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Review: Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe

Aquaman | 3 Dec 2008 13:00
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Greetings, land-dwellers! My human name is Arthur Curry, though I have also been known as Orin. My friends, super or otherwise, call me Aquaman. I was one of the founding members of a little thing called the Justice League of America back in 1960. (Wow! Time sure flies when you're the sworn protector of the seven seas and all the teeming life they contain!) So when I heard that Midway was developing a videogame that pitted the mightiest heroes from the DC Universe against the rough-and-tumble warriors from the Mortal Kombat franchise, I was pretty darn psyched.

How faithfully would they recreate my iconic orange and green costume? Would there be an underwater level featuring my loyal ally Tusky the walrus looking on in the background? Of all the fearsome villains I've battled over the decades, who would be considered nefarious enough to include as a playable character? Would it be the ruthless treasure hunter Black Manta? Or my tragic half-brother Ocean Master? I was also curious to see my "Heroic Brutality" finishing move. Would it involve me calling upon my playful, chattering friends the dolphins? Or would I literally "drop anchor" on my foe?

So many questions. But before I had a chance to play Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, I received a garbled telepathic communication from Martian Manhunter and boy, did he sound mad. Apparently he hadn't been included in the DC roster, although that despicable mercenary Deathstroke had somehow made the cut.

I commiserated with J'onn, and expressed surprise that a franchise that routinely features combatants from other dimensions, often with multiple limbs, would balk at including a green-skinned alien. J'onn muttered something darkly about Market Forces, a villainous super-team I haven't yet encountered. Then he dropped the real bombshell: I wasn't in the game either! By Poseidon's sacred conch, what subterfuge was this?

My first instinct was to cleave through the Atlantic and strike at Midway's Chicago base like a vengeful trident. But then I realized this oversight might be a blessing in disguise. Just as I had once found true freedom by relinquishing my birthright to rule Atlantis, perhaps I would better enjoy this game by experiencing it as one of my fellow heroes - Green Lantern, say, or the Flash (although, to be honest, I do not consider the ability to move quickly to be a true superpower - just don't tell Barry I said that).

The framing narrative reveals the worlds of Mortal Kombat and the DC Universe are merging, sparked by the unholy fusion of villains Shao Khan and Darkseid into a new entity: Dark Khan. Two separate eight-chapter story modes weave a convoluted but interlocking tale of rage and cosmic confusion. The characters may remark, perhaps too often, that everyone's innate power has been redistributed - the better to explain why my friend Clark Kent does not easily triumph - but the storyline is still more convincing than many recent comicbook crossover events.

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