Review: Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3
November 15, 2011, Author: Ray Willmott
Uniting established fictional universes can either be a masterstroke of genius, or an impending experimentation of doom. For something so drastic and enterprising, there is no middle ground for it to sit back on. That’s why the ambition rarely reaches the stage of execution, and if it does, either lives on in infamy or is razed to cinders, never to be heard from again.
One of the more successful efforts sees Marvel, with its web-slinging super hero and victims of scientific experiments gone wrong, going up against Capcom and its justice seeking lawyer and camera-snapping zombie hunters. The house that built Iron Man against the sponsor of the world’s greatest Street Fighters.
It’s a unity that seems to work harmoniously together, and yet creates a beautifully anarchistic play-pen for these characters to throw down the gauntlet and blow chunks out of each other with offensive arsenals.
Now the radically glorious brawler is back for a second turn this year, but with a few added bells and whistles. Question is, with so much rich competition out in the final months of the year, can it possibly be worth another glance?
Super Mega Definitive Ultra
The game handles uniquely when compared to its other fighting counterparts as it is built on a 3v3 tag team system, which enables you to alternate between three different characters in any one fight. Each character has their own special move which they bring to battle, moves relevant to their characters personality or history. Whereas Iron Man brings out a massive gun that can deliver a 50 hit combo, Phoenix Wright offers something more subtle, pushing Maya in a shopping cart at his opponents for around 12 hits.
The game is built on a three button control scheme of light, medium and heavy attacks which offers a more strategic approach for gamers. As a result, the game is extraordinarily easy to jump into for any gamer, but it also has a lot to teach you in terms of how to reach the pinnacle of your abilities. You can also activate an attribute known as the X-Factor, that doesn’t shapeshift you into Simon Cowell and enable you to send home aspiring singers with reckless abandon, but does allow your character increased damage, speed and health regeneration for a limited time. This can also be used to extend a combination of moves.
MVC is also unique in that you can be performing a flurry of combinations with one character, then string it together by tagging in another of your allies and having him or her contribute with their own move-list. Combine all of these dynamics together, and, as I’m sure you can imagine, Marvel vs Capcom is a very over-the-top, crazy fighting experience that really separates itself from others on the market.
You select a team of three, which can incorporate characters of both Marvel or Capcom fame, and go up against randomly created teams, devised by the A.I. Wanted to go on a rampage with The Avengers and save the world? Now you can. Ever wondered what it would be like if Wesker and Doctor Doom were watching each other’s back, talking strategy? Here, it’s fair game.
Once you’ve got your dream-team, anytime in the fight, one of your two chosen allies can come in and take over for you, especially advisable if your energy is low. However, you can also synchronise your abilities, and create some incredibly powerful combos to bedazzle your foe. It’s a great, fun, fighting premise that gives a new perspective on a genre many have scrutinised in recent years for getting stale.
The biggest addition to UMvC3 over the original is, undoubtedly, the twelve new characters added to the game, including Phoenix Wright, Frank West and Hawkeye. Most of these characters have been introduced into the game due to fan demand, Wright, in particular, has been the star of several fan campaigns for the best part of a year. Naturally, this also brings new story elements into the game, with each of these new characters having their own special reasons for being in battle, their own end sequences and ties to the original cast.
This Ultimate upgrade also gives several new stages; a whole new mode entitled Heroes and Heralds and makes several notable online improvements. Unfortunately, Heroes and Heralds was unavailable for me to trial as it is being made available as free post launch DLC. I will post some thoughts on this on a future TIMJ blog. This is a Single or Multiplayer team-based mode where you unlock new abilities with upgrade cards. It’s a real shame this wasn’t available out of the box, as, at this point, the UMvC3 experience is pretty shallow.
Hyper Radical Monster Awesome
Mostly, the new characters are all quite unique, yet all handle very well. This is certainly an area that brings new life into the game. Hawkeye, in particular, is unique with his ranged arrows and surprising strength up close. As for Phoenix Wright, he is… well… odd. All of his actions seem unintentional, as if he is not directly fighting, whether he is looking at the floor for clues, stumbling into you, slapping his opponent over the head with a piece of paper, pushing his hand out when crying for an Objection.
