Review by horror_spooky

"Two worlds. Six shoulders."

It may seem odd to newer games that sometimes it takes a very long time for a sequel to be released for a successful franchise. Gamers that have just started in the seventh generation have seen franchises milked literally to death when it comes to the Guitar Hero franchise, and we get a new Call of Duty game every single year. The Marvel vs. Capcom franchise, however, hasn't seen a new installment for a decade, missing entirely out on the sixth generation. Sure, the most recent installment, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, has been ported about a million times, but the fact remains that it took Capcom over ten years to make an official sequel. Was Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds worth the wait?

Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a fighting game that takes characters from the Marvel universe and the Capcom universe and puts them together. Crossovers like this don't happen often, and it's pretty exciting to see fan-favorite characters duke it out. The roster includes Chris Redfield, Albert Wesker, Ryu, Amaterasu, Viewtiful Joe, Spider-Man, Captain America, Wolverine, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, and many others. This epic cast of characters can satisfy anyone fan of Capcom or Marvel. Despite this, there are a few characters whose lack of appearance is disappointing. Jill Valentine, who was in the widely successful Marvel vs. Capcom 2, is absent from this game, as is Mega Man. On top of that, some newer Capcom characters that have recently become quite popular this gen, Frank West and Phoenix Wright, also don't make an appearance in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. The former is especially disappointing considering he was in a vs. Capcom game on the Wii entitled Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars. Venom from the Spider-Man universe would have been a fantastic fit, and the Marvel side is pretty light on villains in general. A lot of the franchises are under-represented, which was quite disappointing.

Despite the lack of obvious characters and the smaller roster compared to its predecessor, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 still boasts one of the greatest rosters in fighting game history. The amount of potential awesomeness here is overwhelming. Classic rivalries can be revisited, and watching Chris Redfield shoot Spider-Man in the face with a shotgun never gets old. Each character has plenty of unlockable color schemes for their outfits, plus a robust arsenal of attacks. Every single character feels very unique and plays different than any other of the other characters to choose from. This is especially true for Amaterasu from Okami and Dante from Devil May Cry, two of the best characters in the game.

On top of the 30+ characters available, there are also four unlockable characters. While these characters aren't especially exciting or anything, it's still fun to unlock them. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 also promises to have characters to download as DLC, including Jill Valentine, and a new gameplay mode. Unfortunately, releasing these characters as DLC and releasing an entirely new gameplay mode as DLC so close to the game's launch looks…bad, to say the least. Developers should be wary about DLC, and releasing DLC on day one or talking about the DLC in detail before the game has even hit shelves will make consumers feel cheated.

Speaking of modes, this is an area where Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is seriously lacking. There is the standard Arcade Mode, where players assemble their team of three combatants and fight other teams until they reach the end boss, and then there's a typical Training Mode as well for newcomers to learn combos. That about covers the different single-player modes available, besides a new mode that challenges players to complete certain combos with all of the different characters. Capcom tried to do this with Street Fighter IV as well, but the problem is that the Xbox 360's controller really isn't built for fighting games that demand precision with their combos, and as such, these kinds of modes become obsolete rather quickly.

The fighting engine in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 favors players that practice and learn all the different combos, but it also favors button mashers. Essentially, you can try to play the game strategically and be successful, but there is also a huge possibility that someone who has barely played the game could easily defeat a veteran just by mashing on the controller, and picking the right team. There are characters that are clearly more powerful than the rest of the roster, and while I really am not too concerned with balance in over-the-top fighting games like this, it will undoubtedly become an issue for serious players.

Speaking of unbalance, there is a mechanic that can turn the tides of battle in a quick second. By pressing all the face buttons simultaneously, players activate a special ability where their team becomes virtually unstoppable, sporting a sturdier defense and a more vicious offense. Once again, with the right characters and the right attacks, this ability can completely wipe out the opposing team. On the other hand, this ability becomes meaningless for evenly matched players and teams as it can be activated at any time, and essentially, it will cancel itself out.

But like I said, balance isn't a big deal with this game, at least not for me. Just like the Super Smash Bros. games, the point of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is over-the-top, insane action featuring a roster teeming with variety. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is certainly over-the-top, with epic, explosive, and wicked-cool special moves that players can launch with the simple pull of the left trigger. By building up a special bar at the bottom of the screen, players can unleash hellish special attacks, sometimes with the cooperation of both their teammates, and absolutely destroy the opposing players. These moves are generally extremely creative and deadly. They can be dodged and blocked easy enough to prevent them from being too over-powered (plus they can't be spammed without becoming totally ineffective), plus they're just cool to see. It's fun testing out all the different combinations of characters to find which combination yields the most destructive results.

While that captures the single-player experience in a nutshell, what about the multiplayer? Anyone who knows anything about fighting games knows that multiplayer is absolutely essential to the success of a fighting game. I can't even think of a fighting game that doesn't have multiplayer, actually, which doesn't surprise me. The genre builds off two players squaring off and beating the hell out of one another, and has since the days of the arcade. Regardless, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 allows two players to battle against each other and, well, beat the hell out of one another. Playing Marvel vs. Capcom 3 offline is an absolute blast, but be warned that the second player won't be able to unlock the game's achievements.

