Dr Doom is back, this time he has gathered together the greatest villains of the Marvel Universe and Wesker from the Capcom Universe, to unite in order to conquer both. Unfortunately in doing this, they have awoken a powerful threat that will destroy both worlds. So bring on the heroes of Marvel Vs Capcom (MvC) to stop this pure evil.
The latest instalment of Marvel vs Capcom has finally arrived after a 10 year hiatus. Big brash graphics, colourful manga style animation and uber special moves are the order of the day here. Forget 1v1 Street Fighter Style, this is tag team with 36 characters and over the top fighting. MvC3 is just as much at home juggling in the air as it is on the ground.
If anyone is unfamiliar with the series, the game is based around tag team. You choose 3 characters from a roster of 36 (4 initially locked) and fight a 1 round bout against 3 other characters, in a 1 person v 1 person (or AI) scenario. You can at anytime switch to one of the 3 characters and even use them to do special moves/juggle with. The mechanics of tagging works that you have a life bar, featuring a red section where you take certain damage; if you tag that character out, they will regenerate that red section of health. If you tag them back in before that red section has regenerated, you lose that opportunity and the health bar carries on from where it left off. This brings tactics into the game play, making you constantly think about when is the best time to alter characters to save precious health.
The controls work as a stripped down Street Fighter. You now only have 3 standard attack buttons instead of 6, 1 light, 1 medium and 1 hard. You have a special attack button (air attack/juggle) and the rest are made for tagging characters. So while at first it looks like MvC3 has less depth than Street Fighter, in essence it is on par, as you use the same amount of buttons. The system works very well and is extremely deep, there is actually more to learn and comprehend over Street Fighter, as you have to get to grips with more air juggling and tagging characters constantly to do special moves, or bringing them back into the fight. New players to the series will at first find it overwhelming as you not only have to learn the fight mechanics for moves, but you have to learn 3 characters instead of 1. This is where easy mode comes in. Easy mode introduces a more stripped down control system with less buttons to use, but lets you pull off special moves with an instant button press. To negate unbalancing for an easy mode player vs standard player, the developers have disabled the most powerful moves for the characters. This makes it perfect for new players and seasoned veterans to the series to play on a more even playing field. Don’t get me wrong though; a seasoned player will still destroy a new player to the series, as the game has a very deep and extensive juggling and counter system to pick at. Frame buffers, counters and generous amounts of special moves are to be learnt and understood for the hardcore, which let’s face it is what we love.
The game has a Story mode, a Mission mode for each character, vs Mode (1v1 same machine), Online ranking, Unranking and (thankfully!) Create your own lobbies for Online gaming. Unfortunately certain things are missing like Time Attack Mode and Online spectator mode from the Street Fighter series.
The moves are over the top and stylish in MvC3. If you think Street Fighter 4 had great special move animations, then you have not seen anything. The exact same system for graphics is being used in MvC3 from Street Fighter 4, in fact it is using the same engine, so the game switches between 3D and back again when they are used (MvC3 always plays on a 2D fighting plane) and they look jaw dropping when enabled. The fighting mechanics are still the same for the input of special moves and it still works on a 3 tier level system to enact them. The developers have added an extra move called Xfactor, which affects speed and strength of the characters when enabled (once per bout) for a limited length of time and is shown by a red glow around the characters. The Xfactor works as an added bonus of a combo canceller, so seasoned veterans will be shouting in glee and working out how many super cancels they can do with this into a special death defying finisher.
Overall MvC3 is a very polished and worthy successor to Street Fighter 4. There are a few gripes to contend with unfortunately; the player count is vastly reduced over MvC2 (36 instead of 56) and for 1 player the game is stripped back to what amounts to a story or mission mode (which is really an in-depth training mode). The game does come alive when you play against a real human, so these issues are minor and the fighting is tight and pretty balanced (they have learnt their lessons from MvC2). The controls are responsive, the backgrounds and animations are first rate and it feels like you are fighting in both the Marvel and Capcom universe. If you are into the fighting genre you cannot go wrong with MvC3. MvC3 is big, brash, over the top and the best fighting game to come out since Super Street Fighter IV.
8.9 out of 10
(Version tested Xbox 360)