Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe
Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe Review
Review By Steve Farrelly @ 01:36pm 10/12/08
There are a stack of geek fantasies out there. Fantasies that might include seeing Captain Picard actually kick Kirk's tired old ass once and for all, or seeing the real X-Men tear through the characters from that shitty show, Mutant X, to prove who the original and best really are. Some might include the Ninja Turtles teaming up with the Thundercats or Optimus Prime taking on Voltron in the ultimate mech/robot wars fantasy.
There are likely absolutely ridiculous team-ups or crossovers as well, such as ALF vs E.T., M.A.S.K. vs Dino Riders, GI Joe vs He-Man or John Rambo vs John Matrix (for the ultimate in cheese).
The possibilities, when you get down to it, are utterly endless thanks to years and years of growth and expansion in popular culture, with equal crossover through a variety of different audiences. And you could generate a wish list of co-branding opportunities through these for hours upon hours and come up with some of the coolest (or lamest) of possibilities, and thanks to the power of the "all ighty ollar," the various industries fertilising the pop culture tree are beginning to see this, too.
Having grown up with videogames and comics as my main choice (and outlet) of geekdom, there are countless crossovers I've always hoped for, but in all my years reading Batman, Green Lantern and Green Arrow comics (in my opinion, the only DC characters worth anything) whilst pumping coins into Mortal Kombat II, or earning serious thumb calluses from performing Fatalities on my SNES controller, it never once occurred to me the DC and MK universes should ever cross paths.
It seems fairly obvious most of the people involved with the creation of the game never did, either (at least not until some marketing douche-bag pitched the idea at a meeting and it was given the green light). And so despite such a product forcing you to conjure images of your parents having sex (because that act, for all offspring, is just plain wrong), it has been made, and now we're forced to deal with the reality of its existence (in as much the same way your own existence means your parents did have sex).
And Wonder Woman... oh dear lord when will someone at DC change her outfit? It's just plain embarrassing now.
In fact, with the exception of Batman and The Joker (though in this game The Joker is pretty lame), the one thing Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe does is really show off just how behind the times and out-of-date DC's flagship characters are.
It doesn't help that the Mortal Kombat manifest is just as bad. This series had its peak in the 90s, and while there have been a few cool updates to the franchise since MKII all those years ago, it still feels pretty archaic (especially in the face of both Street Fighter IV and the recently released Street Fighter II HD Remix for Xbox Live Arcade).
In Story Mode, depending on which side you choose, you'll play through as each of a supplied side's characters with three two-round fights with members from both sides. The game attempts to link them all together, but I'm not even going to waste my energy writing about how they do it, it's that redundant. Suffice to say, with so many characters and so many rounds and fights, by the time you reach the end of the game, you're going to want to sit in the corner of a dark room and rock yourself to sleep.
The fighting formula has once again changed (it's becoming commonplace for Midway to change the series' mechanics with every update), and this time around it's a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, using the D-Pad has you facing battles pretty much in 2D ala old-school MK, but using the analogue sticks immediately shifts things to 3D. This is problematic because we haven't yet mutated as a species to have two thumbs on the one hand, and facing off against a play who uses the analogue if you're a D-Pad player just makes it all dizzy.
Beyond the fighting mechanics, there are also seminal quicktime events such as the newly added Klose Kombat bouts (when will Midway learn using "K" instead of "C" just isn't kool anymore) where you grab an opponent and move into a slow-mo mini-game of fisticuffs. Hit any one of the face buttons without your opponent being able to match them, and you'll land them all and cause some damage, but if a press is matched your attack is broken and reversed.
Equally, you can ram an enemy down a level and while falling essentially play the same mini-game, the difference here, however, is the option to land a special attack at the end if you manage fill a special gauge and not have your attack broken.
There's also another meter that governs Rage. Rage can be activated when said meter is full and can act as a tide-turner (read: unfair comeback), because it fills the more you're wailed upon. It essentially knocks the other player down and while you can still be hurt, it deals more damage and you receive less. Rage is just another way in which MK vs DCU stands as a far lesser fighting experience than deeper big-hitters like Street Fighter or Soul Calibur.
Online multiplayer is just as bad, if not worse, than the single-player portion with me experiencing some serious lag in most matches due to poor match-making. The game's unbalanced fighting system doesn't help, especially if the person you're fighting is aware of Superman's endless combo. If you're lucky you'll knock grudges with someone of equal or lesser skill to sate the frustration of a poor connection, but ultimately you're better off chucking this on as a party fighting game when friends and beer are over.
The aesthetic angle equally leaves little to be desired, and unless you're either a die-hard Mortal Kombat fan or DC fan, you're going to find this game pretty lame in its archaic presentation, terrible story and ridiculously out-of-date characters. If there's ever an update to this, here's hoping Midway and Warner scrap the DC angle altogether (sans Batman), and just go with Vertigo characters instead.
(PS: Warner - please let it be known, absolutely anything featuring Batman that isn't live-action needs the voice of Kevin Conrad. He is Batman)