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Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds Review

19 February 2011

Some games are all flash and no meat. For Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds, the flash is nearly blinding, but the meat is so tender it’s practically falling off the bone. It’s a trusted concept that worked wonders in its predecessor, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, and the refined gameplay and new characters are enough to spark the interest of even the most modest fighter fans. A monstrous mash-up of two hugely popular brands — Marvel comics and Capcom video games — the game offers heart-pounding, adrenaline pumping gameplay with an easy-to-learn, challenging to master style. This is sit-on-the-couch-for-two-weeks-and-forget-all-responsibilities addiction at its finest. Initially this is a fantastic offering, but the lack of game modes, both offline and online, may make those modest fighter fans detach themselves from the couch after a few weeks.

The game looks and runs hot like melted butter. You’d be hard pressed to find sharper graphics or smoother gameplay in a fighter. This is a step back in time to the good old days of coin-operated gaming. Combat detection is spot on and the controls are extremely tight, but it’s the blistering graphics that will grab your attention first. During my first match, I’m pretty sure my eyes started bleeding while the pulsing visuals assaulted my retinas. The Marvel comic makeover for the Capcom characters works wonders. It’s great to see Dante’s new style, while Deadpool is ripped right from the comics. The entire presentation is like playing a live-action comic, with speech bubbles at the end of bouts and shading that would make Stan Lee blush.

Once I dried my eyes from the sheer jaw-dropping shock of the presentation, I realized that I won my first match playing with Ryu, Captain America, and Super-Skrull. I wasn’t exactly sure how I won — it was all a blur. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 allows you to get by with easy combos and abilities, but you’ll need to hone your abilities to take on the big guns online. The controls are pretty basic, but changes since MvC2 and Street Fighter IV make for a more streamlined experience. Tags are tied to the trigger buttons, leaving the cross, square, triangle, and circle buttons open for light, medium, heavy, and ‘special attack,’ which launches your opponent in the air. Once airborne, you can quickly tap up to perform a serious aerial combo, even throwing a mid-air tag attack.

There are no longer buttons for kick or punch, so moves are tied closer to the D-pad. A light attack could be either a punch or a kick depending on the character and what move you are attempting to pull off with the D-pad. If you want to play with your grandma, you can turn on Simple control mode for her. This dumbs down the controls and makes for easier combos and move, but some special abilities will not be available. Seriously, if you do play with your grandma, just turn on normal controls for her; neither of you will notice a huge difference.

As simplistic as MvC3 appears at first, it packs some major horsepower under the hood. It’ll take quite some time to truly get an understanding of aerial tag combos, Hyper Combo attacks, and X-factor. By simultaneously pressing all the face buttons, your character enters X-factor, regaining health while boosting your damage output. The key is the fewer characters you have on the sideline, the more powerful X-factor becomes. If the match is close, the first to trigger X-factor often wins.

All the levels, although there aren’t too many, are extremely well planned and filled with great tidbits for die-hard Capcom and Marvel fans. Marvel vs. Capcom 3’s homage to classic gaming and great comic books smacks you directly in the face. Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts is a true classic, and Capcom did a tremendous job recreating the Demon Village level. There are, of course, some sacrifices that were made along the way. The roster is smaller than MvC2 and there is a serious lack in story mode. Actually, the entire game mode section is extremely light. While offline, you can train or progress through a Mission mode to learn each character’s abilities and combos. These challenges are just that: challenging. You are given a series of combos or moves to pull off, but you have to pause the game and check out how properly mash-up the buttons. Playing the arcade mode is a lot easier and more enjoyable than the challenge section.

There is a valid argument for the game’s focus on doing one mode right — it certainly has the basics down. No, we don’t fault the game for not offering some random game modes, but it all feels too underwhelming. All of the characters have huge, rich stories, but they are all reduced to simplistic (yet artistic) stills once you win the arcade mode.

You will without a doubt notice a vast gulf separating the good players and the great players online. The really great players will knock you around so fast that you’ll never get a chance to block, let alone land a hit. You can have plenty of fun offline if you are not that great of a player, but if you take your skills online, you should prepared for some tough competition.

The servers seemed to work pretty well online, as I experienced little to no lag. The problem I had, however, was the clear cuts in the online experience. In fact, the different game modes offline and online are seriously light to the point I could see casual brawlers getting bored in short order. You can hop into lobbies of up to eight players online, and compete in a round robin, winner stays competition. If you’re not in a battle, all you can do is wait because you cannot watch others' matches. This isn’t a deal breaker, but the little irritations in the online portion of the game add up to downright disappointment. Real fans of the series will probably keep playing online for months to come, but if you wanted to dabble in the online portion and get your kick offline, best look elsewhere.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a very solid experience, and the devout fans of the series will probably fall in love all over again. Ultimately, your reaction to MvC3 rests in your opinions of Capcom, Marvel, and the mash-up idea. It’s a strong, flashy fighter with some great depth in the combat, but it ultimately feels a bit light. The longevity of the game rests in multiplayer, and right now it’s a bit lackluster. For that reason, the game has modest staying power for the general public, but the diehard fans will undoubtedly gush with praise in the months to come. If you want to keep your game offline, there isn’t all that much to do. Still, the actual gameplay and graphics are superb, meaning you’ll get your kicks extremely fast. How long the game stays in your PlayStation 3 will depend on how badly you want to win collectibles, hone your skills, or succumb to another jittery fit of sheer, immediate excitement.

-The Final Word-

Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is an over-the-top brawler with a surprisingly deep combat system. Fans of both brands will love the new characters, but the lack of overall content keeps it from being a complete K.O.
  • Flashy yet surprisingly complex combat
  • Sharp comic art style to levels and characters
  • Gameplay runs extremely smoothly
  • Lack of real story campaign
  • Very light on modes, both offline and online
  • Online experience is smooth, but has noticeable functional omissions
8.5
Platforms reviewed : PlayStation 3
See PSU's reviews scores on Metacritic and Gamerankings

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