Inside Pulse 12

Review: Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe: Kollector’s Edition (Sony PS3)

Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe
Publisher: Midway
Developer: Midway
Genre: 3-D Fighter
Release Date: 11/16/2008


I’ve never been a big Mortal Kombat fan. I LOVED MKII and had fun with Ultimate Mortal Kombat III, but I’ve always preferred the King of Fighters, Street Fighter and Eternal Champions line of fighting games. Once MK made the change to 3-D, it kind of lost me as a fan. The games became too easy, too unbalanced, and it became far less about skill and more about cheese.

I used to be a die hard DCU fan. However, the Didio regime pushed me away from comics with the new apparent mandate of gore, killing, and useless character deaths to sell issues. Considering my five favorite DCU characters are Blue Beetle (Ted Kord), Booster Gold, Ralph Dibney, Mister Miracle and Martian Manhunter, comic fans can probably tell why I was turned off.

So knowing I have put off by both franchises, you’re probably wondering why on earth I’m reviewing this game. Well there are Four reasons.

1) The first is that I want to love both, but they’ve pushed me away. The merging of the two into a Marvel Vs. Capcom title is just the bit of fan service I needed to give both another chance.

2) The second is that it’s been a long time since either franchise has had a quality game. The last good MK game was Shaolin Monks and that was a beat ’em up. As for DCU? Their legacy of craptastic games is never ending. Justice League Task Force, Superman 64. Hordes of awful Batman games. It’s due for a run.

3. Even if the game turned out to be a buggy piece of crap, I knew I’d have fun with it. I love crossover fighters. Hell, I adore SVC Chaos because it’s so bad it’s hilariously fun. It was such a throwback to the early 1990’s in terms of broken characters, frame rate wackiness and insane combos that I still play it on my Neo*Geo and Xbox.

4. Even though I’m severely pissed at most of DC’s writing and direction, I still read four comics put out by them: Booster Gold, Blue Beetle (Jaimie Reyes, which is now cancelled), Trinity (Which I have a subscription to because I am a Busiek/Nicieza mark) and Jonah Hex, which is easily the best comic on the market today. No, I don’t read Marvel now that Nextwave and Cable/Deadpool are done. As the writers of Jonah Hex also wrote the script for this game, I knew I had to give this game a whirl.

So how was it? Did MK Vs. DCU manage to sway the heart of someone who is used to 2-D games with insane end bosses, Super Specials and long D pad strings for combos, or was this the final nail in the coffin for both franchises in terms of gaming?

Let’s Review

1. Story/Modes

Let’s break down the modes here.

A) Arcade Mode. This is pretty standard. You pick a character and then whomp your way through characters one at a time until you fight a sub boss (Shao Kahn or Darkseid) and then the end boss (Dark Kahn). After you beat the game, you get a still piece of art with a voice over and text. The end. This is standard fare for MK games. The Endings are less impressive then in other fighters and usually they are a set up for the next story for that character’s life, but at least there is something. Plus you get a nice Dark Kahn death scene. You can choose to fight just DCU or MK characters or have a mix of both, which I thought was a neat touch.

B) Story Mode. There are two different versions of this mode: one for MK characters and the other for DCU characters. Each version tells two sides of the same story: the Earths of two universes are merging do to both Shao Kahn and Darkseid getting hit with a teleportation mishap at the same time. Characters from both universes are seemingly being possessed by rage and each chapter of the game will force you to play as a specific character for several battles. This is neat, but that means to truly excel at story mode, you’ll need to spend a lot of time practicing with each character and memorizing moves for them. I found MK’s version to be easier, but only because a lot of moves have stayed the same for the characters in this game. Please note story mode is exceptionally long for a fighting game and saving is done in a very odd manner – before each battle instead of after or at the end of each chapter.

The plot for Story Mode is acceptable. It’s definitely not at Palmotti & Gray’s usual level of excellence, but it’s honestly the best story I’ve found in a fighting game outside of the KoF plots that are never even in the games anyway. All characters from both universes are treated properly and with a great deal of continuity. Superman is weak to magic for example, and Sub-Zero, like most MK characters, is able to use his magic to catch Kal-El unaware and beat him (temporarily) in combat. There’s also little touches that I love that would have been missed by other people. The Flash in this game? BARRY FREAKING ALLEN! That made me mark out. Captain Marvel actually being called Captain Marvel instead of SHAZAM! Thank god. Great touches all around.

C) Online Mode. This is just one on one battles with people you encounter online. Most people I’ve encountered are playing DCU characters. I’ve been playing mainly as Scorpion and Flash. This is the best online fighting I’ve played since Vampire Chronicles on the Sega Dreamcast in terms of responsiveness and lack of lag. As well, I’ve yet to have a person turn off while I was kicking their butt, which is a huge change from playing on “Dickbox Live.”

