Wednesday, February 16, 2011

We Waited 10 Years, But Does It Live Up to the Legacy? The Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds Review

Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds has lot to live up to. The second game was just one of these special games that spawned a legacy and a community for ten years. All the internet memes, the brokenness of only a handful of the roster was playable because they were so good compared to the rest, and the hype is arguably something that cannot be repeated for another game. After the success of the downloadable release of Marvel vs. Capcom 2, it was inevitable that this third installment will finally come and it is indeed here now on the current generation of consoles. Does it live up to the legacy that the versus series, but importantly the name of being called Marvel vs. Capcom 3? In a short answer, yes it does because it is as fun for both casual fans that want to press buttons and make crazy stuff happen, but for also hardcore players that want to be the best and compete in tournaments.

For those that played the last game a lot, the new controls will take getting used to in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 for a few minutes, but if you played Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Cross Generation of Heroes on the Wii, you will feel right at home here with the three attack buttons/special button scheme. It is arguably a good thing that TvC was pretty much the experiment that set up the core gameplay mechanics for the return of the 3v3 fighting that is MvC3. All of this results in a simpler and more approachable approach to do crazy combos along with setting up potential sheninegans. It also means this game is more approachable for pad players, but still having the arcade stick is the recommended way to go to execute what you want to do. The special button is called the exchange button, which is also your launcher to start up air combos. It is also used to finish simple air combos, but you can tag in your partners during these for a safe switch to continue the combo. Your opponent however can guess right which direction you're going to continue the team aerial combo and counter it, which is a similar to the crash animation of TvC when you break combos there. The other significant new gameplay concept in MvC3 is X-Factor, which you press all the four attack/special buttons to activate as your speed and damage increases along with healing your red health for a limited time. This will last depending on how many characters you have left in play during a fight. If used on your last character, it lasts a whopping 30 seconds to give players a chance for crazy combeacks. Even with the TvC-like controls, it is still also a mesh of Marvel vs. Capcom 2 because of the 3v3 concept once you add in all the assists, hyper combos, snapbacks, crossover counters, and more. In other words, it still plays like a versus fighting game that is fun and addictive to the point you can't put it down after hours of playing. The core gameplay works and it was designed beautifully as Capcom really took their sweet time making every character a viable threat and fit their personalities like they were in their respective games.

Speaking of the over than 30 characters, the roster in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a pretty good mix of versus mainstays, iconic heroes, and odd newcomers for a fighting game. Of course there are your obvious guys like Ryu, Chun-Li, Hulk, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Captain America. Then you got your versus regulars such as Magneto, Storm, but also numerous newcomers to a versus fighting game from Dante and Trish from the Devil May Cry franchise, the charismatic Deadpool, the thunder god Thor, Amaterasu from Okami, Chris and Wesker from Resident Evil 5, and so on. Even classic Capcom franchises get their shot of redemption with Arthur from Ghouls n' Ghosts, Mike Haggar from Final Fight, and Viewitiful Joe (returning from Tatsunoko vs. Capcom). There are however four unlockable characters with Akuma, arguably the best versus version of him, Sentinel, who is still good here, Hs-ienko from Darkstalkers, and Taskmaster. These characters are easy to unlock just by accumulating player points in a couple of hours, who I will explain more of it later. As I mentioned earlier, Capcom took a lot of time and effort to make all the characters feel true to themselves especially Dante as an example with his 40+ special moves since it is the Devil May Cry 3 iteration of him. Deadpool is as charismatic as ever with numerous quotes calling out opponents and hearing him scream "Bang bang bang bang" is never old. As far as overall balance is concerned, it is still early to tell, but every character can win, but it is all about having the right team with the right assists in mind to be successful.

If Capcom didn't devote too much time in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 despite making the core gameplay work is the lack of modes, but expected if you played the Street Fighter IV games. There is the traditional arcade mode of seven stages that culminates with a final battle against Galactus for Earth. Galactus surely is a better final boss than that abomination that was Abyss in the second game, but comparable to Onslaught in MvC1. One neat feature is that you can suspend your arcade playthrough and come back into it at any time. There is also the ability to turn on online fight requests like Street Fighter IV. Beating arcade mode accumulates a good amount of player points to unlock characters and other content for the gallery, which isn't much besides looking at art and character endings again. Versus mode is pretty self-explanatory for local competition. The training mode is also self-explanatory practicing combos and team setups, yet still deep full of options to mess around with especially playing in laggy situations by network simulation. Mission mode is basically SF4's trial mode, but with a versus twist doing complicated combos. The drawback here though is sometimes it is hard to recognize what you have to do especially the later difficult ones out of the gate. Then again, you probably have to get used to the computation of the game compared to Street Fighter IV. Despite those concerns, mission mode is a good challenge to learn advanced combos with all the characters.

