Midway Amusement Games
Number of Players:
: November 16, 2008
November 21, 2008
$59.99; $69.99 (Kollector’s Edition)
T for Teen
ESRB Content Descriptors:
Blood, Suggestive Themes, Violence
Many of us can remember the old days when we spent countless quarters on the Arcade game called Mortal Kombat (henceforth MK) in 1992. It was unique, as it portrayed something not seen in fighting games: gore. With it’s blood and Fatalities, we had an experience unlike any other. Another thing that made MK different from the pack was the fact than most characters fight very
similarly, with their special moves setting each apart. This led to a focus on special moves rather than combat style.
Seven sequels later we arrive to Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe (henceforth MKvDCU), MK’s entry to this generation (PS3/360). This is the first crossover game in MK’s history. I remember the day this was announced, the inner geek in me aroused and I was trilled. The possibility of Superman (a Human with Godly strength) fighting Raiden (a God himself) and Batman (Master Martial artist) fighting Liu Kang (winner of many MK tournaments) boggled my mind.
The Game’s story happens after the events of MK 3, just after the defeat of Shao Kahn's invasion of Earthrealm by Raiden and his warriors. Raiden attempts to kill Kahn by shooting lighting at him before he escapes with a portal. His lightning affects the portal and sends Kahn to an unknown location. At the same time on Earth (Earthrealm and Earth are treated as parallel universes), Superman is stopping Darkseid’s invasion. He uses his Laser vision on Darkseid as he enters a Boomtube and (like Raiden did on Kahn) the Boomtube is disorted and sends Darkseid to an unknown location. Both these acts send Darkseid and Shao Kahn to the same place, merging them into a single entity called Dark Kahn which in turn causes the DC Universe and the Mortal Kombat Universe to slowly merge as one. The characters’ powers start to fluctuate because of this (i.e. Superman becomes weaker, The Joker get very strong, etc.) and they get at some point a sudden violent rage outbreak (visualized be glowing yellow eyes and a voice distortion). This leads to allies fighting allies, heroes acting out of place, and other events.
This is a story written by DC comic writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray. It explains why Superman can be on toe-to-toe with Scorpion, etc (apart that Superman is weekend by Magic and the whole MK Universe revolves on magic). While “corny” or “clichéd” from a comicbook perspective, it does its job on setting why this Cross-over is happening and it is well explained. Nevertheless, it is a bit disappointing to not see a well developed story, especially since DC was involved in the writing.
MKvDCU offers a few modes of play. For one player mode, there is the Story Mode, which offers you to play the story from the MK perspective or the DC perspective. Each side is divided into 7 chapters. In each Chapter, you'll play as a single character for 4 battles. This is a nice way to introduce you to the game, as you'll use 7 different characters on each Story.
Also, there is the classic Arcade Mode in which you fight a series of battles in sequence leading to the final boss (Dark Kahn who is a real challenge). This is old standby in all MK games and it isn't much different here. Lastly there is the Kombo Challenge, a series of 10 combos and pro-moves (special commands for cancelling a special into another or extending specials) for each character for you to pull of, ranging from the easy to the near impossible. This mode helps you learn this moves, as the ingame "move lists" doesn't show them.
In the case of two players, there is the classic versus mode, and there is online play. For online play, Midway made a system based on rooms. There are four premade rooms (Gotham City, Metropolis, Netherealm, and Outworld) plus you can make your own (good for gathering of friends and making tournaments). Each room has a 100 max capacity. Inside each room, you can see each person’s connection, you can chat, and challenge others. There is also a queue which popup after any battle in the room informing who won and who lost and if on of them is on a winning streak. Online gameplay works well, with little to no lag at all from my experience (very important in a fighting game). The room system is a great step, and I hope in future installments it stays. I would have like for user-made rooms to have passwords, but still it works well.
Everything is better with explosives
MKvDCU is a 3D fighting game with basis/core on 2D combat. You move forward, back, jump, and crouch with the D-Pad. To sidestep, hold L2/LT and press up or down on the D-Pad, or just press up or down on the left stick. There are four attacks, each assigned to each face button (Square, Triangle, X, Circle on PS3 and X, Y, A, B on 360). L1/LB does Throws while R1/RB does Grabs (details on Grabs later). Lastly, R2/RT is Block. The controls are simple enough and not overwhelmingly hard to master. All characters have special moves which are done with directional + attack commands, for example SubZero’s Freeze is Down Back + attack 3 (X on PS3, A on 360). Each character has also a few combos to be done. One cool aspect is that every combo can chain to a special move before the 3rd hit, so say if you have a X, X, Square combo, you can do X, X, Special move. This opens up to a variety of possibilities. Some will like this simplicity, those who are into technical fighters may not (I personally like it). But don't worry, there is some more depth.
There are 4 aspects new to MK in this game: Free Fall Kombat, Klose Kombat, Test your Might events, and the Rage Bar. Free Fall Kombat is triggered when you do a strong attack against an opponent who’s back is facing a Free Fall Kombat Zone (think an area where he can be pushed off). You push your opponent of the edge and you start fighting while falling. In Free Fall Kombat, the attacker can press one of the four attack buttons to make an attack. The defender can try to guess each button press and if he does, the attacker and defender switch places. Upon reaching 15% of damage (half the bar that pops up), you can press R1/RB to do a Finishing Move to add a bit of more damage and end Free Fall Kombat. You can do up to 30% damage maximum in Free Fall Kombat. Free Fall Kombat makes the game more dynamic and makes you aware of your surroundings (a.k.a. your location is important and teleport moves become a great tool), at the cost of slowing the pace a bit while the long fall is happening. Also, the guessing game may turn off some players.
