Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe

GC 2008: Mortal Kombat v DC Universe Preview

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I know what you’re thinking... “Oh no, not another tie-in fighting game”... “This is Capcom vs Marvel all over again”. Don’t worry, we were thinking that too before we got to the Games Convention, but we were definitely pleasantly surprised at the latest addition to the Mortal Kombat franchise; Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe.
Mixing two universes like this generally doesn’t go down too well and always tends to wind up the wrong crowd somewhere along the way but it seems as if Midway have struck a balance between the two. It will a.) keep the die-hard Mortal Kombat fans happy by not sacrificing too much of the trademark gore and violence and b.) not demean the DC Universe so much where it becomes, frankly ridiculous. I think it’s safe to say, mission accomplished.
In MK vs DC, the two universes have collided and each universe thinks the other is an evil force trying to push them out of existence, so what’s the best way to do that? Well, with all that testosterone flying around, fight each other is of course the right answer. The narrative, although unknown to us at the moment, builds the whole scenario up and reveals how, amongst other things, the Man of Steel is not ... Steel anymore. The final game will feature about 20-22 main characters, equally split from two universes but no word as of yet as to who, or what universe the final boss will be from.
During our hands on with the game we got to play with about 10 different characters from the two different universes, namely Superman, Batman, The Joker, Catwoman and the Flash from the DC universe and; Sonya, Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Kitana and Shang Tsung from the Mortal Kombat dimension. Each character had their own trademark special moves that you would usually associate with them; with the Mortal Kombat characters remaining the same and the DC Characters making use of their super powers; Superman gets is heat vision, Flash his incredible speed and Catwoman, erm... Her whip.
It controls just as you would expect a Mortal Kombat game to. Using the d-pad allows you to play it true to its arcade roots but obviously the current 360 control pad poses a problem with this. However, if the rumours are true and the images surfacing from Leipzig are anything to go by, we should be safe with that new rumoured controller. Using the analogue stick allows the character to take on a more modernistic fighting approach by allowing them to access the 3D sphere of combat. It’s handy for avoiding Scorpion’s spear, but it just doesn’t feel like Mortal Kombat,  and so we went back to the d-pad.
What brings the game forward and makes it stand out from the rest of the series rather than just a layer of polish? Simple, the game boasts two new gameplay features that are a great addition to the title, the two modes being; Freefall Kombat and Close Kombat.
Freefall Kombat is a simple mini game-esque feature that triggers when a player is thrown down a level or through a wall. At this point the other player will ride him down to the bottom pounding the living daylights out of him by pressing the one of the four combat buttons. However, let’s spice this up a little, if the person taking the beating matches his opponents button press, then the tables turn and they counter the move which gives them the upper hand. It’s actually quite a fun little mini-game that between friends turns in to a battle of minds. Hit them enough times without them reversing it and you can unleash a power attack with the Right Bumper.
Close Kombat works in the same way but is a standing grab, rather than falling grab and there is no special move at the end. These little scenes are great as the camera actually pans in and you can see the detailed character models that actually sustain damage as you pulverise them or get pulverised yourself.
Gone are the blood pools and overtly elaborate finishing moves in Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe but frankly, you don’t even notice. There was, and still is a lot of concern running up to the release that because the title will not be rated M for mature that it would detract from the series. Midway seem to have pushed the boundaries as far as they can with the teen rating because if the Joker can get away with a point blank ranged head shot execution with a revolver as his finishing move, I’m sure the rest are just as bad. However, you won’t be ripping out Superman’s spine... Which although would have been a tad unrealistic, would have been the highlight of my gaming life. Don’t worry though, fatalities and brutalities do appear... Just not the overtly brutal ones.
The first signs of the new Mortal Kombat title are very promising. They have a lot to live up to with Soul Calibur’s recent incarnation being so impressive, but initial signs point towards a solid title. It still feels like Mortal Kombat despite the lack of a mature rating and in most instances, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference. This certainly looks like it’s shaping up to be best fighting title due out this side of Christmas and it does the Mortal Kombat name some justice indeed... Let’s put it this way... It’s a hell of a lot more fun than Street Fighter IV was which we also played at the Convention, so look out for that preview next week.
Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe will be hitting retailers in fall of this year.


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Game Info


US November 17, 2008

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