Marvel vs. Capcom 3 Review

Platform: PS3/360
Originally Reviewed: 2011

It could be argued that had Capcom not reignited the 2D beat ‘em up scene, by hitting the Street Fighter 4 nail so squarely on the head, we may never have seen this utterly chaotic and thoroughly enjoyable fighter.

Following on from its Dreamcast predecessor that was released over 10 years ago, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (MvC 3) once again does exactly what it says on the tin and pits an assortment of the best Capcom game characters against Marvel’s superheroes. The huge amount of characters on offer provides for any number of dream match-ups and the resulting on-screen fracas does not disappoint.

MvC 3 is without a doubt the most bat-shit crazy, high-octane, visually explosive beat ‘em up since…well, Marvel vs Capcom 2. Fighters swoop and soar all over the place unleashing insanely over-the-top attacks that fill the screen with enough bright colours and flashing lights to give even a Pokémon cartoon epilepsy. Never has a ‘flashing images’ warning at the start of a videogame been more justified (or exciting).

The characters range from all over both universes with the more widely known Capcom characters like Ryu and Chun-Li from Street Fighter, Dante from Devil May Cry and Resident Evil’s Chris Redfield coming up against lesser known foes like Felicia from the Darkstalkers Franchise and Arthur from Ghosts & Goblins. The Marvel roster is beefed up with blockbuster movie heroes like Spiderman, Wolverine and Iron Man and padded out with fan-service names like Dormammu from Doctor Strange and M.O.D.O.K. from the Avengers.

Each character is superbly well balanced and nuanced, giving the game a roster where every player will have different favourites. The control scheme is also so easy to pick up that players can happily pick fighters they may never have heard of and still unleash all manner of ass kicking, screen filling special moves. It’s a great system that makes the game tons of fun to pick up with a friend or two as even beginners can feel like all-powerful beat ‘em up behemoths.

The learning curve is, as to be expected, pretty steep though. All moves for all characters are mapped to the familiar three patterns commonly used by all ‘n00b’ Ryu and Ken Street Fighter players, but throw tag team assists and super cancels into the equation and the game becomes exceedingly hard to master. On the flip side, the game’s ease of basic control can lead to even hardened pros becoming victim to the infamous button bashers amongst us, which is a real shame and doesn’t feel like much of a reward for persistence.

MvC 3 is undoubtedly a game that truly excels in local multiplayer and hence, regrettably, falls rather flat as a single player experience. The biggest gripe has to be with the pitifully short arcade mode. You face not even 10 battles before the game is over and, more annoyingly, the arcade mode has absolutely not back story or substance to it.

Despite this being the norm with beat ‘em ups, MvC 3 is a game that houses some of the most richly developed video game and comic book characters in history and to reward a player, upon completion of arcade mode, with no more than 2 still comic book images is pretty pathetic. Why aren’t there any cool cutscenes of Wolverine going berserk on Ryu or Chun-Li kicking ten bells out of Iron Man?

There’s no reason for these enemies to fight each other, no hint of a story mode or even the rival battles that Street Fighter 4 shoehorned in. A Wolverine vs. Magneto final showdown (yeah, there’s three characters on a team, but the story could at least involve the team leaders) for example, with some cut scenes and dialogue, would provide a fun substance to the fighting and give the fans some awesome service, but sadly we get nothing.

With the arcade mode offering little to single players, the mission mode is all that remains and, again, is a pretty low-key offering. Players are given button combinations to mash into their controller and upon completion are given a harder one to complete. And that’s it – nothing along the lines of Soul Calibur’s story modes, a real disappointment when the huge amount of characters means there could have been some really awesome character specific tasks and story branches. Hell, even Street Fighter 2 had that car section!

As long as you have a lot of beat ‘em up hungry friends around most of the time, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is an absolute blast that will provide you with plenty of frenetic and exhilarating action that is unlikely to be replicated by anything outside of the series. It’s just in the long run and as a single player title that MvC 3 will hardly get a look in and this is down to the game severely lacking any substance or reason for replayability to anyone other than the obsessed combo-aholic perfectionists. Still, as a pick up and play title with mates, you will struggle to find a better way to spend half an hour than this.

Alex Aldridge

GRAPHICS

A visual style sure to be loved and loathed in equal measure, but one that produces big, bright character models and tons of high octane epilepsy-inducing carnage. Stages could be better.

8/10

GAMEPLAY

A button basher on the surface, but a game that has plenty of depth for the hardcore. Single player lets it down, but grab a mate for some one on one local multiplayer and enjoy this insane ride.

7/10

STORY

Completely non-existent…obviously. It’s a shame, when you consider the rich backgrounds that almost the entire roster comes from, there couldn’t be some kind of soul calibur-esque mission mode or at least more than two pictures when arcade mode is completed.

1/10

REPLAYABILITY

Purely 50/50. If you want to put the effort into mastering all the characters through mission mode and becoming an almighty champion online then there’s plenty to get through, but casual beat ‘em up fans could soon tire of losing to ‘Johnny press them all’.

5/10

VALUE FOR MONEY AT

Not an essential purchase at launch. If you’re totally mad for beat ‘em ups then go for it, but a weekend rent will be enough to satisfy you and your mates until it goes cheap. You’ll break it open for a laugh but it’s unlikely to usurp your usual mainstays.

£20

OVERALL

A fast, frantic and fabulous visual overload with easy to pick up controls and plenty of gameplay depth for those who have the patience to master the game, but there’s little replayability beyond that.

7.5/10

 

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