It has been almost a decade since the original Marvel vs. Capcom 2 (MvC2) hit the scene, crammed full of marvel comic characters and Capcom iconic characters from their game franchises over the years. The frenetic 3vs3 2D fighting gameplay offered was fantastic for its time and hardcore fanatics of the game really learnt the tricks and exploits to bust out infinite combos, rush down tactics and zone/frame traps to really bring the pain on.
Now in 2011, Capcom finally has released for the Playstation 3 and XBOX 360 a worthy successor to the Versus series, borrowing stylistically from Tatsunoko vs. Capcom on the Nintendo Wii whilst tweaking it to carry the unique traits that defines it a Marvel vs. Capcom game. Though released in Australia in February 17, the game was already in play testing through the second half of 2010 and plenty of footage was available to tease the impatient masses with its fantastic fighting engine.
Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a three on three 2D fighting game comprising of a standard roster of 36 characters with two characters (Jill and Shuma-Gorath) being DLC characters. There is an equal split of 18 Capcom and 18 Marvel characters on offer and this time around, each offering a unique fighting style suitable for their character background and they really add to the variety.
Fans will notice the control scheme has been greatly simplified. Most charge moves have been changed to circular motions and only a few iconic special moves are still charged based. Hyper Combos are easily performed using circular motions as well. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (MvC3) uses a different button layout than previous MvC games, comprising of Light, Medium and Heavy attacks, a Special attack (aka. Launchers/Exchange) and two assist buttons to call your team mates.
Unique to the Vs. series are the “magic series” combos, consisting of Light > Medium > Heavy attacks that all characters can do followed by an air launching attack which leads to each character’s aerial rave combos. Some characters can continue on by attacking people from the ground launching them back in the air for a stylish combo display.
The three on three gameplay is very smooth with assist attacks (your team mates jumping in momentarily and doing a special move then jumping out) have been balanced a bit better this time round. The battle system is very deep with delayed hyper combos, Aerial exchanges, crossover counters, combination attacks, advancing guard and the newest addition, X-Factor mode. X Factoring allows you to cancel out of any attack, resets your damage scaling and lets you continue on with your combo string for additional damage. In addition your character regenerates health and deals more damage depending on how many team mates you have alive.
Character balance is an interesting concept. Many characters could be considered “top tier” which ironically, makes that category redundant. I’d like to consider MvC3 as better “balanced” than MvC2, as there aren’t too many team combinations which aren’t total standouts. Sentinel appears to be very strong with his combination of high hit points, high damage and easy to execute character killing combos when paired up with X Factor level 3. At this early stage of the game, I’d like to consider MvC3 “balanced” by having many “unbalanced” characters, each in their own way. I believe as the game matures and people come to grips with the quirks of MvC3 we might see the emergence of “top tier” teams but for now, there is a good variety of teams being played.
Characters generally fall into three categories, “keep way” characters use fireballs, beam attacks and other zoning tools to keep the enemy away, “rush down” characters are the opposite who push to break down defenses and confuse with a mix-up game and there are some “all-rounder” characters that fall in-between. Some characters may be weak in certain combinations because their team’s assist doesn’t synergize well whilst other may seem overpowered as they are able to lock down and trap the enemy too effectively.
MvC3 succeeds in bringing in new players to the game as it is quite easy to play and “button mash” but has a very rewarding and steep learning curve when you want to break into the stylish and impressive combo strings your character and assists can combine to do. This definitely will be a game where newcomers can enjoy playing around whilst those dedicated to really learning the system can dominate everyone with practice and dedication.
Game modes are fairly stock standard, with arcade, training and a mission mode similar to the Street Fighter IV series training modes. Unlockables are abundant rewarding you extra characters, artwork, sound clips and movies. Online play however is a bit of a disappointment, especially since they spent so much work on Super Street Fighter IV, MvC3’s offering feels a big step back. Whilst online you cannot watch people while waiting in the lobby. There is quite a marked difference between offline and online play and lag was quite noticeable for me, the input lag really dampening the action. There doesn’t seem to be a difference between XBOX 360 and PS3 online play unlike Super Street Fighter IV so I would hazard to guess both are equally disappointing.
Taking style cues from Capcom’s other current gen Vs game; Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 looks very impressive. The comic book graphics looks very detailed with vivid colors and the classic black outlines making it as if we’re really looking at a Marvel comic book. The backgrounds are beautifully done in 3D and actually relate the various characters in the game. Graphically, it could be considered over the top and with such fast paced action on screen it could be quite easy to lose track as your character zips around or teleports. Comparing the XBOX 360 version with the Playstation 3 version, I am sad to admit the XBOX 360 version holds a more consistent frame rate, especially when you start launching hyper combos and the screen goes ballistic. During busy hyper combos the Playstation 3 does stutter a bit unfortunately.
Each character has a lot of quips and sound bites as they fight; tag in and out and do their hyper combos. All characters have both an English and Japanese soundtrack which is user selectable (and doesn’t need unlocking!). The Marvel characters are all voiced by approved actors, often those involved in previous movies or Marvel games giving it some authenticity for Marvel fans. Fans of the jazzy background music in MvC2 may be slightly disappointed and unfortunately there aren’t that many memorable tunes but that might be because I’m too focus on trying to take down my 100th Sentinel to pay attention.
MvC3 retains the classic 2D fighting mayhem fans enjoyed from MvC2 and adds a great new mission mode to help you get started in learning new combos. Being able to play online gives you a great way to find more players to fight against and the arcade fight request mode are carried over from the Street Fighter IV series. Arcade mode is pretty stock standard but what will most likely keep you coming back is learn each of the player roster and finding a team combination that works just for you. Hardcore fans will probably hit up the training mode quite a bit as they discover new combos and maximize their damage whilst those playing a bit more casually will find plenty of rewards to unlock. As seen with Super Street Fighter IV, Capcom has stated there will be plenty more DLC (downloadable content) to purchase more characters so I expect MvC3 will get milked for all its worth.
Anyone with fond memories of MvC2 should definitely pick this up. Anyone whose favorite Marvel character is in this game should also give this a look. It is quite addicting trying to figure out new combos, playing with friends and learning a lot of characters to make your “ultimate” team. The mission mode is a fantastic addition, helping people learn new combos and improve their gameplay. All in all I think this would be a fantastic addition to anyone’s fighting game collection and after 10 long years Marvel vs. Capcom 3 surely does not disappoint.
AAG SCORE: 9/10
+ Large character roster with unique fighting styles
+ Gorgeous comic book style with great detail and character animations
+ Mission mode is a great tool for newcomers to the series
- PS3 version suffers from frame rate issues when the screen gets really busy
- Online net code feels worse than Super Street Fighter IV. Unable to spectate online matches
- Character balancing feels a bit wonky at times (Nerf Sentinel).
Reviewed and Written By Danny Yee