When Midway announced Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe, it took a while for fans to realise this was an actuality rather than some bizarre dream concocted by those who love both comic books and videogames. The reality is not only does Midway's title mesh the two universes together extremely well; it's also a fantastic beat ‘em up in its own right.
JLA - Junior Lifeguard Association?
The Mortal Kombat games have always been popular in the genre of videogame beat ‘em ups, with its brutal marriage of deep fighting gameplay and visceral violence, which remains the core of MK vs DC Universe.
In the Arcade mode you're given an initial choice of 20 characters across both mythologies, such as Scorpion, Raiden, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Sonya Blade, while by selecting the main story mode you're given the choice to see things unfold from either universe with a specific character to fight as in each chapter as the tale plays out.
Detailed cutscenes explain just how and why Mortal Kombat and DC cross over, segueing nicely into the action which adds a great sense of urgency to proceedings without getting too bogged down with story - a game like this is all about the fighting, after all.
The fighting mechanics of MK vs DC Universe are enjoyably deep and balanced. A variety of moves can be performed which allow for basic kicks, punches and the typically meaty Mortal Kombat uppercut, as well as a massive selection of special moves such as firing projectiles, launching across the screen, teleportation and fake outs.
Most moves have a counter attack, block or can be avoided by skilful play and anticipation. With careful play, fights can soon evolve with chess-like strategy as you look to predict and counter your opponent's next assault. Throws are equally fair, as they can be blocked, while some throws enter one of three interactive cutscene duels, Klose Kombat, Free-fall Kombat and the wall smash.
Klose Kombat forces the screen into a close-up, where one of four buttons performs a bone crunching move. Each move can be countered by predicting your foe's button press before they perform it. Similarly, Free-fall Kombat uses the same device but while the characters are falling, with a reversal changing the aggressor into the defender, the latter at the end of the fall taking all the damage. And the wall smash allows you to get all your button mashing frustrations out as the characters blast through walls to increase or decrease the potential damage inflicted.
A fantastic fight to the finish
All of these attacks flow smoothly in and out of the main action, and their presentation is fantastic, adding a large amount of individuality to each combatant. The fighters feel unique with bombastic moves that light up the screen, making each battle entertaining to watch as well as play. MK vs DC looks the part, too, thanks to some lovely attention to detail, such as destructible environments, characters' costumes tearing and becoming bloodied as the fight goes on and even a main menu that animates when you go through each section.
Mortal Kombat's Fatalities have remained too, although only with DC's villains and the MK cast. DC's heroes have Brutalities instead, which suit their characters given they don't kill in the comics, either. So the essence and energy of DC's characters has been captured perfectly, while the same could be said for the Mortal Kombat characters - and it's all wrapped up in utterly engaging gameplay.
Regardless of whether you're a fighting fan or a comic book expert, there's no excuse not to give Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe a try. It's fun, accessible and combines two mediums in a very effective manner. Midway has come out fighting with its best blows in this one, and the result is one of the most enjoyable and compulsive games of the genre to date.