After more than a decade, Capcom has released the sequel to their zaniest fighting game series in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. It is a 3 on 3 tag fighting game which allows players to string together large combos with ease as compared to regular Street Fighter games.
The previous game had introduced a simplified 4 Attack button control scheme, down from the standard 6 Attack buttons in Street Fighter games. This game goes a step further by eliminating the distinction between punches and kicks and bringing the total attack buttons down to 3. There is also a 4th button used for launching your opponents into the air, setting them up for a juggle combo. Furthermore, the most of the special moves for every character seem to boil down to a Quarter-Circle move of the D-Pad plus an Attack button. This has led to a simplification of the execution of moves, which helps make the initial learning curve a lot less daunting for beginners to this game, whilst not detracting greatly from the amount of options hardcore players have at their fingertips. And that ease is needed, as figuring out a combination of 3 characters that is effective, and learning how to fight against over two-dozen other characters is challenging.
There are some glaring omissions to the roster. Psylocke and Ken are among the fan favourites that aren’t in this installment. However, Capcom has done a good job in trying to have an extremely differentiated roster, both in terms of the character’s backgrounds, and their play styles. MODOK is one example of an obscure character from Marvel lore, who plays completely differently than any character in previous versus games as he can fly all over the screen without having to input a special move and he can move around without any limitations. Phoenix (aka Jean Grey) takes a lot more damage than normal characters, but on the flip side if she’s KO’d while having 5-levels of super meter she will be resurrected into a more powerful form. The differentiation between the character’s play styles also is more important than ever due to the simplified controls. Even though I miss some of the characters from the previous game, I think Capcom did a very good job in making the right choices for the roster.
One can’t help but be mesmerized by what’s happening on the screen at all times. In fact, this game is just as fun to watch as it is to play. The graphics look great for the most part. There is a little bit of mixing and matching of art styles between the characters which can lead to some of the characters looking like they don’t belong. The game runs at a near solid 60 FPS. There is a little bit of screen tearing that occurs on the Xbox 360 version, but that’s something that will only be of concern to the most hardcore frame counting fighting game geeks out there.
In terms of modes, this is an extremely bare bones fighting game. The Offline mode lets you go through a series of matches against CPU opponents. The Online mode allows you to play against opponents around the world; there is no Spectator feature in this mode. When you’re in a lobby with multiple people, you only get to watch the life bars go down of the two current players rather than watch the actual match. The Training mode is a standard practice mode where you get to select different variables on how the CPU Opponent will behave and practice your combos on the opponent. The Mission mode acts more like a Tutorial, and makes you perform moves and combos with every character. However, this mode doesn’t show you what buttons you need to input so you’ll find yourself going back and forth between the moves list and the gameplay while playing this mode. There’s not much here for those who don’t like to play Online nor is there a serious Tutorial which builds up your skill in a guided manner. The last time Capcom did that was with the “World Tour” mode in the PSX/Dreamcast versions of Street Fighter Alpha 3 over a decade ago. I think having modes like that are a great way to grow the fighting game genre from being such a niche.
This is definitely a competent fighter. It’s fun if you want to casually play it with friends. If you’re already serious about fighting games and want to hone your skills, Online mode will also be a blast. However, if you’re new to fighting games or not a fan of competitive play, this game might not be for you.