Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 Review
Game: Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3
Available on: Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (Reviewed on Xbox 360)
Denizens of the internet – now is the time to either rejoice, or spew forth your disapproval – as Capcom unleash their now-standard update to their most recently-released fighting game. It always baffles me why people whine about these sort of things – the company have been doing it for years. When I was a young lad, each new Street Fighter instalment (and there were five that I can think of, all during the financially lean pocket money era of my adolescence) cost me upwards of sixty sheets a throw. Nowadays, you can get your extra fighters and all that malarkey for peanuts. Games are given regular patches and updates to improve your fighting experience, and reaching out to fighting fans all around the globe has never been easier. We devotees of the one on one fighting game may not be living in the golden age of arcade games, but we are pretty well looked after.
The recent Street Fighter 4 tweak, while not completely free of flaws, gave extra characters and gameplay adjustments for a budget pricepoint. Now it is the turn of the already-excellent Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate Of Two Worlds, as this Ultimate re-jig arrives on shelves for chump change.
Marvel vs Capcom 3 was a superb entry in the long-running “VS” series, which dates back to the classic 1996 X-Men vs Street Fighter coin-op. Like the two games that preceded it, Fate of Two Worlds took a variety of different characters from the twin universes of videogames and comic books and placed them in high-octane, over-the-top three-on-three tag team fighting action, this time served up in 2.5d with some quite beautiful high-definition visuals. Like any crossover game of its ilk, there was much fan banter about inclusions and exclusions of certain characters. This is to be expected with such a huge amount of artistic property to draw from. For every fight fan happy as a pig in excrement at the inclusion of Arthur from Ghosts ‘N’ Goblins, another fanboy was prepared to send Ryota Niitsuma a turd in the post, just because Capcom dropped Gambit from the lineup. Regardless of who made up the huge roster, the game was excellently reviewed and has been featured in tournament play, most notable earlier this year at the Evo Championship Series, where high-ranking fighting game experts like Justin Wong and eventual victor Jay Snyder duked it out in some explosive Vs battles.
So what you are going to want to know is – if you own the original game, is it worth shelling out your hard-earned score to play this update? Perhaps a run-through of just what is on offer will help you to decide.
Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 takes the solid original game, and beefs it up with a cracking twelve additional characters, nine new backdrops, and a host of other features.
Every one of the original line up is tweaked slightly in a mass rebalancing frenzy designed to even up the odds. In some cases, such as Wolverine, Taskmaster and She-Hulk, new special moves are added. Other character’s moves are given cancel properties, or altered frames of animation. Some of the combatants have increased or decreased hitboxes, which affects the way attacks connect. The rebalancing seems to have focused on some of the criticisms of the original version, such as Phoenix who is now much easier to dispatch before she is able to enter her near-unstoppable Dark Phoenix mode.
Gameplay in general has a quite significant number of changes. You can now execute the X-Factor (a special boost to your speed, power and combo ability that can also partially regenerate your energy bar) whilst you are in the air. There are now colour-coded Team Aerial Combo attacks, that have different effects depending on which direction you press prior to impact. You can no longer block during an air dash. There are several more subtle differences, which most casual gamers will not notice, but have been designed with rebalancing and smoothing out your fighting experience in mind.
What of the new characters? There are six new guys and gals from the respective Marvel and Capcom brands, and a right old mixed bunch they are too. For Marvel, Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze enters the fighting fray after a brief cameo in the previous version of the game, swinging his cursed chains and looking and sounding completely badass, a super mix of close range power moves and long distance chain attacks. Avenger Hawkeye marks his one-on-one brawling debut and looks absolutely fantastic. Master of black magic and illusion and owner of a rather debonair pencil-thin moustache Doctor Strange is in the mix, presumably to tan the hide of his arch-nemesis Dormammu. Martial arts nutcase Iron Fist provides some ace chop-socky technical skills, whilst intergalactic flying copper Nova is an interesting inclusion. Rounding out the new comic book heroes is Rocket Raccoon, who has some downright hilarious dialogue, and mixes things up with his smaller stature and bonkers array of weaponry-based attacks.
