Thursday, February 17, 2011

Review: Marvel versus Capcom 3 by Capcom

Name: Marvel Vs. Capcom 3
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Release Date: February 15, 2011
Type: Fighting
Version: Special Edition
Reviewed by Earl Davis

After a decade of waiting, iconic Marvel and Capcom characters join forces again in Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds, a re-envisioned team fighting game for a new generation of gamers. Fill the shoes of legendary characters from both the Marvel and Capcom universes as you engage in 3-on-3 battles within living comic book art style environments powered by Capcom's MT Framework, an advanced version of the graphics engine used for Resident Evil 5.

The last time a new Marvel vs. Capcom title was released, the world was a different place. The iPod was just a twinkle in Steve Jobs’ eye, Y2K was a looming threat on the horizon and arcades were still operating in malls across America. It’s a dollars to donuts wager to suggest that most people probably can’t even remember the last time they saw an arcade. At the time, it was a destination game; a source of pride for loyal players eager to drop endless streams of quarters and expletives.

Fast forward more than a decade, America has changed. In 2000, nothing actually happened and we realized that our fears were ridiculous. In 2001, we grew up and learned that the things we should fear the most are the ones we’ll never see coming. The years flew by as advances in technology made everything smaller, faster and more powerful. Arcades became a thing of the past and the console wars challenged publishers to up their game. Capcom took up the challenge and released Marvel vs. Capcom 3 into this brave new world of home based and high-speed multiplayer gaming.

At its root, Marvel vs. Capcom remains unchanged. It is a “2D” fighter, featuring three man teams selected from a roster of characters taken from various Marvel and Capcom titles such as the X-MEN, Avengers, Street Fighter and Resident Evil. Anyone who has ever dreamed of smacking Chun-Li around with She-Hulk can now have their cross-over fight club fantasies realized in high definition.

The game runs at a fast pace and I was able to complete the basic arcade mode in just under thirty minutes gathering several trophies (achievements for all you xbox folk) along the way. Let’s face it though, the value of any fighting lies not in the initial play through but in the subsequent replay value. MvC3 is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to replay. With a bevy of characters, each sporting a variety of moves and combinations, this game gives players plenty of replay value.

With MvC3, the game play is old hat to anyone who has played any of the series’ previous entries or any other fighting game produced in modern era. Players select teams of three characters and duke it out using special moves, flashy combos attacks and “hyper” combos which are special finishers boasting ridiculous damage. Tag moves, character switching and even the over-sized, over-powered final boss remain constants in the core game play mechanic as well. However, there are a few notable that help keep this game from being just a rehash of MvC2.

The first notable change is on the character select screen. MvC2 boasted a total character count over fifty, depending on which version you played. Capcom decided to pare that number down to thirty-six and the game is better off for it. Each move set has a unique feel and even the character’s that feel like clones on the surface, for example Wolverine/X-23 or Magneto/Dr. Doom, shine as individuals after a little play time.
Control scheme is the focus of the second major change to the series. Capcom has merged the schemes from MvC2 with the traditional Street Fighter style controls to create something new. The four face buttons map to Light Attack, Medium Attack, Heavy Attack and Special Attack (not to be confused with Special Moves). The top trigger (bumper for xbox) buttons are the Assist buttons which swap out team members or call them in for tag-team attacks. It’s an extremely responsive system and friendly to both the casual button masher and the grizzled 2D veteran.

The final notable change is a small one but it is brilliant; the Advanced Guard. Many years ago, one arcade junkie rotated a joystick forward with a quarter degree turn, pressed a punch button and the first Hadoken was thrown. Thus, the first fireball spammer was born. Now, instead of getting constantly pinned to the opposite wall and forced to engage in fireball war, savvy players can press an easy button combination and block while moving forward. There are few greater pleasures in gaming than finally getting to go Hulk-smash on Ryu.

MvC3 isn’t all roses and nerd-gasms, though. A few problems exist and keep the game from perfection. The decision to continue the tradition of undersized, yet overpowered characters creates some frustrating game moments that will have some players screaming “bullsh!t” at their consoles. I’m talking to you Amaterasu and Viewtiful Joe. These characters cannot be hit by a large number of normal attacks and their hyper combos are begging to be nerfed in a future path. I’m as enamored as anyone at Amaterasu’s striking water colors. It shouldn’t cost me half a health bar every time I see them.

Also, Capcom decided to allow “Simple” controls as a selectable option for Ranked online matches. I was beaten at my first six ranked matches in a row. Everyone was pulling off the same moves only a fraction faster than I could. It wasn’t until I noticed that I could turn on “Simple” for a ranked match that I understood why. This means that players can invoke special moves and combos with a single button mash. There is no way for standard players to compete with that speed. It’s something that Capcom needs to address for there to be any validity to the Leaderboard rankings.

This game is beautiful. Period. There are no visual glitches and all of the frames come through with stunning vibrancy at 720p. The backgrounds and models are stunning. Every time a new stage or character is selected, I highly recommend setting the timer to infinite and taking a few minutes to soak up the details.

Audio (Voice):
Capcom went above and beyond with the voice acting. Select Deadpool , listen very carefully, and you’ll understand exactly what I mean. His one liners alone are worth a good portion of the admission price.

Audio (Music):
It’s a generic techno-mix that doesn’t overpower the game. Capcom keeps the music mixed low against the game sounds and voice acting, so it doesn’t detract from the other audio which is far superior.

Plot/ Story:
What? If you think it will have a coherent story, then you obviously haven’t played a fighting game before.

Most of these are easy to get and are based around winning matches with specific team members, like the Avengers or completing a specified move count, like 100 hyper combos. A few are online based, but nothing out of reach for most players.

MvC3: Special Edition comes with a metal case, a mini comic book, three decals featuring MvC3 characters/moves, a one month subscription to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited and two downloadable characters, Jill Valentine and Shuma-Gorath. The mini-comic and decals are laughable at best, unless you are eight years old. Unfortunately, MDCU is online 9.99 a month. With a price tag at 99.99 for the special edition, this means that consumers are paying an extra $30.00 for a sub-par comic, a few stickers and two DLC characters that can’t be used until mid-March.

Overall, MvC3 is a solid game with amazing replay value that can be enjoyed by both the casual and hardcore gamer alike. A few balancing issues and one poor design choice keep this from being the perfect game. I highly recommend purchasing the standard version of this game, but don’t waste your money your money on the Special Edition.

4 out of 5 stars

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