D) Kombo Challenge.

Oh. My. God. This is the hardest thing I have ever encountered in a fighting game. I can get a perfect on Nightmare Rugal with Yuri. I beat Street Fighter Alpha my first time playing it the day it came out in arcades on a single quarter with Sagat. I’ve won fighting game tournaments a plenty. But this? This is insane. Each character has a set of ten combos you have to pull off. The problem is the game only gives you the button presses and tells you nothing else. This means distance and WHO you are playing against comes into play. Even if you hit the combo perfectly, the game might not recognize your entry as EXACTLY 100% right. This is pretty frustrating as you sit there wondering what you did wrong. Plus the fact Sony joysticks are the worst in the history of gaming for this genre of gameplay just adds to the annoyance. The cruelest thing of all is that if you manage to actually finish one of these, all you get is a bronze trophy. Ouch.

E) Practice. Self Explanatory.

F) Two Player. You and a friend beat each other up.

There you go. All six modes of the game. I really enjoy Arcade mode and unlocking character endings. Story Mode is a bit too long for my liking and I hate that I can’t choose my own character, but I understand why that is. The plot is solid and fun in its cheesiness, and due to the length and depth of the story, it’s arguably the best in the genre’s history. Online is the best I’ve ever experienced in the past few generations where consoles could go online (I used to have SegaNet for my Saturn. I’m old), and Kombo Mode is the most frustrating thing I have ever encountered since I first started doing Hadoukens, “Toasty” fatalities and making Terry Bogard ask, “Are you okay?” Out of all the modes, Arcade is where I will be spending the vast majority of my time. So will you. What’s here is good, and I enjoy the options, but each mode could have used a bit of tweaking, which keeps them from being truly great.

Story/Modes Rating: Good

2. Graphics

Okay, here’s the thing. I’ve owned a PS3 for about a year. I have a high def TV and 1080i output. But you know what? Nothing on the PS3 that I have reviewed has truly wowed me. Dead Space? Very pretty but nothing mind blowing. Disgaea 3? Ha Ha, no. Siren: Blood Curse? Pretty, but again, it’s something I could have seen on the PS2. As insane as it is to type, MK Vs. DCU is the first game on my PS3 that actually had my jaw drop. My god are the backgrounds beautiful. I love the set designs and all the little nuances from the crackling of flames to the real time damage to characters throughout the battles. I loved seeing Flash get a bloody nose, or Scorpion’s mask break off revealing his skull face. All these small subtle things added up to make me go, “Why the hell can’t SNK or Capcom give me something like this?” And remember, I’d rather play KoF 2002 or Mark of the Wolves or any other fighter in existence. I’m usually the last person to care about graphics in my fighting games. But man, after a decade of Geese Howard or Kyo keeping the same sprites, I was flabbergasted by the pretty.

Character models are very well done. I’ll admit I’m not a fan of the costume changes done to Flash, Green Lantern, and Catwoman, but what can you do. I love seeing Deathstroke and Captain Marvel in a video game though. I never thought I’d see either show up when this was first announced.

This is the prettiest game I’ve played all year. There, I said it and I’m not ashamed. Both MK and DCU characters have never looked better. The graphics are bright, well rendered, extremely detailed, and just the right amount of fan service to both sides. What the game lacks in gore, it more than makes up with the real time damage and the creative new Fatalities and Brutalities.

Graphics Rating: Unparalleled

3. Sound

One thing I noticed right was that the voice actors for the DC side of things were trying to ape the DC animated series actors. Batman’s actor is trying to sound like Kevin Conroy and Joker is trying to sound like Mark Hamill. Even the music that starts the game off sounds like it came from Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman film. These aren’t bad things. In fact, they’re quite enjoyable. It just makes me wonder why they didn’t go for the real things as Hamill as done video games before and more most people, Conroy is batman even over West, Keaton and Bale.

I love that Ed Boon is still Scorpion after all these years. Say what you will about him in terms of the direction of the MK franchise, who doesn’t recognize Boon’s gravely, “GET OVER HERE!” Kevin Delaney was another surprise as I seem to review games that he is in. Titles like Dreamcatcher’s Hercule Poirot series and Dracula: Origin Overall, the acting is pretty good, save for the wooden performance by Shang Tsung.

