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Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe review

Solid
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AT A GLANCE
  • Great special moves
  • Obscure DC characters
  • Intense silliness
  • Intense silliness
  • Philosophical nonsense
  • Lightweight combat

When you consider Scorpion’s penchant for peeling the skin off his victims’ faces and Superman’s long history of do-gooding, Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe isn’t such an obvious pairing – less a deadly alliance than it is a marriage of unlikely convenience – but the contrived set-up does create some undeniably daft, grin-making matchups. Jax vs Superman, anyone? Hokum plot aside, at its heart, the first next-gen Mortal Kombat is as good as it ever was over 15 years ago, for better and worse.

The complex attack-style juggling of previous MK’s is replaced with a more accessible set of moves. There’s a new Rage mode, where if you inflict (or receive) repeated blows, your character glows, allowing higher speed and more powerful combos – but its effect is undone if your rival counters out, which the computer invariably does. Complex combos require such precision timing and dish so relatively little damage they’re hardly worth bothering with. All characters are lovingly reproduced, though, with amusing special moves like the Joker’s ‘Bang!’ gun or The Flash’s speedy dashes, where he inflicts multiple-blows from blurry copies of himself.

There’s an attempt to explain all of this via the preposterous story mode, in which a strange force pits good MK characters against evil ones, then unites them both against the DC characters who have mysteriously warped into their world, and ultimately persuades everyone that their best interests would be served by combining their efforts against a common foe. Our tip? Switch off your brain and pile in.

It’s so poorly scripted and acted it’s pretty damned funny – Sonya Blade’s fight with Catwoman, who suddenly materializes in her military base, was an early highlight of badness, and it just gets stranger thereafter. The only predictable thing is that whenever two characters meet, one of them is going to beat the truth into the other, and if they’re not friends by the end of it all they’ll be hooking up again in the near future for another one-on-one barney.

The basic fighting system is much the same as it was in Mortal Kombat II, with the addition of a third dimension to allow fighters to sidestep. Special moves are of the back-forward-punch variety, and there’s a Klose Kombat camera-zoom for blood-spurting grapple moves. MK veterans will have no trouble rattling off familiar combos, and even though the animations have changed, the feel is pure MK.

Big new gameplay innovations are thin on the ground. Instead of bashing opponents against the arena wall and keeping them jammed there for some cheap damage, hard shots now smack them clean through the side of the screen. A cutscene ensues, in which you have to follow the button prompts to see who winds up on top when you land in the next area – which always looks strangely similar to the one you just broke out of. Focusing on the prompts distracts the eye from the fighting action, and the game doesn’t really gain anything from having these scenes. On the plus side, the trusty old Mortal Kombat uppercut is still the juiciest, most satisfying move in any fighting game, even if the DC tie-in has reduced the amount of gore from its victims.

Fatalities are still in the game, but you’re not going see Kano ripping off Batman’s head. It’s tamer than ever before, and that’s a worrying thing for a series whose chief appeal has always been its shameless bloodlust. Characters do take visible damage during the fights, though, and even the DC mob have their Lycra leotards torn to ribbons by the end of a fierce battle.

As a beat-’em-up, it pales next to the complex hit systems and frame-buffering of games such as Virtua Fighter, Soul Calibur and SFIV. Mortal Kombat’s moves are comparatively limited and annoyingly difficult to pull off in some cases. Even the graphics aren’t quite up to par – despite running on the Unreal 3 engine, it all looks very pixilated and oddly plasticky. What it does do better than most other fighting games is provide a terrific piece of fan service, with mindless, retro fun. Approach with honest hopes, and you’re unlikely to be disappointed.

Nov 17, 2008

More Info

Release date: Nov 16 2008 - PS3, Xbox 360 (US)
Nov 21 2008 - PS3, Xbox 360 (UK)
Available Platforms: Wii, PS3, Xbox 360
Genre: Fighting
Published by: Midway
Developed by: Midway
Franchise: Mortal Kombat
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Blood, Suggestive Themes, Violence

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17 comments

  • Yellowhat17 - December 7, 2008 12:35 a.m.

