Crossovers have always been interesting in video games, not only do they open up new possibilities in gameplay and story, but they also (usually) unite the fans of the two franchises. There have been some strange crossover games in my day, like Mario and Dragon Quest in Fortune Street or Disney characters mixing it up with Final Fantasy in Kingdom Hearts. Personally, the most bizarre (and uncalled for) crossover would be Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe (MKDC). I’m not whether it was the nice folks at Midway or DC Comics that smoked an enormous joint and came up with this idea, but it spawned the most unusual Mortal Kombat game in the franchise.
The story begins with both Raiden and Superman being douchebags at the same time, opening up an inter-dimensional rift. Their ill-timed actions merge the two villains, Shao Kahn and Darkseid, into Dark Kahn. If you think that sounds stupid, you’re in for a treat. This merge begins forcing the DC and Mortal Kombat Universes together, making some characters stronger and others weaker. While you can choose to play the campaign as either DC or MK, neither of them actually contain any plot. They’re comprised of stringing together unlikely fights, one after the other. I understand that it’s a fighting game and the focus is on gameplay and not plot, but a shred of story would have been nice. Sadly, it boils down to the player controlling one character and fighting every person who appears on screen. Regardless of whether they’re on your team or not, something will happen to make you fight them.
The roster of characters is reeled in from MK: Armageddon‘s 62 character madhouse, to the bare minimum of favorites. MK has characters like Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Raiden, Sonya, and Kano. DC features the basic Justice League line-up: Superman, Batman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, etc. Quan Chi and Harley Quinn were confirmed via Twitter, but were cancelled. Despite MKDC being one of the most successful Midway games of the last decade, bankruptcy crippled Midway before being able to release any subsequent content for the title.
The gameplay was simplified for this title, making it very friendly to the casual players, but disappointing to the more dedicated players. Special moves become your bread and butter during most fights, because the “kombos” are either clunky and useless or impossible to complete. When you combine the oversimplification of the fighting with the toned down violence, it makes for a game that feels like neither Mortal Kombat or DC. Sure, there is the novelty of Batman and Sub-Zero facing off, but that excitement is quickly quelled when you actually have to play the game. They added in some new features into the combat, such as “Klose-Kombat” and “Fre-Fall Kombat”. These are like mini-games during your matches, where the two players press different buttons to do some damage to each other. These were good ideas, but don’t end up working the way that they should have. Instead of doing damage for each hit, it only matters who is the victor when the mode ends. For example, you throw your opponent off of a balcony and start punching them on the way down. Even if you have beaten them mercilessly the entire way down, if they counter your last attack, the table is turned and you take all of the damage.
The real problem with MKDC is the lack of any modes beyond campaign and arcade. Mortal Kombat is known for having many other ways to play, knowing that fighting can only be so entertaining. Konquest modes, Motor Kombat, Puzzle Kombat, Test Your Might, Test Your Sight, or the numerous unlockables of the Krypt are all missing. The only additional way to play MKDC is a Kombo Challenge, forcing you to do painstaking combos, one after the next, with each character. That’s it. Regardless of the gameplay or storyline, the fact that there is nothing else to do in the game limits any replayability.
In true Mortal Kombat fashion, the achievements do their best to frustrate you into having a small seizure. By beating the main modes and accomplishing some smaller tasks, I only ended up with 325/1,000. The problem is that 160 gamerscore is dedicated to forcing the player to beat every single kombo challenge. These combinations are damn near impossible, not to mention they give no help on accurately pulling them off. Also, there’s another 200 gamerscore for online only achievements. In this case, they’re using the achievements to force a level of replayability. But, who on God’s green earth is going to joyfully grind out 200+ agonizing combos? Achievement Hounds might want to take a pass on this game.
I picked up Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe during Microsoft’s Ultimate Game Sale for $5. At my local stores, the game still runs for about $15-$20. Honestly, even for five dollars, I still wish I hadn’t bought it. Without any sort of reason to go back and play it again, it’s just going to take up space on my hard drive. If it had any other game modes or something, it might be a different matter, but MKDC is shamefully thin and less than entertaining. If you’re looking for an enjoyable Mortal Kombat experience, you might skip this game and go for the rebooted Mortal Kombat. MKDC is all of the fun of Mortal Kombat, without any of the violence, storyline, fighting, or fun.
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is Not Worth It
By Blake Edwards