The score for the game is one of the best I’ve seen in a MK game. As mentioned earlier, a lot of the soundtrack feels like it came from the Tim Burton Batman films, but there is still a decent amount of variance in the backing tracks. I’ll admit the only time you really find yourself actively listening to the music in the little bleep you get when you successfully perform a Fatality or Heroic Brutality. Fighting gamers never really concentrate on the music while they are pressing buttons, doing juggle combos, and counting frames. Ironically though, fighting games tend to feature some of the best music in game, as fans of the King of Fighters series can tell you. The music tracks won’t win any audio awards, but they are all well done, fit the mood and theme of the game perfectly and are enjoyable to listen to when you’re watching the game rather than playing it. Solid job here.

Sound Rating: Good

4. Control and Gameplay

Here’s the thing. Out of the three big fighting game series (MK, KoF, SF), MK has always had the worst controls. When the series moved to 3-D it got even worse, and playing on a Sony system is even less helpful as Sony’s joysticks are infamous for being utterly awful for fighting games. This is why the MK and SF Sega Saturn style controllers came out for the PS2 – because the Dual Shock 2 was so back for those millisecond button presses and joystick movements. Sadly, the PS3 Dual Shock and/or Sixxais controllers are no difference. Now the average gamer won’t notice the lag between command entry and the effect on the screen, but hardened fighting gamers WILL notice, and they will be pissed, even though it’s a fraction of a second. On Higher difficulties or against other people, this makes or breaks a game, and I’m sorry to say the PS3 version of MK. Vs. DCU has this problem, albeit not as severe as other games in the series.

One other annoyance is the default button placement. Who the hell thought Block should be R2. Because of this positioning and the fact L2 and R2 need to be pressed in all the way for their function to work instead of a light tap, it basically means you can’t block. Meanwhile the computer can and will block nearly everything if you’re just button mashing/trying to learn a new character. Switch the Klose Kombat and Block buttons around and save yourself a good deal of stress. Klose Kombat is basically worthless anyway, but more on that later.

The overall control scheme is pretty good. MK. Vs DCU plays more like a 2-D fighter then a 3-D one. It’s very similar to King of Fighters: Maximum Impact where the only real use of the 3-D stage is for dodging projectiles or side stepping a running opponent. Each of the shape buttons provided a different attack, although some characters that have weapons (like Deathstroke) will use Circle to switch between combat styles.

I’m really happy controls are entered by the D pad instead of the analog stick. Again, this is due to the poor response Sony’s analog sticks provide to fighting games compares to an arcade stick. God I’d love one of those for my PS3 about now. Anyway, the D pad on all three generations of Dual Shocks have been vastly superior to the analog sticks for these type of games and it’s nice to see that Midway has noticed what fighting game fans have been saying for a decade. For god’s sake Sony – give fighting gamers a quality joystick!

Let’s talk about the four special forms of fighting in this game. First up is the utterly worthless Klose Kombat. By pressing L1 when you are near an opponent, the screen zooms into a close up of both fighters. Then the aggressor picks a button, each of which corresponds to a specific body part. If the defender can guess which button his opponent is pressing at the EXACT right time, he can dodge and counter. This however, is far easier said than done. Unlike most games where you try to match your opponents presses, there is no window of opportunity. You have to press it as the very moment it lights up on your screen or they connect. However when the computer is defending, it has a 25% success rate of countering. Yes, I kept track. This mode really is a crap shoot that almost ends up hurting you far more than helping you, so stay far far away unless you are playing another human being. Then by all means, rock out and watch them swear to the heavens.

Next up is Free Fall Kombat, which is a lot of fun. Free Fall is triggered by doing a powerful attack near certain parts of the stage. Once this happens you shove your opponent off the edge and jump on them. Once again you choose one of the four buttons and your opponent can counter, but this is a lot more balanced, allowing you to counter actions easier, but the computer doesn’t damn reverse anywhere as much as it does with Klose Kombat. As long as you stay the aggressor, your aggression meter builds. Once it is full, hit R1 for a super move which ends the falling. Super moves can’t be countered, and you can also choose to ignore the move and just flail away as you were earlier. Again, this is a lot of fun and as it happens infrequently, it always feels fresh.

Next is the new version of test your might, and it is a button masher’s dream. Test Your Might is triggered in the same way Free Fall Kombat is, except here you go through an area that lets you proceed vertically instead of horizontally. Once TYM is triggered both of you button mash. The attacker is mashing to cause more damage while the defender is reducing damage. You can get damage as low as 1% and if, like me, you grew up with Shoot ‘Em Up’s like Gradius or Ikaruga you’ll never be hurt when the computer pulls this on you, but you’ll be able to get up to 30% of the opponent’s lifebar depleted.

