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Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe: Story, Kombos, and More

Midway swings through with a nearly complete version of Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, and we take a look at its various modes.

  


Green Lantern busts out a wall!
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is finished. Well, maybe not "gone gold, take a vacation" finished, but development seems to be wrapping up as the game enters the submission process, where Microsoft and Sony can try to poke holes in it before approving its eventual release. Midway came through the office this morning with the Xbox 360 version of the game and let us take a crack at it.

This is the third different version of the game I've seen over the course of its development, and as a nearly-complete game, it feels pretty different than it did back at PAX, and vastly different from how it felt back at E3. Back then, the game seemed fun and also kind of simple--but apparently that's just because the development team wasn't close to finished. Today, the game feels like it retains that level of play, but it also appears to have much deeper, skill-based angle to it, one focused on the proper timing of your moves and combos, resulting in wild juggles, much like the stuff you'd expect to see in the early games in the series.

As I was getting worked over quite badly by Midway's Paulo Garcia, I could see some of the horrific things he was doing to me were going to take some skill to pull off. This game doesn't seem to be about the basic memorization of combo strings, like some other 3D fighters (including the past couple of MK games) have placed an emphasis on. Instead, it's about making sure that you can land a couple of ground hits that end in a pop-up, letting you work in some special moves and sort of fling your opponent around the screen. In the case of Wonder Woman, well, she uses her lasso to make sure you get to experience every little corner of the screen as you're being tossed around.

There will be blood.
Of course, there's a way out of all this. That's a good thing, because it's set up to prevent scenarios where you might as well set down the controller for five or six seconds every time you get hit as you get comboed around like a ragdoll. Combo breakers are earned as you fill up your character's rage meter, and hitting forward and block will essentially bust out of any hit that touches you at the cost of half your rage meter. Careful planning and use of the breakers seems to be key.

If you can save up your breakers and fill your meter, you can pull both of the triggers to enter rage mode for a bit. Rage mode disables your reaction to getting hit, so you can kind of punch your way through oncoming attacks to deal out damage while your character glows with a cool, yellowish tinge... like he or she was infected with cyber-jaundice or something. Being in the rage state doesn't make you invincible, though. You might be able to punch through an attack and crush your opponent's guard, but you'll still take damage and get dropped if you run out of health.

Between the breakers and the game's 2D feel, the game feels like a good mesh of the things that were interesting about the previous generation of MK games and a lot of the feel of the classic 2D games in the franchise. Things like the way a jump kick sort of sticks in the air for a bit when it lands, or the way Mileena's roll move (now on Kitana, as Mileena herself doesn't appear in the game) serves you up for an easy uppercut if blocked really go a long way.

There's a tightness to the gameplay that the previous MK games seemed to lack, with a lot of extra little moves and tweaks that can be done to alter up or branch existing moves. For example, Raiden has his classic teleport. But if you do the teleport move and then quickly do another, he'll quickly teleport twice, which sounds like it could be good for tripping players up. Batman has a move that lets him quickly throw two batarangs if done with the proper timing, Sonya's leg grab has an enhanced version that pops enemies up for a juggle if done with just the right timing, and so on. These moves might not be required for the average player to have a good time, but they seem like they'll definitely be worth learning if you want to be the best.

To finish off the fights, each character will have two finishing moves. While the fatalities that I've seen so far aren't exactly grisly and shocking in the way that the old MK games were, they seem to retain the spirit of what finishing moves are supposed to be--over-the-top and occasionally-ridiculous ways to slap an exclamation point on the end of a fight. Lex Luthor, for example, taps his wrist computer for a bit, causing a ton of lock-on targets to appear on his victim. Then, a bunch of missiles come flying out of the sky, blowing up and knocking over the loser. Of course, if this were a regular MK game, the guy would then explode and reveal a billion ribcages, but I didn't miss that too much. Besides, this game totally has the Liu Kang MK1 arcade machine drop from Mortal Kombat 3. So it's already A-OK in my book.

Between this being an all-new engine and the first game that the MK team has done for this generation of consoles, it makes sense that the game is much more focused on the fighting this time around, rather than tossing in a bunch of adventure modes, or kart racing, or a puzzle game. But there is a pretty lengthy story mode that will explain why, exactly, all these MK and DC characters are getting together in the first place.

