Review: Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (Microsoft Xbox 360)
by Mark B. on February 17, 2011

Marvel vs. Capcom 3
Genre: Fighting
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: 02/15/2011

It’s been a good eleven years or so since the last new release in Capcom’s Marvel vs. Capcom series of games, and the desire to see a new one has diminished not even a small bit. From Capcom’s expertly developed Marvel fighting games to the X-Men vs. Street Fighter game and the two Marvel vs. Capcom games, Capcom knew how to make a good game better with each installment, focusing on crazy, over-the-top attacks, tag-team and triple-team options, and a colorful and interesting cast of characters from both universes. I have to be honest, I really never thought I’d see another one of these games again, especially after Capcom basically kind of stopped caring about the Street Fighter series and Marvel started shopping the fighting game side of their brand to other developers, resulting in some less than desirable games (I’m looking at you, Marvel Nemesis). But fan demand and the revival of the Street Fighter franchise have brought forth Marvel vs. Capcom 3, the first 3D installment of the series and one of the most hotly anticipated fighting games in recent memory. The game brings back old favorites and adds in a variety of new fighters on both sides of the roster to play with, and with some solid online and offline options for players, it sells itself as an easy buy for fans and newcomers alike. The game isn’t perfect, obviously, but even after the first few hours of nostalgia and joy wear off and you start to get down to what the actual game is trying to do, you’ll find a fighting game that’s still rather impressive, and is easily Capcom’s most impressive 3D outing yet.

The story of the game isn’t especially involved; the Marvel and Capcom universes have crossed together into one world, Galactus is coming to eat the Earth, and your chosen team of fighters has to stop him. That’s really about the size of it, and while the endings for each of the characters are fine enough, you really won’t be playing the game for its engrossing storyline. Insofar as game modes are concerned, however, you’ll get some decent mileage out of those. Offline, you can go up against the computer in Arcade Mode and plow through a series of matches to face Galactus, face friends locally in Versus play, and jump into the Training Mode to test out various combos and teams or fight with no consequences against friends. There’s also a Mission Mode where you can pull off increasingly more difficult combos and patterns to learn your characters and how they work. Online, you can take it to friends and strangers in Ranked or Player matches, and you can assemble rooms of people to take turns kicking the crap out of each other as the situation permits. There’s also a Gallery to look around in which archives artwork, endings, character profiles and models, voice samples, music, and other fun things for you to play around with. The game also allows you a profile to customize, which allows you to choose a tag and icon, view your stats, and set up three teams that can be instantly selected, complete with character color and support type, if you know who you’ll be playing as. As such, while there aren’t any weird gameplay modes like in Namco fighting games or what have you, everything that’s here is useful and worthwhile and the modes are all good fun.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is one of the better looking fighting games on the market, both from an artistic and technical standpoint. Artistically, the character models are well rendered and look exactly as they’d be expected to, and the character animations flow very well and don’t suffer from any obvious issues. The backgrounds are also lively and show an impressive amount of attention to detail, and little touches, such as some characters having completely different costumes instead of mere palette swaps, show that Capcom really put some good effort into the experience. Technically, there is no obvious slowdown during the proceedings, even when you’re getting into massive multi-person super moves, and the framerate is stable all around. The game also makes great use of special effects and lighting, whether they be in the special moves or the environments, making for a game that is very visually impressive to watch as well as to play. Aurally, the music is well produced, and each character gets their own song that switches up between characters as other characters are taken out, and classic songs, such as Arthur’s theme from Ghouls and Ghosts pop up here and there. The voice acting is also very good, with some familiar voices popping up here and there (Spider-Man’s voice actor, for instance) amidst the new ones, and the Capcom characters offer a choice between English and Japanese voices that can be set from the options menu in a nice touch. The battle sounds are fitting and compliment the on-screen action nicely, and you’ll not find a sound out of place as you’re beating the crap out of your opponents.

