Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe (Video Game)
Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Available for the Xbox 360 (reviewed here) and the Playstation 3
Distributed by Midway Games
It was the winter of 1992 in Brooklyn, New York. I was at my favorite pizzeria getting a slice of cheesy goodness when from behind me I heard the words "FINISH HIM!" To my shock and awe I was witness to an arcade game that featured a strange blue ninja ripping the spine out of his opponent. The character held his trophy head up high with the spine dangling from the torn neck. "Sub Zero Wins. FATALITY". Immediately I spun around, threw a ten spot on the counter and demanded quarters. I've been in love with the Mortal Kombat franchise ever since.
When news first broke of a next-gen Kombat experience coming to the Xbox 360, I was elated. But in a strange twist of events we then learned that the new game would also be featuring characters from the DC Comics universe, and -- to further confound me -- it would be rated T for Teen. Um, did I just wake up in some bizarro alternate reality? No, the news was true, and with a heavy heart I prepared for the worst.
For months there was nothing but questions. Would the series' trademark Fatalities be gone? Would there be blood and gore? And how the hell could these two universes be brought together in a way that actually made sense? Well, the time has come to judge what has gone right and what has gone wrong.
First of all, the storyline is a surprising winner penned by comics legends Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray. At the same time in both universes, super villains Shao Khan and Darkseid were being vanquished by Raiden and Superman (who were using their electricity and heat vision), respectively. These energies managed to merge together and create a portal between the two realities. Like two sides of a mirror. Even worse, being that this was happening at the same time in two different places to two different beings, Khan and Darkseid ended up merging, thus creating a new foe named Dark Khan. From there the MK and DC factions clash, each figuring the other are invaders looking to destroy the world, when in fact it is Dark Khan looking for the ultimate destruction. Sound a bit convoluted and confusing? Honestly, it is, but seeing the events play out does a lot more justice to the affair than just reading about them. The dialogue ranges from downright hilarious to way too cheesy, but you know what? In the end it was a lot of fun. Even better, depending on which side you choose, the storylines vary and intersect. Nifty!
After you're done with that, there's the classic arcade mode, which lets you choose either all MK characters, all DC characters, or a mixture of both.
Okay, so fun's one thing, but how about the gore we're used to? Here's the harsh reality -- DC was not about to let any of its characters get disemboweled by anyone, and they certainly were not going to let goodie-goods like Superman or Wonder Woman become stone killers for a video game, so a compromise needed to be made. For the MK crew it would be business as bloody usual, but for DC there were some tweaks in order! The heroes would perform Brutalities (in which they pummel someone to the brink of death), and the villains like the MK'ers would perform Fatalities. Following along? Good!
Now let me get this out of way ... There is blood in the game despite its T rating. Every time someone gets hit, the grue flies accordingly. Character models display damage like bruises, cuts, and torn clothing. All-in-all its exactly what we'd expect, but the Fatalities? They're horribly nerfed. Don't expect heads to be flying or limbs to be severed. Despite even the implied violence everything comes off as uber-tame. A shame because Batman beheading the Joker would have been amazing.
The roster finds eleven characters from each side. Mortal Kombat: Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Sonya, Jax, Shang Tsung, Liu Kang, Raiden, Kitana, Kano, Baraka, and Shao Kahn. DC Universe: Batman, Superman, Catwoman, Green Lantern, The Joker, Shazam, The Flash, Wonder Woman, Deathstroke, Lex Luthor, and Darkseid. The gameplay is very much like old-school Mortal Kombat, meaning there are no different styles or weapon pick-ups. This is a great return to form to the core game-play I had grown up loving. All the MK characters feel like a warm cozy sweater, while the DC ones end up being pretty badass themselves with the stand-outs being (what a shock) The Joker, Batman, and Superman.
There are a couple of new elements thrown into the mechanics such as "Klose Kombat" in which a character grabs another and we zoom in to see the carnage as close as possible, "Free Fall Kombat" in which you get to brawl while falling through multi-tiered arenas, and a redesigned "Test Your Might" mini-game which will get your fingers mashing the buttons as quickly as possible.
The only real downfall here other than the less than stellar Fatalities is the lack of content, or Kontent for you fans playing along. Gone are the Krypt which has become a staple of the last few MK games, the Kreate a Fighter, and whatever you do, don't expect any mini-games like Puzzle Kombat or Kart Racing because they're just not here. This is one of the single most bare-bones Mortal Kombat releases (let's hope for some tasty downloadable content) in a really long time. Good thing we have the silky smooth and lag-free online mode to spice things up by letting us play other kombatants the world over. No surprises or let-downs here. Just good old fashioned brawling!
Like the original Marvel vs Capcom this is a great first cross-over attempt. It wasn't until Marvel vs Capcom 2 that the formula really got nailed so maybe if this game is successful, we'll see an amazingly deep sequel. We can only hope, and speaking of hope ... If the DC Universe guys don't come back for the next game, can we have our gore back, please? Better yet -- release a new stand-alone Mortal Kombat game and release it soon. Though good in its own right, I'm sure this game will leave many an MK fan will feeling just like me -- blood-hungry and waiting to perform a glorious high-definition spine rip!
4 out of 5
Discuss Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe in the Dread Central forums!