Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3
Genre: 2-D Fighting
Release Date: 11/16/2011
When Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 was originally announced, many of us here at Diehard GameFAN were super excited. It had been well over a decade since the original Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 was released and we were all big fans of it. Although feelings about Street Fighter IV were mixed, everyone was letting out their inner fan boy about the game. The good news is that when it was released, we found the game to live up to the hype that both Capcom and fighting game fans had built up for it. Hell, I even chose it as the best game of Q1 2011. Sure there were complaints about the cost for Jill Valentine and Shuma-Gorath, as well as the nickel and diming for costumes, shadow battles and the usual “charge for everything that used to be part of the game” that Capcom has become known for, but in the end, the core game was awesome and that was what mattered.
Well flash forward less than a year later and here we are with Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. Unlike February, where fans were almost united in love of MvC3, there was a noticeable schism in the fighting game audience for this title when it was announced. Many people were shocked at how quickly this was released and wondered why this wasn’t the original game in the first place. Others dismissed it as a quick cash grab. Yet others wondered why this couldn’t be a DLC update ala Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition. On the other end of the spectrum some gamers were simply excited for the eight new characters, the tweaking of characters and the rebalancing of others. I was somewhere in the middle. On one hand I had the Collector’s Edition of MvC3, which I purchased as it was cheaper than getting the regular and buying the DLC characters separately. However, once I heard of UMvC3 , I traded it in willingly. I was told there would be a nifty bonus for keeping my save data, and that my DLC of Jill/Shuma would work with UMvC3 without having to repurchase them. That plus twelve new characters for $39.99 seemed a better deal to me than eight new characters as $4.99 DLC, which would have been approximately $60 if these new characters were DLC for the original MvC3. On the other hand, I was pretty disgusted by the game’s release only NINE MONTHS after the original and I felt the characters SHOULD have been made as DLC for those that didn’t want to buy a whole new game. In short, I felt both sides had valid points, but at the end of the day, it matters how the game plays. Are the new characters and changes worth $39.99, or are you better off with the original? It’s time to find out.
The modes of play in Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 are almost exactly the same. Offline, your primary mode is Arcade, where you’ll battle through six stages of randomly selected computer controlled opponents before you do battle with Galactus. You have Training where you can test out a team of three as well as learn to accurately do combos and moves. Mission features ten missions PER character (500 in all). These missions will teach you how to do basic moves and ever increasingly difficult combos. You can also look at your License which shows all of your stats or visit the Gallery where you can see movies, characters bios, endings for character you’ve beaten Arcade with or artwork and audio clips. Online modes include Ranked and Player Matches. Ranked is where you fight against another human player over the internet and it counts towards your win-loss record and “rank,” while Player Matches are simply for fun without any reward or consequence.
The big new mode is Galactus Mode, where you can actually play as the Eater of Worlds. If you’re new to MvC3, you’ll need to get 50,000 “Player Points” to unlock it. If you have a save from the original MvC3 on your system, it will be unlocked automatically. This is an amusing curiosity as it’s all but impossible for you to lose here, but it’s not something you’ll play with more than a few times unless you want to see how the CPU dodges or reverses attacks on higher difficulty settings.
These modes are all well and good, but I’d have also liked a single character training. I think old school SNK spoiled me there. KoF titles were three-on-three games as well, but you could also do Training with a single character if you really wanted to focus on them. I also think the challenges in Mortal Kombat spoiled me and I would have liked to see something akin to this in the game. Either that or at least another mode or two. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy what’s here, and I thoroughly enjoy the game. I guess I was just hoping for a little more content to separate Ultimate from Original.
