Marvel vs Capcom 3 Fate of Two Worlds Xbox 360 Review

The moment Spiderman yelled ‘Albert!’ as he tagged in Wesker of Resident Evil fame, it was clear that Marvel vs Capcom 3 is the greatest bit of fan-service since Smash Brothers. The level of detail, and the efforts that have been made to recreate characters on both sides of the fight is overwhelming. Chris Redfield uses attack animations straight out of Resi 5, Amaterasu flings ink covered paper at opponents, and Deadpool refuses to shut up. It’s an accomplishment of such, that simply to watch somebody else playing is a joy within its own right.

In fact sticking the game into ‘simple’ mode is pretty similar to doing just that. Sit back and watch men, women, robots, demons, aliens and a dog beat the living crap out of one another. It’s Capcom’s way of luring in the unsuspecting masses; a visual feast of chaos and confusion, unleashed with the greatest of ease. Simply tapping individual buttons sends everybody’s favourite comic book/video game/movie characters into chains of combos, special moves and devastating hyper-combo attacks. It’s fast, it’s silly, it’s fun. For every person that buys this off the back of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America or the Avengers film, shoving the game into its most basic control method will provide more than enough entertainment, and without the frustrating learning curve.

For the rest of the world, MvC3 tries to do what Street Fighter IV sort of did two years ago; make the genre accessible to not just the film-goers who’ve suddenly discovered the Marvel Universe, but to anyone who has a genuine interest in playing and understanding fighting games. The most noticeable way in which Capcom have gone about this is through streamlining the button configuration. A light, medium and heavy attack-button replace MvC2’s two sets of punches and kicks, while a fourth ‘special’ button launches the opponent into the air – among other things. This means the fundamentals are now far easier to grasp (not to mention being far more appropriate for the standard controller). Instead of having to learn a set number of inputs to start a combo, the MvC3 system is now much more intuitive; simply work the attacks up from light to heavy and end it with a push of the launch button to continue the combo mid-air.

Once up there, there’s all manner of ways to inflict pain on the unsuspecting opponent. This being Marvel vs Capcom, the formula is once again two teams of three heroes/villains. Hitting the ‘special attack’ button at the peak of an air-combo, tags in a teammate to continue the beating. Do it again to tag in the third team member, and end their flurry of fists with a hyper-combo (which much like the previous game can then be cancelled into a teammate’s hyper, and so on) ensuring the opponent never walks again. It’s spectacular to behold as the aggressor, and devastating to sit through as the victim. Fortunately they’re not completely helpless.

To combat extensive use of this ‘team aerial combo’, Capcom have come up with the cleverly-titled ‘team aerial counter’. This consists of hitting the same input as the opponent (direction and special button) whilst the mid-combo tag-out takes place. Get it right and the combo is broken, dealing a bit of damage simultaneously. It’s a system that relies greatly on chance. Granted, timing the input of the counter command requires both the knowledge of when an aerial combo will end, and the skill to pull off the timing of the counter. At the same time, no matter how good a player’s technique may be, it all comes down to guessing the input that their opponent will use, which at the end of the day means there’s a one in three chance of succeeding.

Fighting aficionados may well look upon this as a blemish on the face of an otherwise tightly tweaked system but the truth is in practice, team aerial combos are far easier to execute than other more complicated techniques. By providing the opportunity to get out unscathed it encourages players to rely on other methods of attack. Speaking of which, one of the more interesting additions to MvC3 is the ‘X-Factor’ (Insert joke about tagging-in Simon Cowell, who proceeds to ruin the opponent’s Christmas each year with awful covers of already-rubbish songs).

X-Factor is a one-use only move, initiated by pushing all four buttons simultaneously. This makes all remaining teammates glow red for a short period of time; their reserve health recovers slowly, and their speed/strength is increased. Depending on the number of characters left at that point determines the power of the X-Factor. It’s important to note that although the X-Factor is one-use only, it’s also one of the most useful techniques in the game. Initiating the X-Factor cancels whatever the player is doing at the time. Start up a hyper-combo whilst facing the wrong way, and the X-Factor can stop it before the opponent takes advantage; certain characters can even use it to string together hyper-combos, resulting in masses of damage.

Add this to the likes of wall bounces, ground bounces, knock-down follow-ups, advancing guards and on the ground damagers, and what tries to be an accessible fighting game becomes something even more complex than before. Fortunately, and as overwhelming as it can initially seem, the groundwork for all of MvC3’s systems is spot-on. It’s incredibly rare to play a match either offline or online and feel cheated (except for when fighting the Arcade mode’s boss – an earth-hungry Galactus). Yes, there are often moments of frustration, but most of that stems from the lack of skill required to overcome a particularly good opponent, which more often than not will be found online.

MvC3’s online modes are nigh-on identical to those of Super Street Fighter IV. Although it lacks any kind of replay mode, both ranked and player matches are available along with eight-player lobbies. What really impresses with MvC3 is the amount of information available with regards to online fights. Each player has their own ‘licence’, a constantly updated track-sheet of everything they’ve done in the game. The licence includes win/loss ratios, character-use by percentage and even star-diagrams of how advanced the player is. Reading through these and using them to analyse each opponent quickly becomes second nature, and often it’s possible to judge a player’s style simply from glancing over their fight-licence (although most of the time there’s a fair chance they’ll be a missile spamming Sentinel whore).

On top of all that stuff, MvC3 is simply full-to-bursting with neat little touches that will rarely fail to get a smile out of fans of either franchise. The icons and titles of the SFIV games are back, with references to their respective heroes. The gallery is chock-full of extra bits and pieces, like concept art, character profiles detailing where they’re from and what they do, and a character-model viewer ripped right out of Resident Evil 5. Even the achievements encourage players to delve further into the history of the two companies – “End the civil war” and “Settle things between former S.T.A.R.S. members”, as brief examples.

Given the focus on appealing to a larger audience, MvC3 could’ve gone horribly wrong. Fortunately it still retains the same level of depth and integrity that the previous games went by. If anything it’s deceptively difficult. Anybody unfamiliar with fighting games should be warned that, MvC3 will seem enticing – and it’ll create no end of smiles when the shell’s finally cracked open – but it’ll also take a lot of patience, a lot of time and a lot of effort. Spend some time practising in mission mode and get over that hump, and Marvel vs Capcom 3 will provide months, if not years of entertainment.

8 out of 10
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