Over a decade later, the Marvel vs. Capcom series finally returns with this latest installment. How does the series fare as it makes its transition to modern gaming? Read on to find out.
Credits & Solicit Info:
Platform: Playstation 3, Xbox 360
Release Date: February 15 2011
Reviewed on PS3
Until this game was announced, I thought it was a pipe dream for it to be ever released. Capcom had lost the Marvel license and seemed to have moved on from this cult favorite. When it was announced I could not wait to sink my teeth into it. Now, having played the game for a few days to properly process it I think I've finally figured out how I'd rate it after the euphoria of throwing the disc into my PS3 and playing it for the very first time has passed.
At first glance is appearances are anything to go by, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 truly is an advancement to the franchise in every conceivable way. The sprites from the earlier arcade games are long gone, replaced by polygon animations. This gave character moves a lot more fluidity compared to their sprite counterparts. Matter of fact the graphics in general have come a long way. They appear very vibrant, complimenting the character models, especially when executing hyper combos. In short, the cartoonish appearance is gone and replaced with a modernized look much more suited to this gaming generation. Don't get me wrong, the graphics are nowhere near as detailed as say.....Street Fighter 4, much less Tekken 6, but in a game where fast-paced combat and intricately varied game mechanics take precedence. This brings me to my next point: Gameplay.
Capcom has chosen to retain the 3-on-3 style gameplay, only this time damage can be far more intensive making the 99 second time limit a lot more practical compared to MvC2 where characters could take insane amounts of damage. Even blocking gets chipped at enough this time around to punish those who choose to sit-and block. Furthermore, serial spammers have also been addressed this time: your assist characters can still heal all their heath but the damage they take is a lot more significant compared to MvC2. If you catch them in a decent super, chances are over half of their life bar will be wiped out. You'll still find people who overly rely on it to make up 100% of their play style, but if you are prepared it's a great pleasure to beat their ass down. Speaking of assists, another feature added is the devastating aerial assist character switch that allows you to chain air combos while switching characters. Thankfully it can be broken realistically as to avoid being caught in a never-ending looped combo like in the previous MvC games.
The characters this time around are extremely varied, a lot deeper than the previous games. It's hard to pick a bad character as almost all of them have a lot of potential to be devastating in the right hands. In most cases, the result hinges on what player can use their characters better. Sure, some characters are a lot more powerful than others but the difference in amount of damage they can take in comparison helps bring a semblance of balance this time around. Overpowered utterly broken characters from the previous games (Sentinel, Magneto, and Storm) aren't so much insanely overpowered this time around but on a lot more level playing field with the rest of the characters. They're still dangerous but can actually be beaten instead of you just sitting there and being destroyed by super after super with no hope whatsoever.
Next up, the throw move is more prominent in this game than ever before. In the past, throw would be a cheap way of getting wins by landing decent damage by just hitting it at the right time. That's still the case, hasn't ever changed in Street Fighter history but now every character has their own unique throw that varies in damage and follow-up potential. Yes you read that right, throws can now be chained into combo's as well to make them even more devastating. There are lots of techniques you can use to do this but it works well with some characters more than others.
The one-big game changer introduced is the X-Factor, a one-time-use per game special that will boost your damage, negate blocking damage and go and heal your character for a limited time. When you're in a tough scrape, this is undoubtedly the feature that can keep you going long enough to turn the tables. Obviously its effectiveness hinges on what your character is able to dish out, but it appears that if you have KO'ed team members the effect is a lot stronger.
While the combat system is very similar to what I've been used to after playing Street Fighter games for most of my life with a few new tweaks here and there, there is one big notable difference: The new controls setup. Instead of 3 punch and 3 kick buttons there is now a low, medium and high attack combined with an accompanying special button that as far as I can see is the launcher button to kick off an air combo. Using a fighting stick rather than a controller helped with the adjustment, but I still get a little mixed up with the buttons at times and instinctively think "Down, Forward, Kick" or another more familiar combination. The new button system IS a lot simpler though and I see it helping many newcomers to the series wrap their heads around the game mechanics. Also, with 3 buttons most special button combinations are similar between characters making it somewhat simpler to move from one character to the next if you find one character lacking for you.