Where do you thing you're going one-eye?
Klose Kombat happens when you Grab an opponent (R1/RB). The camera closes in and like Free Fall Kombat, attacker can press one of the four attack buttons to make an attack. The defender can try to guess each button press and if he does, he’ll make a counter attack and end Klose Kombat. Like Free Fall Kombat, you can do up to 30% damage maximum. Likewise, like Free Fall Kombat, it makes the game more dynamic at the cost of slowing the pace a bit and making it a guessing game. Again, I liked it.
This isn't gonna turn out well
Test your Might events are activated in a similar fashion to Free Fall Kombat, but instead your opponent’s back is facing a Test your Might Zone (think an area where there are many walls to push him through). A bar gauging damage will popup on top of the screen while you’re pushing him/her. Both the attacker and defender smash the face buttons. The faster the attacker does it, the more damage, while the faster the defender does it, the less damage he’ll take. Like Free Fall Kombat, it makes you keep an eye on what your back is facing and makes teleports great moves. It is a fast event, with no guessing (just see who button smashes faster), so there isn't a real down side to them.
Lastly, there is the Rage Bar. It is a small yellow bar under your health. It builds up by you hitting your opponent, getting hit, or doing special moves. Upon reaching the half way point you can perform a counter to an enemy hit by pressing Forward and Block (this will deplete half of the Rage Bar). When it is full, you can enter Rage Mode by Pressing L2/LT and R2/RT (the Rage Bar will start to deplete slowly). During Rage Mode, you hit for 50% more damage and your second hit of every combo with break the opponents block, meaning from the third hit onward you’ll hit for 50% more damage even if they blocked. Another effect of Rage Mode is that you won’t be stunned by any attack from your opponent (you’ll still take damage though). The Rage Bar is a mixed bag. While it does allow for Counter moves and the Rage Mode trigger, sometimes it will make the clear winner lose because the apparent loser "Rages" and pulls off a bunch of damage to get the win.
MK’s Fatalities make a return, but I have mixed feelings on them. Let me explain myself. Midway was pushing for a T rating, so obviously the Fatalities took a bit of a less gore look at them. This was in part because DC is involved (they don’t want their characters to get massacred on screen) and it is understandable. It is a bit of a letdown, but I can accept it, due to DC beign involved. Also, some people are disappointed the DC Heroes don’t have Fatalities and that they got the less violent “Heroic Brutalities”. Now let me ask you something, would Batman or Superman kill a man? Heck no! That is why they did it. It isn’t in their nature to kill.
Burn baby Burn!
To summarize, MKvDCU brings an old style of gameplay (Fighting highly focused on 2D) with new gameplay elements (Free Fall Kombat, Klose Kombat, Test your Might & the Rage Bar) to make a refreshing take on MK’s formula. Some may find some of these new elements will slow down the pace a bit, but in my case, it only added to the experience and didn’t hinder it.
The environments are well executed. The Batcave gives that dark ambiance, Netherealm has that glowing lava and hotness, Metropolis is a destruction site, and so on. When doing Free Fall Kombat or Test your Might events, the breaking of the Background looks fluid and natural. As far as character goes, their design is great. Their rendering in-game is amazing. The textures on some costumes (like the Flash's and DeathStroke's) look very detailed. The game uses the Unreal Engine, so it is expected that the models are well done. I should mention that during fighting, your clothes will start to rip/tear upon getting hit and you’ll get cuts and bruises (exception is Scorpion, being undead, his skin just falls off leaving his skeleton to be seen). This adds a nice touch of realism to the game (especially in Klose Kombat, when the camera zooms in).
One aspect I found disappointing is the absence of alternate costumes. Why? There is no reason for this. DC Characters have had character redesign over the years, they could have used an older design for an alternate costume (i.e. an Adam West-like Batman or oldschool Batman, a Warrior Wonder Woman, the Old Flash with the Hermes metal cap).
The Voice Acting and Sound Effects is superb, specially the Joker (his performance is almost movie quality). Batman talking sounds like Batman, Superman feels like Superman. The Music on the other hand isn't as good. It does the job and does it good, but it could have been better. It is too generic, it just doesn't sound like an epic battle isn't going on, which should be, given the DC cast. If Batman is Fighting SubZero, a music that gives great atmosphere should follow. Sadly, that isn't the case since it leaves you with a "meh" sensation.
MKvDCU is a welcome addition to the MK library and a good start for making the jump to current gen. If you’re a MK fan or a DC fan, pick this up. If you’re a fighting game fan, you’ll probably like it. Rent it and try it before you buy.
+ Seeing iconic DC heroes/villains fight MK characters (biggest appeal in my book)
+ New take on the old MK formula that is refreshing
+ Great Voice Acting
+ Great online
- Corny/Cliched Story
- Some may find that Free Fall Kombat and Klose Kombat slow the fighting too much
- Sometimes Rage Mode will help someone pull off a sneaky win
- Some may find Fatalities/Brutalities to be watered down in comparison to the last few MK games
- Presentation - 7.5/10
- Gameplay – 8.5/10
- Graphics – 9/10
- Sound - 9/10
- Lasting Appeal - 9/10
Final Judgement: 8.5/10