Review: Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe

Aquaman | 3 Dec 2008 13:00
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And what of the combat? MK vs. DCU abandons weapons for the most part, so hand-to-hand is the order of the day. There's still a satisfying, jerky heft to the various kicks and punches, including the traditional Mortal Kombat uppercut that, if I may venture, is still the most satisfying in all of videogamedom.

The rapid, grunting flow of one-on-one battle is occasionally punctuated by special events, such as ramming your enemy through a series of walls or tumbling them off a ledge and continuing the fracas in mid-air. (For those who haven't experienced such things for real, as I have, these must be thrilling additions.) Additionally, a specific grab - entitled Klose Kombat ¬- initiates a short, brutal sequence of guessing-game button-presses that essentially boils down to Scissors, Paper, Headbutt.

My young ward, Aqualad, seemed slightly crestfallen that the Fatalities for this Mortal Kombat had been toned down to achieve a more favorable rating. Once I had been instructed on how to achieve these spectacular finishing moves, though, they seemed far from tame. Aqualad also complained that despite the fact I was a relative beginner, I was still able to defeat him on occasion by stringing together impromptu combos and repeatedly using some of the easier special maneuvers. I grew particularly fond of Liu Kang's intense fireball and mid-air woogly-woogly-woogly kick. For his part, Aqualad claimed the Joker had a surprisingly deep move set, and certainly every time I tried to take him on in the guise of Bruce, I had my cowl handed to me. Batarangs, it seems, are no match for an extendable boxing glove and a handshake shocker.

These hours spent fighting against a human adversary - either in the same underwater cave or online - showcased the game at its bloodthirsty finest. I confess after finishing the two single-player story modes, there was little further incentive to play through the requisite 10 bouts with each separate character; my preference in both videogames and real life is to incapacitate foes in seconds, yet the surfeit of mini Kombat sequences can often slow progress against computer-controlled opponents to an unedifying crawl.

Introducing new blood from the DC Universe and limiting the roster to a mere 22 characters has undoubtedly refocused and reinvigorated this ailing series. And while I may not entirely agree with the casting, I realize things could be worse. I have no ego, so at least I can still enjoy the satisfyingly scrappy combat. I can only imagine how the similarly redacted Johnny Cage is feeling ...

Bottom line: This robust but ultimately one-dimensional fighting game will elicit cheers from Mortal Kombat fans, while also enabling DC acolytes to settle some age-old debates. I do fear for its longevity, however.

Recommendation: I still prefer Ecco The Dolphin.

This review is based on the PlayStation 3 version of the game.

As told to Graeme Virtue, a freelance writer based in Scotland. He wrote about his numbskull urge to finish mediocre PS2 action-adventure games in Issue 151 of The Escapist.

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