Modes Rating: Enjoyable
The original Marvel Vs. Capcom was gorgeous. Thirty-eight distinct characters with multiple costumes with no slowdown or frame rate issues (at least offline anyway…) and every character stood out (even Akuma and Ryu!). The game still looks just as beautiful (which is no surprise; it’s been less than a year). Even better the twelve new characters look great, as do the new stages. The game is breathtaking and I find myself happy just watching the cpu play itself sometimes so I can watch the animation and be all the more impressed by it. Back in my SERIOUS BUSINESS KoF days, I learned to do the whole frame counting thing and now that I’m older I find it helps me with reviewing these types of games. I’m happy to say I didn’t see any true frame rate issues, even during three character crossover combinations. This is definitely Capcom’s best fighter in terms of graphics and character models. Honestly, this is my favorite game of the year to look at visually. Maybe it’s because I grew up on Eternal Champions and the original Street Fighter II so I see how far we’ve come visually and appreciate it all the more. I honestly couldn’t ask for more from a fighter graphically, but I’m eager to see how Capcom is going to eventually top this down the road. Hopefully via Darkstalkers 4.
Graphics Rating: Unparalleled
One of the things I loved about the original Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 was not only the voices, but that you could flip the Capcom characters from English to Japanese, Even better you could mix and match. So I moved Chun-Li, Ryu, Akuma and the like to Japanese, but had the Resident Evil cast and Morrigan in English. Things like that. This ability is back, so you can mix and match to your heart’s content. With this option, you’ll find the perfect combination for your inner fanboy and your auditory senses.
Marvel characters can’t be changed, but the voice acting is top notch anyway. Steve Blum is Wolverine, as he is in everything. Josh Keaton, who has played Spider-Man numerous times in games and cartoons, reprises the role once more. Brian Bloom, who plays Captain America in The Avengers cartoon also plays Cap here. Tom Kane, who has played Magneto for roughly four years is voicing the character here. Capcom went out of their way to get famous familiar voices for Marvel’s characters and it’s wonderful to hear these characters just as you remembered them. There is some great vocal continuity at work here. I could go on and on about the voice cast, but the bottom line is that this is an amazing assembly of the best voice actors who have ever played Marvel Superheroes in cartoons. Mark out, comic book fans.
The soundtrack for the game is equally wonderful. It’s a mix of classic tracks from previous games (albeit it remixed), tracks that were created specifically for Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 and twelve new tracks. The entire soundtrack is simply awesome and I wish they had released it in Mp3 or CD form. Overall, the aural aspects of Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 are amongst the best out of any video game in 2011. Even if you stink at fighting games, you can still be blown away by the soundtrack and voice work.
Sound Rating: Unparalleled
4. Control and Gameplay
Let’s be honest. 95% of Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 is exactly the same as the first. There are some tweaks to each character in the game and although there are a LOT, the average gamer won’t notice these changes. Only people who are either tourney level players or are diehard fighting game fans will catch the changes or even care. The one big noticeable change is how X-Factor works. Like in the previous game, X-Factor gives you a temporary boost to your damage, speed and regeneration for a limited amount of time. In UMvC, the length of time for X-Factor is decreased but it can now be activated in the air. It also looks different, so if you’ve kept away from any MvC3 news until now, don’t be surprised by this. A few other changes that affect the game over all include how Team Aerial Combos work and that every character has a button mashing Hyper Combo, where more damage is done when you fit a button as fast as you can. I totally forgot about this at first but I quickly made good use of it. All those years with games like Ikaruga paid off here.
If you want to read a massive list about all tweaks to specific characters, click here for one on Marvel characters and here for Capcom characters. I will note that even though the Capcom Unity Blog says Wolverine’s “Berserker Charge” is changed to the lowest button recognition out of all his Hyper Combos, it still came up A LOT for me. If you’ve been playing MvC for a while, you probably should check these lists to see how your favorites (or least favorites) have been affected – there’s just not room here to list them all.
The truly big change are the twelve new playable characters. On Capcom’s side we have Firebrand, Frank West, Nemesis, Phoenix Wright, Strider Hiryu, and Vergil. For Marvel we have Dr. Strange, Ghost Rider, Hakweye, Iron Fist, Nova and Rocket Raccoon. I was really happy to see a nice set of characters from across the two companies. I was really surprised to see two Guardians of the Galaxy make it from Marvel, but I’ve love Nova and Rocket Raccoon since I was a little kid in the 80s, so no complaints here.
