Capcom’s Versus series is amongst the most beloved of all classic 2D one-on-one scrappers, and there’s perhaps no better example of the breed than Marvel Vs Capcom 2.
The classic fighter gathered together a gamut of Marvel’s and Capcom’s finest and mixed them into an eye-melting flurry of crazy, seizure-inducing combat that threw caution and restraint to the wind in favour of fast-paced, special move-heavy bouts.
It’s been a decade since this epic battler strutted its stuff, and now, after a seemingly never-ending, fan-fuelled shout to resurrect the series, Capcom has delivered Marvel Vs Capcom 3.
With little to no story worth mentioning, save that the planet-munching Galactus is one again eyeing up Earth as his next cheesy nibble, the worlds of Marvel’s super-powered heroes and villains, and Capcom’s assortment of videogame icons clash. Only the combined might of the two worlds’ finest can hope to stop Galactus from destroying the planet, and luckily for fighting fans, this means another bout of three-on-three battles with more OTT moves and combos than you can shake a rare first edition Spider-Man at.
Marvel Vs Capcom 3 is a clear attempt by Capcom to give the fans the sequel they’ve been waiting for, while at the same time updating the series and making it current. Much to the dismay of purist 2D fighting fans, the famous Capcom sprites have been shown the back door and have been replaced by highly stylised, Street Fighter IV-like visuals. The game is, like Street Fighter, 2D, but has had a 3D visual makeover.
This look, although guaranteed to irk the hardcore MvC2 fans, is actually very impressive, and the comic book style and fast, fluid animations, which seem to have been pulled from the 2D originals frame by frame, are all excellent.
Capcom has a proven track record of high production values in fighting titles, and this is certainly no exception. Each and every character looks great and the game features some of the best arenas I’ve seen, with some truly great locations, highlights of which include the Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts Demon Village and a S.H.I.E.L.D. carrier under attack. Add to this a never-ending slew of screen-filling specials and combo attacks, and you’ve got an impressive visual feast.
It may look the part, but if it doesn’t play well, it’s all for nought. This isn’t an issue, though, as the core gameplay of MvC3 remains very close to its predecessor, and whilst there are some tweaks and changes, which are to be expected with such an overhaul, only the most fanatic MvC2 fan would come away from the game disappointed.
Once again, the game is all about three-on-three fights, and after choosing your team you embark on a tour of destruction, taking on all comers. During each bout you can instantly call in one of your two allies to attack your foes, and you can just as easily switch your current active fighter with one of the other two at will. This transition is so smooth and fluid that it’s possible to perform impressive character switching combos in mid flow, swapping out characters in the midst of a combo for impressive life bar sapping assaults.
As you fight, you build up your Hyper Combo gauge, which is then used to perform all manner of special abilities. This includes uber-powerful Hyper and Crossover Combo attacks, including one, two, or all three of your characters (with the latter usually producing a screen engulfing light show of epic proportions), as well as less visually impressive, but no less useful skills, such as snap back attacks (which force your foe’s current active fighter to be swapped out) and Crossover counterattacks.
New to the series is the inclusion of the ‘X-Factor’ power. This move, which can be used once per bout, drastically boosts your character’s attack and defence. The lower your health, the more potent the X-Factor is, thus making for a desperation move that can turn the tide of even the most perilous situation. Players using this well can literally come back from a sliver of health to win the fight.
Underneath all of this craziness is an almost perfect control system and fighting mechanic. As soon as you pick up the controller and have a few bouts, you can’t help but be impressed by just how smooth and accessible the game is.
Special moves and combos are easy to pull off (but, as with all good fighters, hard to master), and even advanced techniques such as air combos and launches are far easier to execute here, thanks to single button controls. Even if you’re a newcomer to the genre (or you’re a true button masher), there’s still hope, thanks to the included simple control method that simplifies some of the more complex button combinations.
The game isn’t quite as finely tuned or balanced as, say, Street Fighter IV, and not all characters are equal, but it’s always enjoyable, even if some fighters are blatantly overpowered (Dante and Amaterasu, I’m looking at you).
In fact, when it comes to variety and a good balance of characters to please all players, MvC3 has the lot, and although the collection of fighters doesn’t reach the level of MvC2, the 32-plus characters, some of which need to be unlocked, will keep fans playing for a long time.
A la mode
Sadly, whilst the game is heavy on polish, has a high quality engine and varied characters, it’s not so hot when it comes to game modes. These are split into offline and online modes, and they cover the basics and little more.
Offline, there’s the usual arcade and Vs modes, as well as a training option and a special mission mode that sets specific goals for you to meet. It’s okay, but not that interesting, and the lack of any real story is a shame, especially given the range of awesome characters. Even the game endings are a little peevish, with static comic book panels instead of CG outros like those seen in Street Fighter IV.
Of course, this is a fighter, and so the main meat of the titles lies with the multiplayer, and the online modes are where most will spend their time. However, once more, things are a little sparse. There’s ranked matches, player matches (unranked) and, that’s it! Yep, there’s no tourney mode, so individual fights are all you’ll get.
Thankfully, the net code is spot on, and there’s very little lag. Even if you do get lag, the game’s training mode even features a lag-specific option to get you used to putting up with this online bugbear. Hopefully, though, you won’t need it.
The stat tracking is decent and the player license keeps tabs on your wins, losses, fighting style, most-used characters and more. And, as you play the game, you’ll unlock new characters, artwork, audio clips and bios.
There’s no store this time, so you won’t need to keep fighting to earn credits to ‘buy’ new features. Many will be happy about this omission, as some found MvC2‘s endless trek to unlock each and every character and costume a chore. Personally, though, I liked the old method, as it added a real reason to keep plugging away and a sense of achievement when you unlocked that elusive fighter.
Super, Hyper combo finish!
There’s going to be a very mixed reaction to Marvel Vs Capcom 3, make no mistake. The previous entry is so well loved that fans’ white gloves and fine-toothed combs will be working overtime picking out the niggles and changes Capcom has made to their baby.
There are differences here, including some missing classic characters, control changes, some missing intricacies in combat and AWOL features, but even as a huge fan of MvC2, I don’t find these changes too offensive. In fact, I feel Capcom has done a sterling job updating the series to make the most of the technology we have now, and Marvel Vs Capcom 3 has successfully evolved to keep up with the pack, at the same time keeping its core gameplay intact.
It’s certainly not the choice of the fighting game connoisseur looking for a perfectly balanced and tactical title. That role still falls to SFIVand older, classic games, but for sheer OTT fun and fast, varied, eye-watering combat, this is a perfect choice.
Marvel Vs Capcom 3: Fate Of Two Worlds is out now and available from the Den Of Geek Store.
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