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A Kommendable Kreation: Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe


                             A scene from the upcoming reality show- Dancing with the Comic Book Stars

Through the sixteen year history of the Mortal Kombat franchise, the series has undergone a number of interesting evolutionary changes. The franchise started as a simplistic two dimensional fighter that garnered attention due to its fatalities- finishing moves that allowed the player to perform over-the-top dismembering moves to the opposing fighter.  Little innovation beyond an expanded character roster occurred with the game until 1998, when Mortal Kombat 4 brought the series into the third dimension. Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks saw the franchise ape God of War, and abandon its fighting mechanic altogether.

Last April, developer Midway announced the latest direction the series would take: MK characters would fight personalities from the DC Comic universe, in a brilliant pop-culture mash-up. While the hybridization of the two licenses seemed rife with possibility, one caveat worried gamers: the otherwise visceral MK series would have to tamed in order to achieve a ‘Teen’ ESRB rating. Speculation immediately occurred across message boards of the viability of this modification.


                                                                        That’ll teach you for staring, buddy!

While a few players may miss the decapitations and Grand Guignol of the series, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe has lost little of its brutality, as characters are thrown though walls and mists of blood punctuate every hit. The title clearly rests of the cusp of a “T” rating. Instead of focusing on the weapon based combat that has permeated the series for the last ten years, MK vs DCU offers a pared-down single fighting style. However, there a few new additions to the pugilistic battling. Once ‘Klose Kombat’ is activated with a press of the right bumper, the screen zooms in on the two fighters. The initiator uses the face buttons to create a sequence that must be copied by the other character. A similar style of dualing comes into play when players land a successful attack near the edge of a vertically stacked arena. ‘Free Fall Kombat’ employs the same mechanic, but has players vying for supremacy while the warriors plunge downward. As players trade combos, they switch positions midflight, until the victor cushions his fall with the other characters body, resulting in a severe loss of health.

Single players have the option to play through arcade, story, kombo challenge and practice mode.  In arcade mode, characters move up the opponent ladder in homage to past MK titles. Story mode allows players to select a narrative from either the Mortal Kombat or DC Comic world, as players watch uninterruptable cinemas that set up a series of fights for the player.  Player can play either local or via Xbox Live in ranked and unranked matches. Online matches played smoothly, although occasionally hit animations didn’t synch with where players were making contact.


                                           “Man, I can smell that from here! What in the world did you eat?”

Players can select from one of five levels of difficultly. No matter what level is selected, the CPU artificial intelligence seems awaken abruptly during the fifth round of play. Typically, boss battles can be frustrating, and victory is usually found by duplicating the same attacks to assail an Achilles’ heel in the AI. While Mortal Kombat’s graphics have grown exponentially detailed over the years, the fighting algorithms of CPU characters have remained frustratingly stagnant.

MK vs. DCU is an attractive game, with detailed characters that can scale to nearly the height of the game screen. Using the Unreal Engine, players accumulate cuts and bruises to their faces and bodies. The animation and framerate rate are both exceptionally fluid; we never saw the game dip below the sixty frames per second threshold. Sonically, the title still has some of the best low frequencies in the fighting game arena, as hits feel powerful. Series veteran Steve Ritchie reprises his role as the iconic announcer of the game. Sadly, Superman sounds a bit on the wimpy side.


                        What no faces in the trees, and no “Toasty!” guy? Are you sure this is Mortal Kombat?

While Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is an enjoyable fighting game, we wish Midway offered a bit more content. Spoiled by Mortal Kombat Armageddon’s enormous six character sixty roster, this installment feels a bit light content-wise. While two unlockable bosses are a nice addition, the lack of any alternative costumes, arenas, or other bonuses feels like a small step backwards. Still, the twenty-two characters offered, along with the additions to the existing MK gameplay, makes this game a superior choice for the fighting game fan.

