They said it couldn't be done. Actually what they really said was it shouldn't be done, followed by several what the hell were they thinkings, but Midway went and did it anyway. Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe is a concept that frightened and confused quite a few people in the gaming community, but as new footage and details trickled out the concept slowly began to grow on us. Soon we found ourselves looking forward to beating up Sonya Blade with Wonder Woman, or Batman with Scorpion. It might not be so bad, right?
Only one way to know for sure. Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe versus the game critics. Round one, fight!
The story concerns an interdimensional accident in which Mortal Kombat bigwig Shao Khan and DC tyrant Darkseid get fused into one bundle of bad attitude creatively named Dark Kahn. He's also notable for having one of the most uninspired designs in fighting game boss history. You've got Shao Khan and Darkseid to work with and you come up with a big flamey skullfaced dude? C'mon, guys.
When things were 2D on your SEGA Genesis and Super Nintendo, Mortal Kombat was simple: up was jump, down was crouch, and left/right moved you left/right. Being an awesome fighter came down to timing your blocks and moves while dodging ranged attacks the best that you could with your limited movement options. However, when MK made the move to the 3D realm, things got sticky. Suddenly, characters could just walk deeper into the plane and watch Liu Kang's fireballs float past them harmlessly. Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe blends both of these styles with a varied amount of success.
Fans of old-school Mortal Kombat action will delighted with the fighting engine in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. Gone are the weapons and multiple fighting styles from the last few iterations, as are the super-long chain combos, replaced with shorter chains that can be linked together with other attacks to form long juggle combos. The quick, twitchy combat action found in MK3 is back, and for the first time in years, Mortal Kombat feels like Mortal Kombat again.
As far as the DC characters, they've all been given the Mortal Kombat treatment, as each and every one of them boast the infamous MK uppercut, on top of a fatality. Yes, fatalities are still very much a part of the game, they cannot be done in the story mode for obvious reasons, but all bets are off when you're playing the game's arcade mode. In addition to uppercuts and fatalities, all of the DC fighters also boast their unique signature attacks straight out of the comic books, and while their fighting styles are more Mortal Kombat than anything else, it helps to seamlessly blend them with the MK fighters. Lastly, all fighters gain the ability to trigger "Rage Mode", a temporary state of invulnerability that can be activated when your Rage bars fill up.
Personally, I didn't find the lack of M-rated violence to be that big of a deal. Even when fatalities are present, they're only really meaningful for the first month or so, when they're fresh and new. After that, everyone's seen them all, and they only serve to make the downtime between fights longer. But it all comes back to why you're personally interested in Mortal Kombat. For some people, the action is the juice. For others, it's all about the gory displays at the end of the fight. For what it's worth, the game does have blood during fights, so hits to the face will result in a bit of splatter. Also, clothing gets ripped up as you get beaten, resulting in some great-looking scuffs and scrapes at the end of the fight.
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe may have been knocked around for some of its design decisions, most notably the inclusion of DC characters and the toned down violence, but it's still an enjoyable ride. The game looks damn good... from a distance, as things can get a little uglier up close. The most disappointing thing about MK vs. DCU, though, is its lasting value. The head-to-head fighting may offer near infinite replayability to the more dedicated MK fan, but the depth of content left us wanting more.
Not quite the best of both worlds, but a little good from each.