At long last, the fighting game fans can now sink their teeth into the latest edition of the Versus Capcom series. As any fighting fan knows, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 set the precedent in the tag team fighter concept. Now with updated graphics, a brand new roster, and new multiplayer modes, they took what was great about Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and made it even better.
Running on the Street Fighter IV engine, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 looks great. It has a nice mix of cartoon and realistic movements that really compliments the fighting styles of all the characters. The backgrounds themselves have been improved upon graphically as well, which make for some amazing, dynamic stages with just as much going on in the distance as there is close up. While this is great for the game play, the quality of the cut scenes feel a little lower than what they could have done with pre-rendered material. It is really a nit-picky item and shouldn’t be held too strongly against the beautiful graphics as a whole.
The character line up is solid, but it strangely lacks some of the main stays of the series. I was happy to see new additions to the series, like Chris Redfield and Albert Wesker from Resident Evil, Amaterasu from the Okamiden series, and even Arthur from Ghosts and Goblins; these characters were surprising and well balanced editions. However, I was disappointed to find out that characters like Cyclops, Venom, Strider, and The Juggernaut were missing from the roster. Some of the deletions were in the series from the beginning, and for them to not make the leap to the third game was just sad. Overall, though, the game has a really nice roster, and every fighting fan will eventually find someone they are comfortable with. With the ability to download 2 extra fighters, with more to come in the future, these roster concerns can easily be fixed, and if this game has a run like Marvel vs. Capcom 2 did, we are sure to see much more in the future.
The game play has been improved in the series as well. With a simpler combo system, combos and super combos are now much easier to pull off without having to memorize long sequences of button presses and stick movements. It really opens the series up to beginners who aren’t into fighters, while still keeping a small amount of complexity, allowing the veterans to learn those complicated moves. Before long, you are executing special moves with ease, and you’ll get to see and appreciate some of the work and animations that went into designing those cinematic moments that you buy the game for. Capcom has also done a great job at balancing the game. You can choose any player and have a chance to beat any other player, as long as your controller skills are equal. This really lends itself to professional competitive play, just as Street Fighter IV did.
A new game play element that they added to the game is called “X-Factor”. This element gives the losing player a temporary boost to damage and speed so they can catch up to the winning player. X-Factor also heals damage, so there are both offensive and defensive bonuses while using this. The effect lasts longer with each player you lose, so on a 3-man-team, you have a number of opportunities to exploit this addition. While I am not totally opposed to comeback mechanics, I am not a huge fan of them either. It really ruins the competitive side of the game, and to be blunt, if you are losing a game it is probably because you aren’t as good as your opponent and you need more practice. I can see the benefit during single player matches, but beyond that, it is just a hindrance.
The multiplayer modes in this game borrow heavily from the Street Fighter games, in that the matchmaking system is almost the same. The thing I don’t really like in this system is the fact that you can’t always control who connects to you. It would be nice to have a feature with an “only people with a good connection can connect to me” option, rather than constantly connecting to people with slow connections, adding unbearable amounts of lag to the game. I also find that the option to fight players that are your level doesn’t work very well, forcing you to face opponents much stronger or much weaker than you. The other problem I noticed is that there is no spectator mode. It was always a nice option to be able to watch the masters choose their team and see how they play to help you plan your own strategy. Other than those issues, the multiplayer is good and does help to develop your fighting skills against other people.
Despite its shortcomings Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a great fighting game and a ton of fun to play with your favorite characters. You will always find something new and exciting while playing the game, and I would definitely recommend this title for anyone.
This review is based on a retail copy of the Playstation 3 version of Marvel vs Capcom 3 developed by Capcom