Midway takes invites the immortal characters from DC comics into Mortal Kombat’s world in this crossover fighter. Powered with a new fighting system, Raiden and the Mortal Kombat gang take on the super-powers of the DC Universe. Let the fighting commence.
The first thing you are probably worried about is how they merged the two worlds of Mortal Kombat and DC Comics. Well, hats off to Midway because the unlikely collaboration isn’t half bad. Midway approaches this conundrum of hooking the world of gaming and comics together in a mature and fitting tale. Colliding through an unnatural occurrence both sides of the conflict believe each side is the enemy which leads up for some interesting inner battles with their own universe, and more importantly battles between the elite fighters of Mortal Kombat and the super-heroes and villains from the DC Universe.
Fans of the Mortal Kombat franchise must be glad that DC has invaded their universe giving a fresh take on their fading franchise. Even the die-hard kombatants have to admit, Mortal Kombat hasn’t been itself lately. This one time king of fighting games has stagger into a repetitive cycle that needed to be broken and DC wields the hammer of change. Even though I am building Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe up to be something innovative for the franchise, it is still a Mortal Kombat game. Gamers who don’t like Mortal Kombat in the past will likely feel the same with this new addition.
Mortal Kombat was a good choice for the brand merging because its shares similarities with the comic world. This is mainly reflected in its colourful roster which line-up of crazy costumes and abilities falls outside of the realm of reality. If Mortal Kombat wasn’t a game first, it would have been a great comic. The powers between both sides seem to compliment each other with each side having their own slight variation on fighting abilities and super-powers. A few of the matches up that fall in place during the storyline are like dream fan-fiction. It’s nice to see the crossover battle between Scorpion and Batman, and it is nice that they included the ability to fight within each brand which means Batman will also get to square up against his nemeses the Joker.
The purists who would argue against Superman loosing to a mere mortal like the Joker have been quieted thanks to the games storyline. The imbalances in character strengths transform into an equal playing field with the merger of these two worlds. Even more outlandish is the merger of the two evil beings from each franchise combining to make the ultimate monster, Dark Kahn. Playing through the story mode will unlock each side’s villain and shed some light on the turmoil between the two worlds.
New gamers lured in by the merge might be a set back when it comes to learning how to play Mortal Kombat. The navigation and presentation is bare bones offering little help to the newbies. No explanation is set up to teach the player about the number any of the non-standard gameplay mechanics. The only way to learn how to play Mortal Kombat is to play the game and learn by defeat. Luckily if you are having a hard time you can bump the difficulty level down a notch to easy and vice versa. Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe also seems to adjust to your skill level making harder opponents easier if they beat you down in a round. This odd balancing act is good for new players, but looses a little respect when not fighting against another human player.
Don’t expect the conflict to last to long in each side’s respectful storyline. Starting on each side will take you only a few hours to blast through. One thing to note is that once you start a storyline either the MK, or DC path you can not restart it until you finish it. Two saves can be running, one on each side, but if you want to go back and play Chapter 2 you will have to wait until it comes around again. A restart or manual save feature would have been a nice asset to cover up a minor, but noticeable flaw. Speaking of flaws, I am not sure how this passed Midway by, but some of the Xbox 360 achievements don’t unlock when they should. Even playing on a patched version of the game, I encounter this bug that results in missed achievements.
The majority of the fighting keeps it the straight and narrow feeling like a 2D fighter in a 3D world. You can side step and deke out moves, but this doesn’t feel natural. The rest of the gameplay stays close to the classic Mortal Kombat feel, even with the new host of characters. The few new elements that have been added like a free-for-all punch a thon in Klose Kombat, and Test Your Might button mashing does little to improve on the diversity of the game. These elements feel a like an excuse to press buttons during cinematic fighting breaks. There is also a rage meter which fills up during matches that can be spent to block attacks, or to unleash the rage and deal more damage to your opponent. Raging out is more like a take-it-or-leave it feature that adds a small amount of strategy to the combat.
For the controls, they also keep the standard MK feeling with the button presses occasionally activating a millisecond behind. I’m not a huge fan of the mechanics in Mortal Kombat, however once you get used to the games pacing and control scheme, Mortal Kombat feels like a fluid fighter. Although, I wouldn’t put Mortal Kombat up against the Soul Calibur or Dead or Alive franchise. Fatalities are still a included in the action, however they have significantly toned down to get the Teen rating. This will likely upset a good number of Mortal Kombat faithfuls who have stuck with the series over the years. Fatalities have always been an important part of Mortal Kombat series and it is sad to see them watered down. The DC super-"heroes", not villains, have their own version of Fatalities called Heroic Brutalities which share a similar route.
In total the roster is made up with 22 characters divided evenly between the Mortal Kombat and DC characters. On the MK side you will see popular favourites like Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Liu Kang, Raiden and Kitana. DC Comics comes into battle with the top-tier of fighters including Batman, Green Lantern, Superman, The Flash, Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel. Finishing off the DC roster is the Catwoman, Deathstroke, The Joker, Lex Luthor and the villain in blue, Darkseid. Familiar locations for both universes also exist in the game space with over ten locations including Gotham City and the Fortress of Solitude.
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe’s story mode is the most appealing part of the package. After you run through each side of the story you can retire to the arcade mode, or try the Kombo Challenge. Multiplayer is also provided online, or off, and is a wonderful way to experience Mortal Kombat vs. DC. Against real players Mortal Kombat becomes a fun and challenging fighter that will test your button pressing patience. Without restrictions each characters style has more of an impact on the battles and the game mechanics themselves become deeper. Multiplayer doesn’t add much besides one-on-one match ups, however for what it’s worth, it is better than nothing.
The pages of DC Comics meet up with the characters from Mortal Kombat in an interesting diversion for the long running Mortal Kombat franchise. Midway did their best handling this match up with respect with both intellectual properties. Each side carefully has their own storylines to enjoy giving a unique perspective to this odd pairing. Fans of DC will be interested in checking out Mortal Kombat even if they are not a fan, or familiar with the game. Fighting with, or against some of the DC super-heroes is simply a joy to watch unfold especially when mixed with the Mortal Kombat fighters.
Technical glitches aside, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is a fun diversion in this dream-match crossover. Although you have to be warned, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is like an old dog with a few new tricks. The diversity in the content makes this edition stand out for Midway and not its tried-and-true game mechanics. Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe isn’t going to make you a fan of the series if you never liked it, but it will give a fresh perspective to all those who are getting a little warn out from its typical static nature.
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 12.01.08