Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds Review

Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds [Available on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360]
ESRB Rating: T
Players: 1-2
Genre: Fighting
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Release Date: February 15th, 2011

Parent Talk: Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a flashy, over-the-top fighting game with comic book-style visuals, earning a “T” rating thanks to foul language (mostly from the character Deadpool).  The violence is what you’d expect to see from any comic book, with explosions, claws, swords, and guns everywhere, yet no blood.  Some parents who grew up with comics and video games may enjoy nostalgia playing Marvel vs. Capcom 3 because of all the different characters.  Younger children will likely be turned away due to the complex learning curve, however.

The Great:

Pure, awesome fighting.  Capcom knows how to design a good fighting game.  MvC 3 is the culmination of recent fighting game innovations, and the result is a fantastic mash-up that’s fun and accessible.  It fixes the dramatic imbalances of MvC 2, implements the accessibility and nuances of newer fighters like Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, and contains enough intricacies to maintain interest.  The roster is free of “clone” characters, though Ryu/Akuma and X-23/Wolverine are arguable here-—but even then, the characters are different enough to be distinct.

The Good:

+ Amazing visuals.  MvC 3 is beautiful.  Character animations are stunningly fluid, and everything comes alive with a flashy comic book style.  The Ultra Combo effects are ridiculous and over-the-top, and we don’t mind at all.  Trying to process all the action is a tall order sometimes.  The backdrops too are animated and full of life, whether it’s the floating galactic debris in the final battle with Galactus or the parade floats near the Daily Bugle building.  Detail is somewhat lacking, but the effects are wonderful.  The main complaint with MvC 2 was that the sprites were ripped from a decade’s worth of games.  The 2D characters and 3D backgrounds were great at the time, but there is no denying that some characters were cleaner than others (Morrigan in particular was recycled many times).  With MvC 3, Capcom had to fully recreate the cast in the updated MT Framework engine.

+ Varied soundtrack/excellent sound production.  MvC3 ditches the jazz from before and offers tunes that well represent a wealth of styles and genres.  Some character themes (Ryu and Chun Li, for example) are clever remixes of their original themes, with a new techno angle.  Some highlights are Arthur’s and Zero’s theme.  Each is suited to its respective character, and there’s a wealth of stage and menu themes to complete the package.

Every Capcom character speaks English and Japanese, and the Marvel roster speaks English.  It’s neat that you can choose who speaks what, a nice touch that will satisfy purists.  The actual dialog is on a different level, ranging from campy, to hilarious, to cool—perfectly suited for comic books.  Deadpool’s lines are priceless; his repeated insults against opponents and the obligatory breaking of the fourth wall (making fun of Magneto for “Welcome to Die!” is an instant win in my book).

+ Streamlined controls.  MvC 2 essentially employed six buttons for low, medium, and high punches/kicks.  The experience was limited however unless you played at the arcade or with a similar controller.  Adapting that to a four-button face is tough.  Even then, MvC 2 was incredibly fun to play.  MvC3 opts for simplicity: light, medium and heavy attacks inside of separating into punches and kicks.  Even “Normal” control is easy understand and satisfying.  Assists are now set to the L and R bumpers, along with character switching (just a lengthier bumper press).  Aerial combos are possible with a single button, and stringing combos is much simpler.  The emphasis on command memorization is gone; replaced with recognizing what moves work best when, what attacks have priority, and how to execute elaborate combos.  Newcomers are more welcome, and the experience is more balanced.

“Simple” control makes things even easier, with special skills tied to a single button press.  Unfortunately, the manual and practice mode do not make the changes explicitly known, but these controls make the game even more appealing to newbies.  MvC 2 was scary to non-fanatics, so Capcom decided to emulate Tatsunoko vs. Capcom—for positive results.  The potential downside is that MvC 2 purists may have difficulty adjusting to the subtle timing differences or the controls.  The PS3 version is preferred because of the PS3’s superior D-pad, unless of course you acquire an arcade-style fight stick.

+ Fun roster.  While there are unfortunate omissions, it’s hard to criticize what Capcom pulled off.  The roster is free of clones, delivering varied and interesting characters.  Newcomers Dante and Amaterasu sport many unique attacks, and veterans Iron Man and Magneto enjoy subtle tweaks.  Some characters are rebalanced, so no one is blatantly better than another; everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and require strategy.  Even without DLC characters, the 30+ character roster is impressive.  Better yet, there are no obvious “throwaways” (except MODOK). Every fighter has interesting nuances that are fun to experiment with, whether it’s the jack-of-all-trades Taskmaster or the tank-like Tron Bonne.  It’s a good sign that even when you don’t have a favorite, there are plenty of plausible options. Capcom also rebalanced many characters, but Sentinel remains a favorite for cheap wins.  He isn’t as powerful as in MvC 2, but still a definite threat.  Akuma’s quarter circle back move (Tetsumaki Zankukyaku) is extremely lethal because it can continuously juggle an opponent.

+ Online mode.  Though not completely intuitive, it’s easy to spend hours plowing through ranked matches in the hopes of improving your statistics.  Players can either search for available battles or establish criteria (by location, language, or ranking).  Player matches are available for those who don’t care about status and just want to play.  Lobbies are present to organize group matches as well.

