Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. Just the mention of the title leads to so many questions, the most obvious being "WHY?" Frankly, I didn't get it when they announced the game and after playing it, I still don't get it. Granted, there was a Marvel vs. Capcom game made by Capcom but that made sense since Capcom created the Xmen fighting game which lead to the Marvel fighting game. So Marvel vs. Capcom was a natural progression of the Capcom fighting games. On the hand, MK vs. DC was not natural nor even a possibility in anyone's mind. The MK series has been going on well since MK1 while the DC brand of games have been littered with horrible games the most famous being Superman 64 and Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis. Looking at that history with the two franchises, I just don't get the idea of teaming them together for a game. Yet here we are.
Surprisingly, the game has a well thought out story. The story mode itself is interesting since you make the choice of picking the MK guys or the DC guys. With that choice, you're shown an intro that has Raiden getting rid Shao Kahn or Superman blasting Darkseid. As expected, these two events cause a rift in both universes and begin a merging of the two worlds. The next chapters will have you follow a MK or DC character, depending on what side you pick, as they try to find out what's going on. The story visits famous locations like MK's Outworld, Gotham City and Metropolis. What's interesting about the story mode is that if you playthrough one side then the other, you can see both sides of the events that play out throughout the story mode.
The roster of MK vs. DC consists of 22 characters, 11 for each side which includes the most well known characters of both companies such as Superman, Batman, Sub Zero and Raiden. The controls for MK vs. DC have the standard template of a fighting game. Each button represents a different attack and you have to input a combination of movements on the controller with certain buttons being pressed at certain times. Each character has four or five special moves with them mainly being signature moves for that character (Batman has the batarang, Liu Kang does Flying Dragon Kick, etc.). Then there are Pro Moves that let you combo from one special move to another. Speaking of combos, common in the MK games, there are combos that consist of pressing buttons in a certain order. MK Fatalities are back and controversial as ever. Not because of their goriness and blood, but rather the lack of it. For the MK characters, the Fatalities are much tamer than previous MK games. Don't expect any chopping off of heads or exploding carcasses. They still are painful to watch but with the Teen rating, they had to be taken down a notch. For the DC guys, the Fatalities are so fatal. To keep in line with the idea that most comic book heroes don't kill the bad guys, the DC heroes will perform some brutal moves but very little blood will be spilled. The DC villains, on the other hand, have the same kind of violence as the MK guys.
To spice up the fighting, Midway added some new gameplay mechanics into the mix. Two of these are only available on certain levels. "Free-Fall Kombat" happens when a character is thrown off a ledge and the person that did the throwing begins pummeling their opponent while falling. During the free fall, you can deal more damage onto your opponent by pressing any of the four face buttons. The problem is that if your opponent presses the same button, then your opponent can switch places with you. Whoever is at the bottom will take all the damage. Next, on certain levels, you can smash your character against a wall of a building and using your opponent as a battering ram to smash through the building walls. To increase the damage, you'll need to rapidly press the buttons. There is also "Klose Kombat" where you can proceed dealing some damage to your opponent. Just like Free-Fall Kombat, you press certain buttons to deal damage to your opponent and the only way for your opponent to stop the punishment is to press the same button as you at the same time. Finally, a "rage" meter has been added to help turn the tide of the match. The meter is split into two halves. When you fill one half of the meter, you can do a "kombo breaker" that will stop your opponent from completing special moves and of course actual combos. When the meter is full, then you can activate the "rage" that will give you a major offensive advantage over your opponent. While raged, you can continue your attacks without worry of them being blocked really putting a hurt on your opponent. It's temporary but it can change the fight into your favor very quickly.
Graphically, MK vs. DC doesn't do much to impress. The character models are detailed and the DC characters stay true to their comic book looks. Nevertheless, it's just not impressive. The backgrounds for the levels are also not that impressive although the "Free-Fall Kombat" and the charging through the buildings are fun to see. Voice acting is as expected with the DC characters sounding a lot like the characters have sounded through other cartoons and movies. MK characters sound the same as previous MK games.
As mentioned earlier, the Story mode has you pick between the DC and MK guys. Once you pick, you'll go through their respective story playing as every character for at least one fight while other characters will require you to win several fights. Arcade mode lets you pick whichever character you like and fight against several other characters, then fighting your side's respective boss character(Shao Kahn for MK guy and Darkseid for DC), then you meet the main bad guy DarkKahn. Complete this mode and you'll get a short ending. There is also, of course, the versus mode. This can be offline or online consisting of your standard 1vs1 matches. On Xbox Live, you can play ranked or unranked matches, and able to play people on your skill level.
I've said it before and I'll keep saying it. This game simply does not make sense to me. Overall, its fighting system is slow and clunky preventing a true smooth match from happening. If you're fan of DC and MK, this game is for you. If you're looking for a quality fighting game, go somewhere else because it's not here.