Raiden can charge his fireball, but if you hold it for too long, it'll blow up in his hands.
The story mode opens with a choice of the MK side or the DC side. In each story, you'll play as that side's respective characters. Both stories take place concurrently, so by playing both you'll get to see the events from different angles. I played through the first few fights of the DC side, which starts out with Superman defeating Darkseid and arresting Lex Luthor. But from there you take control of the Flash, who encounters a couple of different DC bad guys before Kano gets into the middle of things. Before too long, the Flash is taking on Batman.

Wait... why would those guys fight each other? They're both good guys! That brings us to the main focus of the game's story: The Rage. The Rage is an infection of sorts that travels from character to character and makes them behave a little strangely. It appears to provide a good story-line justification for all of the different crazy match-ups that are possible in the game. Ed Boon told us that each side of the story should take players around three hours to complete, and that each side contained around an hour of cutscenes as a part of that number.

The other modes are all focused on the fighting, like a practice mode, online play, and the kombo challenge. This seems similar to the trial minigames that you'll find in the practice modes of some games, and it has you attempt to pull off ten unique combos for each character. This plays into the tight timing for juggles and enhanced versions of special moves that I was talking about earlier. On my first handful of tries, I couldn't even get the timing down for Scorpion's first combo. So this seems like it'll be a good way to learn the timing for some of the trickier moves. It also seems like it could be insanely frustrating and time-consuming. It sounds like some achievements and trophies will be assigned to completing these combos. There will also be a standard arcade mode that will have endings for every character.

All in all, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe seems like a smart collection of changes and enhancements to one of the fighting genre's longest-running franchises. It'll be interesting to see how it's received when the game hits shelves on November 16.
Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
36 Comments
Posted by Jeff
  


Green Lantern busts out a wall!
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is finished. Well, maybe not "gone gold, take a vacation" finished, but development seems to be wrapping up as the game enters the submission process, where Microsoft and Sony can try to poke holes in it before approving its eventual release. Midway came through the office this morning with the Xbox 360 version of the game and let us take a crack at it.

This is the third different version of the game I've seen over the course of its development, and as a nearly-complete game, it feels pretty different than it did back at PAX, and vastly different from how it felt back at E3. Back then, the game seemed fun and also kind of simple--but apparently that's just because the development team wasn't close to finished. Today, the game feels like it retains that level of play, but it also appears to have much deeper, skill-based angle to it, one focused on the proper timing of your moves and combos, resulting in wild juggles, much like the stuff you'd expect to see in the early games in the series.

As I was getting worked over quite badly by Midway's Paulo Garcia, I could see some of the horrific things he was doing to me were going to take some skill to pull off. This game doesn't seem to be about the basic memorization of combo strings, like some other 3D fighters (including the past couple of MK games) have placed an emphasis on. Instead, it's about making sure that you can land a couple of ground hits that end in a pop-up, letting you work in some special moves and sort of fling your opponent around the screen. In the case of Wonder Woman, well, she uses her lasso to make sure you get to experience every little corner of the screen as you're being tossed around.

There will be blood.
Of course, there's a way out of all this. That's a good thing, because it's set up to prevent scenarios where you might as well set down the controller for five or six seconds every time you get hit as you get comboed around like a ragdoll. Combo breakers are earned as you fill up your character's rage meter, and hitting forward and block will essentially bust out of any hit that touches you at the cost of half your rage meter. Careful planning and use of the breakers seems to be key.

If you can save up your breakers and fill your meter, you can pull both of the triggers to enter rage mode for a bit. Rage mode disables your reaction to getting hit, so you can kind of punch your way through oncoming attacks to deal out damage while your character glows with a cool, yellowish tinge... like he or she was infected with cyber-jaundice or something. Being in the rage state doesn't make you invincible, though. You might be able to punch through an attack and crush your opponent's guard, but you'll still take damage and get dropped if you run out of health.

Between the breakers and the game's 2D feel, the game feels like a good mesh of the things that were interesting about the previous generation of MK games and a lot of the feel of the classic 2D games in the franchise. Things like the way a jump kick sort of sticks in the air for a bit when it lands, or the way Mileena's roll move (now on Kitana, as Mileena herself doesn't appear in the game) serves you up for an easy uppercut if blocked really go a long way.