+ Sense of humor.  Though character endings are short, a lot of heart went into crafting the experience.  Character dialog is specific to opponents (i.e. Iron Man making fun of Nathan Spencer for only having “just an arm”) and the comic book style endings are a treat.  Capcom squeezed in tons of cameos from other video games and comic book series, like Phoenix Wright and Ghost Rider.

The Bad:

– Plot problems.  MvC 3’s plot is lax.  The teaser videos and comic book endings feature cool snippets of potential ideas and “what-if” questions between the meeting of Capcom and Marvel.  Still, it could’ve been so much more.  Some endings suggest really cool possibilities, but Capcom never capitalizes on them.  The teaser videos are excellently animated and beautiful, but how much better would it be if Capcom made them full-length features?  It would be obvious fan service, non-canonical fluff, but a lot of fun.  Mortal Kombat especially offers some form of a narrative.  Even the Smash Bros. made a significant improvement in its single player campaign with Brawl on the Wii.

– Character choices.  The roster is great, but there are noticeable absences.  Marvel favorites like Venom and Capcom veterans like Strider are missing.  New entries like Amaterasu, Wesker, and Dante are welcome surprises, but Trish are unorthodox (not as popular, but still fun to play).  MODOK is probably the only wasted character.  This is a more fan-centric complaint as opposed to others.

– No Mega Crash.  Tatsunoko vs. Capcom introduced the “Mega Crash,” which allowed players to break free of combos.  This prevented the threat of infinite combo loops, a good thing.  MvC 3 doesn’t have this feature.  The X-factor ability is cool because it ranks up power and makes characters more lethal for a short time, but when faced with cheap combos (particularly from Akuma), it makes you wonder why Mega Crash wasn’t included.

– Lacks extras.  MvC 3 offers the standard arcade, versus, and online modes, in addition to a mission mode (basically a way to practice combos).  Beyond that, there isn’t much.  Unlockables are few because the majority of the roster is available from the start.  Only a few are hidden, and simply require playing arcade mode a few times.  Other fighting franchises have begun to offer much more, like the “All Shooter” mini-game in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, or other modes (like a story-based adventure, survival, time attack modes, etc).  While fans might argue that it’s just pointless fluff, it’s not—it adds weight to the game and creates more interest beyond the familiar versus fighting.  Collecting trophies and achievements adds significant replay incentive, but it would be wise for Capcom to offer additional content via DLC in the future.

– Learning curve.  There may be streamlined controls and “Simple” mode, but it’s not explained.  Controls can be examined in the manual, but the training and mission modes don’t intuitively explain things.  The changes between standard and simple aren’t explained right away either.  Playing the game eventually solves this, but it’s a legitimate concern for casual participants.

The Lowdown:

Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is irresistible.  It’s fun to play right off the bat, for newcomers and veterans alike, and easily one of the most enjoyable fighters in years.  The flaws are mostly attributable to nitpicking and personal preference (like the character roster).  A stronger narrative would be nice, in addition to more substantial content.  Even so, the fighting is pure, unadulterated fun and worth checking out.  MvC 3 will be loved for years to come.

2 thoughts on “Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds Review”

  1. Nice review as usual. Gotta agree with the compliments you’ve given the game, specifically how streamlined the controls are. They went from baffling in MCV2 to “easy to learn, hard to master” ala Smash Bros. There’s still a huge amount of technical skill needed to string everything together, but at least the button presses are a lot easier to swallow here. I was afraid that I would be overwhelmed like MCV2, but thankfully I’ve gotten into the game easily.

    The more and more I experiment with the roster, the more I’m glad that it’s highly balanced. There are a few duds in the mix like with Keizen-Ho, Arthur, and MODOK, but it’s still really good stuff. Some additions and omissions are kinda weird though. Where’s Mega Man Volnutt? And since when are She-Hulk and Taskmaster popular? Granted, they make excellent fighters with their move-lists, but they’re still relatively unknown in the Marvel universe compared to characters like Venom.

    About the story though, you seriously think that they’re able to whip up something good with that many characters? I, for one, am thankful that the narrative is kept to the minimum. Fighters are never able to tell a good story, and this one is no exception. BlazBlue is perhaps the closest one with an interesting plot according to what I read, but I’ve never played a fighter with a good story. What I did wish with MCV3, however, are fully animated or sequenced character endings with voices….instead of being all static like that. Also, I should get the endings of all characters I pick in the final battle, instead of just the one that I’ve used to beat the final boss.

    1. I like the roster, but yeah, there are some characters that baffled me a bit. MODOK is prime among them. I’m really happy Arthur and Hsien Ko are in there, mostly because of the history–I love their games. I like Hsien Ko in Darkstalkers, and her moveset is really unique even in that game. Arthur used to be an assist in MvC 1, so I think it makes sense for him to finally come back. And he can definitely have his uses. Taskmaster is pretty cool, but like you said, not that popular as far as I know. She Hulk I don’t quite get. From what’s going on over at Capcom-Unity, it sounds like Venom may be coming in as DLC, which would be cool. Although the character polls are unofficial, Capcom employees like Seth Killian are aware of it (and addressed it via live stream).

      I just think the story segments in the game did have a lot of potential. The opening cutscenes are amazing and I was really impressed. The ending scenes managed to cram in so many cameos and nods to other series, so I thought it would have been cool to see what else they can manage with a little more time.

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