There's an issue that prevents Marvel vs. Capcom 3's multiplayer function to be as immensely fun and addicting as it should be. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 lacks stages. There are only a handful of stages, and unlike many fighting games, barely any of the characters are represented in them. There are definitely cool and unique stages to fight on (the Resident Evil fanboy in me loves the Tricell Laboratory), but there's so little that they become old quickly.

In this day and age, every game that has multiplayer more or less needs online multiplayer to be critically and commercially successful. A lot of developers forget that offline multiplayer is just as important, but I won't get into that big argument in this review. Instead, I will just try to talk about the online multiplayer in Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

Playing this game online certainly boosts the replayability factor considerably, and it definitely helps that the online is lag free. I never once experienced any lag of any kind while playing this game on Xbox Live, and the overall experience was fantastic. The ranking system implemented in the game echoes Call of Duty, and even though ranking up in the game is meaningless, it's still strangely addicting. The online component also ensures that you'll always have someone to play with, even when your friends aren't around.

Unfortunately, Marvel vs. Capcom 3's online multiplayer isn't the most active multiplayer around. Finding a ranked match is difficult, and the game just came out very recently. The second day of playing the game, it became nearly impossible for me to get into a match. This is very irritating, and I guarantee that this game's online would be much more active if Xbox Live was free, like it should be. Whenever I play a multiplayer game on the PlayStation 3, the online is always active. No matter how old the game is, it's very easy to find a match. People still play Warhawk, which I believe was a launch title for the PS3, but yet there is literally no one playing the remastered version of Perfect Dark on Xbox Live Arcade. I digress, as there is a lobby system in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 that helps rectify these issues.

This lobby system allows gamers to choose a lobby to play in, obviously, but since the fights only allow for two players, players have to dibs the next fight. This creates an illusion of couch multiplayer, a tradition that has been long forgotten for many gamers. Lobby sizes vary, and I never had any problems finding a lobby or participating in one. While it's a shame that the matchmaking is basically dead, being able to play in the lobbies is fun, and will do plenty to satisfy any online multiplayer cravings.

One area of the game that I was seriously disappointed in was the storyline. Every single character in Street Fighter IV had their own, unique storyline that was interesting and displayed with vivid, gorgeous anime cut-scenes. There are no cut-scenes or anything like that in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and the storyline basically amounts to a quick ending for each character presented in comic book style. These endings almost never make a lick of sense, and feel like poorly written fan fiction. Needless to say, I was severely disappointed in Capcom for not even attempting to make coherent and exciting storylines. Honestly, the roster here is filled with some of the greatest characters known to comic book and video game kind, but all they are able to churn out are comic book stills that last for like twenty seconds and accomplish nothing? To be quite honest, it would have made more sense to just forget having a storyline at all, and it would have benefitted the overall game had this decision been made during the development process.

One area of the game that I was seriously impressed about was the graphics. All of the unique character models are beautifully animated and look great. They all have their own, unique style to them, and there is no slowdown or lag whatsoever throughout the entire game. Each stage has a decent amount of detail, with some stages looking especially gorgeous in particular. In terms of the visual presentation, my only real gripe is the camera during two-player matches, as it is zoomed in quite close, and one player can jump off the screen, make the camera follow them, which in turn makes everything confusing. Overall, though, the visual presentation in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is second-to-none in the fighting game genre.

To compliment the fine visuals is the excellent soundtrack. The background music is upbeat, Japanese rock music that gets the blood-pumping for sure. The songs are catchy, the announcer is energetic, and all of the characters have unique and clever lines to say. I was impressed with the fact that the characters were able to recognize certain characteristics about their opponents and comment on them before the fight began. For example, if you choose Iron Man as your first character and face a team of girls, he humorously hits on them. It's the little touches like these that show that Capcom really do know how to pull off a great soundtrack and audio experience.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3 has an acceptable amount of game types, a large enough roster, achievements, unlockable content, and multiplayer play. Obviously, this game should suck away hours and hours of your life. I have my doubts that gamers who don't traditionally play fighting games will be too interested in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 after a few times playing, but hardcore fans of Capcom, Marvel, or fighting games will absolutely destroy this game. It's easy to lose hours into it, especially the multiplayer mode. To make the game even more addicting to play is the “player points” system, which is a points system that rewards a gamer for playing matches in the game, whether that be through Arcade Mode, just fighting a buddy on the couch, or over Xbox Live. This points system unlocks new characters and the like, and is a great way to keep people playing. People who are in to DLC will have that look forward to as well, but I still feel as though the DLC is way too soon in the game's life.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds was a long time coming. It's a more than capable fighting game featuring some of the greatest characters in the history of video games and comic books, but it certainly isn't without its flaws. In the end, whether or not you're a fan of Marvel or Capcom will influence whether or not you will pick this game up, but the more casual fighting fans should give this latest crossover from Capcom a rent.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 03/07/11

Game Release: Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (US, 02/15/11)

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