It’s been over a dozen years since Marvel has released a proper game in their crossover versus series with Marvel. The wait has been difficult for a lot of people craving something new. Marvel vs Capcom 3 is here to give gamers that something new, but does this fusion of two worlds meet our high expectations?
The answer to that question is a very large yes, but that does not necessarily mean that Marvel vs Capcom 3 is leaps and bounds ahead of it’s predecessor. MvC3 does some things very well, but a few curious aspects of the game aren’t up to par set by the two previous Marvel vs Capcom titles.
The first thing worth bringing up is the roster. MvC3 comes with thirty six characters, down from the fifty six in MvC2. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however. All characters in MvC3 were modelled from scratch, and all of the characters feel very distinct and original. On the flipside, while MvC2 had a larger roster, almost all of the character sprites used in the game were already created and had been used in previous games, and quite a few characters were either clone characters or just played too similarly to others on the roster. So, while MvC3’s roster is smaller, it is much more robust and each character is truly their own identity. Players who simply want large numbers may feel upset by the smaller roster, but any true fighting game fan will really appreciate how diverse the cast is and how great every character plays.
A lot of popular characters in the franchise didn’t make the cut. Captain Commando, Gambit, Jin Saotome, Mega Man, Strider Hiryu and Venom are the most notable absences on the roster. A few of those characters were the only ones I regularly used in MvC1 and MvC2, so I can relate to many complaints from people that the roster culled too many fan favourites, but many new additions to the roster make up for the loss of several favourites. Look at the names that we’ve lost and then look at the following names: Mike Haggar, Chris Redfield, Dante, Deadpool, Albert Wesker, Zero. Suddenly the new roster is a lot easier to stomach, and there are still several other new characters. Amaterasu, the star of Capcom’s Okami series, is perhaps my favourite of the new characters. Wolves are my favourite animal and Amaterasu’s gameplay is very interesting and unique, so it was really a no brainer for her to become my new Captain Commando, at least in terms of how much I appreciate the character being in the game and how much I enjoy using them.
Many popular veteran characters are still kicking around, so all is not lost. Captain America, Chun-Li, Morrigan, Ryu, Spider-Man, Wolverine, and several others are on the roster and, for the most part, are the same as they’ve always been – only better. The likes of Jill Valentine and Shuma-Gorath will be released as DLC in March with the promise of further DLC characters to follow later on, which even further solidifies this roster as perhaps one of the most diverse I’ve ever seen in a fighting game. Since this is a three on three fighter, I feel completely sure in myself when I say that there’s a team of three here for everyone. Each and every player will find at least three characters that they will fall in love with.
The gameplay in MvC3 is significantly different from what we were used to in the two previous MvC titles. The controls have been modified and the actual pacing of the fights has also been changed. For starters, gone are individual punches and kicks, and gone are six attack buttons. Mvc3 has three attack buttons (light, medium, strong), a launch button (useful for aerial combos), and two assist buttons. Tapping an assist button will call in one of your team-mates for support while holding an assist button will instead allow you to tag a character in and use them. Overall, the control scheme is pretty much identical to what Capcom had implemented in Tatsunoko vs Capcom. The flow and pacing of the fights are both also similar to Tatsunoko vs Capcom. To a newcomer, fights will play out much slower than they did in MvC2. Characters feel like they have more weight to them, and it gives off the impression that the characters have to put forth actual effort to pull off their attacks. The slower pace only lasts a little while, however. After playing the game for an hour or two, players will come out of their shells and adapt to the new flow of the fights. The pacing will pick up a little and some wild combos and attacks may start to appear, though the speed of the game will still be slower than MvC2.
To make up for the slower gameplay, Capcom increased the damage that characters take from attacks. Players can change how much damage characters take, but on the default setting it is not impossible to see some characters being defeated almost as soon as they jump into the fight. Characters with lower health, such as Amaterasu, Arthur, or Zero will take oodles of damage while tougher characters like Hulk or Tron will be able to take quite a lot of abuse. There are two characters who are on both extremes of the health scale. Sentinel is the character with the most health and can take more punches than any other character in the game except the final boss. Given how punishing and unforgiving Sentinel can be to fight against, it makes the character a very terrifying force to be reckoned with. Phoenix on the other hand has the lowest health of any character in the game by a very large margin and can be killed extremely quickly without even using hyper combos if her player is being careless. Despite the fact that Phoenix is very fragile, she can dish out tons of damage and can even resurrect herself as Dark Phoenix if she dies when your super meter is at level five.