Then there's the online play, which is also pretty bare bones. The standard ranked and player match options are there, but there's also a lobby system similar to previous Capcom online fighting games with a maximum of eight players. The lack of spectator mode waiting for your turn in the lobby though really sucks as you will see the players' health only. Replays are also missing in online now if you want to see crazy online matches, but of course all of this can be patched in at a later date. It is telling that different development teams worked on Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Super Street Fighter IV, but it makes you wonder if the MvC3 team knew what the SSF4 team was doing handling the online options and wanted to use that they had. As far as online matches go, they go smoothly, but of course you will run into an occasional laggy match here and there. Stat tracking is pretty deep with a chart tracking your offense and defense, win/loss record (it shows before an online match starts), and which teams are being used. Another nice feature is you can reserve teams in the character select screen to quicken the process. Also similar to Street Fighter IV is customizing your icon and title, which are unlocked by just playing all the game's modes. Even with the lack of features, online play still works functionally, and that's the important part at the end of the day.

After dealing with years of the same graphical sprite style of previous versus fighting games, Capcom went with a more comic book-y & modern visual style that started with Tatsunoko vs. Capcom and then turned up to 11 with Marvel vs. Capcom 3 thanks to the MT Framework engine, which was seen in previous Capcom games such as Lost Planet 2 and Resident Evil 5. The game looks great with that style and the best thing is that everything runs at a smooth framerate with no instances at slowdown even if a lot of crazy things are happening on screen. Most of the characters look great and animate so fluidly that fit their personalities while some others didn't the comic book-y transition that great, but that's a minor gripe. All of the flashy beams and effects are an amazing sight to see and that alone will make people drop their jaws of what in the world is going on screen. Even the backgrounds look great and varied spreading across both universes from Asgard, Metro City, and Resident Evil-like lab. The UI presentation could of been better though especially online because you are backed out of one or two menus at times when you can't connect to a match.

Capcom also did an amazing job on the audio department in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Everything just sounds great and fans will get a kick out of the "Take You For A Ride" when selecting characters in training mode. There are character and stage theme songs as they cater really well especially signature themes from past games. The expected Ryu Street Fighter tune is there, along with BGMs from past versus games for the Marvel characters and even songs from previous Capcom games remixed for this game like Dante's and Amaterasu's for example. The voice acting is also superb for all the characters fitting their personalities especially on English. There is an option to change the Capcom characters' voices to Japanese as they're not bad, but their English is good enough to leave them on. Dante still acts like he was in Devil May Cry 3, Nolan North nails Deadpool amazingly, and most of the voice actors were casted as characters from their previous works as the character whether the Marvel cartoon they're in for instance or a previous Capcom game.

So was ten years worth the wait for Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds? Yes it indeed is. Whether you love or hate being owned or blown up by cheap sheninegans both locally and online, it is still a lot of fun and can't put down at the end of the day. Even with its missing flaws like the lack of online features, the simplified approach to the controls that that was in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom that may not appease the faithful Marvel 2 crowd, and how easy how insane you can dish out damage in this game with or without X-Factor, MvC3 is here to stay for a while as you can't help yourself having a good time both with local friends, online, and in serious competitive tournaments coming up in the future. It also helps the fact it is beautifully well made game making the core gameplay systems work fluidly, all the characters can be a viable threat if used at a high level, and amazing graphics that fit the comic book style. With DLC from new modes, characters, and alternate costumes, it is going to be around your console for months and years to come. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is well worth your money if you love fighting games along with both the Marvel and Capcom universes.

Score = 9.5/10

  • The core gameplay is fun and well-made whether you love or hate getting blown up by anything cheap both offline and online.
  • Great roster of characters from both Marvel/Capcom universes from obvious favorites, versus mainstays, and odd newcomers you didn't expect.
  • Amazing visuals running smoothly even when too much is going on screen
  • Lack of modes both offline and online (No spectator and replay options online specifically), but more are coming via DLC and hopefully updates
  • Mission mode is disappointing by pretty much replicated Street Fighter IV's trial mode and called it a day.

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