After much fan-clamour for his inclusion, having been a popular featured face in the first two Marvel vs Capcom games, we see the return for Capcom of Strider Hiryu. Frank West brings his camera and a selection of crude attacks fresh from his appearance in Tatsunoko Vs Capcom. Red Arremer, the tricksy red imp that we first encountered sat atop a pile of skulls in Ghosts ‘N’ Goblins makes his first significant gaming appearance for the best part of six years, and his first as a standalone character in a fighting game, in his Firebrand guise. A scary-looking and rocket launcher-equipped Resident Evil Nemesis T-Type provides an ominous foe for the other Resi characters in the lineup. The six Capcom newbies are completed with one final, controversial inclusion. Phoenix Wright has no right to appear in a beat ‘em up, given his pedigree as the titular protagonist in Capcom’s excellent touch-screen lawyer-em-up franchise. But appear he does – and while his moves are funny for the first five minutes, you soon realise that he has a ridiculous amount of moves that are very difficult to defend against, given their unorthadox nature. Like Servbot, the similarly oddball inclusion to the second game in the series, Phoenix Wright’s moveset seems completely at odds with the rest of the game, and I don’t relish the prospect of meeting anyone online who has managed to grasp his spamworthy arsenal of jokey attacks.
Each of the new characters, it must be said, look fantastic. Comic book aficionados cannot possibly fail to be impressed with the way their pantheon of heroes are represented here, both visually and sonically. Each of the characters have instantly recognisable sound effects and voices, from Wolverine’s gruff “What I do isn’t very nice” misery, to Deadpool’s borderline annoying cockiness. The fan service stretches to the nine new backdrops. Whilst essentially just remixed versions of stages from Fate of Two Worlds, the way they have been pulled off is insanely good. Metro City becomes a diorama from seminal 1981 X-Men storyline Days Of Future Past and features a murderous Sentinel in the background and an array of posters indicating that a whole bunch of former marvel vs Capcom affiliates have either been “Slain” or “Apprehended”. It is a chilling but awesome touch. The already incredible Demon Village stage is rendered in black and white in a homage to Gameboy classic and personal fave of mine, Gargoyle’s Quest. There are other surprises going on behind the fights which I don’t want to spoil for you, but lets just say Capcom have been very generous.
All of the available modes from Fate of Two Worlds return, meaning you have your arcade mode, training, and the mission modes where you can learn your craft by pulling off the moves and combos for each character. Unlike the recent Super Street Fighter update, all of the 12 new entrants have their own missions to complete, as well as separate endings to unlock. There are also a whole bunch of new unlockable achievements to have fun collecting. The matchmaking and lobby systems are as reliable as ever, with the usual option to turn fight requests on and off, if you don’t fancy fighting randoms and just want to have a bit of a go on your own.
Three new modes are included for your brawling pleasure, and are significantly diverse to make this an even more tempting buy. Spectator Mode allows you, along with up to five other people, to watch people fight online. This was sorely missed when the game first came out, and is a great inclusion. Galactus Mode puts you in the sizeable shoes of the Devourer Of Worlds, as you attempt to crush your comparably tiny opponents in a series of increasingly difficult bouts. Galactus doesn’t exactly have a flurry of attacks like the normal dudes and is restricted by his gigantic frame to one side of the screen, but it is great fun swatting away a succession of puny superheroes as you attempt to basically eat the entire planet for your intergalactic elevenses.
Last but by no means least is the Heroes And Heralds mode, which is available as a download after the game is released and allows players to fight to earn cards that allow you to alter the stats and attributes of your characters. There are over 100 cards to be unlocked, and each one will have a different effect, such as making your fighter immune to the effects of projectile attacks, or making them invisible. With on and offline support promised, this looks like it is going to add a significant amount of longevity to an already sizeable title.
VERDICT: Take away the silliness of the Phoenix Wright character and there is no denying that this is an extremely welcome update to an already highly enjoyable fighter. The amount of changes made to the characters is huge; if we had listed the lot of them, then this review would have taken you a hell of a lot longer to read than it has done. 12 new characters and 9 spectacularly remixed backdrops, all-new missions, endings, gallery pictures, achievements, two new modes and spectator support – those arguing that this could have been achieved as DLC need your heads examined. This represents an essential purchase for fighting fans, whether you own the original or not.