    Sounds like a rent for me... too bad the gore is reduced and it just HAD to be DC universe. Come on! Deadpool and Batman are the only two cool DC characters. Superman? For god sakes! And even the MK selection is a little bit down. But Scorpion vs. Deadpool will be great.
  • conal130 - November 19, 2008 10:01 p.m.

    i pre-ordered this game on Monday, and i still think this game will be absolutely awesome, even if the graphics aren't 'quite up to par'. can't wait for this game to come om friday! sub zero vs batman here i come!
  • Wartooth909 - November 19, 2008 4:02 a.m.

    I am VERY sad... I was hoping i could rip batmans kneecaps out of his legs and pull them through his eyes or something along those lines. They kiddied down the fatalities.
  • Signofthezodiac - November 19, 2008 2:53 a.m.

    The joker yay!
  • Ninjaman34 - November 18, 2008 3:38 a.m.

    Now do Marvel vs DC universe
  • mjmont92 - December 7, 2008 9:27 p.m.

    Mortal Kombat has one of THE worst fighting combo systems i have played. The old arcade games were much better. DC Universe is one of my favorite comic publishers. They are desperate to compete with Marvel. This was not the way to go. Granted, this is one of the better MK games available on a home console. Less blood gives this game a better feel, the amount of blood in past games were completely ridiculous. I'd give this game a 6 out of 10.
  • jimsondanet - November 18, 2008 9:03 a.m.

    naaw soulcalibur vs dragonballZ! na jk vs tekken dc universe is a crap matchup. superman is invincible!!! he dosent bleed without the aid of kryptonite!!! an nobodys fast enough to lay a hand on flash!
  • TheWebSwinger - November 18, 2008 3:22 a.m.

    Right, Defguru, ignore the clumsy and stiff fighting system, its the lack of blood that really makes the game suck. Anyways, a 7 is still a good score.
  • Defguru7777 - November 18, 2008 3:07 a.m.

    FIRST!!! I could tell this wouldn't be received well. Mortal Kombat with less blood is like... well, there's not a good enough metaphor for that. Still, I was hopefull for the DC side of this.
  • GalenMarek - July 16, 2009 4:51 a.m.

    if they ever make Marvel VS. DC Universe it would kick @$$!!
  • oreomonkey - April 11, 2009 2:28 a.m.

    awesome game, i suck, but an awesome game none the less
  • GameLegend08 - February 1, 2009 11:02 p.m.

    I think they should of did mortal kombat vs street fighter that would of made more sense. Thought they were like the fighting genre legends. I mean I would love to see Liu Kang do a bicycle kick on Ryu.
  • sarahfoster - January 19, 2009 7:27 a.m.

    i haven't gotten to touch the story mode because i am too caught up in the arcade mode. the moves are just flat out fun. i can't get enough of mixing and matching these two completely different worlds. my first major disappointment was that when beaten, the character simply drops backwards on the ground. frustrating. i agree... tonning down the violence is upsetting. it's good to know that this game's idea of combining two worlds of heros and misfits will only get better. they'll learn from their mistakes and i'm fully prepared to have my socks blown off for the next one.
  • JosefRaikov - May 9, 2009 6:10 p.m.

    meant to put MK, sorry.
  • JosefRaikov - May 9, 2009 6:09 p.m.

    Deadpool is Marvel, yellowwhat17, so unless DC vs. Marvel happens; no deal..
  • gamer49 - January 26, 2009 11:38 a.m.

    green lantern can not fight for hid own life. the joker is realy cool. scorpion is the best fighter but subzero is better.
  • Hayseyboy - January 6, 2009 10:33 p.m.

    thought it was dissapointing at the lack of characters, i mean 22 isnt really "alot" could of included kung lao aswell

Showing 1-17 of 17 comments

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