On Capcom’s side the only one I didn’t think needed to be there was Vergil as we already had Dante and Trish. I would have liked to have see someone from Rival Schools or someone from the old Dungeons & Dragons arcade games they did. Someone from Monster Hunter, Dino Crisis or Power Stone would have been equally awesome. Of course my personal favorite would have been Donovan Bane or Jon Talbain from Darkstalkers, but we have enough from there already.
So let’s talk how the characters play. Firebrand is a great field controller and due to his flying ability, the new X-Factor air activation is awesome. You can also play him as a more agile Sagat which I love. Frank West feels a lot like how he played in Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom but there’s enough of a difference that you’ll have to change your play style a bit. You’ll quick learn to spam quarter circle Forward + Special repeatedly. Mix it up with double down + Special as you’ll see your meter go through the roof. Frank is amazing for filling up the Hyper Combo bar. Nemesis is simply slow deliberate power, but with some nice projectile action. Take note his projectiles are useless against the small characters though. He’s best when you have someone in the corner. Once you do, unload with half circle back + L, crouching M, H, quarter circle forward + H, X-Factor Cancel, Air Down/forward+H. land standing S, super jump cancel, Air M, Air H, Air S and then quarter circle forward + two attack buttons for sheer insanity. Phoenix Wright is…interesting. He’s amusing as hell to play, but he felt more like a Dan style character to me. Stryder is insanely fast and has some amazing moves, but the wall cling aspect of his moveset maye confuse or stymie people when they first try to learn him. I don’t like Vergil as much as Trish or Dante, but he’s got some amazing air combo juggling action going on. Across the board, all six character are fun to fiddle with but I found Firebrand to by my favorite and the most balanced while Nemesis is pretty much built for kicking the crap out of Galactus.
On Marvel’s side, Hawkeye is neat, but he’s all about range. What did you expect? He’s an archer. I love using him, but my preferred play style is either Geese Howard style counter play or balls to the walls offense, so it was a real adjustment to use Hawkeye. Once I get him down pat though, he’s going to be one of my most used guys. Dr. Strange reminded me a lot of playing a slightly slower but also slightly more powerful Morrigan. Ghost Rider was a well balanced character across the board and he’s my second favorite of the new Marvelites. Odd they sued the Dan Ketch art design but gave him a Johnny Blaze bio though. I was best with Iron Fist out of all twelve new characters, but that’s because he’s very similar to Fei Long from Super Street Fighter II, so there was an instinctive knowledge going on here. It’s a lot of move linking. Nova is perhaps the most versatile of the new characters as his best combos can be performed anywhere on the screen and at any time. Rocket Raccoon is simply small and fast with a lot of distance attacks, which is sure to make him annoying as hell to anyone who hates defensive based characters. He feels more like SNK designed him than Capcom though.
Across the board, all twelve characters are a great addition. I’m still not sure who I’ll use out of the twelve on a regular basis as I’m attached to my two main teams of Akuma/Wolverine/Hsien-Ko and Super Skrull/Thor/Shuma-Gorath, but I’m sure as I spend more time with the game, those lineups will change.
Other than the new stuff the game plays remarkably well. It’s the same standard you had with MvC3, where you have one button for light attacks, one for medium, one for hard and one for special. The two top triggers summon your allies and you have the usual assortment of combos, hyper combos, special moves and so on. Honestly, if you’ve played the first Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, you don’t need me to repeat any of this.
One thing I did notice are some new bugs. I find there is a bit of lag with the use of the shoulder buttons and sometimes there it won’t notice you pressing them, especially when you are doing an air combo (or countering one). It was more than the fifteen frames it usually takes to summon someone, so I wasn’t sure if this was a new tweak to the engine or not. However, the longer I played the more I realized how sporadic it was, so I have to chalk it up as a bug. As well, there were a few times in Arcade Mode where I had defeated both Silver sub-bosses and they kept attacking (and doing damage) even though the health bar was at zero and I had the “DOWN” message flash across the screen. It was only a few seconds, but it was still annoying and a pretty bad bug. The only other issue I had was with online. For the most part online play is much better than in Original MvC3, but it was hard to find anyone to play online against (mainly because only reviewers, pirates and people who got their copies by stores breaking street dates have this) and when I did I noticed move detection by the controller went down. I only got to play online three times, so I’m not sure if it was a connection issues (I was told by the game my connection was “good” (the highest rating), so I’m not sure what is happening there. I’ll report this as an issue for now, but there simply weren’t enough people online (I tried over fifty times in three days and got a total of three battles in) to know for absolute sure.
