Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe
Another year, another Mortal Kombat game. Outside of the large gap between Mortal Kombat 4 and Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance’s release dates, we’ve had a steady crop of releases from the series in the last 7 years. While the last three entries focused more on evolving the series, for better or worse, Mortal Kombat VS DC Universe marks a return to its roots in regards to gameplay, despite starring an incredibly random cast of two franchises that couldn’t be more different.
So how exactly did Midway decide to bridge these two universes together? Well, Mortal Kombat VS DC Universe has two plotlines, one for each side, that are concurrently happening but still take on different perspectives. As it happens, both Superman and Raiden both interfere with portals being used by each respective series’ main villain, and they (Shao Khan of Mortal Kombat and Darkseid of DC Comics) merge into one entity called Dark Khan.
Yes, this is actually the plot, and yes, it gets even more stupid. However, I love it. It’s the right kind of dumb, and if you’re able to not take it seriously, you’ll enjoy the awful dialogue and hilarious situations that these characters get themselves into. “The recent Mortal Kombat storylines, especially the one continued in Armageddon, have been just as bad, if not worse, and honestly I’m not sure if there’s much of a reason to overthink how Superman is beating the crap out of Sub-Zero, or why Kano is going blow to blow with The Joker; you just sort of accept it.
Anyways, Midway has done a great job of returning the combat to the more simplistic yet satisfying formula that was last seen in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, released in arcades and consoles over a decade ago, as well as the recent port on Xbox Live Arcade. There’s no more ridiculous air combos, stance or style changes, or even weapons. Target combos, or “dial-a-combos” as they’re also known by, are still here, and all of the different characters in the roster have unique special movies, as well as finishers. Many of the controls have been updated to more traditional ones, similar to Capcom or SNK layouts, rather than the strange Mortal Kombat ones that had very unique button sequences, though all of the classic moves like Scorpion’s spear all perform as they always have.
One new addition to Mortal Kombat is the Rage mode, which makes your character invulnerable to throws or being knocked back, and also makes you deal more damage, effectively making it very useful for going on the offensive for a rush. Rage is measured in a small bar with two stocks. With one or two stocks, you can time a block to use it as a counter, which works like a C-C-Combo Breaker from Killer Instinct. I feel like there was a great effort put forth to make everything not only more accessible for newcomers and veterans alike, but to also clean up the gameplay less bloated than the last few releases.
Also new to the series are the close-combat, “Test Your Might” rushdown, and free-fall combat segments. With the close-combat, both characters are wrapped up in a close-up fight, and players need to rapidly hit different buttons, making sure that they don’t hit the same button as their opponent, which will reverse the outcome of the fight and cause it to stop. “Test Your Might” occurs when you rush a character through a wall, causing both characters to run incredibly fast as you and your opponent mash buttons in order to increase or decrease the final damage output. Finally, the free-fall combat happens when a character pushes the other off the edge of a building, causing them both to fight as they fall down. This works similarly to the close-combat, where you need to hit different buttons in order to keep attacking.
There is an online mode in MK VS DCU, complete with a ranking system and lobbies where you can challenge other players. This system feels very old and archaic, and it surprises me that developers still choose to bother with this garbage instead of just letting us use matchmaking in conjunction with large match listing. In any case, playing online is a blast, though it can be hard to find someone around your level. There’s not much more to say about this part of the game other than it works and there’s no problem with lag.
Mortal Kombat VS DC Universe is going to surprise a lot of people by being a fairly competent and incredibly fun fighting game. Sure, it’s not the same level of quality as Virtua Fighter 5 or Tekken 6, but it fits a very nice niche for gamers that want something that isn’t overly complicated and instantly gratifying, but still with a learning curve. It’s not the top fighting game out there, but it’s certainly the best Mortal Kombat game in some time, and the use of DC characters only adds to the fun, even if the whole thing is absurd.