks when successfully evading directed assaults.
Furthermore, the introduction of defensive and offensive meters added new tactical layers to the game. The defensive gauge allowed different maneuvers such as rolling, disengaging, and amplified versions of special moves, while the offensive gauge enabled techniques like amplifying special moves for extra damage or evolving fighting combo maneuvers.
Mortal Kombat 1
The new installment of the series came back this year with Mortal Kombat 1, a game that can be completely envisioned as a fresh take on the series, starting from the story and extending to the gameplay.
Mortal Kombat is one of the few fighting game series that comes with a world, a story, and a narrative that players connect with. Mortal Kombat 1 maintains this distinctive feature, offering a story presented through the game’s special missions mode. In reality, the story in the game serves more business purposes for the series than focusing on delivering a unique narrative experience.
The previous part of the series was titled Mortal Kombat 11, and it made sense for the new installment to carry the number 12. However, the novelty here is that the game is labeled as 1, showcasing a significant and inspirational role in the story. In the storyline, we have the character Liu Kang, who has become a demigod and successfully reset the timeline of the Mortal Kombat world to ground zero. Hence, the title Mortal Kombat 1 emerges, as the famous series resets to its beginnings.
The game introduces an entirely new system to the series called Kameo, adding a strategic dimension to the existing fighting style within the game. Thanks to this system, an additional character can be chosen to support the main fighting character. Here, the supporting character can be used during combat to assist with special moves and attacks.
The system here isn’t hollow but adds a very deep dimension to the fighting gameplay. Each character has a specific playstyle and distinctive moves, and with this system, you can choose a supporting character to cover the gaps present in the main character. For example, you might use a distinguished supporting character in directing ground attacks and so on.
Overall, Mortal Kombat 1 has succeeded in delivering an excellent gaming experience, and most importantly, the game establishes the beginning of a new era for one of the most famous fighting game series in the history of the gaming industry. The game builds on the traditions of Mortal Kombat, leaving no stone unturned, propelling the series to new heights in the fighting game community. It not only offers the best gameplay mechanics but also the most flexibility in the entire series with its expanded fighting systems and different gear.
That was our list and ranking of the series’ games from worst to best. It’s wonderful to see the magnitude of evolution this series has undergone since the launch of the first game in 1992. Three full decades have witnessed numerous successes, not without hiccups and moments of failure. However, what matters most is that we still hold the same passion and love for the series, an affection for the characters of that world, and an insatiable desire to unleash more games.