Mortal Kombat Series

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(8 / 10) I spy with my little eye someone that looks cool.
by Fenix on 12/28/2009 12:00:00 AM

Midway didn't exactly do a tremendous job of fanservicing up the super hero/villain imports for MKvDC but if its one thing they know, its ninjas. To that end, Deathstroke is pretty much a retrofit of MKDA/e's Kenshi with telekinesis traded for more conventional ninja fair like knives, smoke bombs, and gun shots. He is also one of two characters blessed with an extra "stance" worth of normal moves, being able to fight with sword out or sheathed.

Sadly, while facing opponents armed with superior powers has never really been a problem for him in the comics, it really takes its toll in the MKverse, leaving him at almost every other characters mercy should he be executed with anything less than calculated perfection.

The good news is he has two of the better fatalities in the largely neutered T for Teen landscape, so if you've ever wanted to snap Superman's neck or execute Batman in cold blood, here's your chance.

 The Flash
(8 / 10) The Fastest Man Alive!
by The S on 5/28/2009 12:00:00 AM

The Flash has always been one of those "Meh" superheroes for me. Not exactly the worst, but nowhere in my pantheon of favorites (unless you count Michael Rosenbaum's animated Justice League incarnation... hilarious stuff... anyway, I digress). Oddly enough, he's become my main for online play, due to the fact that I actually have a fighting chance against about 80% of the cheap players out there.

A majority of his gameplay resolves around his "teleports", which are really him just running really fast to the other side of the screen, but serve the same function as a teleport, and are actually named as such in the game. Anyway, whereas a lot of characters in the game have teleports (including some, like Sub-Zero, who were given one at random), The Flash has three. One is a standard teleport-type move, which positions him behind the opponent. The other two are pretty much the same, but also add one of two of his other special moves to the teleport - Super Uppercut, and Punch Flurry. These are very handy for keeping an opponent on his or her toes, mixing up the three teleports, and when they become wise to your escape game, you nail them with a standard Super Uppercut or Punch Flurry.

The Flash's other move has him running past the opponent three times at super speed in one direction (presumably, as the move's name suggests, running around the world to do this). This has the same effect as Kabal's Tornado Spin from previous Mortal Kombats, except this move actually does a bit of damage. Fun fact: Kano actually alludes to this in a cut-scene, telling The Flash that he'd "give Kabal a run for his money."

Unfortunately, The Flash is also given two of the game's worst finishing moves, and an incredibly lame ending. These do not detract from his gameplay, however, and are purely aesthetically terrible.

 (7 / 10) As it turns out, less gore is more.
by Fenix on 10/16/2009 12:00:00 AM

I'm a pretty big fan of crossovers, mortal kombat, and dc comics, so this seemed like a pretty safe bet for me. The game is certainly not what you'd expect from any of the involved properties, what with the neutered T for Teen Kombatants and accurately portrayed super heroes wrapped up in a workable fighting game. Unfortunately, MKvDC goes just far enough to "get the job done", then just kind of tapers off.

And its a damned shame too because with just a little more time and effort, MKvDC could've been a dynamite game. Sure, it lacks the series' trademark hyper violence, and the whole Sonya Blade punching out Superman thing is pretty lollerskates, but all the characters are varied in play and the whole attitude of the thing seems focused on "competent fighting game" not "violent fighting thing".

The characters all have a ton of moves and a ton of options for said moves via Pro Moves and the ability to cancel canned strings, but there just aren't a ton of characters to work with. Only 10 on each side of the board, and most of them are so iconic that innovation was just impossible. A sad truth compounded by the MK series' good friends shitty character balance and infinite combo showing up to the party pretty early on. In battle mini-games like test your might and free fall kombat help spice things up, but since all characters are functionally identical during them, they eventually become a nuisance to the core fighting.

The same kind of half assery plagues the games bells and whistles too. There's a particuraly well executed story mode that takes you through most of the characters and packs neat cinemas and even a few laughs, but the character specific arcade endings are all corny, meaningless slideshows. Likewise, the kombo challenge mode features complex combos for obsessive muscle memory types, but glosses over many simpler and actually combat relevant techniques that remain just as elusive from game documentation. Netplay is there too, but it is a truly wretched affair. Characters and moves not only lag uncontrollably, but often function completely different online, reducing strategy to a latency coin toss over whose packets of information get to limp across the server first.

