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Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe

Interview: Midway comes out fighting

Hans Lo, senior producer on Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, took time out of finishing the game to fend off our questions. He was open about the challenges of reworking the franchise's combat system, pleasing long-standing MK fans and newcomers alike with a game that acts as both a reboot of the series as well as a nod to its past. He even touched upon the health of the fighting genre. Read on.

What have the current-gen consoles enabled you to achieve that you weren't able to previously?

Hans Lo: We have a mode in the game under options which is the character area and it shows the actual models we use in game for fighting. You can zoom in and see the actual texture of the materials on the clothes and you could never have done that in the past. Some of the lighting, obviously the poly counts which give it a smoother, more realistic look, and the tools available allow us to do things that we just couldn't in the past.

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Tell us a little about the challenges you faced revamping the combat system

Lo: We looked back through all the MK games and looked at what worked, what people liked and what stood out as really fun. Through doing that the game has a very 2D fighting element to it, which is a tip of the hat to the MK1, 2 and 3 days.

That in itself is a certain type of gameplay that really worked well in the past and even today translates very well. It's not one of those things that feels dated or doesn't feel right - the core mechanics worked.

In a way this fighting game is like going back to the roots, a restart, and what we focused on was the fighting mechanics. In the past you'll have seen mini-games here and there. Not to say that we don't want to ever do mini-games again, but the idea here was 'What is MK?' First and foremost it's a fighting game, so let's focus on that and see what we can do.

Online is clearly going to play a massive part in MK vs. DC. Have you any concerns about how the online mode's going to run?

Lo: That was a huge, huge topic for [series co-creator] Ed [Boon]. He wants that experience to be perfect and if it doesn't work then we're not going to have it.

And I won't lie, he'd sit in even when we were just doing testing and he'd grab someone's controller, sign in as somebody else and just start playing.

He'd watch how other people were playing and how the characters were moving and request tweaks here and there, and sit with the programmers and go back in the code to find ways to get that feel so that it feels like you're playing offline. That's really important, it's key not to get lag and to have the best connection you could possibly have.

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The MK series has in the past attracted its share of controversy concerning violence. Is that part of the reason this game has been toned down?

Lo: It was one of the things in our contract with DC, but at the same time we wanted to open it up to a larger market and expose it to people who had never played MK before, so it was a combination of several factors.

Are you worried you might have alienated any long-standing MK fans with the decision?

Lo: I personally don't think it comes across kiddie. There is always a concern though from the very start when you make a game like this and not only on the MK side, but on the DC side too.

The comic book fan has a certain level of expectation and we wanted to make sure that was represented in a way that would make them happy so that they could say, 'Yes, this is a true comic book character acting the way I want them to act,' and then the same thing on the MK side.

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