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E3 08: Hands-on Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe

Posted by Sarah LeBoeuf On July - 17 - 2008

Our good friend Veggie Jackson of Gamervision is having a blast at E3 this week, playing all kinds of games that have yet to be released. One such game that he managed to get his hands on was Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, which a lot of us have had mixed feelings about. So what did Veggie think of the game? Hit the jump to read his impressions.

At the Midway booth, there are several major releases being exhibited.  One of the biggest is Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, and we managed to get a few rounds in.

We were given access to six of the announced characters, Scorpion, Sub-Zero and Sonya from the MK universe, and Superman, Batman and Flash from DC.  Our first fight featured Sub-Zero vs. Flash and took place on the decimated streets of Metropolis.  While the game is, of course, fully 3D, the first thing we noticed was that it has a distinctly 2D feel to it (not surprising for an MK title).  While we didn’t have access to a moves list, we managed to figure out a few special attacks, such as Sub-Zero’s traditional ice beam, as well as a move that creates a falling ice block over his opponent’s head.  Flash’s moves were equally fitting, utilizing his speed to launch attacks from behind and made his opponent dizzy, similar to Kabal’s technique from MK3.  If you’ve ever played any MK game, executing the moves feels instinctive, relying on a lot of variations of the classic “down-to-forward” and “back, back, forward” techniques.  Another MK staple is quick, somewhat choppy animation, and MKVDCU continues the trend.  Character models look great, and animate well while idling, but fighting animations are definitely fast and consist of only a few frames.  The game is definitely fast-paced, necessitating brief animations, but there’s a certain fluidity that seems to be lacking here.

We got to see three of the game’s new innovations in action during the fight.  The first one we noticed was the deteriorating clothing of the characters.  As fighters take damage, the clothing covering areas where they are hit begins to rip and show blood.  Most interesting was Scorpion’s damage modeling, where in addition to clothing tears, he actually gts gaping holes in his body, showing his demonic, skeletal form.  Once his chest and back were damaged, there were holes on either side, allowing you to see clear through him.  One of the more commonly mentioned features of the game is the ability to fight while falling from one level of the board to another.  We got to see this in action as well, as Sub-Zero managed to push the scarlet speedster off the side of the board.  While we fell, Sub-Zero began pressing buttons randomly, with each one delivering a different attack.  Each successful attack helped fill up a damage meter.  Once the meter reached a certain point, Sub-Zero could have pushed the right trigger to finish the move, but instead, he decided to keep attacking for more damage.  This is risky, however, because once Flash managed to match Subby’s button press, the move flipped, and Flash gained the upper hand, smashing down feet first on top of him.  It’s a great mechanic that can change the course of a match very quickly.  Finally, Flash utilized the “Klose Kombat” technique, initiated by the right bumper.  This puts you into a series of cinematic animations with a control scheme that works just like the falling mechanism, complete with a big finishing attack that looks both painful and impressive.

Our demo was brief, but we completed another fight; this time pitting Sonya Blade vs. Superman.  We noticed that each character’s attacks were unique and had the right feel for each character.  Superman is a bruiser, throwing looping punches and powerful straight kicks, while Sonya uses more military methods, like arm-bars and sweep kicks.

Once we were done, a Midway representative was nice enough to show us two more of the game’s features.  Whereas the vertically-aligned boards feature the falling fight mechanics, horizontal levels feature a “Test your might” mini-game, which is a button mashing exercise that deals additional damage as you plow your opponent through walls.  Simple, but a nice change of pace and a very cool homage to the original MK.  Finally, he showed us a full-on fatality.  Scorpion’s fire breath is back, and it looks fantastic.  Those worried about DC’s involvement ruining the tone of MK can breathe a sigh of relief.  Scorpion set Batman ablaze, turning him charred black and dropping him to the floor dead.

Fans of the MK series are not going to be disappointed with the gameplay in Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe, as it feels exactly how an MK game should.  We’re still curious about a few things, such as online play, and the identities of the rest of the 20-22 playable characters, but so far it’s shaping up to be the best Mortal Kombat in years.

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