Still, MKvDC marks a step in the right direction for the MK teams developmental maturity. There are some pretty big misteps and oversights in the implementation of combo breakers and rage, but its certainly no Armageddon level failure. If they're really gung ho about turning the MK series back to its mediocre more gore less game roots, I do hope somebody keeps a backup of the MKvDC source code. Maybe dump the kombatants back into their own mediocre bloodfest for the fanboys and just make a DC only sequel that plays like this. It certainly can't turn out any worse than Marvel Nemesis.

 (7 / 10) Heroic, but it stumbles a bit
by The S on 5/27/2009 12:00:00 AM

Mortal Kombat fighting DC comics characters was an idea that I, as well as possibly many other kiddies, had back when the Marvel vs. games were fresh. However, I never thought we'd actually see the day when such a thing existed. It may have come about almost a decade late, but it's here nevertheless.

I've always been a fan of Mortal Kombat, and have always championed the series when the elitist tournament-obsessed have slammed it. However, as of late, especially in the face of more well-built fighters, Kombat has begun to falter. MK Vs. DCU restores a tiny bit of the game's former glory, but not enough to save the franchise.

MK Vs. DCU has trimmed off the fat left behind by Mortal Kombat Armageddon and left us with a respectable 22 playable fighters, which is actually a pretty darn decent number for this title, and frankly, it wouldn't really need too much more. While the MK side of the roster culls sort of a "greatest hits" from the first two games, the DC side seems to be all over the place. Three characters who originated in the pages of Batman, Captain Marvel, and the semi-obscure but awesome Deathstroke are included.

MK vs. DCU is the first title which in of itself is rated T (this is excluding ports of which the core version was rated M). This hurts the very spirit of the franchise, which has always prided itself on kooky, over-the-top-but-gory violence. Sadly, instead of going the route of the Naruto games, where the characters have huge, extravagant moves that look immensely painful but not overly violent, the finishing moves in MK vs. DCU, overall, are pretty lame. Most of them are just slightly souped up special moves. It doesn't completely wreck the game though, and those whining about it make me feel like it's 1992 again.

Gameplay has improved from the past couple of iterations, but still pales in comparison to fighting game greats. That ridiculous Breaker system returns, and movement is a bit clunky. The d-pad is used to move back and forth as well as jump and duck, while the left thumbstick is used for 8-way movement. This is very awkward to switch between given the situation. Character animation is as stiff as ever, and the properties of most basic attacks are pretty much bullocks.

New to the fighting system are the little "mini-games" that can be activated - Free Fall, Klose Kombat, and Test Your Might. While you can score big damage with these, lots of times you'll end up getting the tables turned on you and get screwed instead.

The most recent Mortal Kombat games have always had pretty darn decent online play, and MK vs. DCU is no exception. However, it is wasted when the gameplay isn't exactly high caliber. I've only faced a few opponents who didn't just pick Scorpion or Sub-Zero and spammed the same two or three specials over and over. They mix it up just enough to where you don't know what's coming next, but it's completely infuriating. Win or lose, it's much more satisfying to play against someone who actually can play the game correctly. I rarely have this problem when playing other fighters online.

Similarly irritating is the game's Kombo Challenge mode. Think of the most soul eradicatingly tough combos from the "Konquest" modes of previous games, all thrown together for each individual character, and forcing you to complete each combo for a character to get a Trophy or Achievement. While it's good that these tough combos are no longer necessary to complete the game, this mode is just not fun at all, but instead very frustrating and boring.

Speaking of story, the game's Story Mode is campy. This is actually a good thing, because you can tell it's attempting to stay serious, but with a tongue-in-cheek about things, like it's actually taking place in a comic book, where things can get just as, if not more than, ridiculous as Mortal Kombat. Voice acting is serviceable - a pastiche of no-names and accomplished voice actors fill the cast, and do their job well. Of special note is the always stupendous Richard Epcar, who does double duty as a tough-as-nails Raiden and a hilarious Joker.

Series co-creator Ed Boon has been pimping a promise for downloadable content for the game in the future, including costumes (since there are no alternate costumes in the game, sadly) and characters. However, with Midway's recent financial troubles, and Boon seems more interested in working on the next game in the series, so I'm not holding my breath. I'd also like perhaps, a (toned down) playable Dark Kahn, and to give Shao Kahn and Darkseid some Fatalities. Not giving every character a Fatality was uncool back in MKI. What makes them think that can fly these days?

Wait a minute... less gory Mortal Kombat... unplayable bosses... characters without Fatalities... maybe this is 1992....

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