Shang Tsung is the most exciting part of Mortal Kombat 1's story
To this day, Mortal Kombat X remains my favorite game in the fighting game series, as I wasn't as much of a fan of Mortal Kombat 11 as it seems everyo...
To this day, Mortal Kombat X remains my favorite game in the fighting game series, as I wasn't as much of a fan of Mortal Kombat 11 as it seems everyone else is. I still consider it a great fighting game, but its weaker character roster, timeline-focused story, and arduous "Towers of Time" place it at the lower end of the modern era of MK games, in my opinion.
Then came the Aftermath DLC for Mortal Kombat 11. It not only introduced highly anticipated fighters like Fujin and Nightwolf, as well as new gameplay mechanics like Friendships, but the new epilogue campaign also shed a bright light on Shang Tsung and finally allowed him to live up to his immense potential from the 3D era. Once again, it was proven that as a villain, he is far more intriguing than Shao Kahn could ever be.
I believed that Shang Tsung's impressive appearance in Aftermath couldn't be surpassed and that NetherRealm would therefore give him some breathing room. However, my experiences with the Story Mode of Mortal Kombat 1 at Gamescom suggested otherwise. Not only will he prove to be just as crucial in this new timeline as he was in Aftermath, but he has already become the most thrilling part of the Story Mode after just five minutes of screen time.
Shang Tsung may have been a mighty sorcerer in the original timeline, but in Mortal Kombat 1, Liu Kang altered things in such a way that not only did Shang Tsung lose his magic, but he also became a shady drug dealer, wearing a fake beard and pretending to be an old man in order to gain the trust of others. Spoiler alert: He fails to succeed, as evidenced by the beating he receives from an angry mob shortly after.
So far, most of Liu Kang's changes to the timeline have either been minor (what has really changed about Johnny Cage, aside from an obsession with social media?) or simply foolish, such as turning the Tarkatan race into a deadly disease and practically guaranteeing that characters like Baraka become evil due to the way they are treated by humans. Why doesn't Liu just create a non-lethal plague that makes everyone hate whoever is affected by it?
The changes that Liu Kang made to the timeline regarding Shang Tsung are not only hilariously brutal, but they also make sense. Taking away his powers and ensuring that he can never rise to power is a clever move by Liu Kang and an extremely intriguing character development for Shang Tsung, who apparently needs to find new ways to destroy the world.
Thanks to the excellent quality of Aftermath, I was already thrilled to see Shang Tsung play a significant role in the story of Mortal Kombat 1. After getting a taste of where his character is heading, I'm somehow even more excited. I'm slightly less enthusiastic about Kronika's return and the fact that she seems to be the reason why Shang Tsung turns evil again, but I'll accept it if it means seeing more of him and not having Shao Kahn as the main villain once again.
The rest of my time in the game's Story Mode didn't give me much to discuss, as it primarily focused on the new relationship between Raiden and Kung Lao and provided me with a brief glimpse of characters like Smoke, Sub-Zero, and Scorpion. However, the glimpse of Shang Tsung that I managed to catch was enough to get me even more excited for the campaign mode of Mortal Kombat 1.
My only concern regarding Shang Tsung in Mortal Kombat 1 is that he is a pre-order bonus and not part of the main roster. Locking popular characters like Darkseid, Goro, and Shao Kahn behind pre-orders has been a problem for NetherRealm for some time now, but at least these characters didn't have much impact on the story.
NetherRealm seemed to be pushing their luck a bit with Shao Kahn in Mortal Kombat 11 due to his appearances in the campaign, but Shang Tsung is one of the first characters we see in Mortal Kombat 1, and he seems to have a major role. If he is indeed as crucial to the story as the story mode suggests, it is even more concerning that he is a pre-order bonus.
Until that is confirmed, I remain optimistic regarding Tsung's return here. When I first saw him emerge from a time portal in the reveal trailer for Mortal Kombat 1, I couldn't help but sigh and fear that NetherRealm would continue to rely on the same villains in the new timeline. Fortunately, Mortal Kombat 1 seems to have enough differences with the character in this timeline, so I am very excited about his comeback and curious to see how he interacts with Liu Kang's timeline.