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Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe
Developer: Midway
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Release Date: PS3, XBox 360 - November 16, 2008

Synopsis: It's Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe! When a cataclysmic force merges conquerors from two universes, conflict is inevitable. Kombat forces friends to fight, worlds to collide, and unlikely alliances to be forged. In order to save all they know, the heroes and villains of Mortal Kombat must wage war against the combined might of the DC Universe. How can either side prevail when rage blinds them to the dark threat poised to destroy them all?

For the first time ever, Scorpion, Sub-Zero and the Mortal Kombat warriors battle with Batman, Superman and other popular DC Universe Super Heroes. Choose your side and challenge your opponents with a new fighting system including Freefall Kombat and Klose Kombat inside dynamic multi-tiered environments. Plus, pick your favorite character from Mortal Kombat or the DC Universe and pursue a fighting adventure in the new single player mode with an intertwined storyline and two unique perspectives.

Although this is the first Mortal Kombat title to be given a "T" rating by the ESRB, the game embodies all the qualities that made the franchise such an integral part of gaming culture, including the ability to perform the unique Fatalities and Heroic Brutalities that are a signature of the Mortal Kombat series.

Scroll past the review for more images and a selection of trailers!

Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe Review
By James Harvey

While it might not reach the same heights as some of the previous entries in the Mortal Kombat series, and arguably some of the DC Comics-inspired games from over the years, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is a surprisingly enjoyable fighting game that is better than it has any right to be. While a few missteps stop this game from being a flawless victory for both franchises, this unexpected crossover is ultimately a satisfying actioner that should scratch that itch for fans looking to give their favorite hero or tournament fighter a beat-down.

Before anything else, let's get to the story (or "story," more accurately). In a very suitably comic book-esque way, the worlds of Mortal Kombat and DC Comics come together, basically, by accident. After Shao Kahn's invasion of Earthrealm is halted by Raiden's forces of light, Raiden sends Kahn through a portal. At the same time in the DC Universe, Superman stops another invasion by Darkseid, blasting him with heat vision as he goes through a Boom Tube. Somehow both Kahn and Darkseid end up clashing and combining into Dark Kahn, and setting off a chain reaction that starts to merge the two universes together. Naturally, this means both the heroes of the DC Universe and Earthrealm need to pair up and take down their respective foes together. And so, the fighting begins!

Sure, it's not the most original way, but it serves its purposes well enough, both for the story mode and as a justification for why the likes of The Joker, among others, can stand toe-to-toe with Superman and his superpowered brethren. It also works becuase, well, the Mortal Kombat franchise itself is very "comic book-y." Consider the theatrical costumes, dramatic personas, larger-than-life abilities, and complicated and convoluted relationships. It works way better than it should and ends up being more exciting and appealing than it has any right to be.

As with previous Mortal Kombat titles, and most fighting games, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is quick to pick-up. Basic moves come quick, while special moves will take a little more time. Granted, it's easy to slip into button-mashing and hope you land enough hits to claim victory, but it's ultimately more satisfying to use a little strategy to bring down your foe. Also, the 2D approach, despite being in a 3D space, helps make this more like a proper Mortal Kombat title, and adds to the fun. Players are forced to use their limited space and plane, which tend to result in fast-paced matches that occasionally end up more tense and thrilling than expected.

The fisticuffs are solid, and the controls are tight and responsive, and that can be applied across the entire roster. There's 22 playable characters, divided between both DC Comics characters and Mortal Kombat characters, meaning that fighters on both sides are mostly top-shelf. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Joker, Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Johnny Cage, Sonya Blade, among others, face off against each other and mesh surprisingly well together. Characters on both sides feel true to their respective franchises, despite some power-level adjustments made to comic characters, and all have some nifty tricks to help even things out. There's clearly plenty of respect toward the entire game roster.

While Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe sticks closely to what fans expect from the long-running franchise, it does add some new elements to keep things fresh. The biggest addition to the game is the rage meter, which fills up as you block or take damage from your opponent. When the gauge hits certain markers, it can be used to perform combo-blockers or unleash a devastating array of attacks. It adds an element of surprise and requires quick decision-making, which can turn the tables in an instant!

There are also a few mini-games that pop up during the scuffles which give opportunities for players to unleash more damage, if they're willing to risk the same amount of potential damage coming from their opponent. Also, players can unleash more damage if they're able to knock their opponent to another level of the arena, creating these cool moments where our fighters are dramatically duking it out in mid-air before crashing to the next stage. There's also a button-mashing heavy mini-game where both fighters need to out-mash the other to claim victory. While that last mini-game is not as enjoyable as the other two, all three add some nice variety to the festivities.

Even with the advantages some of these mini-games may bestow, some fights might not be a simple walk in the park. While the game may adjust to fit a player's skill levels, especially if they endure multiple consecutive losses, it can still be a challenge. While playing the story mode, or against AI opponents, can devolve into aimless button-mashing, disappointingly, fighting against actual players make it clear some skill will definitely be required. Getting some practice in is a must, no question. Pulling off combos and effectively blocking is both satisfying and thrilling, as is coming out on top against a player-controlled combatant. It can be an uneven experience, but it ultimately tilts toward the positive.

If there is any aspect that players, especially long-time Mortal Kombat fans, might not like is the lack of the extreme and incredibly, ludicrously over-the-top violence the franchise is known for. While there is still plenty of bloodshed to be had, there's none of the expected beheadings, dismemberments and elaborate kills here in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. There are a small number of fatalities still, but near-exclusive to the Mortal Kombat side of the fight. DC Comics characters can pull off brutalities, violent (and usually tongue-in-cheek) takedowns that leave their opponent alive and usually in one piece. It's tamer than what we've seen in previous Mortal Kombat titles, and will likely turn off some fans, but it's to be expected when handling corporate-owned IPs, especially of the kid-friendly/all-ages.

Additionally, while the game does offer a fair amount of content, there could definitely be more. After the story mode, which most should be able to finish within 4 - 6 hours at the most, there's not much more to do after that. Despite offering a few modes to mess around with, there's not much in terms of replay. The arcade mode is fun and worth a try, but offers little incentive to return once you've completed all the fights. There's also a challenge mode which, while enjoyable, can be tricky and occasionally frustrating, again with little incentive to give it a shot again if you manage to complete it. Despite a nice amount of characters and a fair amount of stages, and some other modes to try out, it's unlikely many will still be playing these for months and months on end.

However, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe has a solid multiplayer mode that is both challenging and enthralling. It's just a basic one-on-one matches, sure, and that right there is enough. There's ranked and unranked matches, along with AI, and there's little doubt players will spend plenty of time testing their might.

And while you're either dishing it out or taking it, it's all done in a stylish presentation. Graphics and character designs are excellent across the board, and the game is riddled with neat little touches. Voice acting is also solid, with the cast nicely matched to their video game persona. Characters look increasingly damaged the more hits they take, and so on. Stages are full of neat homages and nods to their respective source materials, and every blow sounds as gross and painful as you'd expect.

Despite the odds, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe ends up being an entertaining albeit imperfect fighter that will probably catch more than a few fans by surprise. The fighting mechanics are as solid as one would expect from a Mortal Kombat game, even if it's not as ludiscously over-the-top as the franchise tends to be. For comics fans, it'll be a blast to see some of their four-color favorites square off against each other in some pretty spectacular bouts. Despite the easy controls, some aspects of the gameplay can be difficult, especially for new players, but that shouldn't stop any interested party from picking up a copy. While burdened with a hiccup or two, the final product is a blast and a genuinely surprising entry into the Mortal Kombat franchise, plus it's a great, novel use of some of comicdom's most beloved characters. Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe comes Recommended!

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