Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is a response to Marvel vs. Capcom and while it might be a decade too late, this crossover is exciting nonetheless.
Ever since Marvel vs. Capcom came out in the arcades, this started a tradition of crossover fighting games that would last for decades and would satisfy the fantasies of fans all over the world. But what if you were one of those people who wanted to know who would win between a fight between Scorpion and Superman? You’re in luck, because Midway and Warner Bros. developed a game that lets you settle that dispute. Despite some problems, this crossover will satisfy anyone who’s open to the idea of an unconventional Mortal Kombat game.
There are 20 characters to choose from, including Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Sonya, Shang Tsung, Kitana, Jax, Liu Kang, Raiden, Kano and Baraka from Mortal Kombat and The Joker, Catwoman, The Flash, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Deathstroke, Lex Luthor, Captain Marvel and Green Lantern from DC. As you can see, the most popular characters from both franchises are represented here and while fans will notice that some characters are missing, this is a solid roster.
In terms of modes, there’s single-player content in the form of story mode, combo challenge and practice and multiplayer where people can play locally or online via Xbox Live. In story mode, you choose one of the two sides, see a cinematic and start fighting. The story’s cohesive enough, since the game explains why these character have fair fights (in other words, there’s an explanation as to why Superman doesn’t win every brawl). Basically, both Raiden and Superman repel an invasion in their respective universes and Shao Kahn and Darkside merge into a villain known as Dark Kahn. The mere existence of Dark Kahn fuses the Mortal Kombat and DC worlds into one and should the heroes of those world allow that to continue, both worlds will end. Due to the abnormalities in both universes, the power of each character fluctuate which would explain why Sub-Zero can hurt Superman, for instance. Of course, you have to play the two sides of the story to understand why everything is happening.
The other mode that requires explanation is Kombo challenge. Here you try to pull off the combination of attacks that’s displayed on the screen and there are ten challenges for each character of increasing difficulty. After spending some time on the Kombo challenge mode, I can say that this mode is reserved for those who have mastered the combat or those who are willing to spend a lot of time learning its intricacies and connecting attacks in the most effective and elegant ways. Even as someone who plays a lot of fighting games, I found the Kombo Challenge mode extremely frustrating, since knowing exactly what to do and when is extremely difficult.
So what’s new in this three-dimensional fighting game apart from the part where you can choose characters from both Mortal Kombat and Detective Comics. For starters, the combat system has been completely redesigned from previous Mortal Kombat games and while some combos you remember might work here, there are new systems to take into consideration. First, there’s a rage meter that fills up as you fight and you can activate it by pressing both triggers at the same time. When you enter rage mode, your attacks are more powerful and you receive less damage for a limited time. Also, some of the environments are destructible and while most of the times this means that you can destroy graves or gates, you can also push enemies off of the environments.
In Free-Fall Kombat, two characters fight in the air to see who wind and who lands on top of the other, making maximum damage. Competitive players will dislike this aspect of the game, but I found it entertaining. Then there’s Test your Might, a minigame where you can use your opponent to smash a series of walls in a sort of tug of war and make extra damage. While the attacking player does that, the defending player presses a series of buttons to receive less damage.
The Mortal Kombat series has always been famous for its violent imagery and while this crossover is no exception, this must be one of the most toned down games in the franchise. Mortal Kombat characters perform fatalities, but DC characters perform heroic brutalities which are essentially the same, but these don’t kill the opponent. The fatalities and brutalities have been softened significantly when you compare them of previous games and that’s understandable, since Warner Bros. is protective of the DC Comics branch and I don’t think anyone was expecting Scorpion to rip Superman’s head off. Nevertheless, the game’s still violent, the characters’ bodies deteriorate and their clothes are torn apart as you fight and there’s still blood marks and bruises.
As any fighting game fan knows, for games to have any longevity, you need the possibility of playing against others and Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe offers two possibilities: local multiplayer and online via Xbox Live. Of the two, the former is the best one, not only because there’s no lag, but because there’s no one playing online. So if you were hoping to get a copy of this game to play against people living all over the world, you’ll have to invite someone over because the online servers aren’t functional. See Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe was powered by GameSpy and since the online software is no longer supported, there’s no way to play online. The local multiplayer, on the other hand, is of course, functional, so those who have someone to play with can choose this option.
Some Mortal Kombat fans have been clamoring for a response to Marvel vs. Capcom and they wanted a crossover of their own. Even if Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe took a decade to come out, this fighting game is surprisingly enjoyable. The toned down violence, unnecessary minigames, lack of unlockables and convoluted challenges are unfortunate, but Mortal Kombat vs. DC universe is the crossover that no fighting fan should miss.