There's a tightness to the gameplay that the previous MK games seemed to lack, with a lot of extra little moves and tweaks that can be done to alter up or branch existing moves. For example, Raiden has his classic teleport. But if you do the teleport move and then quickly do another, he'll quickly teleport twice, which sounds like it could be good for tripping players up. Batman has a move that lets him quickly throw two batarangs if done with the proper timing, Sonya's leg grab has an enhanced version that pops enemies up for a juggle if done with just the right timing, and so on. These moves might not be required for the average player to have a good time, but they seem like they'll definitely be worth learning if you want to be the best.

To finish off the fights, each character will have two finishing moves. While the fatalities that I've seen so far aren't exactly grisly and shocking in the way that the old MK games were, they seem to retain the spirit of what finishing moves are supposed to be--over-the-top and occasionally-ridiculous ways to slap an exclamation point on the end of a fight. Lex Luthor, for example, taps his wrist computer for a bit, causing a ton of lock-on targets to appear on his victim. Then, a bunch of missiles come flying out of the sky, blowing up and knocking over the loser. Of course, if this were a regular MK game, the guy would then explode and reveal a billion ribcages, but I didn't miss that too much. Besides, this game totally has the Liu Kang MK1 arcade machine drop from Mortal Kombat 3. So it's already A-OK in my book.

Between this being an all-new engine and the first game that the MK team has done for this generation of consoles, it makes sense that the game is much more focused on the fighting this time around, rather than tossing in a bunch of adventure modes, or kart racing, or a puzzle game. But there is a pretty lengthy story mode that will explain why, exactly, all these MK and DC characters are getting together in the first place.

Raiden can charge his fireball, but if you hold it for too long, it'll blow up in his hands.
The story mode opens with a choice of the MK side or the DC side. In each story, you'll play as that side's respective characters. Both stories take place concurrently, so by playing both you'll get to see the events from different angles. I played through the first few fights of the DC side, which starts out with Superman defeating Darkseid and arresting Lex Luthor. But from there you take control of the Flash, who encounters a couple of different DC bad guys before Kano gets into the middle of things. Before too long, the Flash is taking on Batman.

Wait... why would those guys fight each other? They're both good guys! That brings us to the main focus of the game's story: The Rage. The Rage is an infection of sorts that travels from character to character and makes them behave a little strangely. It appears to provide a good story-line justification for all of the different crazy match-ups that are possible in the game. Ed Boon told us that each side of the story should take players around three hours to complete, and that each side contained around an hour of cutscenes as a part of that number.

The other modes are all focused on the fighting, like a practice mode, online play, and the kombo challenge. This seems similar to the trial minigames that you'll find in the practice modes of some games, and it has you attempt to pull off ten unique combos for each character. This plays into the tight timing for juggles and enhanced versions of special moves that I was talking about earlier. On my first handful of tries, I couldn't even get the timing down for Scorpion's first combo. So this seems like it'll be a good way to learn the timing for some of the trickier moves. It also seems like it could be insanely frustrating and time-consuming. It sounds like some achievements and trophies will be assigned to completing these combos. There will also be a standard arcade mode that will have endings for every character.

All in all, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe seems like a smart collection of changes and enhancements to one of the fighting genre's longest-running franchises. It'll be interesting to see how it's received when the game hits shelves on November 16.
Staff
Posted by Ghost_of_Perdition

It's looking good. I'll await your review.

Posted by Gump

Blood + Super Attacks/Special Moves + Powers + Combos + Various Modes = The standard formula of an awesome fighting game, but too slow at all = aghhh!!!

Posted by MKHavoc

This game is coming along pretty well, but it sounds like the story mode is gonna be a bit short.

Posted by OzzerOzby
Posted by Linkyshinks

It all sounds awesome to a fan of both franchises. I know I am going to have fun with it.

Posted by MackGyver

Sounds like a good game. Wasn't really sure how Mortal Kombat and the DC Universe would be. Let's face it, who would EVER EVER EVER think that these two franchises would come together? And yet, here they are and the gameplay looks really good so far.

Posted by Hamz

Awesome

Posted by Player1

Sweet. 

Posted by giyanks22

Sweet x 2

Posted by zoozilla

I'm apprehensively optimistic.

Posted by Death_Burnout

its got the Arcade Drop!? SOLD!

Posted by BoG

Liu Kang drops the arcade machine? Count me in.

Posted by jakob187

Game's gonna be crap.

You heard it hear first.

