PS Vita Review – Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3

So that you know who’s reviewing this, I should start by saying that the first time I played any Marvel vs. Capcom game was Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 for PS3. In the pre-analog days, I was a Mortal Kombat man because of the preferable control scheme. Street Fighter‘s controls never did it for me, so somehow this justified a 12-year vacation from Capcom fighting games. It made sense at the time. Upon reluctantly trying Marvel Versus Capcom 3, I was back in the game. Capcom having a deep love for re-releasing the same game with a few updates, it was less than a year till Ultimate arrived, which is now also available for the PS Vita. This portable version replicates the console experience with exactness. For jerks like me, the analog stick control makes all the difference.

Others may be interested in the game’s touch controls. These don’t have a huge impact on the game, but offer the ability to perform certain combos by tapping the screen. Against low-to-normal level CPU opponents, this method of simply tapping the screen to perform fast moves and 38-hit combos makes the game laughably easy. Going into “Touch Mode,” in which this tap scheme is used as the default, a player can effortlessly lay the Vita down and just tap the screen to plow through whole teams with one character. The touch controls seem like more of a throw-in than anything that really adds to the game, though of course not taking away from the experience either — unless of course you count the fact that when you use them, you’ve got a giant finger in the way of all those flashy visuals. Touch screen control can be turned off in versus mode, online and offline, so there’s no concern of the game being overrun by screen-tappers (an evolutionary step below button mashers).

Everything that made the PS3 version such a hit has been preserved in the Vita: characters, their move lists, the stages, etc. Ultimate‘s tweaks to the tagging system and importance of juggle combos are as much a key to victory in the handheld as they were on the big screen. PSV’s take on UMvC3 will require little or no adjustment time for those familiar with a console version. The fights are extremely fast-paced, for better and for worse. A player than can keep a combo going, using all his combatants skills and special moves as well as his tag partners, can do a devastating amount of damage in a short time. Being on the receiving end of this is a helpless feeling akin to being on a sinking ship. But it’s all in good fun, as one eagerly looks forward to every match with renewed enthusiasm.

Those new to the series will have to learn the particulars of the system and style from the fights themselves, as there are no in-game tutorials to be found. There is a Training Mode, but it offers no assistance for how to get the most of the fighting system. Most people ought to be able to pick it up over a few matches, but it’s strange not to have something as simple as a few text boxes to give an overview of what’s going on.

Odd lack of tutorial notwithstanding, UMvC3 is accessible to newcomers. One need not be a fighting game aficionado to enjoy this, nor does one have to be intimately familiar with comic books. The player might not know who Rocket Raccoon is, or perhaps only knows of Ghost Rider’s name and nothing more, but these Marvel properties still make for great fighting game characters, and that’s what matters most. The same can be said of Capcom’s side of the roster, with most of the team coming from games outside the fighting genre, yet making wonderful additions

Action looks virtually as good on the Vita as it did on PS3, with perhaps the backgrounds losing a small amount of flash. That could just seem that way because of the obvious screen shrinkage, though; either way, it’s largely inconsequential. It’s bright, it’s colorful, the characters all look stupendous, and the attack animations are pulled off with smoothness to spare.

Online play features two main modes, Player and Lobby. After the dust settles on a finished fight, a rematch is a single button press away, though the two players changing things up and fighting each other again is also done rather easily. If people want to up their ranks, they can do so in Ranked Matches. By selecting Ranked Match followed by Quick Match, one can simply jump right into a battle (once the network locates an opponent). In the Lobby, up to eight players can fight each other. If you enter while a fight is going on, you can see the power bars of the players fighting, which is a nice touch. If you’re already in the lobby when the tilt begins, then you actually get to watch the whole thing play out. That’s a great way to learn from other fighters while not being preoccupied with getting your trash kicked. Nice people might wish for some kind of way to congratulate each other after a spirited bout, but there is no apparent communication possible other than the kind one does with attack buttons.

Capcom has served up a dang solid fighting game for Vita owners. It’s fun, it’s got appeal to comic book fans, it’s got appeal to game fans far beyond the limits of Street Fighter, the online play is well put together, and the game constantly looks and sounds great. Anyone considering picking this up with their Vita would be making a good call.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

+ Huge roster of over 50 diverse characters, quality visuals, and fast fights that are always entertaining.

+ Little additions for the Vita don’t change the game, but make it more accessible for casual players.

– I’m gonna make spaghetti and maybe by the time I’m finished, this guy’ll be done doing his endless juggle combo on me.

8 out of 10