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Game Over Online ~ Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe

GameOver Game Reviews - Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe (c) Midway, Reviewed by - Thomas Wilde

Game & Publisher Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe (c) Midway
System Requirements Xbox 360
Overall Rating 86%
Date Published Tuesday, December 16th, 2008 at 04:23 PM

Divider Left By: Thomas Wilde Divider Right

Midway's in a pretty fair amount of trouble as I write this; they're bleeding money and facing bankruptcy. Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe may wind up being the company's swan song.

In a weird sort of way, that may have rebounded to the game's benefit. One of the notable things about the last few Mortal Kombat games is that the actual fighting has been almost peripheral; between Puzzle Kombat, Motor Kombat, Kreate-A-Character, and Konquest, post-Deadly Alliance MK games were so packed with features that the central gameplay may have suffered for it.

MKvDC is very stripped-down by comparison. All you get when you open the box is the central fighting game; there are no gimmicky minigames and no quasi-action-RPG. You play against the computer, you play in story mode, or you play online, but you're playing a fighting game the entire time.

Specifically, you're playing what amounts to UMK3 done right. Deadly Alliance and the games after it were clunky and graceless, and UMK3 itself is fairly notoriously broken. At low levels, you're fending off instant-stun moves from half the cast or getting jacked for 35% because you threw a projectile at CPU Jade; at high levels, you're eating Kung Lao's 100% counter combo or trying desperately to survive against Kabal.

MKvDC has a lot of UMK3's feel, but doesn't make the same mistakes. It's still a bit clunky now and again--like the goofy backwards fall that occasionally happens when a character is KOed by a weak hit--but it's been very carefully constructed. It feels like an actual fighting game from the moment you hit the start button, as opposed to some kind of gimmicky gore show with a fighting game lurking somewhere underneath.

The less you say about the story, admittedly, the better. You can opt to play through the story mode as either the MK or DC cast, fighting four battles with eight characters in a row before facing off against the final boss. The DC side's probably superior, if only because they don't take themselves as seriously, and they have the Joker.

That's fairly irrelevant in the long run, though. When you're fighting, the game's somewhat less twitchy than the MK series is known for. At first, it plays a lot like MK3, complete with many characters regaining the famous MK uppercut, but it has a lot of simple command moves to help tell the characters apart. Liu Kang flips all over the place, Superman loves haymaker punches, Batman has some vicious kicks, and so on.

These command moves replace the old MK3-era dial-a-combos, which means you can pretty much slap your own combinations together out of whatever looks shiny. As characters take or inflict damage, they accumulate Rage meter, which can be cashed in for combo breakers--instantly countering any incoming attack--or to enter Rage mode, where you shrug off incoming hits in favor of a full-out assault.

The Rage system isn't quite as fleshed-out as I'd like it to be, as some characters can combo off the breaker and others don't seem to accumulate meter as quickly, but it's a very nice step in the right direction. There are a few other small issues, like a complete lack of bonus features, but they aren't really worth mentioning.

MKvDC isn't anywhere near as bloody as the MK series usually is, but honestly, there was no reason to expect it to be. The good news is that it's very playable on a level that the Mortal Kombat series rarely manages to reach, and has solid enough net code that you can play online with virtually no lag. If this is going to be Midway's final game, or at least its final game in its current state, it's going out gracefully.


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