Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe ReviewJason Leyanna
Mortal Kombat has a reputation for being over the top with blood, gore and violence. It was one of the first games to gain notoriety for that back in the mid-90s with the release of the arcade version of Mortal Kombat. Midway has tamed Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe down enough to acquire a Teen rating from the ESRB instead of their usual Mature rating. The new game now lacks some of the overly brutal and gory scenes that Mortal Kombat aficionados have become used to. Surprisingly, this doesn't make the game any less enjoyable. The game still manages to have some blood spatter when punches are thrown, but not excessively so.
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe pits the legendary Mortal Kombat characters against the iconic DC comic characters. There are 10 characters on each side, with a total of 20 playable characters, each with newly designed renders. There is the option to fight only Mortal Kombat characters, only DC characters or a mixture of both as you play up the ladder. This is a nice addition for die-hard fans of either franchise. Scorpion retains his classic, "Get over here!" with his spear. Sub-zero is back, albeit without his spine-rip fatality. Some fatalities actually do exist, but they are toned down a bit. Some of the "good guys" have "Heroic Brutalities" instead of fatalities. A few characters have guns and weaponry of sorts, such as Jax. When the round ends, he shoots up the screen, and you see the broken glass on the screen; that effect is cool. The characters do show some types of damage as the fights ensue. Certain parts of the body may become battered and bruised or bloody. The Joker is more of a humorous character and breaks up some of the more serious nature of the game with comic relief. The sub-bosses are Shao Kahn and Darkseid (each on their respective side) and the final boss is Dark Kahn, who is a merged version of the two - as the realms have merged.
Some of the fight mechanics remind me of the days of Mortal Kombat 4 and Mortal Kombat Gold. Some of the swinging punches and flying kicks are quick and not quite as flowing in their movements. I'm not sure if this is good, bad or indifferent. Thankfully there is still full 3D movement for the characters, as you aren't restricted to 2D like the older games. Although the move sets of each character are smaller than some of the previous games, the characters still have their signature moves. This is sufficient for what you will need to progress through the game. Players that want to button mash may be able to do so as well. Sometimes you can keep using the same move repeatedly and not have it be blocked, though it may be a bit more frustrating trying to go this route. Be forewarned that this can't be counted on all the time. Counters are now an integral part of the game. If you have the timing right, you can block an incoming combo.
Midway has attempted to innovate with the gameplay elements, but the new features are hit and miss. Freefall kombat is new and allows up to thirty percent damage. The key is to be the one that is the aggressor at the time you hit the ground. The victor will not lose any health, while the opponent can lose up to thirty percent. This is quite a chunk of health, but players can turn the other player around mid-air to dominate. Freefall combat isn't as fun as I would have hoped, but I give the team at Midway credit for trying to add an innovative feature to the gameplay. "Test your Might" makes a comeback mid-gameplay where you have to press the buttons as fast as you can. This is harder to do on the Xbox 360 controller than it was back in the arcades, but still it is possible. Rage is another addition that switches things up in the game, keeping you on edge as to who really has the advantage. Once the bar is full you can press the trigger buttons to unleash a fury like no other while you are virtually unblockable. It is best to avoid the opponent while they are utilizing their rage, otherwise a tremendous amount of damage can be inflicted in a short time frame.
The story mode details the process of the realms merging. During this mode you take on different characters and slowly get filled in on what is really going on. This mode has nice cutscenes where the characters mouths move and the voice acting is quite good. As for the character endings, you get a nicely voiced description along with static art. I would have liked to see cutscenes here a well, but that would have taken much more time for the team and less time to perfect the fighting portions. There are also static images from the story mode that are shown while you have to wait for the game to load. The load times are tolerable except for when you have to load to get to each different menu.
If you are a fan of either series, be sure to try Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe and play some nostalgic multiplayer that packs a punch. Or if that isn't for you, there is always the single player option. It is not very often that you get to determine whether Scorpion or the "Caped Crusader" is the better combatant. I'll let you be the one to decide. "Choose your destiny!"
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.