The Marvel vs Capcom series has always been a fascinating marriage of comic book and videogame juggernauts, but in the time since the last entry in the tag-team fighter (now over five years), Marvel has blown up into something more colossal than it ever was thanks to a staggeringly large film universe and the pure shilling power of parent company Disney. Now we stand at the dawn of a new entry in next year’s Marvel vs Capcom Infinite, one with a supposedly significant influence by Marvel’s movies and a definite decline in Capcom’s star since. It makes for an interesting time to revisit the last entry, 2011’s Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, which has just recently stealth-released onto PlayStation 4.
Marvel vs Capcom of course concerns the storied, historical war between Stan Lee and Kenzo Tsujimoto as they wield the power of their collective arsenal of characters in a battle to the death. The result is seeing the likes of Resident Evil’s Jill Valentine tag-teaming with Okami’s Amaterasu and Dead Rising’s Frank West against Deadpool, Weapon X, and Rocket Racoon. It’s a daft as it sounds, and wonderfully so.
This is essentially the same packaged deal of 2011, with the base Marvel vs Capcom 3: The Fate of Two Worlds getting topped off with every additional character, stage and mode that came post-release. This isn’t a straight port however, as Capcom has lavished the game with an upgraded 1080p resolution and 60 fps to further boost an already slick-looking fighter.
The crux of the series is selecting a trio of combatants to face off against other combinations of three. One health bar for each, with the fight only finishing when the timer runs out or a team has been completely eliminated. As with most fighters, it can be just as simple as it sounds, but there’s a striking depth beneath the shimmering bombast of colorful visuals. In that regard, you can definitely see the Capcom seal of quality, and there’s a really good balance of play for both casual and hardcore alike, without a huge amount of crossover of course. That frame-by-frame dissection of character movement is as valid and interesting here as it is in any (good) Street Fighter title, if you’re into that, but you can just as easily pick the characters you like the look of and fumble about in pursuit of a good time. Our review of the original PS3 version will give you a bit more detail if you want it.
Being a flashy-looking fighter certainly helps it look like you know what you’re doing regardless of skill level. The character models may have aged a little in the past half a decade, but the almost cel-shaded presentation means it holds up nicely enough. In full flow, with the upgraded fps and resolution, UMvC 3 is a stunning sight to behold, a cornucopia of comic book vivacity, dazzling with flashing lights, pulsing lasers, and over-the-top strikes. This version of Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 is about as good as the game is going to ever be in terms of performance.
Most of the flaws from the base game are all but erased now. The extra content tidies up the lack of it in the original release, various tweaks to over and underpowered characters create a better (if not perfect) balance, and more consistent levels of online stability make this almost as Ultimate as it claims to be. That’s not to say it’s the best fighter going today, modes and enjoyment aside, Street Fighter V is a far more pure specimen, but Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom still has no problem cozying up with the modern elite.
The usual remaster/port caveats apply of course. At £19.99 it’s a bit much for returning fans. If you’ve sunk 100s of hours into previous iterations of the game then there’s absolutely nothing new to enjoy in terms of content; but there is the carrot of increased visual fidelity and overall performance enhancement at least. Whether that’s worth forking out for again is down to the player, I would say it’s another case of ‘wait for a sale.’ Make no mistake, you’re getting a stonking fighter, full of fun and color, but a new one is around the corner, so what’s the bet on this having much of a community on PS4 in a few months?