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Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 Review: The Fate of A Broken Game

So as some of you who know me should know, I've been writing for DamnLag for the last year or so. It's still a growing site and whatnot, and I think you should all check it out if not just for my ramblings. So, to possibly intrigue you all into checking out the site from time to time (as well as get some possibly interesting discussion going on here), I've decided to post my review of Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 that I recently wrote for them.

Is this a whoring post? Yeah. I'm not going to hide that fact. However, it is also me shlepping out a review I spent a lot of time working on and I'd like to get feedback from people. So enjoy it the exact same way it's presented there. And maybe stop on by DamnLag sometime, won't you?

It’s been a long, long wait since Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 was first announced last year. During its entire development period, I had mixed feelings about the game. Each time I built up excitement for the game, Capcom found some way to temporarily kill that excitement. First it was the fact that it wouldn’t be done with 2D sprites. Then it was the simplified control layout. Next, it was the announcement of who wouldn’t be in the game. After that, it was the announced DLC plans followed then by the announcement that Spectator Mode would be delayed.

It almost seemed like Capcom didn’t want me to get excited over the game. With each disappointment, however, I managed to set aside the negatives and focus on the positives, building up my excitement for the game again and again. And now, after all the waiting… all the recorded demo matches… all the wild speculations… the game has finally come out. The question now, is this: Is Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 a worthy successor and will it last for the next 11 years the same way Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 did? The answer I’ve come up with, after this first week of playing is, “No.”

It’s Flashy and Fun.

Now I know people are probably going to be reeling from that last statement, so instead of getting to the negatives, I’ll first focus on the positives. The biggest positive is that the game is absolutely beautiful and is insanely fun to play. Now I’m sure you’re thinking “but you said it wouldn’t last the next 11 years,” and yes, I did say that and as of now, I stick by that statement. Remember, we’ll get to that reasoning later. Whenever I sit down to play the game, be it to unlock more endings through arcade mode, to learn characters through Mission Mode, or to just play against friends online, I have a lot of fun doing it.

It’s clear that a labor of love went into the smaller details in the game like character movements and phrases. If anything, MvC3 manages to be an incredibly entertaining fighting game despite its faults. If you’re terrible at fighting games, you’ll probably still enjoy just watching others play. It’s that entertaining.

The Controls Are Fine

This was a big concern for me personally. Mostly because the simplified controls of Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom are what kept me from sticking with it for very long. While this game has a very similar layout (light, medium, heavy attack buttons + an air launch button), it still manages to have a nice amount of complexity to how things are done. Capcom said they did this so newcomers could have as much fun with the game and really get into it. Well, honestly, I think Capcom completely failed on that. Yes, the button layout is a bit simpler, but there are so many moves that punish you if you button mash.

For instance, with Deadpool, if you want to pull off his screen-covering trigger happy move, you have to make sure you don’t press the attack button more than once because it will then send you up in the air to perform a completely different move that can botch whatever strategy you may have been developing.

Another example is Super Skrull. If you do anything and press an attack button too many times, you’ll be stuck doing a Tenderizer attack, which may or may not hit your opponent and lasts far too long. If you miss with the attack, you’ll be open to massive punishment. Its things like this that make MvC3’s controls a lot more complex than they let on. You have to focus and be in control of your actions even moreso than in the previous games. While this will be a welcomed feature to anyone familiar with fighting games, it’ll be a complete turn-off for newcomers.

I love the fact that this game makes me focus even more on my button inputs, but the fact that Capcom didn’t accomplish what it set out to do still needs to be addressed. I know the “Simple Mode” controls can be seen as their answer to that, but don’t forget that early-on Capcom mentioned that their reasoning behind the TvC layout was to get newcomers in on the fun.

The Game’s Roster Is Horribly Broken

Alright, enough pointing out the game’s positive points. Yes, it’s fun and yes, the controls work. However, there’s so much wrong with the game that it hurts. Here’s what I think Capcom thought about when they started working on MvC3: “Hmm. Most people liked using Storm, Magneto and Sentinel in MvC2 because they had the most exploitable and powerful movesets. Instead of reworking them to be on the same level as everyone else, let’s instead bring everyone else up to their level!” And that is exactly what they did. Well, almost. Sentinel is still insanely overpowered.

So really, they gave everyone a ridiculous amount of exploitable moves and then took the top three characters from the last game and boosted them up even more. As I mentioned before, I was really expecting MvC3 to have a more balanced roster. You know, since the game has about 10 characters less than the last one and about half of those are newcomers. So it’s very disappointing to see that things almost seem even more out of whack than MvC2, which is saying a lot since that game was notoriously unbalanced since its development was rushed. Really, I’m not even sure if I can compare the unbalanced-ness of this game to MvC2. Especially since I could use characters like Guile in that game and get some nice matches in.

Everyone Is Exploitable.

