Review: ‘Marvel vs. Capcom 2’ for XBox Live Arcade

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Score: 8.5 – 1200 Microsoft Points ($15.00)

After nine years, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is still one of the most popular fighting games around. This past week with XBox’s Summer of Arcade, it became available for the first time for download to XBox Live members through XBox Live Arcade and is coming in a few weeks to the Playstation 3 through the Playstation Store. Even after almost a decade, it is still one of the best fighting games out there.

The game consists of 3 on 3, tag in and out single round fighting with a 56 character roster from both Marvel and Capcom. This retro title release, if a game under 10 years old can actually be considered retro, most resembles the Dreamcast port of the Arcade release.

The Dreamcast version is considered the best of the original ports, with stronger gameplay than the Playstation 2 and XBox releases. Unlike some retro games of years past like Golden Eye, this game ages well. But it is the retro look of the sprites that turns out to be the only graphical downfall of the game, especially after fans had seen what Capcom did with Super Street Fighter II HD Remix. While the rendered 3D backgrounds upscaled beautifully and became widescreen on the XBox 360, it is unfortunate that the character sprites themselves didn’t see the same treatment. On larger HD sets, the pixelation of the sprites becomes more obvious.

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But let’s be honest, people don’t play fighting games because they look pretty. The recent showing of 3D fighters has proven that it’s not graphics, but gameplay that drives sales of fighting titles. The gameplay has always been and still continues to be the place where Marvel vs. Capcom 2 shines. The game lives up to the idea of easy to learn but hard to master as well. Anyone can sit down and figure out the basics of the game.

It takes very little effort to pull off spectacular looking moves and combos. Even the Hypercombos, the most impressive looking moves in the game, can often be pulled over with a simple roll of the directional pad or analog stick and the press of two buttons. Chaining Hypercomobs together and doing massive three-man hypercombos becomes more challenging but are not required for the success of new players.

Even online player matches, consisting of a lobby of six players rotating out as a player moves the match, are great spots for new players to learn by watching how others play and try their own combinations out against varied opponents. Taking things online can also lead to the leaderboard Ranked Matches in which players will achieve points based off their wins and losses and ranked across XBox Live.

These are where the heavy hitters lie in wait. Back in the days of the arcade machine, there may have been one or two guys who were experts at taking everyone’s quarters but now with Ranked Matches online, these players can tear through almost any opponent as they shoot themselves further up the leaderboards. These matches are NOT for newbies but definitely a great learning experience for spectators to learn new techniques. The XBox controller is not the ideal for the game but Capcom’s expert fighting stick peripheral lends itself to a purchase for hardcore fans of this game and other Capcom titles like Street Fighter 4.

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The one thing sorely lacking from this game from the originals is the unlockable characters. Developers said that after being out so long, players should be allowed the games full 56 man roster right off the bat. While in theory, this seems like a great idea, it also takes away a lot of the replayability from the single player arcade mode which players used to race through to earn points used to unlock new characters. That aside though, the game is a faithful adaptation to the Arcade and console fighting classic.

The additions of online leaderboards give another dimension to the game as expert players can test their skills in a virtually lag free environment for ultimate bragging rights. Even the creative take on achievements has been great such as team specific single player arcade combinations like beating the game with an Avengers, X-Men, Dark Stalkers, or Street Fighter based team as well as shocker achievements like pulling off a 200 hit combo.

While I normally wouldn’t endorse a fifteen dollar price tag for a re-released retro game, this one is certainly worth it. It has remained just as fun as it was years ago and gives players the chance to finally experience it with friends all around the world. Finally giving this game an online component as well as the addition of achievements warrants at least a trial for players who may have never picked up the series before. But for those who were fans of it years ago… you have probably already purchased it anyways on the day it came out.

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