Mortal Kombat has had a tattered history; its first 4 iterations were some of the first games targeted by the “Video Games beget Violence” crusaders. The next few titles in the series were notable deviations in the formula, branded as unremarkable fighters using unremarkable mini-games as a crutch. Much doubt has been cast upon the newest title, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, especially with the inclusion of DC Superheroes resulting in the omission of the gruesome fatalities of old. Having played the game for many hours, I can safely say that MK vs. DC is not a deviation, it’s not a gimmick, and it should be titled Mortal Kombat 4.
From the very first punch of the very first match, it’s apparent that MK vs. DC is a return to form for the franchise. All the staples of the MK universe are present and accounted for. There aren’t any faces that aren’t featured beyond Mortal Kombat 2, and there aren’t any palette swap excuses for actual characters in the game. Everyone you’d expect from the DC Universe is present and accounted for, with heavy emphasis placed on the Batman canon and a few fan favorites thrown in for good measure. Johnny Cage is notably missing from the roster, but it’s clear that this was done to keep the numbers on both sides even.
Everything expected in a Mortal Kombat is included on the disc. Contrary to popular belief, there are fatalities (Heroic Brutalities for the DC Heroes), and there is blood. There isn’t anything in the game resembling gruesome decapitative murder, but it all serves its purpose, and more importantly, nothing feels like it’s missing. All the characters have their staple moves: Sub-Zero freezes, Scorpion harpoons, Super-Man lasers, The Flash is fast, and Batman does none of that. A few surprises can be found in the actual special moves of the DC characters, some of which play nearly identical to some fan favorite MK characters omitted from this iteration. The real pleasure in the game is found in the fighting itself. And while it isn’t as technical as something like Virtua Fighter 4 or Soul Calibur, it is a lot of fun.
At it’s core, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe plays like a nice looking sequel to Mortal Kombat Trilogy. There aren’t any stances, or chess games, or kart racers to mess with here. The game boils down to choosing your favorite character, memorizing a few of his moves, and beating him until the game allows you to engulf his corpse in flames. The fighting is played on a pseudo-2D plane with some limited 3D movement. The game allows you to mix things up by implementing a few mid-fight guessing games, while these are fun to watch, they really only serve to further distinguish the game from “serious” fighters. Advanced level play can be found in exploiting aerial juggles for major combos, and learning the “pro” versions of super moves.
The game offers story, arcade and versus play. The story mode is a tale offered from either the MK or DC side and provides a scenario in which these universes can fight. The story itself is sub-fan fiction level and really is just an excuse for the two universes to rumble. Also included is a Kombo challenge mode which awards achievements for completing all of each character’s advanced combos. It should be noted that this mode is incredibly difficult, and requires split-second timing for some of the moves. I’ve yet to finish it with one character. The online play includes your standard ranked and unranked matches, included is a chat room mode which allows players to choose who they want to fight from a list. Lag was moderately prevalent, but isn’t a significant enough hindrance to where it should prevent someone from picking up the game.
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is a return to form for the franchise and should not be missed by anyone who has ever enjoyed a Mortal Kombat game or anyone who is looking for a decent fighter. I would recommend you to buy the game, Midway needs your money.
Reviewer’s note: The Xbox 360 version was tested for this review
Nothing fancy, but it all works well and looks good.
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The core fighting is fun and refined, but I could have done without the mid-fight buttong guessing mini-games.
Everything sounds great, including Sub-Zeros unintelligable battlecries.
A lot to do if you're a completionist, the Kombo challenge might take you years alone.
If you're looking for a fighter, a Mortal Kombat game, or a Super-Hero game: Buy It