Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe Review

Alright, I’ve just finished my run with this game, and I have to make my opinion known. At last, I have tasted the horrid shit that replaced MK8, beheld what may very well be the last MK title thanks to Midway’s financial woes, and held my own against its story and arcade modes.

And it’s…adequate. I know, it’s frightening, but they managed to not totally fuck this up. Not to say it’s worth $60, because it’s NOT, but it’s still worth at least renting for a weekend.

For one thing, Midway finally stripped out those fucking awful minigames. No more Super Mortal Kombat Puzzle Fighter, no more Kart Racing, etc. Instead, we get a basic arcade mode, a story mode, and multiplayer. However, the multiplayer is lacking in variety; it’s simply one-on-one fighting, with practically nothing to tweak or frills added. A basic tournament mode would have been nice.

The game’s story mode is actually pretty damn good, mostly thanks to some excellent cutscenes and game flow. The adventure elements are stripped out entirely, instead shuttling a rotating cast of characters from one fight to the next. This is the best thing to happen to the series since Deadly Alliance, but that’s getting ahead of myself.

The plot begins with Superman finally defeating Darkseid, after a battle destroys nearly all of Metropolis. When Darkseid tries to jump through a Boom Tube, the Man of Steel blasts him with Heat Vision, destabilizing the portal. Unfortunately, in the MK Universe, the heroes have defeated Shao Kahn, and when HE tries to jump through a portal, Raiden blasts him with a massive lightning bolt. The two malfunctioning portals cause the two universes to start to merge, while also driving nearly everyone in both places insane with an affliction called Rage.

What follows is a comic book-style crossover, with both the MK and DC sides believing the other is invading their world. There’s a few twists to be found, but for the most part, the main hook is the game’s tight writing, spot-on voice acting, and the Joker. Seriously, he steals every scene he appears in.

Arcade mode is…well, basic. It’s a standard MK layout, with a sequence of progressively more difficult fights ending with a match with the game’s new villain, Dark Kahn. You can choose to have only one set of opponents or both, but otherwise it’s completely forgettable.

The graphics are excellent, but since it’s the Unreal 3 Engine, that’s to be expected.

The sound is a bit off. Voice acting has improved by leaps over Armageddon, with every character getting their own sound clips and bloody screams. The music is decent, but otherwise pretty forgettable. It’s still better than before, but…

The gameplay is pure MK, for good and bad. You have four basic attacks, a block button, and whatever new gimmicks Boon decided to add this time around. This game, he’s added three:

*Close Kombat: At any point, a character can try to execute a grap. If successful, the camera zooms in, and they press any of the four attack buttons to execute slightly stronger punches and head butts. If the victim can match the attacker’s button press, they can counter. Pretty good for the most part, but almost impossible to use against the AI.

*Falling Kombat: If a character is knocked off a ledge by a strong attack, the two will go tumbling down to the next level. While falling, the aggressor can launch regular attacks much like the Close Kombat; however, when a damage bar is halfway full, they can execute a special attack to end the mode. However, if the opponent matches their move, the two switch positions. Whoever’s sucking it down when time runs out takes all the damage. Pretty fun and responsive, but happens WAY too often, and has a tendency to be very cheap.

*Test Your Might: A character can slam his opponent into a wall, and then run at them headlong, smashing their way through whatever building is in the way and depositing them on the other side. A wonderful spectacle, but it sucks in two ways: first, I still have no fucking clue how it actually works; and second, there’s only three stages it works on. Oh, and it does shit damage.

(Note: The next section primarily bitches about the 360 version.)

The controls are…bad. They tried to have their cake and eat it, too, by making the fights both 2D and 3D. You move in two dimensions using the D-Pad, and use the Control Stick to move your fighter in the 3D plain. On paper, this seems like an easy way to reincorporate jumping and ducking into your game plan. In practice, it’s a clusterfuck of confusion, thanks to the 360’s unresponsive, barely glued on D-Pad. Furthermore, moves require such perfect timing that it’s a pain to get some attacks to work.

Moves and comboes are the same as before.

And now, for the main source of controversy: the taming of the Fatalities. For the most part, everyone in the game can kill anyone else. Unfortunately, since the DC Heroes have this troublesome “code against killing,” they can instead use “Heroic Brutalities.” And I would like to point out, right now, that the Brutalities are FAR MORE VIOLENT THAN THE FATALITIES. Let’s take a look at two of the Fatalities:

*Raiden grabs his opponent and shocks him to a skeleton.

*Shang Tsung steals their soul, although without turning their body to a green pile of goo.

Lame? Well, let’s see two Brutalities:

*Superman POUNDS HIS OPPONENT INTO THE FUCKING GROUND, until only their head is poking out.

*Green Lantern traps them in a bubble, and then CONTRACTS IT, SMASHING THEM INTO A BALL.

Jesus Christ, and these are supposed to be non-lethal?

All in all, the game’s not the shit we all thought it would be, but it’s far from perfect. It also gets old fairly quickly compared to most fighters. I’d still take it over Soul Calibur 4, but otherwise, just give it a rent, run through the story mode, and then move on.

Favorite Quote:


Well, something to tide over until Tatsunoko vs Capcom… (For some #%"#% reason, heavy implications of MvC3 have been in the air, but I wouldn’t raise my hopes until some solid evidence.)

Edit: Any surprises in the character roster, or should I stick with MK: Deception for good old Shujinko action?

Not really, no.

Don’t hold your breath for TvC.

Is it just me, or is “Heroic Brutality” something of an oxymoron?

Or a tautology.