Sunday, November 20, 2011

Unleashing the Ultimate Nine Months Later... The Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 Review

Note - Most of the videos you'll see in this review will showcase high level gameplay as seen in the fighting game tournament scene.

Earlier this year, fighting game fans finally got what has been a long time coming with Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds. It was a great game then filled with lots of potential and ideas only limited by imagination in terms of having that certain team combination that can wreck the competition. As the game's lifespan went on in just a couple of months, there were definitely some things that held it back especially from a high gameplay level perspective. Certain characters were too good and the X-Factor comeback mechanic became more of a problem especially in the hands of tournament players. It was supposed to give casual players a chance to come back from a huge deficit, but as these modern fighting games go with these comeback mechanics, putting that in the hands of tournament level players is a different story. Nine months after its release, we get already get a new version with Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Basically, its the same game, but balanced better and bringing back the creativity that was missing from the original's late months despite retaining some of the original's flaws.

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is pretty much is similar to Super Street Fighter IV on how they improved their original iterations (well before Arcade Edition screwed things up for Street Fighter IV folks) besides both games being 40 dollars. New characters, new stages, and more online options are just some of the many additions to this new release. The new characters are pretty fun to play with as most of them have potential to be viable threats throughout this game's lifespan. Other than Capcom's favorite ninja Strider-Hiryu returning to the gaming world and Dead Rising's Frank West making a second appearance, the rest of the new characters in UMvC3 are their first appearances in a fighting game. From the Marvel side is an odd mix of characters from the comics at first, but they're a blast and worthy of being in a game like this. Popular guys such as Ghost Rider and Hawkeye are great to have, but seeing folks like Doctor Strange and Iron Fist give the Marvel cast more variety. Even characters that people most likely don't know that they exist like Nova and Rocket Raccoon are also a breath of fresh air too. Meanwhile on the Capcom side, Devil May Cry franchise favorite Vergil can finally unleash more beatdowns as seen in third game of that series. Nemesis from Resident Evil 3 is among one of the tallest fighters in the game alongside Sentinel, but still slow yet deals insane damage if you get hit. The rest of Capcom's new fighters are oddballs you don't expect, but I'm glad they're in. Firebrand from Garogyle's Quest and gaming's favorite lawyer, Phoenix Wright's unique playstyles from their respective games are implemented extraordinarily well as seen with some of Capcom's characters in the original too. With the new characters, Jill & Shuma-Gorath still being DLC, and the original cast being changed up a bit for balance purposes, the unique roster is at nearly 50 and it is just the limit of your imagination coming up with teams and setups with assists to dish out the business.

The core gameplay in this Ultimate version is still the same, but some system additions do spice things up a bit differently than the original and for the better. X-Factor as a comeback mechanic is an interesting idea, but it was a problem especially in level 3 when certain characters such as Dark Phoenix (Phoenix still has to be at five bars of meter before dying for that to happen) become too powerful. It has been toned down as if you can't do 100% combos if given the opportunity in earlier levels, but still retains that threat that anyone can comeback from behind. A new addition in Ultimate for X-Factor is that it can be activated in the air as it is great to avoid certain situations or keep air combos going for more damage. Blocking during air dashing has been taken out here and it is more noticeable to see team aerial exchanges. Matches are still fast and frantic, but they're a little longer than the original due to the toned down damage on most characters.

One problem I had with the original game was the lack of modes to play. Other than the standard arcade, training, and mission modes, there's isn't much variety in single player modes to play and that still has not changed for Ultimate. There is a downloadable free Heroes & Heralds mode coming soon, which is a crazy version of the game with trading cards that mod up certain things. That is still not considered in the review though as the previous modes I mentioned earlier are still the same. Arcade mode is seven stages culminating in a boss fight against Galactus with most of the original characters retaining the same endings as the last game, training mode retains the same options as seen from the original, and mission mode is basically Street Fighter IV's trials with all the characters. The bonus that people got from having an original MvC3 save is the ability to play as Galactus in arcade mode out of the gate than unlocking it later on, but its a throwaway feature. Its been more noticeable in these Capcom fighting games that there is flat out no legit tutorial to get beginner players started.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3's online gameplay was okay at best with its occasional laggy matches. The lack of a spectator mode and a replay system was a big problem though, but now that is included in Ultimate. The netcode was also supposed to be better than the original as Capcom said, but in my personal experience so far, it has been the same with some good matches, but laggy ones every now and then depending on the connection to your opponents. Online still functions the same way with quick and custom matches whether ranked or not as well as lobbies with up to eight players. At least the matchmaking has been improved as if you don't find a match after searching, you don't go back to the the main online menu screen as it was in the original. The competition is already stiff out of the gate as well because of the fact we have been accustomed to the core gameplay for nearly the whole year.

Graphically, Ultimate looks the same compared to the original. It still looks pretty good seeing crazy stuff happen all the time from the beams, lightning, and other projectiles characters throw out. The menus and the character select screen look different as well as an intro cutscene that features the new characters. There is also a comic that starts up after pressing start, which is cool to see. Sound-wise, at least the theme songs when browsing the menu screens and selecting characters are remixed and the "Take You For A Ride" remixes are still there in training mode too. As with the original, both the original and new characters have their own background theme when on screen, but you can also change to the stage music if you're tired of those.

I was a little skeptical at first about Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 coming out just nine months after the original because I thought it was too quick especially compared to the thirteen month gap between Street Fighter IV and its Super incarnation. However, Ultimate is what the original should of been as if it was rushed out in an unfinished state. As we exploited that game, certain glitches became familiar and now are taken out in this new iteration. Good thing it is priced at 40 dollars than the standard 60 because paying full price again would of have been a hard sell for casual players that either missed out or didn't like the original. Fighting game fans should still get this as it is the definitive version of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 with new characters that are a blast to play as with their unique playstyles, balance changes for the system and the original characters for the good so far (despite some characters getting nerfed too hard and most of the original cast getting way better with more damaging options), and supposedly better online. Some problems from the original are still a factor from a lack of modes despite Heroes and Heralds coming soon as free DLC, no definitive tutorial for new players to jump in and learn, and online play still being the same to me. Other than that, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is still a fun and amazing fighting game that got things fixed for the better even though things can be patched up as hopefully we don't see another retail version next year.

Score = 9/10

  • All of the new characters are a blast to play as once you learn them and their unique playstyles are implemented extraordinarily well in a fighting game like this (Phoenix Wright being a specific example).
  • Balance changes to the system such as X-Factor and original characters are have been for the better so far, but of course we'll see after a few months how tourney-level play is going.
  • Spectator mode finally in this version to watch online matches
  • Online matchmaking has been improved
  • 40 dollars!!!
  • Still a lack of modes as the they are the same as the original.
  • Online play was supposedly better, but it has been the same for me personally with the occasional laggy matches.
  • No in-depth tutorial to get new/beginner players going as mission mode is still basically trials mode from the Street Fighter IV games