Back in October, while filming my upcoming documentary about New York Comic Con, I had the opportunity to briefly speak with Producer Ryota Niitsuma after the Marvel vs. Capcom 3 panel when they announced Arthur and Bionic Commando as playable characters. When I asked Niitsuma about what to expect from the then-unreleased Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Niitsuma assured me through his translator that the game was going to “take me for a ride,” which admittedly it has so far.
While the game itself is still broken in terms of balance, the nostalgia factor was always the real selling point of this title. However, the fact that all of the Marvel and Capcom rosters all have counterparts with specially voiced intros is a great new addition. In comparison to MvC2, the controls are a bit simplified and slightly awkward, with a light, medium, heavy, special/air lift button and assist buttons that annoyingly need to held down in order to switch characters. In addition, there is also an X-Factor mode, which restores health and increases damage based on how many characters you have alive. This is achieved by pressing the light, medium, heavy and special buttons simultaneously. There is also an added simple mode, which is great if you want to play with a reluctant friend or girlfriend/boyfriend.
As most other fighting games work, play styles boil down to four basic modes of play: rushdown, keep away, grappling and trapping. Rushdown involves constantly attacking applying pressure to your opponent to trip up your opponent and make them nervous. Rushdown characters would include Wolverine, X-23, and similar characters that have light health but high damage. The Keep away playstyle is pretty much what it sounds like, and involves characters like Iron Man, M.O.D.O.K or Dr. Doom that just run away and shoot beams. This playstyle is often considered for noobs and is very effective at both winning matches and losing friends simultaneously. Trapping characters use tricks to flood the screen and confuse the opponent, and include characters such as Dormammu, Arthur, and Storm. Finally, grappling characters are the big guys, such as Hulk, Haggar and Thor, who have high health, high damage, very slow speed and throw their opponents into submission. These guys are mostly high-risk high-reward and are in my opinion the hardest to master.
The graphical style of the game is overall great, as it’s made to largely look like a comic book. However, the lack of stages, numbering eight in total, is really not enough for a game that otherwise seems to have been given a large number of effort. The lack of variety is somewhat annoying, but this is made up for by some of the quirky and sometimes obscure comic book and old school video game references, and the lack of stages will probably be supplemented by DLC levels in the future.
In my opinion, the soundtrack is extremely underwhelming. Many of the character themes are shoddy techno remixes. Notable exceptions to this are the themes of X-23, Wolverine and Hulk. I really do like that the playing theme changes every time a new character is switched in, although it is sometimes a little difficult to hear some of the themes over the character noises. It is also notable that the characters call out the name of the partner they are tagging in, which is a minor but really cool addition. The voice cast is mostly really well done, with some of the more prominent voice actors being Fairly OddParents veteran Tara Strong as X-23, voice acting legend Steve Blum as Wolverine, who is generally known for voicing Wolverine in most animated incarnations, anime voice actor/Power Ranger Johnny Young Bosch as Zero as well as Tom Kane, famous for voicing Yoda, as Magneto. The only voice actor I don’t particularly care for is Brian Bloom, known for voicing Kane in Kane and Lynch: Dead Men, as Captain America. His voice is just a little too deep and sounds kind of like one of the ridiculous custom character voices in Soul Caliber IV.
The roster is also a tad on the small side, with 38 characters including the 2 DLC characters Jill and Shuma-Gorath. There are a few unnecessary additions as well, such as Akuma, who plays exactly like Ryu, and Felicia, who has already been in a previous MvC title. I would rather have seen a new Darkstalker character like Hsien-Ko than an older character. While I also like the addition of Taskmaster, I wish he had more moves that represented characters that were not included in the title, similar to how Super Skrull has the moves of the Fantastic Four. Despite these mostly minor gripes, the gameplay is very solid and worthy of the MvC title.
While I do have a few gripes with the game, mainly the lackluster soundtrack, lack of stages and imperfect roster, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a great title that should be purchased by all fighting game and comic book enthusiasts. While the casual aspect is great for friends, the game is really meant to appeal to people who are either vested in the fighting genre or the Marvel universe, and it is definitely a worthy edition to the game collection of people in those demographics.
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