After a decade’s absence, Capcom returns with the latest instalment of their frenzied tag team beat ‘em up Marvel Vs Capcom 3. it is both the most accessible and the most bewildering entry to the series so far. To new players the game may seem impenetrable for the first half an hour or so; combat is fast paced, brightly coloured, and bombards you with flashing lights. However every subsequent button press can easily lead to a stream of devastating, impressive looking combos.
Graphically the game is clearly inspired by Marvel Comics, with bold, inky lines outlining the characters, vibrant colours and over-the-top, fluid character animations. Marvel Vs Capcom 3 is the visual equivalent of a cupcake; sickly sweet, probably bad for you, but utterly more-ish.As addictive as I found it, I say this as a veteran player of the series, newcomers may find the whole experience overwhelming. Whilst there is an in-game training mode, it does very little to help improve your technique. Some benefit can be found in the mission mode, which tasks you with performing certain special moves and combos, but these missions rapidly descend into incredibly challenging exercises in precision. The only real way you are going to learn new skills is by actually playing the arcade mode.
As soon as you start arcade mode you are faced with an intimidating character select screen. The roster is made up of familiar faces, Ryu, Spider-Man, and Iron Man, along with some new faces in the form of Devil May Cry’s Dante, The Mighty Thor, and Deadpool. After choosing your squad of three you must fight your way through seven rounds of seizure inducing combat, culminating in a battle against a screen filling final boss that will be very familiar to long time readers of Marvel Comics.
Each of the face buttons is responsible for an attack â€“ light, medium, hard, and the special attack. The special attack can mostly be used as a way of launching your opponent into the air. Once the enemy is off the ground you can leap after them and hit them to perform an air combo. During an air combo you can press any of the directions and the special attack to switch characters up to two times to perform a devastating combo. This is a new feature to the series, and can often turn the tide of battle.
With a simple tap of either of the bumpers you can call in one of your partners to perform an assist move â€“ usually one of their special moves â€“ and holding down the bumper will allow you to swap to that character. Successfully landing blows, as well as taking damage, fills up your super metre. Full super metres allow you to perform eye blistering super moves that can involve every member of your squad. These moves often result in pure chaos on screen, and can be utterly disorienting, but at the same time landing that 120 hit super-combo can be incredibly satisfying.
Completing the game unlocks character models, designs, endings, and titles. Much like in Street Fighter 4 these unlockable titles and icons are attached to your fighter profile and let your opponents know what sort of fighter you are. There are also four secret characters to unlock by earning set amounts of experience points. Compared to the wealth of unlockable content in Marvel Vs Capcom 2 this is incredibly disappointing and does hinder replayability somewhat.
This game clearly favours the Marvel side of the two worlds, with fantastic attention to detail from the authentic voice acting (using the vocal cast of the current crop of Marvel cartoons) to brilliant alternate costumes. While the Capcom alternate costume colours tend to be your standard character’s outfit with a different coloured jacket, in a number of cases the Marvel costumes look like entirely different characters, including Punisher Captain America and Red Hulk.
That’s not to say that the Capcom characters get no love; each of the character’s inter-personal relationships are detailed in the pre and post fight dialogue; when Chris Redfield faces off against long time nemesis Wesker you can expect them to have unique dialogue. Similarly when Thor, the god of thunder, faces off against Amaterasu, Goddess of the Sun, they make a reference to it. It is a little touch, but it’s the small things that make this game so appealing to fans of both franchises.
The main source of replayability is the online multiplayer mode. You can take on other players all over the world in both ranked matches and non-ranked player matches. The player matches have an optional lobby system in which up to eight players can get together and take turns battling. When waiting for your turn to fight you cannot really see anything beyond who is currently playing, so ideally the best way to use this system is to team up with friends with headsets.
As of writing, actually getting a match online can be problematic. Using the same awful matchmaking system as Super Street Fighter 4, in the (likely) event that you are unsuccessful in joining a game you are booted out to the main menu, rather than it just letting you start searching for another game straight away. This is incredibly frustrating and has, at times, put me off even attempting to play online.
A lot of the time when playing online I have experienced some fairly crippling lag â€“ strangely enough when playing against mainland European players the lag is at its worst, while playing against Americans has been a fairly smooth experience.
My only other criticism of the game is that the default difficulty is incredibly difficult, especially the last boss. Masochists will enjoy testing their metal against the higher difficulties, but I found it nigh on impossible to even make it halfway through arcade mode on very hard difficulty.
Graphics: 5/5 Taking clear inspiration from the Marvel style of comics, with dark, inky outlines and bold, vibrant colours, Marvel Vs Capcom 3 is a mesmerising explosion of light and colours.
Sound: 5/5 Great voice acting (including Japanese language tracks for all of the Capcom characters) is complimented by remixes of familiar Capcom tunes.
Gameplay: 4/5 While it may seem inaccessible to newcomers, the fighting system is, on the surface, very simple, with just enough depth to make fights with people that know what they’re doing very interesting.
Longevity: 3/5 The only real area in which this game falls short is in terms of unlockables. Sure there are character designs and endings to unlock, but there are only four unlockable characters. Compared to previous instalments of Marvel Vs Capcom, this is a let down.
Overall 4 Drill Claws out of 5
Marvel Vs Capcom 3 is a beautiful looking game, with fast, frantic combat that seems very shallow on the surface, but actually has a lot of depth. A great deal of care and attention has gone into making this an authentic Marvel Comics experience and as such, fans of Marvel comics should go out of their way to play this game, plain and simple.