Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 Review (Vita Version)

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (Vita Version, but also available on PS3, and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: T
Players: 1-2
Genre: Fighting
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Release Date: February 15, 2012
Download Size: 1.5GB
PlayStation Network: Online multiplayer

Parent Talk: The ESRB rates UMvC3 T for teen because of mild blood, mild language, partial nudity, suggestive themes, and violence. But this is not Mortal Kombat; it doesn’t feature gore, though the disclaimers claim the violence is over the top.

Plays Like: Its console brothers.

Review Basis: Capcom was generous to send us a review code for the Vita version.  I completed Arcade mode on Normal difficulty, played a few missions, tried Heroes and Heralds and went online to be destroyed by a few people.

Over the past year Tim MacKenzie has reviewed MvC3 twice, once for the original Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds, and again for the Ultimate upgrade. Please read this content if you desire detailed information about the fighting and what to expect here. Instead of regurgitating his comments, I thought it would be more interesting and useful to highlight the differences seen in the Vita version and critique Heroes and Heralds.

The Great:

Delivers a console-like fighting experience on the go. Without needing game updates, you’re awarded at boot-up with Heroes and Heralds mode, online spectator, and the other bells and whistles from the console releases.

The Good:

+ Sensational presentation. The superb animations and seen in the console versions translates well to the small screen. Even the lower-res special effects still look flashy on the OLED screen.

+ All 48 characters. There’s a fighter for all tastes, and all the future DLC characters will become available for purchase.

+ Easy to play, tough to master. A four-button fighter like this is perfect for casuals, but it’s robust and deep to keep the hardcore hooked.

+ Heroes and Heralds mode is plain awesome.  By assigning three unique ability-tweaking cards to your team, you can drastically alter the outcome of a match.  New cards are unlocked as matches are won, but some require experience to form the perfect three-card deck. This standout mode is supported offline and online, and may determine which version you play.

+ Spectator mode. You can watch people fight and learn from their tactics.

+ Replay support is excellent.  You can sort through hundreds of replays, save them to your Vita to watch frame by frame, and even add hit boxes to learn how the great players actually fight.

+ Online matches. They’ve been smooth with v.1.01, but finding opponents for ranked matches has proven challenging. Cross-play with the PS3 release would solve this, but likely cause a slew of other latency issues.

+ Cross DLC.  I don’t know how long it’ll last, but for now you can download PS3 packs, pick up the Vita version for free, and vice versa.

+ Near functionality.  I’ve not been able to use it, but players playing MvC3 nearby, or those on your friends list can send in-game gifts for you to download. These include character costumes, and variant colors.

The So-So:

+/- Touch screen input. It’s great for casual fans, but it limits true combos and movement. You tap the opposing character to attack, and swipe to move, jump and block. In other words, the hardcore will use the default controls.

+/- Mission mode. It serves as a basic tutorial, and proves useful for experienced players to put together complex combos, but casuals must constantly pause to pull up the command list. That quickly becomes annoying.  It would have been great to see move/combo input commands illustrated on the screen at all times, along with a demonstration of how the moves are executed.

+/- Vita’s hardware. It makes executing more difficult combos especially tough. Certain players won’t notice if their fingers are small enough.

+/- Load times. They aren’t lengthy per se, but add up as you play over time, especially switching between modes. They average around ten seconds.

The Bad:

– Same modes as the console versions.  There’s an Arcade, online, basic training/mission and the Heroes and Heralds mode, and that’s it.  It’s a current complaint about the console releases, and one for the Vita version. Other fighters, even on Vita, offer more fighting content.

The Lowdown:

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a perfect Vita launch title. It’s one of the best fighters available on the HD consoles, and now happens to be the same for Vita. Along with BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend, fighting fans have much to appreciate with Sony’s new portable. Killer gameplay and incredible production values make this a no-brainer.

Average Score Scale: 8.0 (+/- 0.5) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 8.5/10 (Inflated)

Reason for +0.5 Inflation: You want a fun and challenging fighter. Hardcore fans should especially want an on-the-go version.

Reason for -0.5 Deflation: You want more gameplay variety.