QTEs ftl.
Posted by daniel_beck_90

I'll wait for tekken 6

Posted by ImperiousRix

Although this game's kinda dropped sorta low on my game radar since SO many good games are out this year, I'm still definitely gonna play it... probably just not as soon as it comes out.

Posted by AaronBelfast

Yup, I'll wait for Jeff's review before I jump the gun and buy this game.

Posted by Yagami

I'll wait, it is apparent that there still are some major flaws in the game. Anyway, Jeff's review will decide whether i'll get it or not, but so far it is STRONGLY, or VIOLENTLY leaning towards a...

Rated F for F**CKBALLS!
Posted by gamefish

If you've been following this game since E3, its developed into a seemingly entirely different game. And that's a good thing. It's a lock for me this fall. It will have to be a lock for alot of people, however, to save Midway. I'm cautiously optimistic MKvDCU may just do it.

Posted by Lepuke

Being a fan of arcade and old school games I have a ton of respect for Ed Boon, I really really do.
The last MK game I bought was Armageddon and I loved it.
But the only thing about this game that gives it a smidge of a chance of my ever buying it is the fact that Baraka was not cut from the roster.
Especially since I pretty much hate most DC comic characters (always have since I was a kid), and I am really not digging them being in the game.

Posted by friendleefire

I'll def. wait for some reviews on this one.  Just a couple years ago it felt like the fighting genre was dead... and now we are getting flooded with them.  Not that I mind at all, it just makes for some stiff competition as to which ones I will pick up.  I already have Soul Calibur and am eagerly anticipating Street Fighter HD Remix and Street Fighter 4.  I just don't know if this will be on par with the other fighters coming out.  I hope I am pleasantly surprised.

Posted by chicNstu360

Bring back the old kommercials too. You now where the guy screams "MORTAL KOMBAT" and every one starts running. That would be cool.

Posted by Milkman

Its look cool and all but I don't think there is any denying: Street Fighter 4 > MKVDC

Posted by Media_Master

gonna be good

Posted by coonce

cannot wait for this game

Posted by Kohe321

This will be cool me thinks!

Posted by guzzyla

i am really going nuts about this game in a good way of course and the more they show the more I want  but ,  i still want the characters from the game to look more realistic.... if you guys played "ICON"  you might get my point . I know that at the end of the day is the game-play that matters the most and that looks are just superficial..... only if they would have made more than four special moves for all the characters in the game.( I think that it was more than twenty in the game) maybe a lot of people would had played "ICON" for more than a month.

Posted by Dryker

This game looks pretty promising. If the moves have as much CRUNCH as they appear to have, I may just have to pick this one up. I'm so bored with fighting games that feel empty. If something similar to CliffyB's philosophy towards sound has been applied to MK vs DC, it could really kick some ass. I want to punch a watermelon filled with Ruffles! Bring it. 

Posted by John

Everyone is going to play as batman online. heh. Dude looks badass.

Posted by RenegadeSaint

The Rage explanation doesn't do it for me.  It sounds like something they made up as a filler explanation, but forgot to replace it during development.

Posted by kuchoco

While this game looks like it could be solid, it is way behind in the pack in terms of games to pick up this fall/winter.  In the last week alone, I have picked up Dead Space, LittleBigPlanet, and Rock Band 2.  The only games left I HAVE to have by the end of the year are Fallout 3, Resistance 2, and Prince of Persia.  MK vs. DC would, at best, be something I pick up at a bargain bin six months from now.

Posted by Blitzer

MIght be the first fighting game I buy in years. Crossing fingers.

Posted by Pop

Me wanna gore T-rating sucks, don't like it.

Posted by VenomMelendez

''The Rage explanation doesn't do it for me'' It makes perfect sense if we consider Darkseid's Anti-Life equation.



Anyway, the game has been looking good so far and can't wait to get it as an MK fan and a DC fan.

Edited by Dryker

Jeff made a comment on the 10/21 bombcast concerning Dave Halverson of Play magazine (one of, if not, my favorite gaming journalist). It turns out that Dave wrote an article concerning the present state of videogame criticism and was very interested in hearing my fellow Giantbombers' opinion. My blog: http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/Dryker/blog/ has a link to the article. ( To avoid any confusion, I am not attempting to attack Jeff. I think he and his colleagues are some of the most respectable and interesting people in the industry.) Excuse me if I'm off topic, but I would really like some input.

Posted by cikame

My favorite character is kung lao.................. ffs.