In the middle of April; Mortal Kombat co-creator, Ed Boon, was at the Midway Gamer's Day to lift the lid on the worst kept secret in gaming: Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe.
Running several days behind schedule means we get to mention some of the updates that've trickled out throughout the week. Among the highlights were character renders of the first featured characters; Batman and Sub-Zero. You can find them at the Worlds Collide official website, and soon, they'll be joined by a series of podcast entries discussing the game, and answering questions submitted by fans. Sure to be a much needed boost of interest with the characters announced in April exhausted.
Meanwhile; rumors persist that characters hot for selection include: Wonder Woman, Black Canary, Powergirl, and Hawkman; as well as legacy characters like a Green Lantern and a Flash. Fatigued, I'm not sure I have a clear opinion on the list, but certainly couldn't complain about seeing any of those characters. Several will appea later in our pre-selected Fantasy Fight updates, but you'll find Hawkman, and other speculation, in rounds one, two, three, four, five, and six!
Seido ResistanceDARRIUS versus BANE
Strength: Bane 4 (Enhanced)
Intelligence: Draw 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Bane 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Draw 2 (Average)
Fighting: Draw 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy: Darrius 3 (Explosives)
If you've been paying attention over the past month and a half, you know the Fantasy Fights have usually had some assemblance of theme tying the characters together. A common ground might be a superpower, methodology, or in this case; agenda!
Bane rose to mainstream prominance when he famously delivered the blow that broke Batman's back. The Dark Knight might have healed since, but for Bane, that career defining milestone has been hard to recover from!
For the best part of a decade Bane has bounced around mostly inconsequential storyarcs, straddling the line between villain and deeply motivated individual.
Stints as a suitor for Catwoman, and member of Batman's inner circle of allies, provided the character limited periods of depth, but ultimately the character slipped through the cracks to suffer similar idignities and mediocrity to his early nineties, Superman-slaying counterpart; Doomsday.
As a member of The Society [of Supervillains] during Infinite Crisis Bane was reduced to replaying old gimmicks; a back breaking finisher sealing the death of Judomaster during the Battle of Metropolis. Disappointing as that was, it laid the groundwork for an exciting new dimension for the character, who had returned to obscurity after the company-wide crossover!
In the pages of Checkmate; Bane thrust himself into a corrupted election campaign in his native Santa Prisca as an independent enforcer commanding an army of militia. The intrigue provided little more than an excuse for Bane's battle with Judomaster's son, but the addition of depth to a typically shallow nineties character was welcomed!
Political activism? Why, that's tenuous enough a connection to make for a match-up with one of MK's less impressive, recent additions! Yes! Cut from a still fresh mould of the Matrix; Darrius is on a mission to lift the illusion of smothering order, in the realm of Seido. I'm not sure he's tough enough to roll even with a post-venom serum Bane, but it was never about Darrius...
For game mechanics I'd be looking for Bane to take full advantage of new close quarters mini-modes within the MK engine. The success of a character like Bane, to me, hinges more on overall fighting style, than the flash of special moves. Back breaking slams are a given for special blows, but I'd be looking overall for a well rounded and powerful grappling style not seen in previous MKs.
The Math: Draw Our Winner: Bane
Black DragonKANO versus DEADSHOT
Strength: Kano 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Deadshot 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Kano 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Kano 4 (Marathon)
Agility: Kano 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Kano 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy: Draw 3 (Explosives)
As you might have gathered from the appearance of each character in their mugshots, this is very much a match-up of asthetics, but that doesn't mean there are commonalities of attitude between these two mercenary characters.
You might argue that Deadshot is the more noble figure of the two, representing one of the more tame elements in the government sponsored, Suicide Squad; but the distinction is arbitrary. Though Kano may represent more sinister forces with the ancient criminal syndicate, the Black Dragon; he shares a similar disregard for humanity, and sense for self-preservation.
Kano's adventures through the realms have shown a penchant for thriving in pressure situations. Just as Deadshot found himself in the service of of an organization larger than he; Kano has slithered his way into the graces of the Outworld emperor, becoming a general for both Shao Kahn, as well as his successors, Shang Tsung and Quan Chi.
