Game Review: ‘Marvel vs. Capcom 3: The Fate of Two Worlds’ for XBox 360

A year and a half ago, we came home from San Diego Comic Con and were given the chance to review the XBox Live Arcade rerelease of one of our top games of the previous decade with Marvel vs. Capcom 2.  The game was an instant hit and was quickly brought over to the PlayStation 3 as well.

It’s not surprising that soon after, seeing the game’s tremendous success, that Capcom announced Marvel vs. Capcom 3. With a super stylized trailer, the hype hasn’t died down. Even last week at release, it was almost impossible for players to get a hold of the Special Edition of the game, a problem not usually seen in retail anymore.

As we have talked about with our previous hands-on experience, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 brings the series’ classic feel and action back with a shiny new coat of graphical paint and effects that players expect and demand.

Gameplay:

Marvel vs. Capcom 3: The Fate of Two Worlds doesn’t change the formula that brought Marvel vs. Capcom 2 so much success. The game relies on single round matches between two 3 on 3 teams. Players have three basic attacks of increasing strength, their special attack button, and two assist buttons. These assist buttons can be used to either call in teammates for a quick attack or to switch the character the player is in control of for the fight.

As players throw more attacks and successfully defend against their opponents, they increase their combo meter which builds at the bottom of the screen to unleash Hyper Combos. These hyper combos are special moves that can deal tremendous damage if successful.

This simple control scheme allows for all levels of players to enjoy the game. Expert players will learn advanced combos, juggling and snap backs to eliminate their opponents while newer players will be able to feel like they are setting off tremendous attacks even by just button mashing.

It is an interesting dynamic compared to other fighting games where experience will almost always prevail. While it may be frustrating for an “expert” to get beaten by a lucky combination from a “newbie”, it also makes the game more exciting that outcomes aren’t always so predetermined in multiplayer.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3 does a good job of bringing together a diverse set of characters, both in terms of story presentation and overall balance. There is no ultimate character in the game. While there are some characters who are stronger than others, they also have more glaring weaknesses. When the Hulk hits, he can deal massive damage but he is also incredibly slow.

A skilled distance player should be able to deal some damage before the Hulk gets within range and also be ready to unleash a strong combo before the Hulk is able to get his big green paws on them. At the same time, some characters bring together combinations of fast attacks and quick escapes, like Spider-Man or M.O.D.O.K. where players jump in and out of a fight quickly tagging their opponents before retreating to a safe distance.

This varied and unique combination of personalities and movesets is part of what makes the games o addicting. No two battles play out the same and one mistake can be the difference between victory and defeat.

Story and Presentation:

The story of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is by far its weakest aspect and is really the only thing keeping it from being a top title for the entire year. Basically, there isn’t one. For some reason, groups of heroes and villains from the Marvel and Capcom worlds start to team up and fight together before facing off against Galactus who is trying to destroy earth…

Now while defending the earth from Galactus is a good idea, it doesn’t make sense why any of these battles go down the way they do or why such combinations of people would team up together. Why would Ryu team up with his nemesis Akuma in the first place and then allow someone as evil as Doctor Doom to fight at his side as well? It doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Another disappointing feature of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is the tease of how fantastic cut scenes could have looked from the original game trailers. Instead of gripped cut scenes, even if they were short, as endings, players get two pieces of artwork with text underneath. After seeing how the stories of individual characters could be told only to get endings that resemble those of the original Street Fighter II, it is a wholly disappointing experience and often not worth a player’s trouble to unlock every ending in the game.

Not all is bad in the game’s presentation though as there are certain Easter Eggs hidden throughout the game, specifically at the beginnings and endings of battles. Depending on the first two or final two fighters in a match, different audio will play reflecting a secondary story between those characters. One such example would be when the Taskmaster defeats Iron Man in a match, there is a specific piece of dialogue that plays taking a dig at Tony Stark that wouldn’t be heard otherwise.

Graphics and Sound:

Those stunning visuals we just mentioned that were totally lacking in the game’s story, they are instead one of the showcases of the game when it is in action. As any of our previous Marvel vs. Capcom 3 trailers will show you, the game looks stunning during fights, no matter how much is going on on the screen at once.

Two, three, four or even five characters on screen at once, it doesn’t matter. Visuals never suffer during the course of this game. The 3D psuedo-cell shaded look on the 2D plane jumps off the screen and gives these characters life even during the sometimes massive sensory overload caused by the game’s visual stunning movesets and Hyper Combos.

The voice acting is nothing to dismiss either in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Though not packed with famous names like DC Universe Online, the casting is very well done in MvC3. Deadpool has a whacky twang to his voice while Thor has his stereotypical Norse accent, one that came across much better than it did in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2.

Capcom classics like Chris Redfield and Ryu maintain the feel and energy long time players would expect from them leading to a satisfying audio experience. One additional cool feature comes from characters shouting out names of their teammates when they want them to tag in and out of combat. This is subtle but adds to the overall feel of the fight that these strange combinations are actually teammates.

Overall:

Marvel vs. Capcom 3: The Fate of Two Worlds came out with guns blazing, fireballs flying, swords slashing and World Eaters… eating worlds. Long time fans of the series will instantly be pleased with what it has to offer as it stays true to what made the previous titles so great over ten years ago. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 does not reinvent the wheel but this is one of those situations where no one wanted it to.

The core gameplay has remained with flashier graphics. While it is sad that Capcom did not take the time to improve upon the overall story presentation in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, it isn’t a deal breaker in this game as it would be in others. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a fighting game and as anyone who grew up on the original Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat arcade cabinets will tell you, it isn’t a story that keeps people coming back and pouring quarters into those machines.

It was the fast paced action and addictive fighting system that made them so great and inevitably lead to games today like Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Though Marvel vs. Capcom 3 isn’t a genre defining experience, it is one that players will find themselves spending hours playing against friends and foe alike without hesitation.

XBox 360 (also on PlayStation 3)

Developer: Capcom

Publisher: Capcom

Price: $59.99

Score: 8.5

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