Overall, the game is pretty solid. The game could stand to have move detection priority moves around for some characters, the move detection isn’t as tight on a Dual shock as it is with a tournmanent stick (no surprise there though), and there are a few new bugs, but the overall experience is a good one. It’s not the tightest fighter I’ve ever played, but it is a very fun one.
Control and Gameplay Rating: Good
With a whopping fifty characters to play as, you’re going to spend a lot of time not only playing as every character, but also trying to figure out who you are best with. There isn’t a lot to do offline. Five hundred missions might sound like a lot, but each one is only a few seconds long (at most). Other than that and Arcade mode, there really isn’t a lot of content on the disc compared to say, Mortal Kombat 9. Once you’ve beaten Arcade Mode with every character (which should only take a few hours), the only thing left to do with it is somehow find a way to log thirty hours on it for a trophy.
Online is a mixed bag. Again, I didn’t find the original MvC3 to be as good as I wanted/need it to be when I went online and I know I’m not alone there. It’s definitely improved in this incarnation, but with so few people on, I can’t say for certain for certain until a few days or even weeks from now. Even then, it’s going to depend on if you a) like playing fighters online instead of in person with someone, b) are any good (if you aren’t very good against other people, you’re not going to get much use out of online play and c) can find someone online in a few months when people move on to another fighter. Hell, for all we know in a few weeks, it’ll all be about Tekken Hybrid and King of Fighters XIII. Add in the fact that in a few years there servers for this will be down and that’s a big chunk of the game you won’t be able to go too no matter how much you love it. So hopefully you have some friends in your immediate vicinity that like fighters as much as you.
There’s a nice amount of Replayability here, but much of it revolves around how much you like playing online and if you can find anyone to play with (or that you want to). Without online, you still have fifty characters to figure out and beat Galactus with, and that should last you between eight and twenty hours depending on your skillset.
Replayability Rating: Good
Like all fighting games, balance is a tricky thing. After all, even with extensive playtesting, you might miss that one combo that gives a character an insane edge (ala Guile’s double redizzy in SF2) or the testers might not be skilled enough to use a certain character in the way someone else might. It happens. This use to be more a problem in the early days of fighters, but it still rears its head enough that people constantly make “tiers” for characters based on how good they are. About half of it is opinion and the other half is from a ton of people playing the game and comparing what they’ve seen, done and learned. Such as it was for the original Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 and such as it will be here – especially with the tweaking. There is no denying that some characters have more potential to dominate than others, even if someone isn’t super skilled at fighting games. Wesker would be a good example of that. There are other characters like Phoenix who is amazing in the hands of someone truly skilled with her but not that good in the hands of an average player. It is what it is. Personally, I say ignore the tiers and figure out who best fits your play style. Is speed your thing? Jill, Amatesasu and Rocket Racoon will make a great team for you. Are you primarily playing Arcade Mode? Nemesis and Hsein-Ko are shockingly good against him I have a lot of characters I love and teams I use for specific reasons. I happen to be best with Wolverine, but he’s not my favorite, so I tend to only use him in Arcade Mode.
Every character has their strengths and weaknesses, just like every player does. It just comes down to match the right character with the right player. Yes a few characters are definitely “top tier,” but I’m sure in the weeks to come people will be listing new wacky combos they discover with the new characters. Combine that with the tweaks that have been made from the original MvC3 and there will be a shifting of who goes where on the tier sheet.
