I am a fairly big Mortal Kombat fan from way back until they shifted into the world of 3D fighting.
For some reason the developers never really could find a way to capture the same magic they had in the original games. Amazingly enough, it seems this has finally changed, and it's all down to sharing the Mortal Kombat licence with DC Comics.
There are twenty fighters in total, which is quite a drop when you consider the last Mortal Kombat game had about eighty characters plus a "create a fighter" mode. Don't worry, this is a good thing, it allowed the developers to focus on each character more. Ten characters are classic Mortal Kombat characters and the other ten are a mixture of DC heroes and villains. Some of these are well known and expected ones (Batman, Superman, Joker etc) and some are slightly more obscure and random (Deadpool?) but they all do fit, and play pretty well.
MK vs DC is still a 3D fighter, but in all honestly I doubt many people will find themselves using the 3D environment all that much. Plus, it's more fun if you treat it like the original 2D fighting games of old. One thing that is a little disappointing is that each fighter plays more or less the same. Yes they all have their own special moves that differentiate them, but I remember back in Mortal Kombat 3 (I told you I was an old fan) what made each character different wasn't just their special moves but their combos. Here every character has pretty much the exact same basic combo.
Yes, there are slightly more intricate combo's for each character but you won't really need to know these to get by, and that is a shame. This is definitely a more simplified fighting game and won't have the same hardcore competitive players you would find in Soul Calibur or Tekken games. But then again, that's kind of the point. This isn't a serious fighter - with the Joker as a member of its roster how could it be?. No, this game is about plain and simple fun, and there's nothing wrong with that. You could even get quite far just by button mashing if you wanted to.
Oddly enough, one of the things I was always into Mortal Kombat for was the story. I loved the mythology of it all, which is funny because we were never really given much to work with. The Mortal Kombat games I enjoyed only really had a bit of text and pictures setting the story up, and then you'd get the same for whatever character you finished the game with. That was it. So I was very pleased when I discovered just how fleshed out the MK vs. DC story was.
At the start of story mode you choose to either see the plot from the Mortal Kombat perspective, or the DC one. Then you will be forced to fight as certain characters for each chapter of the plot. The story is presented with some fairly well put together in-engine cutscenes which flow into each fight very well. The story is pretty much what you would expect for a game about mixing the Mortal Kombat universe with that of the DC universe, so it's more like a fun comic book story, and it works. It's not too long either, each side of the story will take you about three hours to get through (depending on your skill level of course) making for a total of about five to six hours. That's pretty good for a fighting game with a story.
Beyond the story, you have the more traditional Arcade Mode where you choose which fighter you want to play as and then proceed up a ladder of random fighters until you get to the top to fight the games boss characters. Completing Arcade Mode gives you the more traditional MK ending with a picture and some text (this time it's read to you) giving you the ending for the particular character you selected.
Each character is fun to play and as always everyone will have their favourites. For me I'll always love Sub-Zero and Scorpion, but now I also get to the Joker to my list of favourites. He's just so goofy and fun. Most of the characters seem fairly well balanced although I definitely found when playing against the computer in Arcade mode the AI will use some cheap tactics that make it very frustrating to fight. Also I would say Flash might be a little too quick to be balanced, but that is debatable.
Pretending I am a shallow graphics whore for a second, MK vs DC looks acceptable. It's not as breathtaking as some other fights that came out this year (Soul Calibur 4) but it certainly isn't an ugly game. The characters sport far more facial details than usual (which is particularly freaky for me because now Lui Kang kinda looks like this guy I know) and the environments look nice, but are nothing special. In good old Mortal Kombat fashion you can beat your opponents through a wall and into another environment, however this time the developers took this as an opportunity to add some gameplay to it.
For example, you can knock a guy into a wall and then grab him and run them through multiple walls in a building all whilst tapping the buttons as quickly as you can to do the most damage. Not only does it add a gameplay element to a classic Mortal Kombat feature but visually it also fights into the more comic book style presentation for this game. It's fun and looks very cool.
Online Multiplayer works well. I did not notice any lag, which is very nice to see for a fighting game. So a fairly smooth, fun experience there. There is also a practice mode where you can practice your moves and a combo challenge mode which can be extremely tricky.
If there's one thing that breaks my little violence-loving heart is the T-rating this game has. Due to the DC licence (and wanting to be able to sell the game to a lot more people) they have abandoned the feature that always made Mortal Kombat games fun… the fatalities. Ok, so they aren't gone completely, they are just lame. DC heroes don't do any, instead they have "Heroic Brutality" actions, almost none of which are that cool. As for the DC Villains and Mortal Kombat characters, they still have fatalities but they aren't anywhere near as creative or entertaining as previous games in the series. Each character has two different finishing moves, however, many of the character share very similar ones and because of the lower rating for the game, they are a lot less violent than in the past. Sadly, this also makes them a lot less entertaining (No, I don't know what this says about me as a person and yes, I am pretty sure I was hugged enough as a child… Pretty sure).
While this is a very simple fighting game when compared to many others in the genre, it is still a lot of fun. The characters are interesting and colourful. The fighting, while less bloody, is still extremely brutal (the character models even show damage over the fight with ripped clothing, cuts and bruises etc). If you are a fan of either Mortal Kombat or DC, then there's no reason you wouldn't enjoy this game.
It's not going to be winning any Game of the Year awards, but it is good fun and a good sign that the Mortal Kombat series might finally be on its way back to figuring out what made it so great to start with… just with less blood this time, but hey, there's always the next game right?