Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Game Review: Marvel VS Capcom 3-Multi-Format

After almost a decade the Marvel VS Capcom series has made a long overdue return, exploding onto our screens as a more refined, arguable simpler fighting game; one that’s clearly aimed at today’s gamer with the premise being that anyone, whether hardcore fight fan or complete novice, can pick up Capcom’s latest offering and make their mark. Controls-even with a normal setting-are simplified to the point that very little effort is required to pull massive 50+ hit combos and devastating Hyper moves out of the bag, decimating your opponent’s health bar in a flurry of blows, energy attacks and multi-character combos. That’s not to say of course that MvC3 lacks any depth, far from it, and if you’re looking to race up the rankings online then having a deeper understanding of the games fighting mechanics, as opposed to just randomly hammering away at the buttons, will undoubtedly see you move up the table that much quicker.

As expected the familiar faces of Ryu, Chun-Li, Spiderman, Wolverine and co are all in place, but also along for the ride are some entirely new entrants ranging from the instantly recognisable to the down right bizarre; and while some may relish the chance to take charge of Ghosts n’ Goblins hero Arthur, Okami’s Amaterasu or perhaps Albert Wesker from Resident Evil, others may raise a quizative eyebrow at some of Capcom’s choices for the third outing. Nevertheless, it’s through MvC3 being a three-on-three fighting game that this extraordinary combination of characters addresses the balance of each fight that individually they could never achieve. For example, put gun-toting Dante of Devil May Cry up against The Hulk and its immediately apparent that Dante’s quick-fire gunplay can make easy work of Hulk’s lumbering albeit powerful frame, but with a rush character such as X-23 on stand by ready to spring into action at the flick of a button the combination of power and speed can turn the tide in Hulk’s favour; throw in standing powerhouse fighter Akuma into the mix and Dante will quickly find himself turned into mince meat. Of course your opponent has three characters of their own with which to to dish out the pain and in turn can make life as equally difficult for you making for some truly spectacular bouts of combat. Bare in mind, however, that what might work for one group of rivals might not necessarily work against another so button-basher MvC3 may be there’s still an amount of tactical planning needed when choosing the best team for the job in order to come out on top.

Capcom have also introduced something they’ve penned as ‘X-Factor’ into the proceedings which grants extra strength and boots speed for each individual character in varying ways depending on who’s in play at the time. When activated X-Factor cancels all active Hyper and Super combos, allowing you to assault your opponent with a relentless barrage of ground and air combos, literally beating down your rival into submission; and it’s here that MvC3’s hidden depth starts to shine through as you begin to realize that between forcing your opponent to switch characters with ‘Snap Backs’, three-on-one aerial combos, triple Hyper Combos and so forth that there’s more to this full-on beat ‘em up than meets the eye and that perhaps just merrily bashing away at the control pad is doing your chances of winning more harm than good. Then again you could just throw the rule book out of the window, hit those buttons a like a crazy person and simply enjoy it for what it is: Damn good fun.

Being as this is Capcom behind the wheel it should come as no surprise that MvC3 looks simply stunning. Animations are silky smooth with fantastically drawn character models, each with a unique twist to their appearance and polished off with quick-fire remarks during combat and witty pre-fight banter, all of which stem from their original roots. MvC3 also boasts what has to be some of the most lavishly detailed and beautifully rendered arenas ever to grace a fighting game with each telling its own story, changing and moving as each battle takes place.

With an intro sequence that never grows old, a thumping musical score and a dazzling display of pyrotechnics throughout each round of combat combined with wonderful sound effects, MvC3-more so than its predecessors-leaves you feeling as though you have just jumped straight into a live action comic book, one that you simply do not wish to leave.

If there are any real downsides then it would be the omission of some of the games modes and features present in past iterations of the series. Spectator mode, time attack, survival mode, extra stages and additional bonus games are no longer present. There’s ‘Mission Mode’ which, like Street Fighter IV, invites you to complete a series of combos in succession but beyond that, four extra characters to unlock and the obligatory Arcade, Vs and Online modes there is very little else. Shame, because as well put together as the core game is there is a danger that it, as with most fighting games that don’t go beyond the core experience, will have a limited appeal for some whereas in past MvC games having those extra features gave the experience that much more longevity . Still, MvC3’s gameplay is entertaining enough that it will undoubtedly be some time before you consider moving on to something new and with the promise of added DLC around the corner that longevity may yet be extended.

With Street Fighter IV , (perhaps even more so with Super Street Fighter IV), it was clear that Capcom knew its audience, but in the case of Marvel Vs Capcom 3 they’ve thrown out a much wider net in the hope of snaring a much larger demographic of gamers and if the success of the games launch is anything to go by then they have succeeded in their endeavour. By taking a tried and testing formula, simplifying it for a new generation of gamers while still maintaining a degree of depth for the already converted, Capcom have opened the doors of the humble beat ‘em up to an audience that may have, up until now, chose to ignore it. And for that I say bravo.


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