Over a decade has passed since the cult hit “Marvel Vs. Capcom 2” took the world by storm.
In the constantly evolving world of video games, that’s almost a lifetime.
It’s difficult to imagine that the series’ trademark mix of iconic video game characters and superheroes would grow stale over the long hiatus. Luckily, it’s as fresh as ever.
The first big improvement here is the new, seductively vibrant 3D art style, reminiscient of what “Street Fighter IV” did in 2009.
It’s a busy, attractive game that can easily distract you with barrages of color. There’s so much going on in the backgrounds and aurally that it can feel like an assault at times.
Things are especially chaotic when up to six characters light up the screen at once.
Not only have the graphics been overhauled, but the combat system has been made much more accessible to those new to the series with a new four-button system called “Simple Mode” where combos can be pulled off by pressing the same button repeatedly. It’s not an “instant win” mode though. It also limits a character’s special moves and throws.
The game has 36 characters with vastly different attacks, combos, hyper combos, and assists. While “Marvel vs. Capcom 2” featured 56 characters, this slimmed-down versionmakes for a much more balanced game with fewer clone characters.
Characters range from the iconic, like Spider-Man and Ryu, to the far more obscure , like Dormammu and Hsien-Ko.
And even three games into the series, Wolverine fighting Chun-Li in all their side-scrolling glory never gets old.
However, some fan-favorite characters like Mega Man and Cable were cut, but thankfully there are pseudo-replacements like Zero and Deadpool to help ease the pain. Other welcome additions include Dante, Thor, Viewtiful Joe, Phoenix, and Wesker that span decades worth of comics and video games.
With such a varied roster, it’s easy to imagine that the game might end up incredibly unbalanced. Thankfully, every character feels like they have a real use here.
Be warned, however, that you will need real strategy in putting together your teams. Putting your characters in the wrong order or using too many characters of a similar type can spell disaster rather easily when going up against a seasoned vet.
The storyline is pretty non-sensical, but ends with an epic, awesome battle with Galactus who can literally K.O. one of your characters with a single move. That might seem cheap, but then again, Galactus eats planets for a living.
The music is definitely a step up from the last game as the soundtrack is much more dynamic and characters have their own theme and dialogue. One of the most amusing parts of the game is hearing the other characters trash talk each other between fights.
The characters’ endings can range from predictable to surprisingly funny.
It’s small changes like the addition of the “X-Factor” mechanic––an assist system designed to help players make a comeback after getting off to a rocky start––that gives the game a new coat of strategy.
Given that each character will react differently to the X-Factor, it’s a tough thing to perfect, but satisfying to learn.
Also, more strategies are implemented in allowing your team to assist you through team attacks, counters, and defenses. It’s a deep fighting system that will probably take awhile for anybody to truly become an all-around expert.
Online play is fun, without much lag and has the usual modes you’d expect from a modern online fighter. But be prepared to go up against fighters that will resort to spamming cheap moves in a heartbeat to win. It’s a very competitive scene.
Capcom, the game’s developer, has plans to release more stages for download to make up for the measly eight included on the disc, as well as more characters like Jill from “Resident Evil.”
Hopefully they’ll add characters like Nightcrawler, Phoenix Wright, Ghost Rider, and Frank West.
“Marvel vs. Capcom 3” is great. It’s a fun, deep and insane fighting experience that offers a wide-range of diverse characters.
But it doesn’t feel as polished as many fighting fans would have wanted. Leaving out true alternative costumes, stages, and characters is unfortunate. The core gameplay is there, but Capcom is holding back.
4 stars out of 5