Finally, there is Rage Mode. Rage mode builds similar to a Special Meter in Street Fighter or KoF. The meter is broken into two sections. You can spend one section to break an opponent’s combo, juggle or special move. This is great, as the puts some illusion of balance into the game. When the par is full though, you can trigger Rage Mode, which is amazingly fun, even if it is utterly unbalanced. Rage mode does two things. The first is that you take normal damage but your character is never stunned, knocked back or phased by the damage. The second is that your opponent’s guard is crushed. This is crazy powerful, especially with characters like the flash who have an attack that causes an auto dizzy. You just wail on them with your best moves in Rage, then at the last second you go back, foward, circle and bam, they’re dizzied, allowing you even MORE damage.

Although MK. Vs. DSCU has some lag issues that will only be noticeable by the most ardent gamer, one thing that will be noticed by all is the input detection issues the game suffers from at times. There are simply times when you will press a combination and the game won’t register it. At first you’ll think, “Okay, I’m new. It’s me.” Then you’ll go into practice mode and see you’re doing it perfectly. It’s just that sometimes the engine ignores your entry. Now due to the speed in which 2-D gamers handle a controller compared to 3-D fighters, this is understandable to a small degree. Super Special moves in a SNK game are extremely detailed and require an amazing amount of speed with the D pad. Here though? Moves are a lot less intricate to pull off, so the speed at which a 2-D fighting fan is hitting the joystick just might not translate to the slower less spastic controls of a 3-D fighter. Still, it’s frustrating to be doing moves and wailing away on an opponent, only to see the controller not respond to your command and suddenly your potential Flawless Victory is changed into the CPU taking advantage of your controller issues and hitting you hit a double juggle knock off half your health.

There are some definite control issues here, and the game can be very frustrating because of them. The core gameplay however is much simpler than a 2-D fighter and that makes the game more accessible to the casual gamer. Don’t get me wrong, MK Vs. DCU is a lot of fun to play – but things like Klose Kombat, blocking issues and move detection bog the game down in ways it shouldn’t be.

Control and Gameplay Rating: Decent

5. Replayability

With 23 characters in the game (that includes bosses), there’s a lot of endings to unlock and characters to master. The roster is smaller than a lot of other games, so grumble about that if you feel like it. Who knows? Maybe we’ll get some downloadable skins like Ice or Captain Cold for Sub-Zero. God knows we better get some GL skins because Guy Freakin’ Gardener would be a better GL to face in Outworld than Pansy Hal Jordan.

Story Mode is fun, but once you beat each version, there’s no real reason to go back and play. Kombo Challenges will be ignored by about 99% of gamers once they realize how difficult they are. That leaves online mode, which will be busy for about three to six months before drying up completely. At least that’s how most fighting games go.

So what does that leave you? Playing against friends and getting better at playing. MK fans generally aren’t as anal as SF or KoF fans about mastering every nuance of the game, but with this game feeling more like a 2-D game, who knows if that will change.

There’s definitely a lot to see and do here in MK. Vs. DCU. It’s going to take some time for your average gamer to beat the game with everyone and beat both story modes. Will most gamers? Probably not. But at least the option is there.

Replayability Rating: Good

6. Balance

Okay, let’s get this out of the way. This game’s biggest flaw is that there is no balance whatsoever. Not even a semblance. Every character is unbalanced in their own way with wacky juggles that no other fighting game would ever have. Except Wonder Woman, who is pretty awful. At times, the game devolves into button mashing. At other times the game randomly chooses whose move hits first even if both you and the other player disagree with the computer’s choice. Flash has a combo where you can DOUBLE FLAWLESS VICTORY DARK KAHN…as long as the move detection holds up.

The computer AI is pretty awful. It’s very easy to beat most of your opponents as long as you have a teleport like Scorpion or Raiden, or a fast long distance projectile like Superman’s heat vision. Flash, as I’ve already mentioned is amazing if you’re used to 2-D fighters as your button speed plus his moves will take out any other character in the game without getting hit. However, if you do let the computer in, it will have no problem taking advantage of the fact Klose Kombat counters rarely work or that you can barely block, and even when you do there is noticeable lag while it can block far faster than you will ever be able to. It’s this weird disconnect that shows you how unbalanced the game is. If you’ve been playing fighting games for a while. You’ll be able to outsmart the AI of the game constantly. However if you’re new and deciding to go in for a direct combat type of button mashing, you will be slaughtered.

Now let’s talk bosses. Oddly enough Shao Kahn and Darkseid are harder then Dark Kahn. Both sub bosses have moves that go across the entire screen, meaning you need to be able to teleport or make use of the 3-D nature of the board. Dark Kahn however, telegraphs everything. Just stay far away from him and then when he runs at you, hit him with a projectile or teleport behind him and smash him good. It’s really that simple. Of course, Dark Kahn takes very little damage, so it is a long process, but still, it’s the easiest end boss I’ve had in a fighter in a long time. Geese Howard he’s not.