Interesting though these details may be, they pertain very little to the pairing. Ultimately the characters represent very different edicts. Deadshot wears his target faceplate as a tool of the trade of an assassin who never misses.
Kano's prosthetic eye proves to be far less utilitarian, unless you consider being able to shoot laser beams from one's eye a specialist skill. Sloppy though Kano may be, he's far more proficient a fighter, I believe, than Deadshot.
It's this factor that makes Deadshot much less enticing than rival assassins, like Deathstroke. I've seen enough MK fans absorb bitsy fandom from buzz characters featured in cartoons and movies, to assume the Dark Knight animé anthology tie-in; Gotham Knight; will probably thrust Deadshot into the spotlight pre-release of the game, but it's not enough. Deadshot's a shooter, not a fighter.
The Math: Draw Our Winner: Kano
Black DragonJAREK versus NIGHTWING
Strength: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Intelligence: Nightwing 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Draw 4 (Athlete)
Agility: Nightwing 4 (Gymnast)
Fighting: Draw 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy: Draw 2 (Projectile)
At this point I'm learning blogging whilst spread sheeting, downloading on iTunes, and watching wrestling DVDs on the one laptop -- not such a good idea!
What is a good idea is bringing together characters that exist within very similar circles. Such is the nature of this meeting between Black Dragon criminal, Jarek; and his crime-fighting vigilante counterpart, Nightwing!
The former boy wonder routinely clashes with criminals above and beyond Jarek's calibre, but those are typically the kinds of guys reliant upon weapons and gimmicks. Jarek, essentially an angry looking Kano, represents a great physical challenge for a character like Nightwing, even if his supreme Batman-lite training means victory is assured.
Though typically the fallible and slightly more human version of the character; Nightwing represents few in-game specialities to differentiate him from his mentor, the Batman. With a list of only around a dozen DC representatives, Nightwing's flightier fighting style, and penchant for club/baton weapons isn't going to be a ticket in. Especially given that he represents yet another character who would be best served with a depthy fighting style, rather than special moves that typify an MK character.
The Math: Nightwing Our Winner: Nightwing
Elder GodsTAVEN versus BLACK ADAM
Strength: Black Adam 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Black Adam 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Black Adam 5 (Superhuman)
Stamina: Draw 6 (Generator)
Agility: Black Adam 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Black Adam 7 (Inherent)
Energy: Taven 4 (Arsenal)
He might not be the star of a feature film [yet], or a cartoon series, but comics fans have fast become aware that Black Adam is one of the most powerful and destructive forces in the DC Universe. It was under the nurture of Geoff Johns that the character spiraled outward from his appearances [co-written by David Goyer] in JSA, to become an MVP rising star in the pages of 52 and Infinite Crisis.
It's of bitter note that I characterize the MK fanbase as trained to be far more interested in flash than substance. This is a fanbase irrevocably attracted to anything black, spikey, and murderous. Traits that make Black Adam the perfect character to rally behind, because behind the bloodthirsty, morose exterior lurks an exceptionally well developed character! In just the past few years Adam excelled to represent everything characters like Doomsday and Bane haven't.
The morally conflicted anti-hero makes a creatively contrasting foil for MK: Armageddon's introductory protagonist, Taven. This black and gold demi-god may operate on a similar power level to his Shazam powered counterpart; but true to MK's pottering characterizations, Taven comes off as little more than a hapless, hunched over pudding who plays passenger to the touring story of Armageddon.
When a character's been typified by well written and motivated decapitations and lethal eye gouges, it's kinda hard to overlook him. Black Adam has the powers of a pantheon of gods, kings, and legends, all derived from Egyptian mythology providing a precursor to the acronymic skills of his successor, Captain Marvel.
The character represents a far more straight forward prospect for video game designers, offering up attacks reminiscent of Shao Kahn with super strong charging and punching both on the agenda, along with attacks like the infamous lightning ambush [ie; Legends #1].
Salivating at the immediate thought, or cynically antagonised, Black Adam is a character for MK fans to keep an eye on, even if he doesn't make the game!
