Review written by Playstation4.net staff member Adam Hanson
In the 1990s I, like most American males my age, was into video games and superheroes. Particularly I liked the comics and shows where two or more heroes would crossover. Now, with Justice League, Avengers, and other crossovers being the norm it is hard to get excited about a group of DC or Marvel characters teaming up with each other. Now the real excitement comes from crossovers between two universes. Needless to say I had a lot of excitement when I heard about Mortal Kombat vs. the DC Universe (MK vs DC). I would like to add before I get into my review that I am the target audience of MK vs DC. I was a fan of MK in the 90s but I have not followed the series since the SNES. I am also a fan of DC superheroes and it is because of them that I was drawn to the game.
MK vs DC is, as one would expect, draws many comparisons to the Marvel vs Capcom series from the PS1 and PS2 eras of gaming. Both are fighting games that pit a comic book universe against a group of video game characters. . . and that is where the similarities end. For starters MK vs DC is more than just a random group of characters beating the snot out of one another. Instead the game features a story that is surprisingly strong for a fighting game that explains why the two universes are crossing over. The story also provides an explanation for how weaker characters like Catwoman and the Joker can stand toe to toe with Superman. The story of the game is broken up into a Mortal Kombat story and the DC Universe story with each story consisting of several chapters. In each chapter the player controls a specific character through a series of battles. Because the story modes each tell one half of the same story the player must play though both to get a complete account of the events.
In addition to the story mode the game features an arcade mode which plays like the single player mode in the classic MK games. The arcade mode gives character specific endings that expand on the endings given to the main story of the game. There is also a VS mode where two players can play against each other. Unilike in most fighting games there is no option for player vs computer VS play and the VS mode option is only selectable when a second controller is plugged in. The remaining modes include a training mode which allows players to practice moves and a Kombo Challenge mode where the player is required to perform a specific string of moves. The only unlockables in the game are one character for each side that is unlocked by beating the story mode and the individual arcade mode endings. Kombo challenge offers no unlockables of any kind.
Graphically the game looks good but is not remarkable in any way. The character models and arenas are detailed and the characters move realistically and fluidly. The character models show damage that has been taken and the effects are nice looking. Still this is the PS3 and we have come to expect the game to look good. With that in mind MK vs DC can be described as; “meets but does not exceed expectations.”
The game features a starting roster of ten characters from each side and with the two unlockables the total is brought to twenty-two. The MK characters are all from the first two games and the choices seem logical considering that this game is meant to have the mass appeal that the series had in it’s early days. Similarly the DC side characters are the more popular characters from the comics including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor. The MK and DC characters work well together which I was surprised by considering the very different franchises they come from.
The actual fighting system has been greatly improved from past MK games and it is different enough from the PS3′s other major fighting game, Soul Calibur 4, to ensure that players who bought that game still have reason to buy MK vs DC. Battles are one on one and despite the game being in 3D the game feels like the classic 2D Mortal Kombat games. Most of the action takes place in 2 dimensions but there is a sidestep button the allows players to move in 3D to dodge attacks. The blood and gore of past MK games has been toned down to snag the T rating but I found that the gameplay does not suffer from it’s absence.
MK vs DC is all about aggressive strings of combos rather than hyper technical and showy moves. Many of the characters use the same button presses to activate their moves so it is easy to memorize different attacks. The game also offers a move list that is accessible through the pause menu. Fatalities are back, at least for the MK characters and DC villains. The DC heroes, however, have heroic brutalities which are like fatalities in every way but one. . . the player is expected to believe that the opponent survives them somehow. Each of the starting characters has 2 fatalities or heroic brutalities but the unlockable characters don’t have any such moves.
Most of the arenas consist of more than one area and the transitions between these areas are played through in the form of mini games such as free fall kombat and test your might. Free fall kombat is a mini game where the attacking player presses buttons to inflict damage and the defending player tries to gain the upper hand by matching his opponents button presses. If enough hits have connected the player can choose to perform a finishing move just before hitting the ground. Test your might is a button mashing minigame where both players must press buttons as rapidly as possible in order to inflict or reduce damage. The third mini game is called klose kombat and it plays the same as free fall kombat with two exceptions; the first is that it can be initiated at any time and the second is that the defending player cannot turn the tables but can merely break free of klose kombat by matching his opponents button presses.
In conclusion MK vs DC is a good game with some serious flaws. The biggest flaws are the lack of unlockables and the inability to play against the AI in VS Mode. Some fans of the series may also complain that the level of blood and gore has been toned down. Still the game is saved by a story that is very strong for a fighting game. If you are a fan of Mortal Kombat, or DC, or Fighting Games, or Crossovers, I suggest you pick this game up. If you are none of those things I would advise you to avoid this and find a game that in some way interests you.
A 3 1/2 out of 5. . .