So we’ve established the game is amazingly unbalanced with most of the characters having some crazy juggle combo that devastates your opponent if you can unleash it. The game is horrible in terms of letting you block under the default configuration while the computer may be incredibly dumb, but is all too good at blocking. I can’t deny that this game is as broken as SVC Chaos, but in the exact opposite way. Even with the extreme ease of the game brought on by the extreme retardation of your opponent who can only connect when your joystick decides to ignore your command, the game manages to be a lot of fun, due in part to the over the top nature of the game and Midway’s decision to throw balance out the window. This is the only time I will ever say this about a fighting game, but MK Vs. DCU is fun primarily due to the complete lack of balance.

Balance Rating: Bad

7. Originality

Of course the comparisons to X-Men Vs. Street Fighter and the two Marvel Vs. Capcom games will be made here along with the other Vs. fighting games. I can’t deny that MVC is a superior game, but as I prefer DC characters, I have to admit I actually prefer the matchups here due to the one on one nature and the character selection. The ability to play as Batman, Captain Marvel, Deathstroke, Barry Allen and more is wonderful and it’s the first time since the NES Batman game that I can say DC character have been given an enjoyable title. Still, this is neither the first comic book fighter nor the first comic book vs fighting game title out there, and so as much fun as the crossover is, it can’t be denied that this is about a decade too late to truly capitalize on it.

One thing that is apparent though is Ed Boon’s willingness to try new things that haven’t been done with fighting games before. We’ve seen this in previous MK games with Friendships, Babalities, Kart racing, a Puzzle Fighter rip off, a weird story mode and off course my favorite – the Krypt. Of course none of that is in this game. It’s all one on one fighting, a pretty deep story mode, and Kombo challenges.

There’s not a lot of originality here. The game features a similar plot to the Amalgam universe, JLA/Avengers and most other cross over tales. As well, Kombo Challenges are too intense for even most fighting game fans I know due to the lack of explanation and the refusal of the game to acknowledge the combos, even when done right. At least these are in the game though, and the four new modes like Free Fall, a reworking of Test Your Might, and Rage are a lot of fun and really make the game feel fresh and innovative even though it’s really not.

Originality Rating: Decent

8. Addictiveness

I can’t deny that I’ve been pretty harsh on this game, especially in terms of balance and gameplay. So with this in mind, it may surprise you to learn that i had an amazing amount of fun with this game. Even when I was forced by Story Mode to use a very poorly designed character like Wonder Woman against the overpowered Captain Marvel, I was still sitting there with a huge grin upon my face. Even when I was swearing at the game for blowing by Flawless Victory by not responding to my button inputs, i was having one of the best times with a fighter in a long time. I loved playing the game online and I knew others were too, even when I was slaughtering them. It’s hard to put this into words. It’s something you need to experience first hand. Somehow Midway managed that perfect blend of being so over the top that even when the game is bad, it’s good. You can’t really get mad when the computer pounds you down after you messed up a move because holy crap, SONYA BLADE JUST BEAT UP THE LAST SON OF KRYPTON. Batman beating the god of Thunder? Darkseid pounding the tar out of Kano. Deathstroke breaking the neck of Sub-Zero. It’s all awesome, and this is coming from someone who is routinely accused of not ever having fan boys moments. Here I am smiling like an idiot as the Joker shoots Baraka through the head and dances around.

I beat the game my first go-around with Scorpion and then I turned around, played a bunch of battles online, then went back into Arcade mode and beat the game with Flash. I spent nearly six hours on this game my first night just wailing away, which is unheard of for me with a fighter. With The Orochi Saga that just came out for the PS2? I beat each game, yawned because I’ve played better ports on the Saturn and Neo*Geo and spent the rest of the time with the challenges. Here though, I don’t know what it was, but I had to pull myself away from the game to sleep, eat, and write this bloody review.

Although the game is broken and has some pretty big red flags, it has that X factor that makes the game amazingly fun and addictive. I know I’m going to be keeping MK Vs. DCU in my collection for a long time simply because it’s managed to catch that over the top “Bugs and Broken characters” can be fun spirit that first pervades the fighting game genre in the early 1990’s. God help me, I love playing this game even though the fighting game elitist in me would normally turn my nose up at this sort of thing. That’s pretty impressive Midway.

