Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe
|Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe|
|Developer(s)||Midway Amusement Games, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment|
|Engine||Unreal Engine 3|
|Media/distribution||Blu-ray Disc, DVD-DL|
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe (MK vs. DC) is a crossover fighting game from Midway Games (in its last project before being bankrupt and sold the rights), and Warner Bros. Games (in its project debut and unrestricted ESRB rating with DC Comics). The game was released on November 16, 2008 and contains both franchise characters. Its story was written by comic writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray.
The game takes place after Raiden, Earthrealm's god of Thunder, and Superman, protector of Earth, repel invasions from both their worlds. An attack by both Raiden and Superman simultaneously in their separate universes causes the merging of the Mortal Kombat and DC villains, Shao Kahn and Darkseid, resulting in the creation of Dark Kahn whose mere existence causes the merging of the universes that if continued would result in the destruction of both universes. Characters from both universes begin to have a flux in power, becoming stronger or weaker.
MK vs. DC was developed using Epic Games' Unreal Engine 3 and is available for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 platforms. It is the first Mortal Kombat title developed solely for a seventh generation video game console. Most reviewers agreed that MK vs. DC was entertaining and made good use of its DCU license; however, a lack of unlockable features as opposed to past installments and toned down finishing moves garnered some criticism.
It features a story mode, playable from two different perspectives. The perspectives consist of one segment from the DC Universe side, and one from the Mortal Kombat side, each split up into various chapters. Depending on which side players choose, the characters see characters from the opposite universe as the invaders of their own. Ed Boon, creative director of MK vs. DC and co-creator of the Mortal Kombat franchise, did confirm that the player would have the ability to play as all the characters in the story mode at one point during development, but the story mode instead had a few characters not having their own story arcs. Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe also contains a mode called "Kombo Challenge". Its aspect is individual to the Versus and Story modes, where players must perform ten precreated combos of increasing difficulty.
Unlike previous "Mortal Kombat" titles, which used a control scheme of four buttons of high and low punches and kicks, four buttons on the game controller represent attacks that correspond to each limb. The same control scheme is used in the follow-up game Mortal Kombat. Intertwined within fight matches, which are played in a 3D fighter style, are new gameplay modes, such as "Free-Fall Kombat" or "Falling Kombat," which is activated automatically after throwing the opponent to a lower level in the arena. The players can fight in the air during the fall in a quasi-mini-game, with a player having to hit certain buttons to be on top during the fall and deal out the damage when the fall ends. "Klose Kombat" is a mode the players can enter during a fight, causing the characters to lock with each other and the perspective to change to a close-up shot of the two, to make for an interval of close-quarters fighting. A "Test Your Might" mini-game is also worked into the gameplay. While fighting in certain areas, the player can smash the opponent through a series of walls and engage in a tug-of-war with the damage meter at the top of the screen. The player on the offense mashes buttons to increase damage, while the player on the defense mashes buttons to decrease damage taken.
Another in-fight feature called "Rage mode" is also a new aspect introduced in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. The Rage mode is governed by a rage meter placed below the player's health meter, that fills progressively every time the player receives damage or attacks. Once the meter is completely filled, Rage mode can be activated which lasts for several seconds. Rage mode causes the hits of the attacker to break the opponent's guard on the second hit; prevents the attacker from experiencing hit stun, knockdown or pop-up, and increases the damage of an attacker's moves. During fights, characters show permanent signs of visual damage, such as bruises, scrapes, bleeding, and broken or torn clothing. All of the characters except Darkseid, Shao Kahn, and Dark Kahn have finishing moves; the Mortal Kombat characters and the DC villains can execute Fatalities, while the DC heroes can execute moves called "heroic brutalities," which function in the same manner but do not kill opponents, in order to stay in tone with the heroes who have an established reputation of never taking a life.
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe does not follow chronologically with the other games in the Mortal Kombat series, and is considered an "ultimate-Elseworlds" for DC Universe continuity by story co-writer Jimmy Palmiotti.
After Shao Kahn's invasion of Earthrealm is defeated by Raiden's forces of light, Raiden blasts and sends Kahn through a portal. At exactly the same time on Earth, Superman stops Darkseid's Apokoliptian invasion by blasting Darkseid with his heat vision as he enters a boom tube. These acts do not destroy either of them, but merges them into Dark Kahn, and causes the DC and Mortal Kombat universes to merge. At that rate, the characters' abilities fluctuate, causing violent "rage" outbreaks that are actually the feelings of Dark Kahn being fused into the characters from afar. Because of this, certain characters either gain strength or vulnerability. This allows things such as the possibility of Superman being defeated due to his vulnerability to magic, and giving the Joker the ability to fight Raiden. With each world thinking that the other is responsible for the merger, they fight each other in Mortal Kombat until only one fighter from each side remains: Raiden and Superman. In the final battle, the two fight while Dark Kahn feeds on their rage. Both realizing that the other is not working with Dark Kahn, they overcome their rage for each other and defeat their fused enemy, restoring the two worlds to their normal separation. While everyone else has been sent to their original universe, Darkseid and Shao Kahn have been switched and are both rendered powerless. In the end, they both face eternal imprisonment in the other's universe; Darkseid is restrained in the Netherealm, while Shao Kahn is trapped in the Phantom Zone.
