When Ed Boon said the next Mortal Kombat game would be completely different, nobody knew quite what to expect. We had visions of a futuristic Mortal Kombat game with brand new characters and mythology. Or maybe an origins story that went all the way back to the birth of the Mortal Kombat competition. Everybody had a theory, but I will bet you money that nobody would have guessed that Sub-Zero and Scorpion's next challengers would be Superman and Batman. But that's exactly what we get, because the first Xbox 360 game in the franchise is none other than Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe.
When I first heard about this match-up I was a bit skeptical, the pairing didn't feel very natural and the idea of these monstrous killing machines going up against DC's biggest heroes (and villains) had me scratching my head with a whole new set of questions. Would the game retain all of the blood and gore? Would it feel like a silly cash-in? How could any one of the Mortal Kombat characters actually beat somebody like Superman? These are the questions that kept my anticipation for the game at realistic level. I was excited, but I was sure that pairing these two would eventually blow up in everybody's face.
Thankfully I was wrong, because Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is a fantastic fighting game that may not be the next revolution for Ed Boon's popular fighting franchise, but manages to stand on its own as a great alternative to the current fighters already on the Xbox 360. Even though this is an unlikely pairing, this brand new Mortal Kombat game is by far the best DC-related video game product in years.
Told through two different stories (one for each side), we learn how the Mortal Kombat universe can collide with the DC universe. Oddly enough, both the Mortal Kombat fighters and the DC superheroes are just as confused about this pairing as we are. The story begins with both groups meeting a representative from the other side, almost by accident. Realizing that a simple handshake isn't going to get the job done, the two groups start fighting the other side in hopes of saving their world. Before long they discover that both sides are being controlled by an outside force, giving the fighters "rage" (denoted by their yellow glowing eyes). As if being controlled isn't enough, the combatants realize that there's more at stake than just winning a three round fight. If they don't figure it out what's going on soon then both universes are going to collide and rip the very fabric of their being apart. I hate it when that happens.
This story is told over eight different levels, each featuring a different fighter for you to control. Don't think that just because there are eight levels that means that you only have to beat eight different fighters, because each level will have you sparring off against three, four and even five different fighters. And they aren't always fighters from the other universe, you will routinely be forced to battle your own friends and peers. When the "rage" infects you, you start to see the world differently. It's not Batman standing in front of you, it's Baraka from Mortal Kombat II. It's not Lui Kang standing in front of you, it's Lex Luther. It's not Sonya standing in front of you it's ... oh, you get the point. The introduction of "rage" allows friends to fight friends, which at least keeps the story moving.
As I mentioned before, there is both a Mortal Kombat story and a DC Universe story. Both of these stories play out in a similar fashion, even merging the plots at the very end. Considering this is a fighting game you will likely be a little surprised at how many cinemas there are in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. After every single fight you are treated to a brief cinema that cannot be skipped. Thankfully the voice acting is solid and the graphics do a good job of conveying the different character's emotions. Neither of the two stories will win Midway any awards for script writing, but they are right in line with your standard comic book narrative.
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