Computer A.I. is pretty good. Each difficulty setting is noticeably harder than the one before it, so you’ll definitely find a challenge at some point. Galactus can be a bit tricky if he does say three nearly full screen attacks in a row, but there is always a way around them or a character that they won’t hit. If you’re just learning the ropes, super jumps and characters that can fly will help you pick up Galactus’ “tells” before he does an attack. Honestly, compared to the previous two MvC bosses, Galactus is the easiest yet, but he’s also the most fun to play against. He’s not SNK End Boss bad by any means, but the only times I have lost to a CPU controlled character was when it was Galactus on a higher difficulty level.
Definitely a well made game. I honestly feel there’s no such thing as a bad team in this game, which is amazing, and makes for a lot of fun – especially if you are playing with people who don’t care about their win-loss record and just want to try an array of characters.
Balance Rating: Great
This is the one weak area of the game. It’s almost the exact same game that came out at the beginning of the year, just with more characters, some slight gameplay changes, the ability to play as Galactus and Spectator Mode (where you can watch people play each other online). That’s it. Detractors of the game are right in that it’s all stuff that could have been done with an upgrade style patch ala SSF4AE. That game is still awesome, but it would have been nice to see that option offered as it was to Super Street Fighter IV owners. Capcom’s no stranger to rehashing the same game repeatedly to get more money out of consumers. It works, there’s no denying that, but I can definitely see why some find it…sleazy.
So yeah, originality is not this game’s strong suit as it’s mostly a carbon copy of the original MvC3. Then there are the previous two Marvel vs. Capcom titles, X-Men Vs. Street Fighter, Marvel Super Heroes, and then all the other Capcom fighters and it really is hard to make a case for innovation in this game. Marvel Vs. Capcom 3? Sure. ULTIMATE MvC3. Not so much. Still an awesome game – just not one that is going to be championed as the last bastion of originality for the fighting game genre, you know? I could possibly give it higher marks here if a) the new “Heroes and Heralds” mode was on the disc or b) it was made playable via download along with the review copy I was sent, but as neither happened, I can’t comment on something that wasn’t made available to play. It will be free DLC though, so that’s one more thing to look forward to with this game.
Originality Rating: Bad
I’ll be honest. Back in February, I played the original Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 relentlessly. I love fighting games and being that King of Fighters was one of my two favorite fighting game franchises (Darkstalkers is the other. I’m weird, I know.), I was especially drawn to Capcom’s tag titles. I guess I’ve always loved having to know multiple characters and once and having random teams to face off against. Well, after I did everything there was to do in MvC3, including perfecting Galactus, I put it away and honestly, I never picked it up again except to trade it in. Don’t get me wrong – I loved every minute of it, but I had other games to review and there wasn’t any real desire to come back to it. Counter that with Mortal Kombat which wasn’t as much fun, but offered far more replay value and neat modes. I’m still playing that game on occasion today because there are still things for me to do it.
When I first put Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 into my PS3, I was worried I wouldn’t enjoy it as much since I’d already done everything. Well, the good news is that it was like coming home again. I got to beat the game with the same character, see if any endings had changed (not with any I’ve beaten Arcade mode with), try out the new characters, try online to see if it was any better, fool around with Galactus mode, do the missions again and see which trophies were new and which ones were repeats. I love this game, just like I loved Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. However, with twelve new characters and a better online setup, this is my preferred version, especially since the DLC carried over, Unlike MvC3, I won’t be trading this one in – unless of course Capcom tries to go for a third version of the game. Then we’ll see.
Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom is a hard game to put down. It’s wonderfully to play and you have fun even when you get your ass kicked. However once you do put it down, you might not feel the need to come back to it for a while, especially since it’s being released during the time of year where every company puts out their best stuff. It’s fun and it’s definitely one of my favorite games of the year, but like most fighting games, you, like myself, will be able to go long stretches without playing it and not feel bad in that regard. Great, now I want to play Fighting Vipers.
