Sunday, February 20, 2011

Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds

I'll admit that I'm not an avid player when it comes to fighting games, but I do know an exciting one when I see one. I have played a few rounds of Marvel vs Capcom 2 on arcade cabinets with my brother, and we had a good time. Neither of us was particularly good, but we thought it was a great game and wanted to play more of it. Fast forward years later, with new knowledge of just who the characters in that game were and a new interest in fighting games thanks, in part, to titles like Super Street Fighter IV. Now imagine my surprise last year when I opened up a magazine and heard about Marvel vs Capcom 3. The roster at the time was small, it was an announcement after all, but I lit up and followed much news about the game once it was closer to the release date. Come February 15 and I finally get this highly anticipated game in the mail. After playing for a good while, I can say that this game has definitely lit up the same flame from all those years ago in the arcade.

This time around, Capcom decided to go with a smaller character roster, 36 characters instead of the 56 from the last entry. While this may disappoint longtime fans of the series, it is a move that actually seems rather brilliant on their part. After all, less characters means they can balance the game better. As with the last game, I really didn't know the history behind a lot of the characters, but they were recognizable and all very fun to play around with. The 3v3 gameplay, carried over from the previous installment, allows for a lot of experimentation for the teams. My brother and I quickly found favorite characters to use, such as Deadpool and Sentinel, but we would always find some kind of combination that could overcome the ones we liked to use, which is a good thing. We haven't gotten a good handle on a few characters, like She-Hulk, Wesker, and Tron Bonne, but our likeness for experimentation means we will continue to find various tactics they could be used for.

The Arcade Mode is one mode I have put a bit of time in, and I loved every moment of it. I found a combination of characters that I liked to use, Hulk with Sentinel and Deadpool, but I also loved to break this mold to try and find more effective combinations. The AI is very competent as an opponent and really kept my energy going. While some characters get more annoying to play against on higher difficulties, like Chun-Li and Spiderman, I still had a really great time trying to overcome the difficulty curve. The final boss fight against Galactus was also fairly challenging, even on Medium, and it left a good feeling in me knowing that I had bested a being who could destroy entire planets. While the story of a fighting game isn't all that important, I must say that I had a mixed feeling about the endings. In both Street Fighter IV and Super Street Fighter IV, Capcom gave every character their own well-animated ending. Here, we only see dialogue boxes over still panels. While I was a little disappointed about this, in hindsight it gives it the feel of a Marvel comic book, which is what it ends up looking like anyway.

Speaking of looks, the game's visuals and graphics are simply amazing. I remember how smoothly the 2D sprites from MvC 2 handled, and this game isn't any different. Capcom decided to do what they did with Street Fighter IV and bring the characters to 3D, which is made even better by utilizing a cell-shaded art style. In this way, it truly looks like a living, breathing, playable comic book. Even the effects that go with specific animations look really, dare I say, cool alongside the art style of the game. Everything about this game's graphics and flow were very amazing to look at, and it will keep your eyes locked on the screen to see the next animation. Even if the characters don't have the same speed as the famed MvC 2, it does make it easier for players to pull off combo moves, which I think actually keeps the game fun and interesting for players of all skill levels.

As I said before, the game recycles the same 3v3 fighting system from the previous entry. While this allows for a variety of combinations and game balance, it is worth mentioning that the game's control scheme allows much easier access to making assists and performing Hyper Combos by mapping these actions to single buttons. This made it a lot easier for us to figure out the controls and really get into the game. I also found myself getting better at timing the button presses to call assists to get me out of tight situations, as well as utilizing Hyper Combos in more effective ways. For players who are not as well-versed in fighting games, or those who find the Normal control scheme too complex at first, there is now an option for a Simple control scheme, which allows you to perform flashier moves and easier access to various combos with much less effort. While this may be fun for newcomers, they should bear in mind that eventually they will need to shift over to the Normal controls if they want to build up more skill to face other players.

So what do I think of this game as a whole? Well, Marvel vs Capcom 3 is, in my opinion, one of the best fighting games ever made. Capcom has done a great job continuing their quality work with bringing back the glory of fighting games and making them fun again for a newer generation, as well as appealing to veterans. If you are a fan or veteran of fighting games, especially Street Fighter or Marvel vs Capcom, then there should be no hesitation in purchasing this game. If you are someone who is just discovering fighting games and want to jump into something to keep your interest, then consider obtaining a copy of this game. This is, quite simply, not a fighting game for anyone to miss out on.

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