Two great modes for getting the hang of any character are Training and Mission Mode. Training is just a gameplay where you select a team and hit any move you like on stationary characters of your choice like they're training dummies. Mission mode is where learning the game truly gets interesting: each character has 10 'missions' that comprise of hitting the requested characters moves from basic special moves, to short combo chains, to air combo's all the way to combining all the moves into one huge combo. It is a great mode for learning what makes a character tick and if they're worth your time to learn by walking you through these basics. Incredibly fun, but sometimes the required timing for these moves by the CPU would frustrate me.
A welcome change I found is the score. 'Take You For A Ride' is thankfully gone from the main screens (it unfortunately still pops up at times) and the music during battles being largely character based gives the atmosphere a lot of variety. Speaking of variety, the pre-fight lines are a lot more varied than the "Lets go bub" one-line a character limit that we got before. There are even some character interactions such as Taskmaster calling out Captain America or Deadpool commenting on Street Fighter or just commenting on their attacks. When you make the tag for a character switch you even hear the current selection call out the new one by name. It definitely gives the game a more interactive feel.
Now to get to the mode that will decide this games longevity: Online Mode. Without a doubt looking for random matches is the single most frustrating thing about this as I've 5 minutes at times just looking for a random quick game only to get the "Disconnected from host" error about 10 times in a row. This is especially frustrating for ranked matches as you can't play them with your friends (probably to avoid you helping each other rank up fast) and you have to search for a random player for a ranking match. Despite this, what stood out the most for me is that the online gameplay was virtually lag-free for me. That is a huge difference compared to other fighting games I've played online. A shocker to say the least.
Lobby mode where you join or create a room to knock the king (the current winner) off his throne could have been fun, but the lack of a spectator mode really took away from the feeling. Not being able to see the fight and having to sit there in the lobby while the status bar shows you the progress of the fight could get pretty boring. I also wish there would be a 'mute' option for dorks with mic's; I don't give a damn about what you have to say when I join a random room to fight. If there is a mute option I'd like to find it soon. At least the ability to create private rooms and invite friends makes setting up a tourney between friends easy.
Outside of the forms of gameplay, the game has a fair share of unlockables ranging from hidden characters, bonus costumes, movies to artwork. There's plenty of nice little extra's that you can get and view in the gallery. A personal favorite of mine is Captain America's Punisher costume from Matt Fraction's recent Punisher series or Spider-Man's new stealth costume that debuted as recently as last month in Amazing Spider-Man in the infamous story that killed off the cult fave villain Roderick Kingsley aka the Hobgoblin. And obviously there are the more classical costumes such as Dark Phoenix or Wolverine's tan and yellow costume among lots of other familiar costumes that are too numerous to name here.
If there is one thing that truly disappoints me about this game it would have to be the roster. Sure, we got a ton of new characters....but compared to MvC2 that featured a whopping 52 characters this roster is very small in comparison. I miss Ken, Gambit, Juggernaut, Strider and many more that haven't even debuted in this series yet like Sagat and Vega who are two of the most iconic Street Fighter characters. I also believe other titles like Rival Schools deserve to be represented. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that there weren't many clone characters or stupid cactus men running around but with such a comparatively small roster I felt let down. Both Marvel and Capcom have huge libraries of properties from which to pull characters out of but this line-up is extremely limited in comparison to the massive roster of MvC2. But in today's day and age I smell a DLC marketing scheme to release more characters down the line like we'll get March 15th with the Jill Valentine/Suma Gorath pack or the Secret Avengers Steve Rogers/Iron Patriot skin packs. If the characters are picked carefully then I could see Capcom milking my wallet and every other fans wallets for a long time should they choose to go this route. I'm just speculating this of course but given the huge market for Street Fighter 4 skins it wouldn't surprise me.
The story is pretty much nonexistent despite Capcom assuring us we would receive an epically spectacular story, but let's be real: Capcom's fighting games have never had a solid story and solely rely on the gameplay and cool little character ending upon completion (yes, we do get some nice character endings again with this one after they were discarded in MvC2).
All in all, despite my comparisons to the previous games of the franchise I find it unfair to keep benchmarking it up with them but I just can't help it. So much of the game still bears a lot of similarities with them despite how much of a different beast this is. And it's one hell of a beast, it's truly one of the best fighting games that comes to mind in quite some time. Ever since Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe I prayed Capcom would regain the Marvel license and show Midway how to really do a fighting game/comic book crossover. Despite a few rough edge here and there, mostly in the online mode, this game definitely did not disappoint.
Replay Value: 9.0
Review by: fieldy snuts