Addictiveness Rating: Unparalleled

9. Appeal Factor

Okay, this is a tricky one. Some MK fans are obviously bitching this is a T rated game and that the gore is gone. To those gamers I say, “Shut up. Go whine in your internet diary and eat your daily six pack of twinkees.” Seriously, who the hell cares if the game isn’t gorey. I’m sorry, but Deathstroke’s all too realistic fatality is far creepier to me then Liu Kang turning into a dragon. Same with Flash’s brutality. A man that is faster than tachyons runs on your face, turning it into pudding? Ouch. Joker’s (albeit it censored in the US) is hilarious and fits perfectly with the character. Those gamers complaining about the lack of gore are missing out of the fact the new end moves are actually the most original and interesting ones since MKII and are merely fair weather friends that don’t appreciate the fighting genre for what it is. So good riddance to bad rubbish and please, LET the door hit your ass on the way out.

MK is considered something of a joke with 2-D fighting fans due to a string of bad games. But you know what? I’m a fighting game snob and I LOVE THIS GAME. Of course I also really liked MST3K and the Adam West Batman series, so I can appreciate camp due to having a sense of humour where well, most fighting gamer fans treat video games as SERIOUS BUSINESS.

DC fans will be able to rejoice that they finally have a fun and entertaining title featuring comic book characters from that universe. True MK fans will be able to enjoy the game for what it is – Ed Boon getting back to basics and focus on a pure fighting game with the solid storylines MK is known for. Casual gamers will no doubt pick this up due to morbid curiosity and find it a lot easier to pick up, learn, and play then say Street Fighter III: Double Impact. They’ll probably whip through story mode and unlock a few arcade endings before putting it on the shelf or trading it in. Kombo Challenges will be too insanely hard for most and put those casual gamers off the title completely is they go that route first.

For many of us out there, MK Vs. DCU will be the title that reignites your original love of this series. Remember how excited we all were when the first digitized MK came out? When Mortal Monday happened? When we all saw the movie and Johnny Cage punched Goro in the nuts? It’s that kind of love. That and the Superman end art piece when you beat arcade mode with Big Blue. It’s things like this combined with the best tandem of writers DC currently has that will make this game fun not only to comic book fans and MK fans, but to gamers in general. It’s got that love of continuity and respect for the characters that hardcore fans will demand, yet it’s fun even when it is broken which is what Joe Blow who reads Game Informer and EGM and actually takes them seriously will be looking for. If you can get over the attitude that Mortal Kombat needs a torso heap or that Batman can beat anyone with prep time, then you’ll be playing this game with a crazy grin plastered on your maw the whole way through. If there is one thing this game has done better than Marvel Vs. Capcom it is far more accessible to the average gamer. It will take gamers old and new and make them go, “Hey! Mortal Kombat is silly fun. Maybe I’ll hunt down Midway Arcade Treasures 2 and play the old ones again because I had some great memories of those as a kid.

That’s all a game needs people. That’s all THIS game needs.

Appeal Factor: Good

10. Miscellaneous

Okay, this review’s a bit bi-polar. I get that. But I’ve meant every word. Although I feel the gameplay could have used some serious quality control and the balance is such that gamers will either have a very hard or very easy time with the game depending on their fighting game background, it’s still a lot of fun. I love that Barry Allen is in a video game as much as I hate the thought of Geoff Johns’ upcoming Barry Allen: Rebirth. I love how Midway has managed to take such an odd mixing of characters that don’t ever kill like Superman and Batman and blend them in a realistic nature with heroes that don’t blink about slaughtering like Liu Kang and Sub Zero II. Of course, thanks to Didio, the modern DCU is probably darker than any Mortal Kombat game, so the two world blend far better than the unsuspecting might realize.

I never thought I’d be one of those gamers that says, “Wow, this game is good in spite of issues I normally can’t stand.” But there it is. Long time readers know I will rail on a fighting game for PAGES if there are control issues and generally flunk the game out. Here I did indeed rail on the game, but yet I still somehow can’t help but recommend this to casual gamers, people new to fighting games, or people that have missed good DC and MK games. This is a great gateway game to the genre, and it will lead you to older better titles like KoF ’98, Samurai Shodown II, or Time Killers. Okay, not that last one. Never play that last one.

In spite of the issues I found with the game, they are issues only really big fighting game fans will take reproach with. Everyone else will go, “Hey, this is the best MK has been in years.”

With a fun story, iconic characters, over the top moves, awesome finishers, and proof that MK can actual be enjoyable without M rated gore, MK Vs. DCU has gone from a game that I had no expectations for and turned me into a full fledged fan. It reminded me why I loved the first two games and why I was a DC fanboy as a small child.