I don’t think there’s any character in MvC3 that you can’t exploit in some way. Every character in the game can be used cheaply. Be it some move that can be spammed throughout the match and backed up by assists…

Or some combo that can be looped for eternity…

Everyone in the game can be used in a way that really just kills the fun of the game. The reason for this falls back on the simplifying of the game’s controls. Yes, it still gets rather complex when learning moves and focusing on what you’re doing, but because the game makes it incredibly easy to pull of combos (you know, one of those features added to draw in newcomers), there are a ton of exploitable maneuvers.

I suppose the fact that any character can do this could be considered “balance,” but when there’s no way to break out of these juggles, it just becomes a game of watching your character get KO’d. Hell, people have been working on a ton of methods on how to get 100% damage combos out with nearly half the roster so far. Even worse, they’re doing it without the additions of partners, or X-Factor now.

It’s nearly impossible to not feel like you’re being cheap when using a character in the game. Or at least it feels that way for me. Half the time I’m playing the game, I feel uncomfortable with the fact that the characters I enjoy using have all these moves that can be done so easily and put so much hurt on my opponent. It’s also a part of the reason I’ve gravitated towards Spencer in my personal team. He only has a few moves and it takes a lot more effort to get at your opponent than with, say, Deadpool.

Now, I know I’m complaining a lot about exploitation in the game and I probably sound butthurt from too many losses or something. Quite the contrary; my Win/Loss ratio as of now is 100+ wins and 50+ losses, so it’s not like I suck. I know how to combat against those MODOK players that like to turtle in their corner with barriers and psy-blasts and even Sentinels. It’s just that more often than not, it requires me to be cheap as well, which just takes a lot of the fun out of the game. It’s like using aimbots in FPS games. Where is the fun in that? I try to not use characters like Deadpool because I like getting in and doing some hand-to-hand combat here and there; but the game doesn’t seem to want me to do that since so many of the characters are used for zoning more than anything.

The Name of the Game is “Spam…” I mean “Zoning…”

For those of you that don’t know, “Zoning” is the term used for keeping distance between you and your opponent. It’s used in plenty of fighting games, but in MvC3, there’s a very heavy focus on it. There are enough characters in the roster that have moves that can keep players pinned on the other end of the screen without ever having to leave where they are. Where the hell is the fun in that? Well, really, there is no fun in it. People do it to win, and that’s it; and they’ll keep on doing it, too, because it works. Why? Because the game was designed for it to work.

Combos Will Be the End of You

Zoning isn’t the only point of frustration, though. Combos are too. As I mentioned before, combos are extremely easy to do in this game. Even worse is that you can be stuck in an incredibly long and punishing combo too. What blows my mind even more is that Capcom acknowledges how easy it is to exploit moves and pull out ridiculously long combos when they put in the Mission Mode. For example, one of Amaterasu’s Missions is to repeatedly spam a basic forward attack with her that the opponent cannot do anything about.

If only there were some way to give the player some kind of window of opportunity, like the Burst maneuver in BlazBlue and Guilty Gear. For those of you that don’t know, the Burst maneuver is a move that allows you to break out of a long combo if you have it charged up. Actually, even Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom had something like this with the Mega Crash. And you weren’t getting away scott free when you used it either. It would take away some of your health as well as parts of your super bar. So, why wouldn’t they include such a maneuver in a game that can start with a ridiculously long ground combo, go into a ridiculously long air combo, then finish with a ridiculously powerful super move (which sometimes can also be chained into either another super or into another long combo)?

The closest thing the game has is the air combo cancel which can only be done if you manage to match the opponent’s button input if he switches out characters mid-combo. The X-Factor, Variable Counter and Advancing Guard features are useful, yes, but they only work if you are both guarding and on the ground.

Basically, if you get caught in anything in this game, you are pretty much screwed.

So, let’s get back to my original statement. Does this game seem like the kind of game that will hold up as well as MvC2 did for another 11 years? I say “No.” There are far too many things wrong with the game at this point for it to be strong enough to last 11 years. That is, unless Capcom goes in and does some serious nerfing, balancing and exploit patching. This is technically possible since Capcom is planning a slew of DLC characters. These characters could easily come with patches to the game that fix the many, many problems that players are already discovering within the game. They could also go the Super MvC3 route.

I know they said “No” to that possibility, but they’ve said “No” to a lot of “possibilities” with this game that have since then been done anyway. It’s worth keeping in mind that Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 is still a brand new game fresh off the press. It’s possible that within a year’s time, I could completely change my tune with the game. It’s not like all these frustrations I have with the game will make me punk out and never play it again. It’s just that the game makes me happy as much as it makes me rage, and so far, I’ve already seen a few people get turned off by its faults.

All I can say now is that the game is worth giving a shot, but don’t expect anything very solid, because that is the exact opposite of what this game is.

I just want to mention that since writing this article, I've found out that Capcom designed the game to take heavy patching and that the plan was to make the game as crazy as possible, then see how it does and start patching accordingly. That's not really the way I would have preferred they do it, but at least it will be patched in the future.
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About Genki-JAMone of us since 6:50 AM on 06.08.2007

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