Marvel vs. Capcom is a game franchise so well known that all you have to do is merely mention its title and gamers around the globe will begin to tell stories of epic battles and who their favorite characters are. Of course, there are the never-ending discussions about which female character is the hottest (Morrigan FTW), or who is the best at the game, but none of that really matters. MvC 1 & 2 are iconic arcade games and, if you see the cabinets somewhere, you automatically gravitate towards them.
I’ve put many hours, and many quarters, into Marvel vs. Capcom 2. It is a game where I was instantly hooked, and I loved it so much that, when I was working at GameStop many years ago, I immediately grabbed a copy for the Dreamcast even though I didn’t own the console. I then went so far as to purchase the version that came out for Xbox because I was that big of a fan. Well, imagine how thrilled I was to hear that a third installment of the franchise would be coming in 2011.
It’s okay, go ahead, imagine me jumping for joy. I’m not going anywhere.
So, like I said, I was incredibly excited. I began to imagine who would be in the game, if I could still do the Raging Demon with Akuma, and how the graphics would look. I found all of the answers to those questions and more when I finally got my hands on a copy of the game. Granted it wasn’t the Special Edition I had reserved weeks in advance at Best Buy, due to a horrible distribution error on Capcom’s part, but I was determined to play the game I had been long waiting for, even though I had to miss out on all of the bonuses I wanted and should’ve gotten.
Immediately, I was thrust into a gorgeous cinematic, showing the two sides facing off against each other. The art was crisp, with nice comic book flairs, but something seemed a bit off. I don’t know if it was due to the fact that I was so accustomed to the art style in Marvel vs. Capcom 2, but some of the characters didn’t look quite like they should’ve. The menus are fantastic and very well designed, there is no disputing that. It was easy for me to navigate through and I loved how they had dueling characters frozen in the background (like Ryu vs. Wolverine when you first start up), and the heavy comic feel was great. In fact, I really enjoyed how the entire game has a comic look and is an obvious nod to Marvel.
If one has been keeping up to date on Marvel vs. Capcom 3, they would’ve heard all of the character announcements. While keeping the community in “the know” was appreciated, it ruined a bit of the mystery for me. Most of the playable characters were available immediately, with only Akuma, Hsien-Ko, Sentinel, and Taskmaster as unlockables. There really wasn’t any motivation for me like in MvC 2, when I would spend hours chugging along just to earn points so that I could buy new characters and new goodies. That drive, and that desire to grind away, has been completely taken away and instead, as soon as a player earns 2000 points, Akuma is unlocked. The cycle repeats in 2000 point increments until you hit 8k and get Taskmaster. The roster itself is small, but several DLC packs will be released in the months to come. I personally don’t agree with that decision, as people should expect to get a complete game, especially when plunking down $60+ in this economy, and some are saying that it’s like Street Fighter IV all over again. DLC is great, don’t get me wrong, but if those characters were going to already be included in the game, they should’ve been a part of the launch roster, and not something that consumers would have to pay extra for.
It was nice seeing familiar faces, but there were some that were sorely missed like B.B. Hood and Blackheart. Many of the new additions were, for me at least, just okay. The only new characters that really wowed me were Phoenix (in which I wrote an entire article about that news), Dante from Devil May Cry, Wesker from Resident Evil, and X-23. With having such a small roster, things became boring rather quickly, especially when playing with friends online over and over, and I found myself using the “Random All” feature to determine who I would play with. Never in my entire life have I been content with selecting a full set of random characters, but that might be because in previous fighting games I had my set characters. I can’t say the same for Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
I did notice though that some characters had health bars that depleted much faster than others, and almost all of them were female characters. Phoenix, for example, is one where her health bar is ridiculous. She is incredibly powerful, but with just a couple of love taps she is out of commission. There is the fact that, if you get your hyper gauge up to its max, bring her in and let her die she comes back as Dark Phoenix, but what about the gamers who might not want that, or hold off on using any special attacks to build up the gauge? Other characters, like Sentinel, for example, have beefier health bars but their attacks aren’t as powerful. Some might say it helps bring a sense of balance to the game, but it also adds frustration. I don’t remember having any problems in MvC 2 with Morrigan or Felicia, in terms of health, but Felicia gets torn to shreds in the blink of an eye now.
Another is that the characters seemed to move slower. There is no option for a hyper/turbo mode, and even though that wasn’t necessarily a deal-breaker for me, it was something I immediately noticed as it was off-putting. One of the things I really enjoyed about the sequel was how fast the characters moved. I loved how fun, frenetic, and mind-boggling it was but I didn’t get the same feeling from Marvel vs. Capcom 3. The larger characters can be, at times, clunky and for that reason I never wanted to choose them. Due to character movements, or lack of, many characters on the roster were virtually unused and I had only a small handful to choose from. Obviously, there are gamers out there who want the powerhouse guys like Hulk or Thor, but it’s just not for me and I doubt it is for a majority of people playing the game.