Control and balance issues are overshadowed by the fun, the graphics and most of all the ability for a non fighting game fan to slide on into this title and play a psychotic KoF frame counter and still have a good time without worrying about a constant slaughter. Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe has that wacky X factor like the first Tomb Raider and Resident Evil where gameplay issues that would normally kill another game can somehow be put aside because the average gamer finds it that much fun. Congrats Midway, this is exactly the title you needed to win back a lot of estranged fans, myself included.

Miscellaneous Rating: Good

Story: Good
Graphics: Unparalleled
Sound: Good
Control and Gameplay: Decent
Replayability: Good
Balance: Bad
Originality: Decent
Addictiveness: Unparalleled
Appeal Factor: Good
Miscellaneous: Good
FINAL SCORE: GOOD GAME

Short Attention Span Summary

Mortal Kombat Vs. DC Universe is the best MK game I’ve played in years (that was actually a fighting game). It’s the best game featuring DC Universe characters since well…EVER. As much as I loved this game I’d be remiss if I didn’t once again mention the utter lack of balance in the game, the fact that there are control detection issues, the fact that Klose Kombat is Krap and that you’re going to want to move your blocking button to R1 instead of R2 so it will actually work properly. In the game’s defense, it is easily accessible to all gamers, is one of the prettiest games I’ve played on the PS3 and words can’t express how addicting and most of all FUN the title is. Yes, the game has control issues that will put off the all too serious 2-D fighting game zealots, but for everyone else, you’ll be smiling even as you swear at the controller for not accepting your commands. Definite recommendation in spite of the flaws.

  • Good review. Facts are what I like to see, and it’s hard to get that anymore in reviews. What with all the money flying around, and reviewers that really don’t put any effort into reviewing a game. You do, so I’ve now bookmarked this site.

    The only thing I don’t agree with you on is the controls. I don’t think there’s much button lag as you’re making it sound, as much as I think it’s just the new timing to the game period, mixed with a little bit of odd hit detection once in a while. But it is a little odd, I know what you’re talking about.

    I TOTALLY disagree with you about the Block button. I’ve ALWAYS used R2 as my block button going back to the rare PS1 version of MK2. And R2 has been block on all the PS2 MKs, and it’s exactly the same now. There’s nothing odd about PS3’s R2. I hit it exactly the same as I would the PS2’s R2. You don’t have to jam, the slightest press has you blocking.

    I also can’t uderstand where you’re coming from with saying the PS2/3 controller isn’t good for fighting games in the first place. It’s the BEST for fighting games because of it’s accurate D-pad. Who play console fighting games with an analog stick? I think you must be the ONE guy. It’s so strange hearing you say that when you are obviously such a fighter fan like myself. I’m 30 and have been arcade fighting since it started, and been fighting on consoles almost as long. The best controller for console fighting was the Genesis 6 button, and the PS design control is right behind it imo. Besides for arcade sticks obviously (which work REALLY well on MK vs DC btw)

  • Hey Larry

    – I think you misread my review. I was saying I’m glad they didn’t use the analog stick. I hate the Dual Shock analog stick. Even with that in mind the Sony D-Pads are awful compared to the Xbox, Dreamcast, Genesis, Saturn, and even the Neo*GEo controllers. If you go through my archives you’ll see a lot of hate for the Dual Shock and a lot of praise for the PS2/Xbox Sega Saturn style fighting controllers that came out around 03-05. If you own one of those and really compare that, the SF Anniversay aracde stick and then the dual shock D pad, you’ll see why I, and a lot of other gamers, loathe the Dual Shock D-Pad. Still, it really is a matter of taste/opinion, so if you’re doing awesome with it, I tip my hat to you sir.

    As for the control detection, I’m definitely a 2-D fighter fan any my issues with what I consider lag/lack of response may in fact be my being used to 2-D gameplay. I’m one of those wacky Neo*Geo owners that still play the old KoF, Fatal Fury, SamSho and Art of Fighting titles. I have my ST Key so I can play X-Men vs Street Fighter on my Saturn and I exude other fighting game zealot signs. But 3-D fighters? Never really been a fan due to how much easier they are. So what i consider “OMGWTFLAG!” could in fact be normal for a 3-D game.

    Thanks for writing. I’ll defnitely have to hunt down an arcade stick for the PS3 now. Alas, none of my PS2 one are compatible. Also – if you have a Wii, try importing the Neo*Geo controller for the Virtual Console fighting games. Wow, is that baby tight.

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  • NASH

    try playing GOD OF WAR on ps3orxbox for a good xperience

  • Ummm, there is no such thing as God of War for the 360. It’s a Sony exclusive.

    Also, God of War is only for the PS2 and PSP. GoW III isn’t out yet.

  • Sami

    You’re completly right about the Kombo Challenge, it’s rediculously hard, i’ve spent hours just to do one move right, and i consider myself pretty good on Combo challenges ..

