Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is not a game to be reviewed lightly: it is probably one of the most anticipated fighting games of the year (Ed – right up there with Mortal Kombat 9!), and at the top in terms of genre. When Marvel vs. Capcom debuted on the Playstation and Dreamcast in 1999/2000, it revolutionised the fighter genre with its flashy combos, fast pace, and fan-favourite characters. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 took this model and advanced it: 56 playable characters, 3 vs. 3 match-ups, hyper combos the size of your screen, and the unique feature of making me hear Ringo Starr scream “I got blisters on me fingers!” in the background.
Marvel vs. Capcom 3—amidst much hype—needed to not only match the expectations of the die-hard fans, but also accommodate fans new to the series and genre. It did this perfectly and in style.
You can easily pick up a controller, jump into Arcade mode, and mash some buttons together to pull of some awesome hyper-combos with little practice. This is not the extent of the depth of this fighting game, however. MvC3 will go as far as you can, all the way to the 3-teamed hyper combo finish line.
Read more after the Super Jump.
MvC3 boasts a unique line up of characters from both worlds. Though it is quite a drastic drop from MvC2’s database of 56 playable characters, the 36 available on MvC3 (2 extra on DLC) will keep you entertained for days trying to master each character. The drop in playable characters is because, in MvC2, the sprites (character artwork) were simply dragged and dropped into the game from previous titles. MvC3 is far from that: each fighter was painstakingly modelled and animated as cel-shaded three-dimensional characters. If they can make the character of M.O.D.O.K. press different keys on his pad every time he executes an attack, then in my books, they did perfectly well with the roster. On an awesome note, I am sure a new lineup of characters will become available through DLC in the future.
There has been some controversy regarding the actual roster. Old fan favourites have been excluded while newer, unpopular characters have emerged. For example, Mega-Man and Venom are yet to show up after countless community uproars, while characters such as X-23, M.O.D.O.K., and Spencer (from Bionic Commando), who are relatively unknown, made the list. This is not necessarily a bad thing, because if there were no new characters, a commotion would have been made about that instead. Also, my main fighters included X-23, who I think is way more effective than Wolverine; I enjoy her style and would rate her higher than most popular characters. Change is good.
MvC3 has abandoned the previous 4-button configuration of low and high punches and low and high kicks, and replaced it with Low , Medium , High , and Special . The three main basic offense buttons can easily combo into each other, as well as into some impressive super combos. For example, launches the player into the air when grounded, allowing you to perform a follow up jump into combo.
Most of the characters have a similar movesets, most common of which are either QFC (Quarter Circle Forward) + or DP (Dragon Punch) + . The moves are easy to pull off; it’s all about timing. One frame too late and your opponent could easily guard your attack and even advance guard it + , pushing your character back quite a distance.
The trick is to learn your character; simple button-mashing might get you through the normal Arcade mode, but to be a skilled player you need to know exactly what you are doing and when to do it.
In MvC3, certain character’s hyper combos can be aimed slightly. For Example Ryu is able to adjust the angle of his Shinku Hadouken ( + ) once it is initiated.
MvC3 allows you to choose three characters that form your team. You can summon one of your teammates at any time by hitting either assist button (the right bumper or the left bumper ). They then perform a quick attack that is predetermined in the character select menu. When you tag an assist character in, your opponent has an opportunity to hit your assist. This could leave you in a bit of a squeeze when tossed into a hyper combo. But the advantages are great, as you are able to chain combos way more effectively if your assist tag-ins are timed well. Holding in either of the assist buttons permanently calls your team mate and tags out your previously selected character. This is essential if your character has more than just a few bruises and needs some time to recover.
By performing hits or by taking damage, your Hyper Meter starts to fill up (to a maximum of level 5). You need at least one full bar to perform a hyper combo. There are plenty of combos that require bars to execute, such as snap backs and cross-over counters. To perform a team hyper combo it will require a minimum of 2 bars, which will bring in one team mate, or by using three to bring them all in. By doing this, all characters involved perform their hyper combo simultaneously. It is important to know which characters’ hyper combos complement each other. There is no point in using a hyper combo that focuses a specific area when another character is pushing them away from the hit zone.
An interesting new addition to the MvC3 gameplay is a feature called X-Factor. To activate X-Factor, you push all four attack buttons simultaneously. Once activated, the character recovers lost health at a blistering pace, as well as increases stats on damage and speed. X-Factor stats are affected by how many players you have available in your team at the time of activation: LVL1 activates if all your teammates are alive, LVL2 if one is KO, or LVL3 if both teammates are KO.
Everyone knew from the beginning that MvC3 needed to be flashy. It did just that: MvC3 focuses on the comic book theme. Each stage you battle on is a page in the book. Every time you land a hit, the effective splash sprays off. When Wolverine performs his Berserker Barrage it actually looks like he is ripping up the comic as he moves along. Heck, the end boss even rips the last page up as an introduction to his power!
The characters are beautifully designed, with fluid animations that ensure that the game feels as fast and as smooth as possible. The one gripe I had in the beginning was that I felt the characters were too heavily shaded with harsh dark shadows, something which I have grown to like.
In MvC3, you have the option to play either offline or online. In the offline mode you have the choice of battling it out in the Arcade mode, which gives you the option of setting the parameters of the matches. This is where you unlock the endings of each character depending on who you beat the game with.
There is also a Versus mode where you can play against a friend using the other controller. Practice mode is another obvious one which lets you choose a character to train with.
The last mode available is Mission mode, something that Street Fighter 4 introduced as their Trial mode. Mission mode is not as extensive or as difficult as SFIV’s Trials, but includes the complexity. You are required to successfully perform a predetermined combo, which is displayed onscreen. Not every character has a Mission mode, and there are only 10 missions per character. Completing each mission improves your playing skill, as the difficulty gradually increases, allowing you to learn how best to combo with that particular character.
There are two online modes that you can participate in: Ranked mode or Player mode.
Ranked mode puts your street cred, if you will, on the table. Each successful battle won nets you points towards a rank. After enough points, you move up a rank, allowing you some bragging rights as well getting you closer to one of the hardest trophies/achievements in the game: “Combat Specialist”.
Player mode is for more casual fighters who just want to have some good old fashion fights. After every battle you can choose to either rematch, change characters, or exit the fight.
If you were able to read through most of this review, you will have noticed how I chose to go into it more detailed than to simply give an overview. I have played this game non-stop. I could go on for days or months explaining match-ups possibilities, 100% combo kills, or new techniques. But that would take all the fun away; it is really the best part of this game. You can spend hours trying to do this all by yourself.
If you’re a fan of fighting games, you cannot miss out on MvC3. It has definitely set the bar high in terms of quality. All fans’ eyes are now firmly set on Mortal Kombat 9, but rest assured that MvC3 is here to stay!