When you think of mashups, Mortal Kombat
and DC Comics doesn’t really stick out as the most obvious pairing. I guess that’s why they call them mashups. Questions were asked regardless – how would the two universes work together? what characters would best represent each side? how the hell would you be able to beat Superman? Playing Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe
to find out, I discovered, isn’t as much of a chore as I initially thought.
Gone are the increasingly ridiculous martial arts styles and multiple combos from recent Mortal Kombat
games; the huge character list has been whittled down to the bare essentials and the emphasis is back on simply being an accessible, fun brawler. As much as this game is notable for its introduction of DC characters, it’s more important for the fact that it’s a ‘reboot’ of the MK
The story is quite straightforward and cheesy, but done with a creative flair that was enjoyable to get stuck into. Basically, each universe has just trounced its respective dark overlord: Shao Khan on the Mortal Kombat
side, and Darkseid (boss of the bad New Gods, according to Mark SPOnG) in the DC world. During a freak incident, Shao Khan and Darkseid’s evil merge to become Dark Khan, with the power to not only incite rage within the characters of the game, but to merge the two universes together until they are destroyed.
So, it’s off to fight against each other in loads of fun and brutal ways. The character roster is split evenly between Mortal Kombat
and the DC Universe and sticks to the well-known and classic favourites such as Batman, Sub Zero, The Flash, Kano, Wonder Woman and Liu Kang among others. Each character has been impressively modelled, with some awesome animations from Scorpion as he does some smooth ninja flips to The Joker bouncing around maniacally after landing a hit.
The arenas also look very well imagined, but you get the feeling that there’s not quite enough of them for some reason. They span from Scorpion’s Hell stage to Gotham City with loads in between, but as you’re frantically battling it out some areas can feel very similar to others. Otherwise - excepting two new gameplay mechanics to spice up the play - the levels don’t really provide anything other than platforms to fight on.
If you manage to throw your opponent to the edge of a specific stage, they sometimes break past the wall and fall off, leaving your character to leap after them and attempt to deal some more damage. It becomes a guessing game between you and your opponent as you press the face buttons to inflict more pain, but during the fall fortunes can change if the erstwhile victim presses the same button as you.
There’s also a fun return of the ‘Test Your Might’ from the original Mortal Kombat
(and a lot less cheesy than ‘Test Your Sight’) where you can run enemies through walls, mashing all the face buttons to increase the pain inflicted. Aside from this, there is a ‘Klose Kombat’ mode that plays in a similar way to launching people off the side of the arena. Both are quick seamless distractions from the core fighting gameplay. They are both very enjoyable when playing with friends.
As for the main gameplay itself, it’s as Mortal Kombat
should be. Midway has wisely realised that this series isn’t about how many combos you can remember, nor is it about stark realism. With these caveats in mind it's brought the fighting back to base level. Each character has a set of combo moves that consist of three buttons (or so, should you wish to use them), plus a list of ‘Super Moves’ which relate to the classic specials that you remember from the good old days: Liu Kang’s fireball, Sub Zero’s ice blast, Batman’s Batarang, Superman’s laser eye thingy. There are loads of easy commands that let you do the moves the characters are famous for.