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PlayStation 3 Review: Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe

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Two long-standing franchises combine to deliver teen-rated fighting action in the familiar arena format, which switches the over-the-top fatalities to actions such as simple neck snaps, shootings, and stabbings. They're still brutal ways to die, but not as savage as the memorable, shock value-filled character deaths that have always been a series staple in the Mortal Kombat game franchise, which began in 1993. However, hardcore MK fans will not be disappointed with this expanded installment.

This Midway game adds a few new elements and entertaining character weapons/powers centering on a new equalizing element blending with the storyline. One of your first questions might be: why can’t Superman beat everyone? Rage is the answer. This logical element offers a simple explanation and introduces a new enemy called Dark Kahn, who seeks to rule during this “birth of a new world.” This rage blinds the character’s logic, making them fight regardless of alliances. Yes, these former allies can even turn on each other, plus you get the classic duels like Batman versus the Joker and Superman vs. Lex Luthor, who is surprisingly strong. Mortal Kombat kharacters include Liu Kang, Shang Tsung, Scorpion, Sonya Blade, Raiden and Sub-Zero. You can choose any character in the multiplayer arcade mode, but story mode only allows you to choose one side as you progress through an engaging story, switching characters along the way. The MK side could use some more high profile, prominent matchups, especially after the film series has died down (read the character biographies in the extras mode for a good primer). However, there are some pretty good matchups with DC characters like Raiden vs. Superman and Wonder Woman vs. Sonya Blade. The normal best of three round format remains the standard (can be altered to as few as one).

Raiden v Superman

You will also use two new techniques, Freefall Kombat and Klose Kombat. The self-explanatory freefall engages when you get strong attacks near the edge of the arena then wait on each other in mid-air. Meanwhile, get up close and personal to engage the slo-mo Klose Kombat fighting mechanic. The punching bag opponent on the other end can counter…I mean Kounter, so thankfully it’s not a helpless situation in either case. Rage attacks are great but you still take normal damage throughout the melee, though you may not immediately react to a Kounter. Using Kombo breakers also allows you to attack through blocks. Other special attacks include the “test your might” horizontal attacks where you can smash opponents through buildings and objects, inflicting some major damage.

The heads up display helps you keep track of the combinations, combo breaker and rage meter. The practice mode and Kombo challenge create some appealing, open learning scenarios where you can master your skills and tinker with AI options. This can then help you learn advantages and disadvantages of each character and matchups to other characters, making the replay value high. As your response time and quick reflex increases, so will the level of play. The effort is definitely worth it when you experience the always entertaining results. Players looking for the quick thrill still use great finishing moves and witness progressive damage as they pummel their opponents. Clothes rip, muscles bruise, and blood flows (unless you turn these options off).

The online mode has the basic join group or create options plus leader boards and statistics. Online tournaments would be an outstanding future addition. Options allow you to turn the blood setting on or off while the surprisingly scantily and impractically dressed female characters have no inhibiting options. You can also change the volume of the announcer — Herman Sanchez, narrator of several MK games including Armageddon, Shaolin Monks and Deception. Veteran voice talent actors like Tara Platt (Wonder Woman), Richard Epcar (Raiden/the Joker), Patrick Seitz (Scorpion, Dark Kahn and more), and Chris Smith (Superman/Batcave computer) really elevate the production to a high level while making the game more appealing and exciting with their various contributions. The audio levels and sound effect production values are great plus get additional enhancement through the impactful controller vibrations. The visual production is strong, mixing 3D action with a 2D feel. Developers wisely omit any animalities and babalities to make the DC merge more respectful and fresh. Could Marvel be next?

Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Content Descriptors. This game can also be found on the Xbox 360 with Collector's Editions on both the Playstation 3 and XBox 360.


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