Great addition to the franchise but it lacks content and length.
When Midway announced in early 2008 that the new Mortal Kombat game was going to be tied with the DC Universe, most people weren’t very happy. Even though there was Marvel vs. Capcom and X-Men vs. Street Fighter II released in the late 90s, this was a bigger surprise. If this wasn’t enough to piss off the fans but Midway also announced the game was striving to be rated T for Teen in . (The equivalent for the would be somewhere around 12+ to 16+) This meant that the game wasn’t going to have the over the top blood that the previous games had and that was probably the thing that got Mortal Kombat so much popularity in the mainstream in the first place. I definitely felt the same way at first and many even assumed that this game was going to be total garbage but I was completely wrong. Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is an excellent fighting game and it definitely stands on its own as a Mortal Kombat game.
Unlike Marvel vs. Capcom, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe actually tries to tell a story and make it possible that these two different licensed properties are coming together in the game. The story mode is split into two separate campaigns, one for the MK side and another for the DC side. They are both really the same actually, they are just told from the two different perspectives. The story mode is completely linear and you don’t even get to pick your fighter, you are assigned a character and you just fight match after match. There are some nice looking cutscenes in between the action which do tell the story but the story just isn’t that great. It is a silly sort of story where the two universes at first fight each other but then they realise that they should fight together against the true enemy instead, it is just a bit daft really. This story mode is pretty good on the first go through but there is no replay value whatsoever since the story plays identically every time. But still, I am happy that there is such a mode included.
The gameplay in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe has been remade from the ground up for this generation of consoles. It is fair to say that they have made it play more like the 2D games which is an excellent thing. The movement is more like the 2D games in that ifyou hit up, you jump and if you hit down, you crouch but you can still move up and down by using the analogue stick. The game is most definitely Mortal Kombat and it plays to the strengths of the series. Some of the features that were in the last few games have been removed like the different stance changing combat. All this was that you were able to switch different fighting moves but it was unnecessarily and overloaded the game. This has been removed but also the death traps from Deception and Armageddon are gone too, perhaps because these were very gory and they wouldn’t have been able to let it be included. But instead the game has brought several new gameplay elements to the table. Klose Kombat and Free Fall Kombat are both two new elements that are fun to watch and it is were the player attacking the other presses the face buttons to attack while the other player has to guess the button to reverse the situation so that they are attacking. There is also a stage where it is able to smash the other player through the wall and depending on how hard you bash the buttons the more damage you do. These small elements to not revolutionise the gameplay or anything, but they are fun parts of gameplay and they break up the action excellently. The gameplay itself is definitely so much fun. There is plenty of great combos and moves to pull off and the game is just generally a lot of fun both for Mortal Kombat fans and fighting game fans overall.
Each of the fighters have their own signature moves as always and they look fantastic in this game. The character roster in the game is an even mix of both Mortal Kombat characters and DC Universe characters. The Mortal Kombat characters are best described as a greatest hits collection of characters with some of the best characters in the series and they all either appeared in the first Mortal Kombat or Mortal Kombat II. The DC Universe side are more focused on characters who the general public would recognise like Batman, Catwoman, Lex Luthor and so on but there are some more underground characters like Deathstroke added for good measure.
All of the moves you would expect to be there like Scorpion’s spear, ’s cannon ball attack and Shang Tsung’s flaming skulls and they act just like they should. The new DC characters have moves that you would expect to have. Batman throws his signature Batarangs for example and the Green Lantern uses his rings to summon weapons and tools to use against the enemy. The game feels perfectly balanced so there are no cheap characters or no characters that overpower the others, it is great. When people heard that the over the top gore from the previous games will be removed but overall, it does not hurt the game or it’s appeal. True Mortal Kombat fans really like the game for it’s gameplay and not necessarily for the violence. There is still some blood when you hit a character and as the fight unfolds, you will see bruises and cuts appear on the fighters face from combat. It is a cool looking effect and shows that the game hasn’t toned down the violence all of the way. The signature Fatalities from before are still here and a lot of them are very good despite the toned down violence. All of the Mortal Kombat characters and the evil DC characters have Fatalities while the good DC characters have Heroic Brutalities because they would never actually kill anyone so they are staying true to the source material. Many of the Mortal Kombat characters have Fatalities are actually very similar to Fatalities that you have seen before in previous games but without the gore. Jax still claps the head and Sonya still blows the kiss of death, it is very similar stuff to before. However, some of the new Fatalities are just weak and terrible like ’s where he does some sort of move that just looks like a normal move, its just bad. But still the finishing moves are still very good and are a lot of fun to do.
One of the main complaints I have with Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is that there just isn’t enough content in the game. There is the arcade mode which is pretty good but it gets boring after a while, the story mode is so short and offers no replay value and there is a combo challenge mode where you have to perform certain combos in a row but it is so difficult and most people will not bother to finish it, including me. All that is left is the online multiplayer which is actually very good. You will get some laggy matches but my experience with the online was actually very fun and recommended. All I can criticise here is that after you get the achievements and whatnot, there isn’t much reason to keep playing. But still, playing with friends is a lot of fun.
Overall, the graphics in this game are excellent. The game is actually being run on the Unreal 3 Engine though you wouldn’t think it. This is the first time we have been able to see a new Mortal Kombat game in this high of a resolution and the characters in this game also look superb. There is so much detail and the animation is very smooth. The environments look very good also making good use of filter effects and again, lots of detail.
The sound in the game isn’t quite as good but it still isn’t bad. The music in the game serves its purpose but it isn’t as memorable as previous MK tunes. Also, the voice acting during story mode often comes across as flat but for a fighting game, the voice acting is somewhat decent. The sound of combat are very well done from the sounds of people get punched in the face to the ambience in the different environments.
Overall, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is a great fighting game and it has turned out a lot better than many expected. While it may not be the best fighting game ever due to it’s lack of options, it is the gameplay that is important at the end of the day and it is here where Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe shines.