Review by VGF

"The "Fate of Two Worlds" just got a bit more intense."

Capcom is infamous for releasing numerous versions of their fighting games. Street Fighter II went super, then turbo, then super turbo, and eventually got an HD Remix. Street Fighter IV has obviously gotten the yearly update treatment, as well. It came to nobody's surprise that February 2011release of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 would not be the last. Less than nine months later, Capcom gave us Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. The announcement caused a stir among the fighting game community—Capcom doesn't usually announce a retail update so quickly—but everyone knew that if Ultimate delivered, all would be forgiven.

I'll put it bluntly: if you're not a fan of fighting games, or just didn't like the original version of the game, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 won't change your mind. With that in mind, if you've been sitting back and watching the fighting game renaissance over the past couple years, now is a better time than ever to hop on in and see what the big deal is.

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 follows the same formula that the previous version and the prequel did: two teams of three fighters each, with the ability to swap out the active character at will and call in the inactive teammates for an assist attack. The appeal of the Marvel vs. Capcom series has always been pure chaos, and this installment only raises that bar even higher.

With a roster of 48 characters (all unlocked from the start) and another two available vis downloadable content, there's definitely no lack of diversity in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Many of the big fan favorites from each side show up like Ryu, Dante, Wolverine and Magneto. And there are a handful of lesser-known inhabitants of the two worlds, such as Firebrand, Rocket Raccoon, and Iron Fist. Both Capcom and Marvel are brilliantly represented, and while there are a few notable exclusions (Mega Man and Venom, to name two), everyone is going to find someone to enjoy.

Since the original Marvel vs. Capcom 3 back in February, the entire cast has been tweaked and rebalanced, and while it's too early to say for sure, it seems as if there are few (if any) characters who can't hold their own in a fight. Most of these changes are under the hood, and unless you're a hardcore player, you won't notice a ton of those. There are plenty of more noticeable changes to the gameplay, however. Much of the cast has received new or changed special attacks C. Viper has received a Cyclops-like laser attack, Ryu has short-range, rapid-fire fireballs, and Hulk has a charge punch that's just completely nasty when it hits.

There are some key changes to the gameplay mechanics as well. The controversial X-factor mode makes its return. Like before, once per match, you may press all four attack buttons to get a temporary increase in speed and damage. The amount of the damage and speed increases have been changed and you can now execute X-factor in the air, creating new opportunities for combos. Along with aerial X-factor, team aerial combos have gotten a change, adding the option to drain your opponent's hyper combo meter, on top of the options to build your own meter, or increase combo damage.

While the base versus gameplay is where most people get their fun out of fighting games, other modes have their place as well. All of the modes from the original Marvel vs. Capcom 3 make their returns. Arcade mode is the usual effort of winning a handful of matches, then defeating the often-difficult Galactus. Mission mode is back and tweaked to the gameplay changes, but each character still has ten levels of challenges, ranging from landing a simple special move, to landing combos so flashy and complicated that they may not even be practical in a fight. And, of course, training mode and versus mode are the same as ever.

One of the big things that Capcom said they'd focus on with Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was the online play. While not the worst online we've seen, the original version of the game left a lot to be desired. Luckily, Ultimate picks up the pace a bit. While it still doesn't match up to Super Street Fighter IV, or the much-praised Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online Edition, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3's online play is a huge step up from the original. Casual players are less likely to notice input lag than the competitive crowd, but it had a strong presence in the original. That lag still exists in Ultimate, but is much less of a factor. Also, one of the big gripes with the original was the lack of a spectator mode, meaning the inactive players in lobbies of three or more had to watch an empty screen while waiting their turn. Capcom took a page out of Street Fighter IV's book and gave a full spectator mode. Unfortunately, Capcom did neglect to add in a replay-saving mode, a feature they've proven they're capable of.

Small complaints aside, there's a ton of value here for a forty dollar title. If you paid sixty for the original version, you may be hesitant to shell out more less than a year later. If you're a big fan of the genre or the series, you preordered this game long ago. If the original Marvel vs. Capcom 3 wasn't your cup of tea, or you just don't like fighting games, Ultimate won't change your mind. But if you want to see what the ever-growing fighting game craze is all about, you couldn't have picked a better time to hop on in.

PROS:
+Diverse cast of characters
+Great character balance
+Good improvements over the original version
+Great value for $40 purchase

CONS:
-Original version of the game released less than a year ago.
-Some notable characters absent
-Some stages are a bit too dark

FINAL SCORE: 8/10


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/06/12

Game Release: Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (US, 11/15/11)


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