Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe is the musical equivalent of the MK team's Kid A, says associate producer Hector Sanchez. For those unfamiliar with that Radiohead reference, maybe MK vs. DCU being the video game equivalent of a post-make up KISS will make more sense. Regardless of the rock allusion, Sanchez essentially told me at E3 that after seven slogs through the MK universe, expanding and retreading, rinsing and repeating, it was time for a change — a big change.
Like Radiohead and KISS before them, the team decided that there wasn't much further they could take the Mortal Kombat franchise without doing something radical, hoping that after the shock wore off, that the core fans would come along for the ride.
I suspect that they will, with DC devotees also hopping on board. Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe is currently resting at the top of my personal list of biggest surprises at E3 08. Not only is it disarmingly fun, it reminds me of my favourite entry in the series, Mortal Kombat II.
That game may represent the fondest of memories for fans of Midway's Mortal Kombat series. It was bright, but somehow managed to remain moody; dark, but somehow still full of vibrance.
Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe brings the series back to its roots, somehow managing to have Krypton's only son almost fit. Superman may stand out like a sore thumb visually — the Flash and Batman less so — but his moveset and his Brutality are totally MK. Seeing Batman pull off a Kung Lao-like teleport via smokebomb or Flash run 'round the world akin to Scorpion's classic teleport just works.
There's a good weight to all of the new characters, and returning fighters — I played Sub Zero, Scorpion and Sonya — feel solid and familiar. They've been updated with some new moves, with Sub Zero getting some of the most spectacular. Seeing the frosty ninja slip through the floor and rematerialise as an icy clone, well, it literally might induce some chills.
Possibly the most enjoyable member of those selectable at E3 08 was the Flash. His flurries of punches look and sound rather painful.
Other cool additions are the "pro moves", essentially double attacks that require precise timing. These moves will not only keep your enemy on their toes, but you'll be able to further mix up your high level gameplay tactics. Obviously, these moves add a bit of risk, as your kombatant will be locked in his or her animation for twice as long.
Fortunately, MK vs. DCU is very friendly to new players. I'm a lapsed Mortal Kombat fan, personally, having most recently dabbled with Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance and having little interest in the recent additions to the MK roster. Frankly, with so much lore and a cast of characters that once spanned 60-plus fighters, I welcome a whittled down roster of just 20 or so.
There's a lot of variety in here, despite the smaller character count and the removal of weapons and stances. With "Klose Kombat", the paper-rock-scissors style fighting that is also feature in the new "Air Kombat" sequences, and the "Test Your Might" in-fight button mashing fun, it might be a mediumcore fighting game hit. I was pretty much converted on the spot and think that a good number of the "haters" might be too, once they get their mitts on the thing.