Review: ‘Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe’
Crossovers are nothing new to comics. Who could forget when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles found their way into a GrimJack book, or when the Punisher visited the Archie Universe? Well, apparently, they can cross into game universes too. As if to answer the challenge put up by Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter over almost 11 years ago, Midway has released Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Building on the series’ newer 3D fighting mechanics, the new title boasts a refined move set, two separate storylines, three new kombat modes, and, of course, a new roster featuring DC’s mightiest heroes and villains. So how does the game fare? Read on…
So, how would the DC characters find themselves caught fighting the kombatants from Earthrealm? Well, due to several well-timed attacks during battles, both Superman and the lightning God, Raiden, cause a tear in each universe that cause their worlds to collide (and their greatest foes, namely Darkseid and Shao Kahn, to conjoin). These events are played out in both ends of the story mode, which you can play either from the DC perspective or the MK point of view. In this mode, players don’t choose their characters. Rather, as the chapters in the story progress, the character they control is swapped out as the story focuses on each new fighter. This allows the players to get a good handle on several different fighting styles, as well as the differing angles and roles each character has in the story.
Playing the story mode is where fans of DC will really get the most enjoyment out of this title. As focus shifts from hero to villain, other characters flesh out the story and interact with whomever you play as, either in battle or in aid. And honestly, as hokey as the story sounds, the excellent cut scenes really make it work within the confines of what we know about these characters. So how are characters like Liu Kang and Scorpion able to put the beat down on Superman and Captain Marvel? Well, as the worlds collide, they take on each other’s properties. Since the world of Mortal Kombat is a magic-based realm, and Superman is susceptible to magic…yeah, you can kick Kal-El’s ass. This also makes our heroes a bit more aggressive…the rage builds within them and the urge to fight grows, making each character stronger and more brutal. This “Rage” is built up over time in battle, and is unleashed as a yellow aura around the character that strengthens attacks and allows you power through your opponents’ hit,not allowing them to knock you back.
The graphics are one of the shining points of the game. Each hit, each bludgeon, each attack raises bruises, tears costumes, and generally looks about as brutal as it can get. This is exemplified with MK vs. DC’s newest features; Test Your Might, Klose Kombat, and Falling Kombat. On certain levels, a throw of your opponent sends them tumbling through the air as you attack them in mid-air. As you press one of the four controller face button to attack, you build up a special meter. As the meter fills, pressing the right trigger allows you to slam your foe to the ground using a super move, and causing up to 30% damage. Of course, your opponent can reverse the attacks by pressing the very same button you press for your attack, effectively blocking your move. Klose Kombat works just about the same way; you grab your attacker, and as the camera zooms in (to see the bruises and costume tears) you press the face buttons to attack, and your moves can be stopped by your opponents press of the same button. Finally, Test Your Might takes the same principle of Falling Kombat, but rather than aerial battles, you run your foe through several walls while mashing on the buttons in a sort of tug-of-war battle with the other player to see how much damage you can cause.
One thing long time fans of the MK series will note is that there are none of the traditional fatalities in the story mode. Considering every character is vital to the story, killing them off wouldn’t allow the story to advance. Plus, considering its DC and not Vertigo, you’re not likely to see the heroes killing anyway. In arcade mode, the DC heroes perform “Heroic Brutalities”…basically moves where they beat their opponents to a pulp. The villains, however, yeah…they kill. Joker is especially brutal. Still, considering the game’s Teen rating (stipulated by DC not wanting their characters in an M rated game) the fatalities aren’t nearly as gruesome as they have been in past years.
All the fighting moves are traditional to the character’s style: Batman is a brawler, Deathstroke is a trained fighter, Flash’s speed allows for some killer fast combos, etc. The way each character performs in battle, from their special moves (Green lantern’s power ring, Captain Marvel’s lightning attacks), to their reactions (how the Joker laughs at his own tricks), it all feels accurate. Well, as accurate as a comic book based game can, anyway. For Mortal Kombat fans, it’s as good as the fighter has been in years. For DC fans – well, it’s the best game to feature DC licensed characters in…almost EVER. Solid fighting mechanics, great character selection, sharp graphics and an entertaining story make for one great game. Highly recommended.
Ian Bonds is a video game retailer and comedian from Baltimore, MD, and his favorite characters were Scorpion, and the Joker. Once his Xbox is fixed, you can catch him online as Insane Ian B.