Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite PC Review

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 has an insanely dedicated fan base. Even when the game was denied any patches about a year after launch, which followed with the game being pulled from all the digital stores, along with its DLC at the end of 2013 – because Disney, who bought Marvel back in 2009, decided to handle all their properties internally – it still had fans rushing to see its hype matches between some of the best players in the world. As we can now perceive from the results, the idea of Disney wanting to make its own video game empire didn’t exactly go to plan after killing Disney Infinity and going back to the original idea of licensing their properties out to developers. Fans were stoked to see Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 return back on more platforms (PC, PS4, Xbox One). Now one of the leakiest leaks in video games became true when Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite was revealed back at Sony’s PlayStation Experience event last December. This game has some ridiculously big shoes to to fill, and it hasn’t exactly had a great path to its release after it was grilled on its visuals, but the more important question is how does it play?

Well, it plays like Marvel, which is always a good thing, and still seems to be delivering on those clutch hype combos. Even with the new changes to the systems, there is a lot here that looks and feels familiar, yet these new alterations require learning the new aspects of Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite to get yourself on the path to victory.

The biggest change is the removal of three-on-three teams and reverting back to the original two-vs-two match up that was lastly seen in Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes. According to Capcom, this was done because there were too many decisions before even starting a fight. In Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, players had to pick three fighters and also pick their assist move from a choice of three. Assist picks no longer exist – picking a character from the 30 featured is just that with no extra selections on top. Capcom are aiming to bring in more casual players with this streamline approach, which make sense when you look at the popularity of Marvel right now, so stripping all the extra complexity allows players to jump straight into the game with their two characters, characters that should be picked for their entire skill set, rather than their assist or a specific tool, which was happening with some team selections in the previous game.

Removing assists and a third character isn’t a minor change, and with the X-Factor mechanic – an ability that powered up characters for a specific length of time, a mechanic great for comebacks in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 – also gone, there’s a fundamental difference to the game plan of Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite. Replacing those missing systems is the new Infinity Stone concept, six stones that are picked after selecting characters. The stones offer game changing properties with two features, a basic ability dubbed Infinity Surge and a special metre move that goes by the name of Infinity Storm. The basic abilities are activated with a button, for example, hitting it with the Power stone equipped pushes back the opponent into the wall for a bounce to follow up with a combo, while on the other hand, the Reality Stone sends out a slow homing fireball that keeps on tracking for a few seconds before dispersing. These additional moves aren’t to be slept on, as they can help with team composition and even help cover a character’s weakness or assist them in further exploiting their best attributes. A Nemesis ready to pop a level 3 hyper combo with a Time stone to dash up close can be a scary scenario.

Infinity Storm is the stone’s ultimate move and activation works similar to the Revenge/Ultra metre from Street Fighter IV – if your opponent takes enough damage and the metre fills over half way, then Infinity Storm can be activated with the press of two buttons and will last until the metre depletes over time (more damage taken means more metre, which equals more time in storm state). Only one storm can be active at one time in a fight, so not only can the buff be beneficial to yourself, but it can handicap the opponent by using it to block their attempt to burst a storm, great if you know how the opponent likes to use their stone. Some of the storm moves seem incredibly powerful, such as the Space stone that seals the enemy within a transparent box, locking their movement space considerably. The Mind stone makes it so that the Hyper Combo metre keeps regenerating, building up a nice supply of hyper moves that the opponent must deal with or suffer huge damage.

Implementing these six stones into Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite‘s combat is done well, and all the crazy powers that comes with it, they fit right at home in this game’s hectic combo system. The Marvel vs. series has always had quite a flowing system that allowed for long juggling combos that would make an arthritis sufferer squirm at the finger movements required to perform such a feat, and it is no different in this latest release.

Some of the smaller alterations also make big differences. Active Switch, the name for switching with your tag team buddy, allows for them to come in at anytime, doesn’t matter if you are doing a combo, a hyper or even spending some metre to switch when on the receiving end of a demolishing combo,  you get to switch and begin fighting with the other character. As soon as the previous character advances off screen, you can call them straight back with the Active Switch. Its flexibility means I can see advanced players truly frustrating opponents with tricky mixups, extending combos and applying pressure to breakdown defence. But even novices can perform simple extensions with the switch, especially now that Capcom felt the need to include more function for the light punch button that now also performs the game’s auto combo, and mixed in with easy Hyper Combo shortcut buttons (both heavies) what you have here, in all, makes for less complex rules. This is a welcomed change to the systems without disrupting what the hardcore fans like about Marvel vs. games.

Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite as a whole package is a strange being that is saved by its hyper fun and chaotic combat. The rest of the features sat around its core gameplay aren’t fantastic, but one could argue that it is more complete for a fighter than Street Fighter V was at launch. Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite does include arcade mode, a tutorial with some good combo examples, but more detailed explanations on advanced techniques, such as off the ground and wall bouncing, are absent. There is also a story mode that features a new villain made for this game – Ultron Sigma, the combination of Ultron from the Marvel universe and Sigma from the Mega Man series, which has forced both worlds to fuse together for the crossover.

The story is shallow, mainly feeling like randomly joined scenarios that allows fans to have their fantasies play out on screen between the cast. There are even characters in cutscenes who aren’t playable, but are coming as downloadable content in a season pass – Monster Hunter looks like a inventive character, which this game needs more of, but it’s a shame that it was half-baked into the story as teasers for DLC. On topic of the cast, I have mixed feelings on the selection. The new heroes are a good pick, with the likes of Gamora, Captain Marvel and Jedah being some of my faves, but the returning cast is missing some big hitters, as the likes of the X-Men, including Deadpool, have been stripped from the game, due to the license issues with Fox published films. It is very weird to see a Marvel vs. game without Magneto, and that feeling of disappointment takes a while to vanish. The returning characters, mostly from Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 also contain their moves from that game – it feels like they have been directly dropped in here, with all the same animations and special skills, creating a lot of deja vu moments – I could never shake the feeling that it felt like a cheap way to save costs.

And that is the issue with Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite’s presentation, it all feels uninspiring, flat and characterless. The menu is plain and simple, the UI is rather ugly, and some of the character models lack that final polish, not just in the standards set after seeing the likes of the brilliant facial animations and models of Injustice 2 or the perfected cel-shaded art style of the upcoming Dragon Ball FighterZ, but even in Capcom’s own catalogue this is a poor showing. There was the whole Chun-Li face fiasco, and while that looks better, some of the cast could still do with some love. It’s a shame I have to go in so hard on Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, because the game part itself is a blast, with some intriguing changes, but Capcom cocked up on the rest of it. I can only imagine budget or time constraints has caused this issue – previous games got everything spot on, but even the music here is drab and can’t do much to get the adrenaline pumping. At least the online is working well and is an improvement over Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3‘s net code, but finding a match on the PC version is slightly longer than what one might expect, due to the smaller user group and lack of PS4 network cross-play.

Even after all that shredding on the presentation, I still enjoy Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite at its core, you know, the part where you are actually playing and putting the skills to the test against others in 2 vs 2 combat. I don’t know what it is with Capcom recently, but they seem to be getting the most important parts of their fighting games – the fighting systems and mechanics – spot on, but dropping the ball in other departments. That said, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is too much fun to simply advise people to ignore, it’s a good fighting game surrounded by the unpolished presentation, but it does enough to be able to recommend it to fighting fans, but less so for the Marvel comic/film fanatics.

7 out of 10
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