While the different moves deliver, I was a little disappointed by the game's "fatalities". The truth is I have to couch that in quote marks because half the time they aren't actually called "fatalities". To be fair, when a Mortal Kombat character kills somebody they use that F-word. But the same cannot be said about the DC Universe characters, mostly because of limitations given by the comic book publisher. Instead the DC superheroes kill their opponents with something called a Heroic Brutality. That phrase doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, if you know what I mean. Oddly enough, the DC super villains have fatalities, just not the superheroes.
The problem is more than just about the name you give the kill move; it's also about what each character does to the other person. Fans of the Mortal Kombat franchise will probably notice something unusual on the front of the box; it's a "T" rating. That's right, Midway was able to tone down the violence enough to get a teen rating ... something that is unheard of in a Mortal Kombat game. What's next, an E-rated Grand Theft Auto game?
But I digress. The game does offer blood, just not at the same level as what you've seen in past Mortal Kombat games. The finishing moves are equally sanitized, to the point where some of their cheesy fun has been taken out. For example, in past Mortal Kombat games Baraka would use his two sword-hands to cut somebody's head off or rip the guy to shreds. In Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, Baraka is only able to impale his enemy, which is decidedly less exciting than watching Superman head's get chopped off. I understand why they did this, but part of me wishes we lived in one of those universes where DC and the ESRB weren't sticklers for what is obviously cartoon violence. Still, the game isn't nearly as clean and inoffensive as the sanitized version of the first game on the Super NES, so I guess it could be a lot worse.
While the story modes won't take too long to beat (around 90 minutes per story), there are plenty of other reasons to throw this game in the system and give it another go. If you're all by yourself you can play through the arcade mode, which has you playing a standard Mortal Kombat game, complete with brand new endings. There's also a Kombo Challenge mode, but that's more of a training center for learning complex kombos. You can also go up against a friend in the multiplayer mode, or try your luck online in both ranked and unranked rooms. Like the combat itself, the game isn't nearly as deep as some of the other fighters on the Xbox 360, but it's still a lot of fun to play with friends.
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe could have been a disaster of epic proportions, but it manages to bring the goods and offer a solid alternative to the 3D fighters hogging the spotlight. The game's graphics are great, the backgrounds are really creative and the story isn't half bad. I also enjoyed playing as some of my favorite super villains, even if I don't have a clue who Deathstroke is. All in all this is everything you expect from a Mortal Kombat game, all the way down to the less than fluid animations and the silly WWE-inspired dialog. This brand new Mortal Kombat game is just different enough from Virtua Fighter and Soul Calibur to warrant a look, even if it's not the revolution of the franchise that people expected.
Who knew that the Mortal Kombat universe and the DC universe would make such a good pairing? Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe isn't perfect, but it's a lot better than most people expected. There are plenty of worthwhile characters, some fantastic graphics, creative special attacks and a story that fits right into both universes. Even if you already own the other big fighting games on the Xbox 360, this game is still worth checking out!
This product was submitted by the publisher for review. As a rule, Defunct Games does not review games we spent money on. However, that does not always apply to classic/retro games. This specific product, however, came straight from a PR guy for the purposes of being reviewed!