Addictiveness Rating: Good
9. Appeal Factor
Fighting games aren’t for everyone. Some gamers don’t have the reflexes or timing for it -at least not to do it at a competitive or tournament level. That’s okay. Back in the 90s, this would be circumvented by a group of friends hogging a cabinet for a bit. That way is was generally people of around the same skill level looking to have fun for that just WINNING. With online gaming, that can be a bit trickier. One of my three battles online was with someone who was a reviewer for another site/publication who decided to scream profanity at me the entire match because I perfected him with just Shuma-Gorath. Who wants to be subjected to that? Considering that was a “professional,” you can only imagine what you’ll hear (or get sent as a message to your PS3’s XMB). You’re going to get people that take playing WAY too seriously, people who will hustle players who are below their skill level just to be a dick, people who rage quit, and people that are just assholes. It happens and it’s far more frequent than the arcade days. It’s the anonymity of the internet. So if any of that worries or stresses you out – don’t use a headset when you play this or any fighting game. You’ll be better off. Besides, you can always just stick to playing your friends online if you want.
So while the above might turn off a group of gamers, we also have to remember that at one time fighting games were the most popular genre in the world. Street Fighter, Samurai Shodown, Mortal Kombat, Time Killers, Pit Fighter, Primal Rage, Tekken, Virtua Fighter, Night Warriors. Arcades (and consoles) were flooded with this genre and it was big business. Slowly but surely, the popularity of fighters died down into it was a niche genre where the market was mostly SNK and the occasional Capcom title. Recently it’s come back into style though. Both versions of Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 are the best fighter from Capcom in years. Mortal Kombat 9 was amazing. Kof XIII is the best KoF since 2002 (this sounds more impressive than it really is), and Tekken Hybrid looks really fun and I don’t even like Tekken! 2011 is a rebirth for fighters, not only in terms of quality, but in terms of popularity.
Marvel comics characters are popular. Capcom characters are popular. Put them together along with a high quality fighting game engine and you have a recipe for success. Sure it might not be for everyone, especially against other human players, but for those gamers, they have Arcade Mode, the option for simplified controls and even a “Very Easy” difficulty setting. If you’re great at fighting games, you’ll love this. If you’re not…well, this might not be for you, but it’s a great game to learn fighting games with. It’s geared to help casual or less skilled players have fun while they also learn the ropes. That’s pretty awesome.
Appeal Factor: Very Good
At the end of the day, the real question is whether or not Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 is worth purchasing if you already own Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. I honestly feel it is. You can trade in your original copy for a few bucks if owning both bothers you. Your DLC purchases from the first version transfer over to this, along with new skins for Jill Valentine (RE3 look) and Shuma-Gorath (Multi-eyed version that I can’t remember the name of). Your old save unlocks Galactus Mode right from the beginning and you’re getting twelve new characters. Again, do the math. Jill and Shuma were $4.99 each. Twelve new characters at that price would be nearly sixty dollars, so you’re technically saving twenty bucks than if these characters were DLC. That’s a pretty good deal. If you’re a trophy/achievement oriented gamer, guess what? You get to earn a lot of the same ones again and even some new ones. That’s a good deal any way you slice it. Look, I don’t like how quickly this came out either and yes, it does feel like a cash grab in some respects, but at least UMvC3 was a third off the standard MSRP for games these days. That’s something.
So yes, even if you own the first incarnation of Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Ultimate is definitely worth experiencing and it’s the better of the two games.
Miscellaneous Rating: Good
Control and Gameplay: Good
Appeal Factor: Very Good
FINAL SCORE: Very Good Game!
Short Attention Span Summary
Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 may rub some gamers the wrong way since it’s the second version of Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 in less than a year, but it really is an awesome game. With twelve new playable characters, Galactus Mode, a rebalancing of previously existing characters and some slight gameplay modifications and you really have one of Capcom’s best fighters in a long time. It’s got something for everyone, from the hardened frame counting veteran who reminisces about importing the Japanese Sega Saturn version of X-Men Vs. Street Fighter to the casual gamer who might not be very good at fighting games but loves the cast of characters assembled here. At a cost of only forty bucks, it’s cheaper than that if we were given the opportunity to buy all twelve new characters as DLC, so it’s a great deal in that respect. If you own MvC3 and play it in the slightest, you really should switch over. For those that waited knowing all too well how Capcom likes to release updated versions of the same game, you’re getting a better game for a fraction of the original cost.