After what seemed like an eternity, the sequel to one of the most popular Vs. games of all time has arrived: Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds. Among comic/fighting game fans there was no question that it would be good, but the question is how good it would be. After spending a week getting acquainted with MvC3 I can safely say it’s succeeded. In other words, if you’re a Simpsons fan, it’s “Branson Good”.
MvC3 is one of the best fighting game I have ever played, eclipsing my all time favorite Capcom vs. Snk 2. Other fighting games I was looking forward to (i.e. Arcana Hearts 3, Under Night Inverse and Tekken Tag Tournament 2) are now less compelling, and its greatness has forced me to re-think just where I want to focus my time. MvC3 isn’t perfect, but it does so many things well, it might as well be. I’ll use an analogy to try to explain just how accessible the game is if you’re on the fence, a comic fan thinking of purchasing or new to fighting games: The Dark Knight.
One of the challenges filmmakers have in adapting a comic-book movie is appealing to both audiences: comic-book fans and the general public. If you cater to the general public and neglect comic-book fans then you face the wrath of a somewhat small — which I am a card-carrying member of — but very vocal group, and risk getting flogged across the Internet. If you appeal to comic-book fans and not the general public, you risk alienating your main source of income which isn’t fiscally responsible. But when you can appeal to both audiences, keeping it accessible to new watchers, yet adding enough allusions and innuendo for fans of the source material without making it confusing, you get something that just works. Something enjoyable, engaging, appealing and that makes people who aren’t familiar with the source material want to know more about it… like (in my opinion) The Dark Knight. MvC3 is a game that can be picked up by anyone, and even if you’re remotely interested you owe it to yourself to give it a try.
Even though Capcom’s Vs. series was designed exclusively for a console without an arcade presence, but Capcom hasn’t abanonded the formula that made other Vs. series titles such a success. The gameplay in MvC3 is very similar to Marvel vs. Capcom 2, but it’s definitely not the same game. For starters, the look of the game is quite different. Built on the MT Framework, gone are the 2D sprites that were a staple in MvC2; these have been replaced with 3D rendered (similar to Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars) characters that still operate in a 2D plane. Initially, the thought of 2D sprites vanishing was hard to accept for some (myself included), but trust me, it was a good decision. The character models are true to their original 2D source material (both from MvC2, Capcom, and Marvel Comics) and each combatant is represented in stunning detail. With over 35 different characters, finding a favorite to build your team around is easy. While the art-style for the characters may not appeal to everyone, it’s hard to argue against how extremely fluid the animation is; which allows you to view everything happening on-screen even during the most hectic of times.
Button configuration remains the same with four main buttons and two additional assist buttons, however, assists can now be called with their own buttons and aren’t limited which is a noticeable change. As you would expect, your Light, Medium, Heavy, Special and Assist Buttons can be remapped. I found the default to work just fine since for some aerial raves, L, M, H was a safe bet and easier to execute from the default layout when I was getting started–keep in mind this might change when my Tournament stick arrives. I won’t go too much into mechanics here but if you’ve played a Capcom fighting game (or haven’t), expect extremely responsive controls, smooth animations and a depth of play that gives teh game near limitless replay value.
As mentioned earlier, being able to pick up and play if you’re new to the series is a big focus with MvC3. Capcom has introduced a mode of play entitled “Simple Mode” which reminds me of the “Easy Operation” from the Capcom vs. Snk 2 titles. This allows players to execute more difficult moves — including in some cases hyper combos — with just the press of a few buttons. The trade-off is that not all the characters moves are available to a player using the new mode. For example, while playing X-23, I did notice that not all the moves were in my arsenal in Simple Mode as opposed to Normal. The lack of the moves didn’t make it any less competitive, and it gives everyone access to the impressive animations when you pull of a Level 3 super. Simple Mode is a nice to pull casual players in to the game, which ultimately may lead them out of that mode and into using Normal mode once they master their available moves.
Online play is a mixed bag. For some reason MvC3 only included base features: ranked and player matches, a “loser goes, winner stays” option, and custom lobbies. While these aren’t bad, it’s just not quite as deep as what you had for Street Fighter IV — which is admittedly a different game, but still. Also, the story mode does a good job at explaining what’s going on in the game and why, but it’s the endings that are a let down. Not the content of the endings, but just the lack of animations; just gorgeous art and text captions. To me, I can see why it was done in this psuedo comic-style way, but having more dynamic endings would have made completing the story much more enjoyable, and a lot more rewarding.
Another blemish on an otherwise flawless game, would be the the game’s atmosphere, specifically the unremarkable music and stage selection. The music is barely noticeable, and is definitely not a good representation of the fast-paced action that’s happening on-screen. For the stages, it’s not that they’re designed poorly — what’s there is great. However, there is a distinct lack of variety in the small handful of stages available, which seems like a sorely missed opportunity given the robust worlds of both Marvel and Capcom.
From watching Amaterasu perform her Supers, to witnessing the rise of the Dark Phoenix, Marvel Vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds is one of the most enjoyable console experiences I’ve had in quite some time. Combine the depth of gameplay that will be examined for years, the gorgeous attention to character animation, and the inclusion of Simple Mode, and you have a game that’s easy to recommend for anyone with a PlayStation 3. If you’re a fan of the series then this is a no-brainer. However, if you’re not sure about diving into the game, then give it a try, as it may just surprise you.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
+ Titanic depth of play.
+ Stunning animations that are enjoyable to watch.
+ Accessible to new players.