The Math: Black Adam Our Winner: Black Adam
Red DragonDAEGON versus SUPERMAN-PRIME
Strength: Superman-Prime 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Daegon 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Superman-Prime 6 (Mach)
Stamina: Superman-Prime 7 (Unstoppable)
Agility: Superman-Prime 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Daegon 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy: Superman-Prime 5 (Lasers)
Having stood successfully against our previous DC selection; it's somewhat appropriate that we turn to yet another murderous counterpart to a DC hero.
Superman-Prime emerged in the pages of Infinite Crisis, having survived a similar Crisis twenty years prior, only to become insanely nostalgic for his previous life in a world where heroes were more wholesome.
Prime makes a commentary on a flavour of zealous fandom all too familiar to a franchise like Mortal Kombat, which has suffered the bondage of fiercely nostalgic, and creatively barren fans. Fortunately, if that concept's a little too meta for your liking, Superman-Prime operates on a simple enough level.
Prime's special brand of insanity has taken him to all corners of the DCU in his effort to reshape the universe as he sees fit. It's this universal vision that allows the character to justify his murderous rampages as necessary evils sure to be lost in the peachy-keen universe reborn!
Daegon may be far less concerned with the stamp of his legacy or the shape of his morals, but the underlying notion of supreme power of reality remains much the same. Daegon, brother of Taven, is charged with a similar destiny to stem the superpowers of the MK universe and bring about a controlled end.
The corruption of this messiah complex is mirrored in both characters, with Daegon emerging into the world sooner than intended, only to pursue his own goals and alliances with the likes of Shinnok, ruler of Hell.
Though undoutedly the sharper of the two demi-god brothers, I'm not sure I can Daegon lasting against the immense power of a character who, on paper, dwarfs even the character he parallels [Superman].
Not particularly notable outside of the comics fanbase of the last couple of years, Superman-Prime seems an unlikely, if very suitable, inclusion in the game. Despite differing from his elder predecessor with key abilities like an immunity to Kryptonite and a reality-defying suit of armor; Superman-Prime amounts to little more than an alternate skin for any Superman model. With more characters on offer, Superman-Prime might've factored in to the universe faring story of Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe, but as is, he's just redundant.
The Math: Superman-Prime Our Winner: Superman-Prime
Black DragonTREMOR versus SAND
Strength: Tremor 4 (Enhanced)
Intelligence: Sand 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Sand 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Draw 5 (Marathon)
Agility: Sand 7 (Malleable)
Fighting: Tremor 5 (Martial Artist)
Energy: Sand 3 (Explosives)
You can't tell me a character named Sand wouldn't be right at home with the likes of Sub-Zero, Reptile, and Smoke! Silly names aside, Sand has a lot going for him as a character in a Mortal Kombat video game, even if he represents an incredibly unlikely inclusion, coming from a corner of the DC Universe not terribly well exposed to the movie-going fans MKvsDC is sure to appeal to.
As a boy Sandy Hawkins was the adopted sidekick of the Sandman, but a series of catastrophic circumstances saw the boy turned into a monster, and eventually back into a man that resembled something in between. Cured of the scientific mishap that turned him into a silicoid monster; Hawkins discovered he now had the ability to manipulate silica compounds, and his own altered structure.
Among Sand's altered arsenal is the ability to generate seismic shocks, explaining the thematic cue that brings him into conflict with Tremor!
Like No Face; Tremor made his only appearance in the PSX-exclusive adventure flop, MK: Special Forces. Throwing down against Jax in the game; Tremor joins the long list of characters donning the trademark MK ninja suit, this time with a mustard "brown" that renders him little more than a burly, unwashed Scorpion; albeit with abilities reminiscent of Jax' own seismic pounds.
As a member of the Lin Kuei fallen into the ranks of the Black Dragon; Tremor remains a hotly debated character amongst fans eager to see him finally break through to the core cast.
Tremor's exactly the kind of villain the clandestine Sand might run across in his recon operations away from the JSA. Versatility and power no doubt give Sand the edge in not only a fight, but as a prospect for in-game presentation.
Joining a subdued version of the already tested seismic slam are potential abilities like a visually striking, sandy particle dissolve good for a teleport or attack; as well as options offered by the gas/stun gun. Visually promising, if not technically revolutionary.
The Math: Sand Our Winner: Sand