For those who are fans of the Marvel vs. Capcom series, you’ll have a bit of work cut out for you, as the gameplay mechanics have been simplified significantly, though players who have played with Tatsunoko vs. Capcom will probably have a decent idea of what’s going on. Each character has a light, medium, and heavy attack, rather than individual punches and kicks, which can be chained together for combos and such. There’s also a Special button now, which is primarily used for launching opponents into the air or spiking them into the ground in combos, but can also be used for other purposes with various characters, so you can think of it as a modifier as well. The game will also set up buttons for each of your two tag team partners to allow you to use them in battle. Pressing the button summons the partner to provide support with whatever action you chose for them when you started, while holding the button allows you to tag them in for battle. Each character you can play as can also perform various special moves, used by pressing some directional input series followed by one or more buttons, which allows them to throw projectiles, attack, teleport, dodge, or any one of a number of other things, depending on the character. You can also, as noted, choose the support moves your allies will used based on the team dynamic and your style of play, so you can have a character set up to throw projectiles to give you breathing room to do something, or perform an anti-air counter if your character has none, for example. These are the basics of the game, and while fans of the series and newcomers alike will want to spend some time mastering the concepts, they’re not so hard to understand and work with and you’ll likely have a pretty good idea of what you’re doing in no time.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3 brings its own unique elements to the franchise, of course, while also carrying over some elements from its predecessors. The game offers your standard super moves, called Hyper Combos, which are executed by performing a directional input and pressing two attack buttons at the same time, and each character has several available. By performing the directional motions for one of your partner’s combos while you’re performing one, however, you can also bring them in to perform a Team Hyper Combo, at the cost of another super bar, and you can chain between all three of your characters for up to three Hyper Combos in one shot. You can also call all three of your characters together to perform one huge super, called a Crossover Combo, for massive damage and special effects mayhem. You can also perform large air combos, alone or with your partners as a Team Aerial Combo, or prevent said combos from being performed on you when you get launched, to give or avoid big damage. You can also employ X-Factor by pressing all of the attack buttons and the Special button at once, which jacks up your attack damage and movement speed, and can impart other effects, and can be boosted by having less team members available, meaning that the worse off you are the greater the boost. There are also various strategic moves you can employ, such as the Snap Back, which drains one super bar and knocks the present opponent out of battle, so you could knock out a healthy character and replace them with a damaged character, or the Advancing Guard, which pushes enemies back to avoid combo situations and reduce pressure when you’re locked down, for example.

The game is mostly about the strategy of how you assemble your team, as different characters work best in different combinations, and that’s the way it’s been from the beginning. You’re given thirty two characters to start with, including old favorites like Ryu, Morrigan, Spider-Man, and Captain America, as well as newcomers like Albert Wesker, Mike Haggar, Thor, and Deadpool, as well as four hidden characters, and you can make three person teams from them to accentuate positives and minimize weaknesses. Each character feels surprisingly solid, and characters that don’t seem obviously useful at first show their usefulness as you start experimenting with teams and options. While it’s entirely possible to build poor team combinations, none of the characters themselves seem useless or outmatched once you get used to them. Frankly, the Marvel vs. Capcom series has never really been about character balancing as much as wacky fights and crazy combinations, but the game feels quite balanced overall and the game feels forgiving without being easy. You’re even afforded a “Simple” mode that allows poor players the ability to string combos with one button, use special moves with another and Hyper Combos with a third to simplify things for less skilled or younger players. Even the final boss, Galactus, isn’t terribly broken, astonishingly enough; while he can be daunting at first, his attacks can largely be avoided by exploiting Super Jumps (down, up) and wiping him out on the hardest difficulty wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it might be. For inexperienced players he’ll likely be a hassle, but compared to Alpha-152 from Dead or Alive 4 or Azazel from Tekken 6 he’s child’s play.

You can beat Arcade Mode once in about thirty minutes or so, but there are a ton of things to clear out and unlock in the game just to start with. By clearing out challenges in Mission Mode you’ll unlock titles to use and artwork, and by clearing out the Arcade Mode with various characters you’ll unlock additional characters, artwork, and other amusing things. There are also a sizable amount of Achievements to clear out, and many are fairly easy to unlock, asking you to get various combo levels or perform various fight combinations online and offline. Speaking of the online, it’s fairly well populated and quite a lot of fun, as you can jump into lobbies and goof around with people while playing and switching up or participate in Ranked battles to improve your online standing depending on your personal interests. Capcom has also promised DLC characters, with Jill Valentine and Shuma Gorath already promised and more on the way, so you’ll likely have more options available for building the best possible team to suit your play style as you see fit. For fans of fighting games in general or the series in specific, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 offers a lot of excellent options and variety and should spend a good amount of time in your console for a while based on that alone.