When jumping into Arcade mode, you’re playing through the “story” of the game. There is no proper intro, and you basically go through six rounds of gameplay until you reach Galactus, who is large and very purple. Before you get to wail away at Galactus, you have to fight two characters that look like liquid metal. The trick is to get through the minions as quickly as possible, and with as much health as possible, because Galactus has some ridiculously cheap attacks. There is one move he does where it will easily kill off a character with full health because it hits you over 300 times. One piece of advice: when Galactus is no longer in front of you, go into a corner and immediately start to block. If you don’t do that, prepare to have the shit kicked out of you. If you find Galactus to be a bit difficult, start from the beginning and change your settings. There are multiple difficulty modes to choose from, so you can drop yourself down to very easy and set your attack levels to very high. Is this a cheap and easy way to beat the game? Hell yes.
The Mission mode is one I could’ve done without. I actually thought it would be something completely different, but it’s where you select which character you’ll play as and have to perform combos and attacks in order to progress. There’s one huge, glaring problem with this though: the guide book doesn’t have all of the moves, the in-game moves list doesn’t have the moves, and the game doesn’t tell you how to move in order to complete what it asks of you. When playing through as Phoenix, I had to do one move and then follow it up with some other move but the move was nowhere to be found in the guide or game. I had no clue what to do and out of sheer frustration, I quit. I haven’t been back to Mission mode since. I’m a visual learner, and I’m sure many others out there are too, so having something that clearly details how to perform a move, especially a major combo, is vital in figuring out how to do it. If I go by trial and error, I’ll never figure it out because odds are I won’t remember what I did that one time to get it right. It wouldn’t have been too difficult to put in a full moves list since past games have, so I can’t understand why we get anywhere between 5-10 moves per person when they can clearly perform more. Training mode is still included in the game, but with Mission mode it almost feels like they are offering the same exact thing, except one has a twist to it. I think Capcom should’ve included only one and not both so that another mode, preferably something new and exciting, could’ve been introduced.
Local versus plays the way it should, but the online portion of the game could’ve been done better. While having the ability to play against gamers across the globe is fantastic, it wasn’t executed well. The first problem is that there is no spectator mode to see what is going on. Instead, you get to sit in a lobby and watch two battle cards bash against each other. While some of you might not see how this is a problem, picture this scenario: you’re in a lobby with 7 other players and you’re the last one to join. Since the online mode plays like king of the hill, you are forced to sit and wait while the 6 other people ahead of you battle against whoever holds the top spot. Having to sit through close to 20 minutes of nothing but battle cards clanging is simply excruciating. Half of the time the other players don’t talk, so you are in complete silence, and the only thing I can compare the experience to is as if purgatory were a real thing. Actually, I take that back. Purgatory is a real thing, and to experience it, all one has to do is play MvC 3 online with a full party. Even when I would be in smaller parties, the wait still seemed as if eons were passing right before my eyes. Hopefully in the future Capcom can release an update where those waiting can watch the matches because not only will it prevent the boredom, but it will allow the ones waiting a chance to chime in and really get some hype going. There’s really nothing like watching a great gamer bust off some ridiculous combos, but we sadly can’t do that in MvC 3.
Another issue with the online play is that two gamers who share an Xbox can’t join in a lobby. I don’t see how it couldn’t have been added, especially with the way the online portion is handled, so I can’t help but shake my head at that omission. As Chris and I have said on this site numerous times before, the omission of local online play is a huge problem. It would’ve been nice if I could sit in a lobby with my husband, both of us waiting to play, and watch each other take turns. The only way we can play together is by doing local versus, and it gets old after awhile. I realize that, should one of us, become “king” during online play things could get a bit wonky, but I think it could’ve been worked around. They did have a decade to work on the game, after all.
Aside from all of these negatives, the game is fun to play despite the controls have being dumbed down. Before one had to almost become a slave to the game in order to be a solid player, but now it’s too easy. I can see how this change would appeal to the gamers out there who aren’t too hardcore about the fighting genre, but for the ones who wanted a challenge or were used to MvC 2, it seems as if things took a couple steps back. When looking at the controls, there is no high kick, low kick, high punch, low punch. The ‘A’ button on the Xbox 360 controller handles some special attacks, like when you want to knock a player into the air so you can juggle them. The other buttons handle heavy attack, medium attack, and low attack. For assists you tap on either the left bumper or right bumper, depending on which one you want to bring in, but should you wish to swap you hold the bumper. When you want to do a special that uses part of your hyper gauge, one simply has to hold down the left trigger. Based on the brief description I just gave, the controls don’t appear to be too terribly difficult and that’s because they aren’t. It does make the game more accessible overall, which in turn will translate into more sales, so Capcom does have that going for them.
If someone was looking for a fighting game would I flat-out recommend Marvel vs. Capcom 3? Yes and no. I’d bring up the pros and cons, but the price doesn’t justify what little content we’re given. I personally think it’s criminal to ask gamers to shell out more of their hard-earned money to unlock characters that are already included on the disc, so to charge a minimum of $59.99 plus whatever all of the DLC will amount to is simply outrageous. If none of that bothers you, go and pick up a copy of Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Sure, I was a bit let down, but my love for the fighting genre hasn’t been diminished. Thankfully Mortal Kombat is right around the corner.