According to interviews, the characters were chosen for their popularity, and for parallels between them from both universes. Boon has said that some of the characters' abilities, especially those from the DC Universe, had been toned down to make them balanced within MK vs. DC. For example, Boon specifically mentioned that Superman became vulnerable because of magic. Boon revealed on the morning of July 7, 2009, via Twitter that two new characters were developed as downloadable content, Quan Chi from Mortal Kombat and Harley Quinn from DC comics but had been discarded. He had also earlier hinted at the prospect of Kung Lao and Doomsday being downloadable characters.
|Mortal Kombat||DC Universe|
|^a Unlockable character|
In February 2007, Midway Games revealed they were planning a new game in the Mortal Kombat franchise, inspired by having seen a showcase of Gears of War. "Mortal Kombat 8" would have been "dark, gritty, serious" and a "back to basics reboot" to the series. Eventually, at some time during planning, a deal with DC Comics was settled and this project was dropped, thus leading to the development of a very different game. An announcement in April 2008 confirmed the game as a crossover, and a trailer was released. From the original project, the only notable aspect that remained was the use of the Unreal Engine 3, also used in Gears of War.
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe was co-published by Midway Games and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and was the final Mortal Kombat title to be developed under the Midway label prior to its purchase by Warner Bros. Interactive. According to Maurice Patel, entertainment industry manager at AutoDesk, AutoDesk software was used to develop Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe. For the lighting in MK vs. DC, Midway used lighting solutions provider Illuminate Labs's products.
The use of a DC license in MK vs. DC implied some restrictions be made to the characteristic violence in Mortal Kombat games. Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe thus was restricted to a "Teen" rating. Therefore, various Fatalities such as Sub-Zero's "Spine Rip" from previous titles were replaced due to their violent nature. In order to keep that rating, two of MK vs. DC's Fatalities were censored in North America. In the United Kingdom version of MK vs. DC, both the Joker and Deathstroke's first Fatality feature them each finishing their opponent with a gunshot to the head, with each respective shot shown uncut from a distance. However, the North American version had the camera quickly pan toward the victor before the shot is fired, thereby cutting the victim out of the shot completely. Additionally, one of Kitana's Fatalities which involved impaling the opponent in the head and the torso with her fanblades was modified so that both fanblades impaled her opponent's chest instead.
For the release of Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe's Kollector's Edition, a Kollector's Edition cover was done by Alex Ross. Also included in the Kollector's Edition is a 16-page comic book prequel, Beginnings, which was illustrated by Mortal Kombat co-creator John Tobias.
Downloadable content (DLC) had been confirmed by Major Nelson, but was canceled due to Midway's financial issues. Ed Boon had stated that they would have been updating MK vs. DC periodically with new content all the way up to the release of the next installment of the Mortal Kombat series: "I'd like to have [DLC] as soon as possible. I think that might be a great Christmas gift to reinvigorate the game". Ed Boon informed on his Twitter account that the plan for DLC had been scrapped. As clarified by 1UP, this removal occurred because Midway had filed for its bankruptcy and was purchased by Warner Bros. Interactive after the suggestion of downloadable content.
|Official Xbox Magazine||8.5/10|
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe received generally positive reviews from critics. Adam Sessler of X-Play wrote: "Whether it's a decade-late answer to the Marvel/Capcom team up games or an off-the-cuff boardroom joke gone wildly too far, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe is destined to make just about anyone's shortlist of bizarre video game team-ups. Still, sometimes two disparate things can merge to create a unique synergy that makes the melding work, however unlikely it may have seemed at the outset." In GamePro, Sid Shuman called it "surprisingly enjoyable." Wired.com's preview stated that the concept of the game was "nose-pokingly ludicrous" stating that Superman's powers could be used to easily defeat a character with the comment, "from Sub-Zero to Well-Done in eight seconds flat."
ABC News praised the game's story that it did "a great job of giving players a cohesive, if far-fetched, story line that's fun if not engaging," as well as "comic book-like" dialogue. MK vs. DC's Kombo Challenge mode was criticized as a thin and frustrating mode with combos that required very exact timing. The modes of Klose Kombat and Free-fall Kombat were praised as concepts but were criticized in their execution as they appeared to slow down the gameplay and took the player out of the fast gameplay experience. Critics noted that the change in the amount of gore was disappointing to longtime fans of the series who were used to the "insane amounts of gore."
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry approved of MK vs. DC because of its departure from the earlier M-rated games of the series praising its, "simpler play, familiar graphics and adjustable gore content" but still not recommending it for younger players. In 2008, GamePro, ranked it as the 15th best fighting game.
Midway Games announced that as of January 26, 2009, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe had shipped 1.8 million copies since its release in mid November 2008, not including the sales of Kollector's Edition. The chief operating officer of GameStop stated however that the Kollector's Edition of MK vs. DC made up 55% of Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe total sales at GameStop locations in its first week. In their 10-K filing, Midway Games revealed the title had sold over 1.9 million units, making it one of the company's most successful titles since 2002. According to Wired.com, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe also "holds the distinction of being the most pre-ordered MK game of all time." In a ranking by Rentrak, the Xbox 360 version of Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe was the sixth most rented game of 2009.
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