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  • mike

    wonder woman is 1 of the best on the game only unskilled people play with flash and use his infinite mortal kombat vs dc universe is the best fighting game ever they perfected ever character if you dont believe me then play me im good with every character you think they messed up on play my wonder woman, jax, shao khan, liu kang, kano, sonya, deathstroke, or any character people say those characters suck but i think they are the best in the game you just suck in the game and need a teleport to feel like your good by using cheap ways to win i like the 3D playing arena it opens the door to allow you to learn something new and be more unique unlike mk II where everyone do the same thing over and over believe me i know i have it on my ps3 and mortal kombat vs dc universe is all about timing now about how fast you can put in an input so understand that before you rate a perfect game like mortal kombat vs dc universe IF YOU WANT ME TO SHOW YOU HOW TO PLAY MY PSN ID IS: MIKEMIKESIX OR LILMIKEMIKESIX2 i have more 2

  • mike

    ok now for people who say mortal kombat vs dc universe on xbox 360 is better than on PS3 you just suck in the game like i said before your just button mashing and doind special moves i have played on xbox 360 and on PS3 and im not going to lie it was difficult because i used the analog on xbox 360 and dpad on PS3 it felt different but when learned about the game i played more on PS3 it became more fun and i trashed my xbox 360 because everyone is basically just button mashing but on playstation 3 you got people mastering the game if you dont believe me look on youtube for videos being recorded on mortal kombat vs dc universe for xbox 360 you wont find any one you will just find people showing you game glitches on PS3 i have saw many video and played most of the youtube greats like TylerLantern , LadyCatAssassin , And Tazmattik TylerLantern showed me combos i have never saw before LadyCatAssassin has like the best wonderwoman ever but her and TylerLantern should have a wonderwoman match and Tazmattik

  • mike

    i played at least 40 matches against Tazmattik and he had an headset he showed me thing i didnt think were possible he tought me joker infinite combo and a lot of game glitches and he know alot he has the best joker and darkseid i beat his joker about 4 times out of like 30 matches and couldnt beat his darkseid he has perfected mortal kombat vs dc universe i got lost of respected to him now if you just want to play any of them LadyCatAssassin is always on MK you will need to message Tazmattik and tell him you want to play i wont tell you how to find TylerLantern but i have my own method he’s always online but under different user names so how you find him is up to you BUT IF YOU WANT TO SEE HOW MUCH MORE FUN MORTAL KOMBAT VS DC UNIVERSE CAN BE PLAY ANY 1 OF THEM OR PLAY ME AND MESSAGE YOU SAW MY COMMENTS AND I WILL SHOW YOU THIS GAMES POTENTIAL

  • mike

    honestly i think Mortal Kombat 9 wont be half as interesting as Mortal Kombat vs dc universe but just having the side step and open room to make every 1 more unique i think it should be the same mechanic as mortal kombat vs dc universe but with the 2 on 2 matchs and add-on content because mortal kombat vs dc universe rooms still stay packed i bet you wont find any 1 on mortal kombat 9 online after 2 yrs if you do every 1 will still be do the same moves just like mk 2 and 3 if you don’t believe me get mk 2 on psn and umk3 on xbox live you will see the same moves and combos when i play mk vs dc universe i have a headset i hear people say your the only 1 i saw do that combo do you think you will get that on mk 3 no and you cant even combo on mk 2 i know cause i have mk 1, 2, 3, 4, and dc universe and ive had deception, deadly alliance, and armeggedon, and trilogy and i plan on getting them back very soon i dont care for shaolin monks, special forces, or mythology

  • James

    @mike You CAN do combos in MK2, dumbass. They’re actually harder to pull off since they’re not already implemented into the button system. But you probably wouldn’t be able to do them anyways, since dial-a-combos seem to be your niche. And I’ll be damned if MK9’s online community doesn’t stay active longer than the already dead MKvDCU. You must be on something to assume that it won’t.

    And all the supposed top players you mentioned do the same shit. they “still be do the same moves”, fucking retard.

  • mike

    cause it wont mk vs dc stay live there still selling mk vs dc games mk 9 will be just like UMK 3 on xbox 360 nobody will be playin cause its to basic ppl like to explore the side step messes up combos and thing which make them more unique but every 1 going to do same combos on mk 9

  • mike

    wow your talking like 2 hits is a major combo

  • James

    @mike You obviously haven’t explored much of MK2 if you think you’re only capable of 2 hit combos. There are just as many glitches in the classic MK’s as there are in the 3D versions. But who cares, you won’t listen. Stick to your dial-a-combo bullshit

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