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Picks and pans: ‘Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe,' ‘Metal Slug 7,' ‘Nerf N-Strike'

Justin Hoeger
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

MORTAL KOMBAT VS. DC UNIVERSE

2 ½ stars

Pairing up the heroes and villains of the DC Comics universe with those of the "Mortal Kombat" games is silly, but no sillier than pitting Marvel's heroes against Capcom's numerous fighters, and that worked out pretty well.

"Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe" makes for a decent fit. With 20 characters split between the two universes, most players will find a few favorites - and may miss a few more.

The game play is "MK" through and through, from the somewhat stiff fighting system to the nasty finishing moves that have been the series' claim to fame since the beginning. The finishers are toned down a bit for the Teen rating, and the DC good guys don't kill their foes.

Sony PlayStation 3, also for Microsoft Xbox 360; $59.99

Age rating: Teen

___

METAL SLUG 7

3 ½ stars

The first game in the "Metal Slug" series without an arcade version, No. 7 offers a familiar brand of old-school shooting action, gorgeous hand-drawn artwork and a stiff challenge.

Players can choose from six characters, each with a specialty and most with a special attack, and take them through seven enemy-filled stages. Outside the campaign is a slew of Combat School training missions, which involve going through an area under certain conditions – not unlike the Challenge Mode in "Contra IV." The game is also planned for release on Xbox Live Arcade in the future, and that version will include the two-player mode this one sadly lacks. Gamers who want to play with a buddy may want to hold off.

Nintendo DS; $29.99

Age rating: Teen

___

Nerf N-Strike

2 ½ stars

A shooting gallery game that makes use of the Wii Remote's capacity as a pointer, "Nerf N-Strike" offers a decent array of marksmanship challenges but is pretty thin otherwise.

One neat touch: The game comes packed with a special Nerf dart gun. The segment that holds and fires the darts can be removed and replaced with a Wii Remote for more realistic aiming. It works quite well.

The challenges range from "Area 51"-style on-rails shooting segments to "Boom Blox"-like games where the goal is to knock stacked blocks off a platform. Outside the story mode, games can be played freely.

There's an impressive range of Nerf blasters to unlock, from rifle-style dart guns to automatic dart guns and rocket launchers that fire a single huge dart.

Nintendo Wii; $59.99

Age rating: Everyone 10-plus

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