With the release of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 around the corner, let's take a ride back in time to review Marvel vs. Capcom 2.
Credits & Solicit Info:
Platform: Arcade, Dreamcast, Playstation 2, Playstation 3 (PSN), XBox, XBox 360 (XBLA)
Developer: Capcom (Arcade, Dreamcast, PS2, XBox), Backbone Media (PS3, XBox 360)
Reviewed on PS3
In the days when most fighting game franchises were making the transition to 3D gaming, The Marvel/Capcom crossover series was one of the few that resisted the change and stuck with the classic 2D fighter design. The gamble undoubtedly paid off for Capcom as Marvel vs. Capcom 2 has without a doubt become one of the most popular fighting games ever.
But does it deserve that title and the reputation such praise bestows a game? After having played this game on and off for the ten years since it hit our arcades and consoles I honestly have no definitive answer. The advancements made in this game's combat system do indeed rate pretty high. Unfortunately the programming and design of this combat system left the game with exploits that can at best be described as utterly cheap and fun-killing. But I'll get to that later.
Firstly, on the surface MVC2 stood out due to its roster: it contained 56 characters. While there were a few pretty similar characters (2 Wolverines, Iron Man & War Machine, Ken & Ryu) most of the roster was full of variety with a character for everyone: for combo hitters, technical fighters, long range attackers, slow fat and ugly (Zangief), fast and agile, and even a combination several of the above. Character quantity and design for its time were perfect for a 2D. The variety in movesets also could prove to be a challenge as when playing competitively with friends they could use characters I absolutely sucked with pretty well (e.g.: Ruby Heart). If you know what you're doing, the guy that uses Wolverine to hit 223423 hit combo's can be taken down with careful, tactical attacking. I'll admit it's not as easy as it sounds however and the game is extremely button masher friendly resulting in newbies becoming combo gods with certain characters.
From trial and experience, the most broken characters I've seen are Magneto, Storm, Iron Man, Cable, Sentinel and Strider. Sentinel was the most mind-boggling: He was slower and bigger than Zangief but he was loaded with so many powerful special moves that he simply owned with everything he did.
Next, the basics of the fight screen: The tag team gameplay system started in X-Men vs. Street Fighter that carried through to Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter and marvel vs. Capcom 1 was carried over into this game with one big change: The game went from 2-on-2 to 3-on-3. Considering how the roster's size had skyrocketed compared to the previous games the movie in my opinion made sense as it allowed you to take better advantage of the games roster. There was a massive oversight in doing this however: The time limit per fight remained the standard 99 seconds as with the previous games. As a result, when I play standard games on default settings or on arcade I get a "time up" result a lot more frequently which really sucks the fun out of a game by winning via a clock running out rather than landing the finishing blow. Easily rectified in the options menu by disabling time limits but I really wish Capcom had added a more realistic time limit.
Getting to the biggest drawback in the game's fighting system: The assist buttons. In the previous games you could only do a double team super combo and in MVC1 you also got 5 random assist attacks that you could use per match. In this game though? Infinite assists. Yes you read that right, you get infinite assists that if you set up your roster right you could beat the game with assists and nothing more. And it can be done, I have personally beaten this game on the highest difficulty with either 3 Cables, 3 Sentinels or a mix of the two with the worst case scenario only one of my guys getting knocked out. It has devolved to such a level where almost every online challenge you could enter will be up against a serial assist spammer. So far the only all-encompassing counter I have discovered to these guys is Cable as almost all his specials can counter any assist attack. This was the exploit that utterly killed the online mode of this game for me except when I'm playing with friends, some of whom unfortunately think this system makes the game some kind of wondrous feature that gives the game lifetime longevity thanks to the 500 variations this opens up. Right, hitting the same 2 buttons repeatedly makes for a classic timeless game. To cap it off, if you're lucky enough to catch the assister with a super they will heal every bit of damage you did to them pretty fast giving very little consequene and risk to their user as compared to switching characters.
So not only do you have to worry about the 1000 things going on the screen but all of a sudden you get hammered by some tool spamming the assist for the whole match. This one thing made MVC2 the most broken fighting game I had ever seen. Ever. So hopefully you now see why I'm so divided on this game. If there was an option to disable that damn assist system I'd use it in a heartbeat, but you can't change or limit it whatsoever. Not even the computer on the highest difficulty will ever fight that dirty.
Moving to online mode, as with any online game ping and connection are the keys to victory. Otherwise gameplay stutters badly and you're left with attacks and button combo's getting horribly mistimed and seeing a super hit from a totally different direction seemingly at random.
Comparing the graphics upgrades made by Backbone Studios when porting this game to the PS3 and 360, there is nowhere near the effort there was in, to use as an example, Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix. Instead there are 3 separate graphics settings for the character sprites:
Classic- No filtering.
Smooth- Based off of 2X Bilinear filtering that smoothes those rough edges
Crisp- Based of off 3X Bilinear filtering, an even cleaner version of the smooth setting
In summary, what had the potential to be a great game was brought down by these exploits. The fighting mechanics were greatly refined from the previous games giving the gameplay a very fluid, fast-paced and varied feel. When this game came out, it seemed like the ultimate addition to the franchise. But flash forward a few years and you find that stupid tricks that should never have been allowed to exist in the first place have arisen and online challenges have devolved into assist-fests.
In this day and age I reckon online gaming is an integral part of gaming thanks to all consoles having online capabilities and lighting fast internet connections being the norm. It's more accessible than ever and when an old favorite like Marvel vs. Capcom is released you eagerly scoop it up and decide to not only challenge your friends that you'd own on this game on a regular basis, but new friends and even try your luck at random challenges to prove your worth on the online scoreboard. That's what you'd expect.
A pity this wasnt it.
Replay Value: 7.0
Review by: fieldy snuts