Crossover games are great. And the crazier the better. What would a fight be like between a monkey and a shark? Or a disco samurai and an electric spetznaz? TV shows like “greatest warrior” only work on statistics and “what ifs” and “maybes” but the beauty of the video game industry is we get to use skill to determine the outcome of such match ups. The foremost leaders of this genre for fighting games is CAPCOM who have brought their Street Fighter, Darkstalkers, Resident Evil and other prominent title faces to the yard with characters from MARVEL comics with hilarious and addictive gameplay results for a third time.
Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a flashy, grandiose 2D-plane fighter with 3D modelled characters with emphasis on the scale of the attacks which whittle down the player’s health bar until one emerges victorious. Most fighters, even the Street Fighter series, tends to hold the extreme fanfare back for the big ultra combos but Marvel vs Capcom (MvC) has always wanted to give epilepsy sufferers something to really suffer from. Where the other fighters keep to the time honoured tradition of one on one, MvC says “HA! One on one is for pussies! We have THREE ON THREE!! Not only that, but you can have each character on your side jump in during a super and add to the damage. Take THAT everyone else”.
For the third coming, the controls are really what needs to be addressed here because controls on a fast paced fighter are the most crucial aspect of the game engine. The control scheme Capcom have created is what some of us long term veteran 2D fighter fans will describe as a complete and utter bastard. The usual layout of fighting games like this is a varying degree of power and speed of punches and kicks, with each being designated a different button for tactical control and the ones who understand the principals tend to be the better players. Not so in MvC3.
MvC3 has 3 attack buttons : light, medium and heavy with no specific punch or kick having preference. So some moves have been changed. Those familiar with previous titles will find it strange using the same button for a fireball as for a spinning kick. Then they added a “special move” button which just feels like another attack button except it isn’t actually used for what would be called a special move. It should just be called the 4th attack button. There’s also a “simple” control scheme where there’s 1 attack button, 1 “special move” button, a “special attack” button (a fireball, uppercut, slash attack without need of directional movement) and a button to unleash an ultra combo from a single press. This beginner-like mode does bring the whole control package into perspective, however.
MvC3 is clearly made to be played by fresh faced newbies and hardened skilled warriors with much the same results. This game bridges the gap between the skilled players and the button bashers. Someone who has never played a fighter like this can jump in and start whaling away and feel like they are accomplishing something but in having done that, they have left the elite players feeling a bit deflated. There’s nothing worse than playing a game for years on end, honing your skills to deadly perfection, only to be obliterated by a button mashing noob who thinks Call of Duty is the only game worth playing. A sadly sour turn for the series.
The character content of MvC3 also has some peculiar omissions. The roster of names does have some awesome A-list people from a huge range of games. Some even boggle the mind. Like Arthur, the armour clad knight from the Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins series and Viewtiful Joe from the Gamecube, PS2 and DS beat ‘em ups of the same name. But after closer inspection, it’s the ones that are missing that raise the eye brow. Some that were in previous instalments and seemed too crucial to ever cut from the series. Ken, Guile, M Bison, Cammy and Sagat are nowhere to be seen and neither are Cyclops, Venom, Gambit, Juggernaut or Cable among many many others. Capcom have said they will be releasing downloadable characters over time but this just shouldn’t fly since Marvel vs Capcom 2 had a total of 56 characters and was released 2 years after the one before it. This one is 10 years after the last and has 36 names on the list. Why should we have to pay for more characters as they release them?
For all these gripes there is one undeniable fact, no matter how much the downfalls may suck. Damn this game is fun. The chaotic nature of the controls give the game a sense of luck having some sway in the bouts, similar to the extremely popular Smash Brothers games from Nintendo. The insanity is infectious and just when you think you have your ultimate team of 3, you try a new character only to become smitten to them for the next 10 matches. Other fighting games will find you sticking to 1 character and mastering them but with this game’s level playing field, every character choice feels free of risk, allowing you to experiment outside of your comfort zone. And some of the new guys are freakin’ brilliant, like Dante from the Devil May Cry series. His moves are faithful recreations and work stunningly well on the 2D plane. As does Haggar from the Final Fight series and Super Skrull from the Fantastic 4 universe.
Marvel vs Capcom 3 is a crazy, over the top 2D fighter that breaks the mold with a new control scheme that may turn off the hardcore but ignite the new comer with it’s simplicity. The character selection is varied and exciting with quite a few fan favourites being cut from the old rosters but some new additions that feel very much at home in this crossover franchise. These fighting games are obviously repetitive but multiplay is where the true worth lies. Those looking for the tactical gameplay of previous titles should stay away but those who want to laugh whilst they pull off a light show of energy which blinds all those around and lands an 83 hit combo, your ship is here.