When Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was released, fans jumped for joy at the long awaited return of the Marvel Vs. series. With the addition of brand new characters, a new mechanic called "X-factor," and the promise of even more characters in the form of DLC, this appeared to be the fighting game to get. However, not even a year later, amidst complaints of how "broken" X-factor was and how certain characters were overpowered, Capcom responded with the announcement of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. As a budgeted upgrade to the "vanilla" version, there was some hostility towards Capcom's releasing this game to cash in on the flaws of the first installment.
Now that the game has launched, I've been fortunate to spend enough time with it to form an opinion on how it stacks up as a new installment in this franchise. Is this game a legitimate update that is worth your money, or should this have been an optional DLC purchase as many people were demanding?
Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])
Released: November 15, 2011
I'm going to start out by saying that I am a HUGE fan of Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Whereas most of the other people on staff have probably played this game casually, or got into it at launch but tapered off as other big releases hit, I have been playing it non-stop since its release. From my experience with the first installment, while the roster was plentiful, in order to play the game competitively, there were only a few characters I had to choose from -- Wekser, Dormammu, and Spencer was my team, and those are all characters quite familiar in high-level play.
You can imagine my excitement that Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 now boasts 12 new characters to try and incorporate into my team -- six from the Capcom universe (Frank West, Strider, Nemesis, Firebrand, Phoenix Wright, and Vergil) and six from Marvel (Nova, Rocket Raccoon, Iron Fist, Hawkeye, Dr. Strange, and Ghost Rider). Characters such as Phoenix Wright, Strider, and Frank West, were highly anticipated, while others like Nova, Iron Fist, and Rocket Raccoon seemed obscure but blend in perfectly.
The first observation about these new characters is that they are all very unique, which I see as a major plus. None of them play alike and they have very unique styles of combat. Phoenix Wright needs to collect evidence during battle in order to become a useful character, but just like in his games, Wright's expert use of evidence can completely destroy an opponent when used at the right time. Frank West, previously seen in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, must take pictures to raise his level and allow access to certain moves and more powerful weapons.
On the Marvel side, Iron Fist is a highly grounded character who relies on "rekka"-style motions to perform combos (think Fei Long), while Dr. Strange is all about luring his opponents into a false sense of security, zoning them, then catching them in an trap. Each character is so different that it makes discovering how to play them a game in itself, which is something that I feel was slightly lacking in the original cast of characters. I found myself spending hours in training mode, playing with each character and learning how to fully utilize each one. If Capcom's goal was to add some variety in gameplay, then they definitely succeeded.
They also decided to revisit the old roster to give them much needed balancing. Certain characters who went largely un-played received new attributes that made them viable on any team. Captain America in particular seems like someone I definitely want to use now that he has a double jump and an "off the ground" (OTG) Shield Slash that lets him maximize his damage potential. Ryu has been powered up with new types of Hadoukens in invisible and multi-hit flavors as well as a new hyper that definitely allows for new styles of play. Felicia is a character that I would have loved to see used more, and now with an added ground bounce to her Air Delta Kick and OTG Sand Splash, I can't wait to see how she fares against the rest of the cast.
As far as the more popular cast goes, none of them seem to have been completely nerfed. While Capcom did fix certain aspects like invincibility on some characters' assist types, those characters who were used often in the vanilla version are still just as good. In fact, some of them like Storm and Magneto even got new tricks to play with. It remains to be seen how the old characters will match up with the new cast once people start playing the game competitively, but from my time with the game, it seems like Capcom made an effort to buff under-powered characters just enough to give them a chance against those who were already good.
Concerning the game modes, there isn't much here even compared to the original version. A welcome addition is spectator mode, which was admittedly lacking in MvC3. There is also the promise of a post-launch game mode titled "Heroes and Heralds" which allows for attaching attributes to your team such as parries, invincible assists, and projectile invincibility via collectible upgrade cards. Unfortunately, that mode isn't on disc, so I haven't had as much time with it as I'd have hoped.
In fact, what comes on disc is slightly disappointing. The post-launch "Event Mode" that was a part of MvC3 is nowhere to be found, and while I didn't play it as much, the game still feels lacking without it. The only mode on disc besides Arcade, Versus, and Online is a Mission mode meant to train your in how to play each character. However, this mode only scratches the surface of each character; Capcom should take a few hints from the BlazBlue series in how to create a useful training mode that is more educational and intuitive to use. Finally, for those who have an MvC3 save file, you get a non-competitive Galactus mode unlocked at the start that's fun for about five minutes.
Then there are the changes that Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 brings to the combat engine. First off, the Delayed Hyper Combo (DHC) glitch has been removed, so if you were one to rely on that tactic, get ready to rethink your technique a bit. The other big change involves the highly controversial X-factor. Many in the fighting game scene disliked the presence of X-factor, since it allowed for one character to take out a whole team if played correctly. In Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, it seems like the damage done by characters in X-factor has been toned down a bit, and the length of time spent in X-factor shortened. On the other hand, X-Factor can now be let off in the air, which will surely encourage experimentation and subsequent innovation in use of the technique. So while it remains to be seen how much these changes to X-factor will affect high-level play, at first glance, it seems like things have been adjusted accordingly.
For those who have yet to play Marvel vs. Capcom 3, seeing as how this game is being sold for $40, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 offers a budget entry into a fast-paced fighting game full of unique characters and fun gameplay. There is no better time than now to give the series a try. For those who have been playing the game since launch, the new characters will rejuvenate your interest in this game and challenge your imagination in trying to incorporate them into your established gameplay. The only downside to this game is that what comes on disc seems lacking.
In making the inevitable comparison with Super Street Fighter 4, things don't look too good for UMvC3. Super Street Fighter 4 offered much more content, such as team battles and a replay channel, for a reduced price, while Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 doesn't do the same. Whereas SSF4 seemed like a bargain to most, UMvC3 definitely feels like a $40 game. With only a couple of modes to choose from and a less than stellar training mode, I had hoped Capcom would have stepped up their game and given us just a little more. Still, at this price, it's hard to complain.
Regardless, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 represents a new age of heroes that will take you for a ride if you choose to make the investment. My greatest joy with the Marvel series is discovering new combinations of fighters and designing teams such as the "Raccoon City," "Devil May Cry," and "Guys with Swords" teams. With this extended cast of highly viable characters, the only thing holding you back from picking a group of characters you enjoy is your imagination. While this hastily released upgrade definitely has some room for improvement, there is absolutely enough new content to warrant the purchase.