Jul 22, 2008

We recently went hands-on with Midway's Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, available this fall for Xbox 360 and PS3, and in short, we had a blast.

Only six playable characters were available in the demo: DC characters Batman, Superman and The Flash along with Mortal Kombat brawlers Sub-Zero, Sonya Blade and Scorpion. Each has specific moves that match their unique personalities, such as Sub-Zero's freeze techniques and the Flash's multi-hit speed punch, and to our surprise, the characters are wonderfully balanced. Superman, for instance, has a variety of his super powers, including X-Ray Vision and temporary flight capabilities. However, he's vulnerable to attacks, taking as much damage from projectiles and physical strikes as other characters.

Along with characters from both realms, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe also features familiar locations. One minute, you're fighting in a fiery lava pit in the middle of Outworld. The next, you're in the middle of a destroyed Metropolis, with cluttered buildings and Daily Planet globe in the background. Even better, these stages are multi-tiered, allowing you to knock opponents through walls. One even took us back to the classic "Test Your Might" button-mashing minigame. You ram your opponent through multiple walls, tapping buttons to either maximize or minimize the damage.

Catwoman is back – and she's very naughty indeed. Click to see more images from the game...

Gameplay is very similar to previous MK 3-D efforts, although there are minor improvements. For instance, when you grapple an opponent, the camera zooms in close and lets you duke it out in slow motion. If you're successful, you can get four critical hits on your foe before the view zooms back out. However, if you're on the receiving end, you can time your button presses to perform a quick counter attack called a "Kounter."

Special moves are executed through double-taps and circular motions, along with punches and kicks that you can chain together to form multi-hit combos. In addition, Fatalities will make a return, but in modified form. You won't be able to kill Superman, but you'll be able to knock him into next month. Since Midway wants a Teen rating, don't expect anything gory. To our delight, however, there is blood, staying somewhat true to the MK theme.

When we asked about playable modes, Midway reps only talked about the game's versus action and not the story mode or other minigames. However, previous MK releases have had them, we wouldn't be surprised to see a modified version of Puzzle Kombat or Motor Kombat. Online play should also be available in the final release, along with an expansive roster of characters that includes the sexy Catwoman, the equally attractive Wonder Woman, the vicious sorcerer Shang Tsung and many others. We'd love to throw down with Apocalypse and Goro.

Characters animate beautifully, right down to Superman's flowing cape and Scorpion's hilarious finishing scene where he spears the cameraman, only to drag him over and punch him. Some animations look stiff (particularly with the free-fall fight scenes), but we're confident that Midway will patch them up.

When we first heard about this game, we weren't that excited. However, after playing Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, we can't wait for it to arrive this November. Sure, it doesn't have Fatalities, but the graphics, characters and addictive fighting make it one of 2008's must play games.


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