Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two World (MvC3) has significant ties to Street Fight IV in more than the simple fact that they come from the same developer/publisher. A man who was part of the Street Fighter IV design team, Ryota Niitsuma, took his knowledge to this Marvel vs. Capcom revival. Street fighter IV, with its deep complexity and tactical finesse, is regarded as heralding a revival in the arcade-style fighting genre. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 appears to have benefitted from Niitsuma’s pedigree, while at the same time balancing accessibility.
The previous title in the series was a solid favourite among fighting game fans, and all the hallmarks appear to be in place. Three-character tag team battles, air combat combinations, special moves that strike awe, and multi-character combos of blazing glory and destruction. The game opens with an engaging cinematic that shows off a battle between some of the characters, before the mega-boss Galactus crashes the party.
The story is rather contrived, but goes along the lines of Doctor Doom and his cohorts Wesker and Akuma conspiring to dominate both the Capcom and Marvel universes before unwittingly unleashing Galactus, who’d rather just destroy everything. The story is really quite inconsequential and serves as the flimsiest of hooks upon which to hang the real purpose of the game – getting a bunch of cool characters together for some fighting.
Speaking of the characters, there are 36 retail characters in total (with 2 recently added through DLC), a number that many MvC2 fans may find disappointing compared to that game’s 56 characters. There are some disappointing choices, such as the use of slightly more obscure characters and the absence of Mega Man.
Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds character list
|Marvel characters||Capcom characters|
The game offers online and offline play modes, and offline is the likely stomping ground for those getting to grips with the combat mechanics. The controls are relatively straightforward – the four face buttons make for light, medium, heavy and special (launch) attacks. Various combinations of these buttons, along with some deft D-pad work, will have one’s fighter unleashing colourful, draw-dropping havoc with relative ease. The launch attack encourages players to take battles up in to the sky, whereupon further combinations can be unleashed on stunned opponents.
With three characters per combat team, calling in off-screen partners for an assist or a full combo changeover attack keeps things exciting. The tagging combat never fails to impress, as each character is equipped with an impressive arsenal of moves, and selectable tag-in manoeuvres. As players become familiar with the mechanics, these tag attacks will form the backbone of strategy, especially when having to swap out a weakened team member for one more capable.
Mere tagging and assist moves aren’t enough. Each character has an incredibly powerful attack move, which on its own is a seriously impressive visual treat. Call in the rest of the team to unleash their special moves in concert – a Hyper Combo – and all hell spectacularly breaks loose. There is a five level meter at the bottom of the screen which indicates when the hyper combo moves can be used.
Let’s not forget about the ‘X-Factor.’ Once during each match, players can activate the X-Factor power-up which is typically reserved as either the ultimate Hail Mary move or a final crushing insult. The more team members out of action, the longer X-Factor lasts. X-Factor negates chip damage, increases attack and move speed, and increases attack damage. It can be a game changing gambit.
While the ‘normal’ control scheme detailed above is rather easy to come to grips with, there is a ‘simple’ control mode that reduces the buttons to context sensitive actions. It seems like a button mashing alternative for those who are just picking up the game for a couple of quick matches, and don’t want to be bothered with learning all the details of the combat mechanic. It’s serviceable for those familiarising with this frenetic game, but eventually, it shall have to be cast aside for the ‘normal’ control scheme if you ever want any respect.
In order to train up, there are a couple of modes provided. Practice mode sets up a non-combative dummy opponent which can configured for specific stances or states, so that one may perfect particular moves. Mission mode issues ten challenges for each of the characters, such as stringing together a succession of complex combo moves. This is likely where the real learning will take place at first, and one can uncover some interesting attack possibilities by ploughing through the missions. Unfortunately, the presentation of this mode seems a bit sloppy – it would be nice if the moves were displayed in the training screen, instead of having to pause and bring up the ‘moves’ menu.
Then there is the arcade story mode. Players progress through the single player game of six levels and arrive at the seventh level final boss. Having defeated Galactus (that cheap bastard) with each specific character, players will unlock an ending for each. Unfortunately these endings are somewhat lacklustre, being only a static 2 panel comic book style artwork accompanied with a short narrative that delivers the conclusion for that character’s arc. Clearly, none of this is meant to be canon for either of the two universes. It’s pretty underwhelming and it would have been great to see some sort of high quality in-engine cinematic for each character.
Each time the arcade mode is completed, the player earns points which go toward unlocking content such as character bios, movies, models and artwork. This adds a nice incentive to plough through the arcade mode numerous times.
Finally for offline mode, there is versus, which is pretty self-explanatory. Organise a few pals and enjoy some hot-seat battles. Probably the best way to enjoy a fighting game.
As with Street Fighter IV and Super Street Fighter IV, the online modes at retail are lacking. The Street Fighter games have had features patched in, and one can only hope that Capcom will get around to doing the same with MvC3.
There is no spectator mode (Capcom has confirmed they are patching this in). There are no match replays – a terrible exclusion, as part of online competitive play involves studying your matches to spot mistakes, as well as viewing the pros showing off. There are no multiplayer team matches, which would have perfectly suited the game. There is no tournament mode.
MvC3 does feature basic online modes – ranked matches, player ‘friendly’ matches, and custom matches. One can set their preferred region which is a help when living in SA and trying to find the best possible opponent, latency-wise.
Despite its flashy exterior, one gets the feeling that MvC3 means serious business at its core. However, it probably falls short of the complexity, nuance and balance presented by Street Fighter IV. Having spent many hours taking on friends and the AI, I’m continually learning new tricks, and being flummoxed by something hitherto unseen. Some characters do have rather powerful (and cheap) move sets, but learning to counter these effectively is part of the fighting experience. That said, things can get a bit bleak online when coming up against a player that constantly spams a single move, and then counters with tag assists.
X-Factor is an interesting addition that can turn the tables in a heartbeat. I feel that the verdict on overall balance has yet to come out in the wash, as players are still getting to grips with the revised control scheme and learning the strengths and weaknesses of characters and the all-important team combinations.
Looks and sounds
Visually, MvC3 seems positively overwhelming at first, and the epilepsy warning that presents itself upon loading should be taken very seriously. The game is packed full of colourful flashing, sparkling and dazzling special effects, the brutal result of the oh-so-easy to execute special moves. With its colourful texturing and cohesive art direction, MvC3 is a spectacle to behold, yet nothing seems out of place. It must have been a tough job to make the diverse range of characters blend together as if they were all meant to be in the same game, but Capcom pulled it off.
Attack moves are executed with visual aplomb and smooth, stylish animations. Each character’s personality is well reflected through their arsenal, and Capcom appear to have captured well the spirit of each, and even more impressively, managed to allow these small touches to stand out throughout the chaos. The impressively animated and cool background scenery is pure fan service, with such iconic locations as the New York city streets outside the Daily Bugle, and Valhalla.
The sounds effects are borderline madness. Nothing happens without an extravagant audio accompaniment; all the while the announcer boisterously calls the plays. The musical score is a lot of fun, with all of the characters having their own unique tune. The background music brings back memories of arcade fighters from the 90’s, but with a suitably modernised flair. All of the characters are fully voiced with pre-fight and victory banter, both in English and Japanese. The characters also have personalised quips depending on whom they are facing.
Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds is quite simply a lot of fun. It’s accessible to newcomers, who will be rewarded by pulling off spectacular moves with relative ease. Seasoned fighting gamers will find the depth and variety offered by the three-character team mechanic to be its own challenge of technique. Whichever category you fall into, the fight is bound to be an action packed spectacle from start to finish. It almost doesn’t matter who wins when things are this much fun to watch. Almost…