Good: Pushing that “T” rating with blood, projectiles that lodge in bodies and Sonya’s pokies.
Bad: Stingy amount of unlockable content, playing the 360’s d-pad.
Ugly: The blue midgets from Green Lantern’s world. Catwoman’s bullet-proof boob job.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

46 comments

  1. WOW! great early review.

  2. Great review. I was a little hesitant after the teen rating thing.

  3. WTF is Grand Guignol?

    You guys thing you’re smart or something?

  4. A few more good review, and I’ll buy it once it gets to $39.99 like every other Midway game two weeks after release.

  5. Needs more Wonder Woman nude-alities.

  6. How did you get this so early?!?!?

  7. Man, I thought a game like this would get an easy A.

  8. I didn’t know Teen games could show blood like that. Cool.

  9. pokies? tell more!

  10. Is this even out yet? Good review, BTW.

  11. The characters look like they are dancing in every pic. Is that something you chose to do, or is the game really like that? It look too cutesy for some reason.

    Everyone’s fingers look really long, too.

  12. I have had no interest in MK games in 10 years.

  13. I will never every buy a MK Teen game. Its like buying a PG rated Hustler magazine.

  14. Good bad and Ugly section is pretty funny.

  15. Does anyone think this will sell a shit-tone more, since kids can buy it?

  16. Is there any collector edition for this?

  17. Great review.

  18. I completely agree they need to make the AI in single player games fun not frustrating.

  19. Sounds disappointing. Maybe they will offer DLC characters.

  20. The graphics looks plasticy and weak. Except for the texture on Raiden’s hat, I’m unimpressed.

  21. I havent played a Mortal Kombat gme since the series jumped to 3D.

    Maybe Ill give the game a try.

  22. if i can’t rip superman’s spine out of his back with some gory fatality, i’m not playing. A pox on DC comics and their rules.

  23. Ive been buying the MK games for the extra Kontent- the puzzle fighter clone and the Kart racers. The actually fighting isn’t all that.

  24. God hates fat girls

    Kreate a Karacter would have kicked ass.

  25. While the review was good, I’m giving the game a ‘no opinion’ vote as I think the concept of a T-rated MK game is crap.

    Europe gets an uncensored version, while in the US, were have a kid friendly game.

  26. Catwoman’s boob job? WTF? please explain?

  27. Scored about where I thought it would go.

    Still, I’ll pass, no interest

  28. Great review.

  29. This seems like a cool game, but I am still hesitant on purchasing it. Although, The Joker would be fun to play as. Great review, maybe I’ll rent first.

  30. Meh! Ill grab it once it hits $20.

    Having a roster thats 2/3rd smaller bites.

  31. I will gamefly it, my expectations are low.

  32. Possibally a good rental or pick it up used……

  33. I have it reserved for pickup on Tuesday.

  34. Excellent review. A mom and pop shop has this for sale yesterday, but I passed- they wanted $65 for it.

    If I wait a few days, they said it will be $56. I can deal with that.

  35. Awesome was looking forward to this, with bad 360 pad maybe PS3 is the way to go. Either that or an arcade stick

  36. i’ve always like MK and even though it does look pretty good graphically, i can’t get past the cheesy idea of the whole thing.

  37. It’s not MK, but it does look like an awesome crossover.

  38. Marvel vs Capcom 2 eat your heart out!

  39. Jeff Gurstman (Giant Bomb) gave the game five stars.

  40. Sounds good. Unfortunately, SSFIITHDR comes out soon and a $10 2D fighter is more important to me.

  41. I got this today, and think it’s a bit shitty. The game is too simple, and the AI makes a huge jump (like you said)

    I’m taking it back.

  42. Great review, I’m kinda interested in the title but it’s not one that I would go out and purchase for $60, I just wish it was more like the good old days of MK not the crappy ones.

  43. Nice review, I’ll probably rent the game before I buy it.

  44. Damn good Review.Unfortuantley I will not
    be picking up this years mortal kombat
    game.

  45. Nice review.. probably gonna pick it up when I get the chance.