There are a few interesting mechanics in MvC3 that are worth mentioning. Advancing guard, which was relatively unknown to casual players prior to the release of this game, occurs when you press two attack buttons simultaneously while blocking and being under attack. If your timing is right, you’ll push the opponent back. I haven’t used this function very much yet, possibly because I keep forgetting that it’s even there, but the other gameplay mechanic is certainly one that I never forget about and that is X-Factor, or KFC as the hardcore audience has apparently dubbed it. X-Factor occurs when you press all four attack buttons together. This will put your character into a sort of rage status, increasing damage and speed by a huge margin. It becomes possible to chain all sorts of things together that would normally require a lot of effort or even be impossible. There is a catch to X-Factor however. You can only use it once per match, and how much of a boost it gives you is determined by how well you are doing. If your characters are all in good health, X-Factor won’t really make a worthwhile difference at all, but if you are on the brink of death with one character remaining then you can certainly expect it to give you a very significant boost to just about everything you can imagine. X-Factor may sound overpowered on paper, but it isn’t difficult to fight against a character that is using X-Factor. It just forces you to be more careful and less reckless.
It just wouldn’t be Marvel vs Capcom without a hulking final boss from the Marvel universe, either. In MvC3, we are fortunate enough to have the giant planet gobbler known as Galactus waiting for us at the end of arcade mode. Unlike previous bosses, Galactus only has one form. The fight is still broken up into two parts however, with the first part being a battle against the Heralds of Galactus. The Heralds are just randomly selected villain characters in the game who are given a shiny silvery look, and you get to fight two of them at the same time. After defeating them by depleting their shared life bar, Galactus comes out to play. The fight is very similar to the one against Onslaught in MvC1 where the player will be doing a lot blocking when Galactus attacks and tons of frantic comboing when he isn’t. Overall, Galactus provides a very enjoyable fight. My only complaint with the Galactus fight is that he is fairly easy to defeat if you’re using characters that you are at least even decent with.
Outside of arcade mode, where Galactus awaits, there isn’t as much content as you might expect. There’s training, versus, online, and a pretty underwhelming mission mode. The mission mode is basically identical to Street Fighter IV’s trials. You choose a character and the game will give you tasks to complete that are nothing more than stringing moves together to make combos. While I understand that the mode is there to help new players learn how to use specific characters, it is not very enjoyable and does not teach you anything that the training mode cannot. Training mode in MvC3 is pretty robust. Just about every feature introduced into practice and training modes over the past decade have made it into MvC3, making it much more than just a mode that lets you practice a few moves. Training mode in MvC3 can simulate an actual training regime, and you can learn a lot from it. It’s also cool that training mode can function as a fully playable mode with fights as well. There is no 1P vs COM mode on the main menu, but it is possible to arrange such fights in training mode. With several options available to be tinkered with on the fly while engaging in 1P vs COM versus fights, it’s understandable to see how having training mode as a full replacement for 1P vs COM makes a lot of sense.
Beyond that, there isn’t much to the modes of play in MvC3. There are no minigames or endurance tests. Survival mode, a genre mainstay, isn’t even present. Capcom seemed to assume that just having arcade, two training modes, and online play is enough. Unfortunately, for casual players and just about anyone who isn’t hardcore or into the tournament scene, a little more meat is usually required.
Online is pretty decent overall. You have the standard player matches and ranked matches, and several options for filtering through the pools of players waiting for fights. The net code is extremely robust and lag hardly happens at all, proving that Capcom is truly becoming the industry leader in providing reliable and stable servers for online fighting games. The only huge disadvantage to online mode is that you cannot spectate matches when you are in a lobby with several other players. Fortunately Capcom has said that they will patch this into the game at a later date, so all is well, or at least will be in due time.
