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Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe

The classic brawler hits PS3 in a clash of comic book titans

Just when you thought Midway's multicoloured ninja brigade, bouncing cleavage warriors and half-naked mutants couldn't get any more camp, they go and team up with DC. There's more lycra, low-cut tops and, erm, capes on offer here than in all of Soho on a warm summer's evening.

Like watching Jimmy Carr or The X Factor where entrants pour their hearts out to a gurning Simon Cowell, Mortal Kombat Vs DC is a guilty pleasure. We should all have got over Midway's frantic, blood-filled beat-'em-up some years ago, but against a backdrop of first-person shooters, racing games and epic story-driven adventures, MK is an instant hit of no-nonsense gaming. There are no moral choices, or stats and 'character progression' is met with a swift kick to tally-whackers.

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The gameplay hasn't changed much since past Mortal Kombat titles, with the four face buttons hammered in combination with pushes on the D-pad igniting flourishes of punches, kicks, fireballs, harpoons, lasers, rattling machine-guns, sword swipes... you name it, this roster of fighters have it.

The big difference, on first play, is that this edition of Mortal Kombat has been toned down to appeal to a wider market. The majority of combo attacks are released using the same motions for every character, so one man's toward-toward fireball is another's eye-laser. This means that as soon as you pick up Mortal Kombat Vs DC you're soon firing of a blitz of impression moves with little effort.

This isn't to say the game is easy (in fact, the final boss Dark Kahn is one of the series' trickiest and cheapest to date) because in the hands of good players, these basic move sets can be combined into devastating attacks.

All the characters' basic combos open up lines of juggle hits that can knock off a quarter of an opponent's health in seconds. Raiden is a character hardcore players will adore for just such juggling, his teleport can be combined with electrical attacks to great effect. The Flash's speed attacks are also devastating, Superman's air-punches combined with his Soaring Knockout throw or Inhale Capture attack (a nod to Scorpion's harpoon that enables you to get one last cheap hit in) prove it's not only the Mortal Kombat roster that has lines of combos to master.

To this end, there's a combo practice mode to master these moves. Sure, it's not new. The moves are listed at the top of the screen and you have to match them in order to progress to the next move. For perfectionists - it's a must. By the time you've completed a character you'll know their move set inside out and will be aware how to link certain attacks together. Against the CPU the deeper strings aren't needed, but when facing off against a human opponent, online or off, you'll need the knowledge to be victorious.

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Which neatly leads me into the Story mode. Just how do you justify merging the worlds of DC and Mortal Kombat? The script is by pen-for-hire Jimmy Palmiotti (who has the recent Dead Space on his gaming CV) and ties together the two warring sides in to neat chapters.

You flit between characters as they muddle their way through the reason why these two worlds have collided. It keeps the formula fresh as you gradually play as and meet every character in the game, then bap them. By the finale the two sides are fleshed out and set for war - until the real menace shows his face... It's here I thought Midway had missed a trick - a tag system would have been great. Wouldn't it have been fun to tag your way through the DC or MK rosters as it takes the combined might of all the game's heroes to tackle this new villain?

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