That said, for all of its personality and variety, the game does have a few hiccups. There’s a lot of style in the game, from the comic-book styled aesthetics to the amusing remix of the character select theme from Marvel vs. Capcom 2 that plays during the training mode select screen, but the storyline options in Arcade Mode are bare as they come. Compared to Tekken 6 with its robust story mode and solid storylines, or Street Fighter 4 with its animated sequences, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 feels like it could have done more in that regard, especially given the vibrant personalities the game has to work with. The simplified control scheme can also feel, well, simple at first, and even once you’ve learned the specifics of the mechanics the game never really feels as complex or involved as some of its competitors, and feels like it’s about who can build the largest combo first as much as anything else. Also, it’s nice that the game offers the Simple control scheme for newbies, but the Mission Mode, which was helpful in Street Fighter 4 for learning the basics of characters, is somewhat less helpful this time around, in that it gives you a couple of simple instructions before jumping right into “Pull off eight hit combos” with little progression, which is going to be daunting to a first time player, to say the least, and Street Fighter 4 handled this better, to be honest. The online is also somewhat bare bones in a lot of respects; there’s no options for replays, the game kicks you back to the main selection screen if you pick a lobby that filled up while you were waiting, and it all feels very functional but unimpressive. I’ve also noticed a bit of lag while playing online here and there, mostly at the beginning of matches, which is a bit disorienting and throws off the experience a bit at first, though hopefully that’ll become less of an issue as time goes on.

The bottom line is that Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a good entry in the series and a fast paced and fun fighting game that’s well worth the asking price for fans and new players alike, and while it might take some getting used to for fans of the older games and it’s not without its flaws, it’s easily one of the best fighting games released in years. There are a decent amount of game modes to work with and the game is quite stylish, both visually and aurally, which makes the game a sensory joy. The gameplay is simple enough to pick up, and while you’ll likely have to spend some time learning the mechanics regardless of who you are, the game is structured in a way that things are simple to pick up for all types of gamers. As you start to really learn the mechanics and how the different characters work together you’ll start to find the game to be reasonably well balanced and designed, and you’ll find the game to be a lot of fun after the first impressions wear off. That said, the storyline is bare bones and the online component could have used some more polish and options, the simplified control scheme isn’t likely to impress veteran players and feels simplistic in a lot of respects, the game isn’t very helpful when it comes to learning the mechanics, and there are some mild lag issues here and there online, so the experience isn’t perfect. That aside, however, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 puts on a fine showing all around and is a worthwhile addition to any fighting game fan’s collection, as it’s fun, well structured, and generally smartly designed overall.

The Scores:
Story/Game Modes: GOOD
Graphics: CLASSIC
Sound: CLASSIC
Control/Gameplay: GREAT
Replayability: GREAT
Balance: GREAT
Originality: ABOVE AVERAGE
Addictiveness: GREAT
Appeal: GREAT
Miscellaneous: CLASSIC
FINAL SCORE: GREAT GAME.

Short Attention Span Summary:
Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a return to form for the franchise after over a decade of silence, as it’s a fun and fast paced fighting game that’s as entertaining as its predecessors without being EXACTLY like them, and while it’s not without its flaws, it’s a fun time all around. There are enough gameplay modes available to keep the game interesting and the visual and aural presentation are generally top notch all around. The gameplay will take a little getting used to, especially for series fans, as it’s been simplified somewhat, but behind the simple exterior lurks a somewhat robust interior that will keep players engaged for a while as they learn the particulars of the game and what teams work with their play style best. The online is somewhat bare and unpolished at times, as is the storyline, unfortunately. Further, the simplistic play mechanics might not be for everyone, and the online has a bit of lag at times. These issues aren’t crippling in the least, however, and Marvel vs. Capcom 3 ends up being a fine game in the series for fans and newcomers alike, and it’s easily likely to stand as one of the best fighting games released all year, overall.



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