Players who obsess over win ratios and such will probably get a kick out of the license card feature. This is accessed from the main menu by pressing one of your right shoulder buttons (R2 for PS3 and Im asuming RT for 360). It brings up all kinds of data, such as a graph that shows how good you are at offense, defense, etc. along with your character usage, total play time, wins and losses in singleplayer and online, and what your reserve teams are. There are many other statistics on your license card that the game keeps track of and, adding the fact that you can set your icon and title ala Street Fighter IV, the license card feature truly is something that feels like your own personal corner of the game. As someone who loves looking at character usage, play times, and so forth in games, I’ve taken a huge liking to my license card.
In terms of unlockables, there isn’t a whole lot here. Casual players will not be too thrilled to know that there are only four characters and a slew of gallery items that need to be unlocked in this game. All four characters can be unlocked in about half an hour by the average player, and the gallery just contains pieces of art, character models and themes, and voice clips. While the gallery is a neat little diversion, it does not stand well on it’s own as the only thing worth unlocking in the game beyond the first hour or two of play. I find myself checking out the gallery items that I unlock perhaps once (and that’s when I unlock them) and then never looking at them again.
With the meat and bones of the game out of the way, it’s time to focus on the aspects of the game that are not tied directly to gameplay.
First of all, the story isn’t good. Fortunately, this is a fighting game and the story doesn’t matter at all! Basically, this is how it goes… The baddies from the Marvel universe team up with Wesker, and they decide that they will use their combined forces to rule both Earths (the Capcom one and the Marvel one). They need to create a portal to pass between the two worlds though, so they decide to sap power from the cosmic being Galactus, hoping that he does not notice. Unfortunately Galactus does notice, and he decides to come kick some ass. That’s the entire story, which is pretty much standard fighting game fare. I mean honestly, do we need to know why everyone is fighting? Not really, we just want to have fun playing an enjoyable fighting game. Because of this, the story does not matter and it will not have any affect on the score I give Marvel vs Capcom 3.
I’ve waited a long time to bring up the graphics, and now I will do so. PC gamers will not be too blown away by any of the character models, but for a console game they look pretty decent. Some character clearly look better than others (because their models demand more detail) such as M.O.D.O.K. or Sentinel. Stage backgrounds on the other hand look absolutely superb. The only one that is honestly below average is the training stage, which is understandable. Some stages, such as Asgard or the Daily Bugle, look absolutely fantastic. Menus and selection screens are also very slick looking due to the comic book appearance that the game tries to mimic.
Marvel vs Capcom 3 is an orgasm for your ears. The sound effects are a cut above the rest. While the sounds aren’t revolutionary, they don’t sound generic or give off a sense of deja vu. MvC3 sounds very fresh, and your ears will enjoy it. The music is mostly pretty decent and a few character themes, such Amaterasu’s, are really awesome and well done. Unfortunately, the overall soundtrack isn’t quite as good as what we’ve heard in the past Vs games. Some character themes just aren’t catchy at all and could easily be forgotten. The music is still above average, but not even the three Take You For A Ride remixes can make the game’s soundtrack oustanding.
Where the game’s sound department shines the best is the voice acting. The only English voice that made me cringe was Akuma’s, and I quickly set his voice to Japanese to escape the torture he put my ears through. All other voices are excellent, however. D.C. Douglas as Wesker is easily my favourite of them all, but Deadpool, Phoenix, Super-Skrull, and Wolverine all have great voices as well. Like I said, only Akuma’s English voice bothered me, and one single voice isn’t enough to even dent the score at the bottom of this page.
So, is Marvel vs Capcom 3 a worthy inclusion to the Vs franchise? Without a doubt, yes. I sincerely feel that this could shape up to be Capcom’s best fighting game of all time and, in time, my favourite fighter that I have ever played. There is so much substance to the actual fighting and there is so much experimenting to do with various team setups and assists that you could play this game forever and keep finding new ways to put characters together. Despite the lack of additional game modes, a problem that will be remedied via DLC beginning in March, this is an exceptionally meaty package with tons to do.
If you’re a fan of the Vs series or fighting games in general, or have a love for all thinks Capcom or Marvel, then you owe it to yourself to pick this game up. Marvel vs Capcom 3 will go down in history as one of the best fighting games of all time. You don’t really want to miss out on that, do you?