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Suddenly, Superman seems so vulnerable. The Man of Steel bleeds and bruises — and there’s no kryptonite in sight.

What’s up? A cosmic rift, magic and "Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe."

The new fighting game from Midway features superheroes and villains from DC Comics as well as characters from the "Mortal Kombat" video games. That means that Scorpion will scuffle with Catwoman, Batman will battle Sonya and Sub-Zero will square off against the Joker. It might seem like an odd mix, but that’s the sort of thing that happens when a cosmic rift sends characters bouncing between worlds.

The mix is also responsible for creating the first T-rated game in the "Mortal Kombat" universe. DC didn’t want the Flash ripping out Kitana’s spleen, or vice versa. As a result, the game’s famous gore has been reduced to a few splashes of blood — and even those can be turned off in the options menu.

In addition, "fatalities" have become "brutalities" in some cases, which means that vanquished foes are left alive and twitching instead of eviscerated. But they aren’t called "brutalities" for nothing. For example, Superman pounds enemies into the ground like human railroad spikes.

The basic fighting system will be familiar to "Mortal Kombat" fans. You can mash buttons at random and get some pretty cool effects, but learning the combos delivers consistent, spectacular attacks.

The first "Mortal Kombat" on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 also offers some interesting new dimensions to combat. You can now grab your opponent and see who gets the upper hand — and who takes the damage — in a sort of digital rock-paper-scissors button-pressing match. You can also drive your opponent through a wall or hurl him over a ledge — and follow him down in a free-falling fight in which the loser takes all the damage.

And all of this looks quite splendid as it unfolds. The graphics are detailed. The animations, especially those involving special attacks, are very good. Clothing rips and bruises form as characters take punishment.

In addition to the solo campaign, gamers can square off against each other on the same console or online.

Although it’s definitely not the "Mortal Kombat" of old, "MK vs. DC" should please fans of fighting games with its new forms of combat and great graphics. It should also open the door to new fans with its addition of new characters and its toned-down gore.

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3On the Web: www.worldscollide.com

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