I’ve not seen too many fighters in a game have mannerisms quite like this, and yet, it’s brilliant because it works in context with the type of character he is, and still makes for a semi-suitable fit for the game. Capcom have done an excellent job incorporating him into the mix, quite frankly. Despite his indirect battle techniques, Wright is a powerful opponent, and a valuable ally.
Some more subtle changes have been added as well. X-Factor has now been revamped, and can now be used in the air. There are more costume colors available to choose from, from Symbiote Spider-Man to a purple-clad Ghost Rider. Some of the original characters have also been given new moves, whereas some have just had their existing set tweaked to help achieve a better game balance. Capcom have done their best, it’s a valiant effort, but it’s worth consoling yourself that a perfect balance will probably never be achieved, especially with such a large roster.
To be honest, however, that’s about all UMvC3 offers you. The mission mode is extremely repetitive, with each character being asked to undertake five separate challenges to ‘master’ their abilities. Considering the challenges are all very similar in style from one character to the next, it seems like an afterthought. I spent most of my time either online or blazing through the Arcade mode. Once that novelty wears off however, this game is actually shallow and lacking in functionality, and, as I previously stated, Heroes and Heralds was not available for me to play.
Frankly, for what is supposed to be an Ultimate edition, one would expect more.
Duper Trooper Mammoth um…oompaloompa?
UMvC3 remains a very beautiful game. The zany comic-book nature is as ever intact, with the wild special moves lighting up the screen like a firework display. There’s no need for blood or fatalities here, the game simply thrives on giving you over-the-top action with as rich a palette of colours as you can possibly imagine.
The cast is also a real mix of size and stature. You go from the awesome Hulk, absorbing half a screen, and Nemesis of Resident Evil 3 fame, lurching around, to the petite Viewtiful Joe and Rocket Racoon. Marvel vs Capcom isn’t short of its humorous nature, regularly making light of the small warrior bringing big punishment to the battle, and it has a diverse cast of warriors that means every fighting taste is appeased.
There are some incredible backgrounds to set your brawls upon as well, with UMvC coming with 8 new stages. One of which sees a Black and White Spin on the Ghost and Goblins backdrop, and another features Wanted Posters of several MVC characters not in-game, including Mega Man. Each stage shows the best of Capcom and Marvel, all of them very active, and full of subtle details which comic book fans and Capcom enthusiasts will pick right up on.
UMvC3 does a beautiful job of combining the cartoony, over the top nature of these characters with an 80’s arcade. Despite the initial apprehension one may feel about crossing these two universes together, the game helps you to believe that both definitely belong together.
The game is also full of some brilliant wise-cracks, especially from the likes of Spider-Man, Deadpool and Frank West. Each character feels very authentic to their counterpart, whether they’re making wise-cracks about their opponent’s mother, or showing the best side of their face for a photo-shoot.
The online mode is much improved over MVC3, and is perhaps the biggest improvement of all. For starters, you can have six spectators on one fight, allowing you to observe competition in new and exciting ways, perhaps giving you an opportunity to develop your own strategies. You can also see who has a good network connection and who has a bad, determined by skull icons above their gamercard.
Online match-making is much smoother now, and getting into a game is a lot quicker than before. You can check out an opponent’s information before a fight to decide whether to fight them in a Player or a Ranked Match. It’s also a lot easier to take part in a rematch now with a simple button press.
The core principle in UMvC 3 is to make the online match-making process smoother and more efficient than ever, and that is something Capcom have definitely got right in this version.
Swinging back into action
The online improvements and the new characters are the reason to pick UMVC3. Had Heroes and Heralds shipped out of the box, that may have made this an even more appealing upgrade, but as it stands, this is quite light on the ground. You almost get the feeling Capcom are holding back for an even bigger upgrade next year.
Still, some of the new characters are a real joy to play, and Marvel vs Capcom has never been better online. Definitely worth a look if you didn’t grab this back in February.
Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360 | Tagged capcom, Captain America, Chun Li, Darkstalkers, Fighters, Frank West, Hulk, Jill Valentine, Marvel vs Capcom, Marvel vs Capcom 3, Mega Man, MvC, MvC3, Phoenix Wright, Ryu, Spider-Man, Street Fighter, Street Fighter IV, Venom