Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 review (PS3)

There comes an awkward moment when someone asks you to review a game from a genre you’re not really familiar with. My experience with fighting games is limited to a few rounds of MK vs DC at a friend’s place, and two hours of Streetfighter IV on my short lived Nintendo 3DS.

Since James has covered the original Marvel vs Capcom 3 release in his review, we decided to conduct a small experiment – looking at the game from the perspective of a newbie.

First, a bit of housekeeping. The Ultimate Edition contains 12 new playable characters, bringing the total to 48. A new game mode has been announced as post-launch DLC – Heroes & Heralds is a team based campaign mode available for single player and multiplayer. Furthermore, the multiplayer experience and net code has been improved, including a spectator mode and tweaks to the leader board and matchmaking functionality.

So let’s jump right in. According to James, the game is accessible for beginners, and while I have a number of niggles with that statement, he’s not actually wrong.

Sure, the interface is a tad clunky, and understanding the controls can be a bit of a pain, because the help screens are very generic. For example, the command list for each character only shows you the functions needed for each combo. To know which buttons trigger which function, you then have to hop across to the controller config screen.

Once you’re past this relatively small hurdle, it’s as easy as picking your team and jumping into a game mode. Initially you’ll most likely dabble with the Arcade mode, in which you face teams of increasingly competent AI opponents, until you’re finally pitted against one Galactus, a Big Bad from the Marvel universe.

A team consists of three fighters, and the twist is that during a fight, you can switch between them at any time, and also trigger assists and crossover attacks. This opens up another layer of depth and strategy. Picking the right team out of 48 options can be daunting, especially when you don’t know much about the Marvel universe or Capcom’s cast of characters.

Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3

Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3

Initially I went with selections that I was at least familiar with – Iron Man, Wolverine, Captain America. There is enough variety in style, appearance and technique to appeal to a wide group of players – much of it depends on your personal playing style and skill.

It seems that Capcom have delivered on their promise to make the controls easier to learn for beginners. Initially it all feels a bit button-mashy, but it only takes a few games to get the hang of the basics. The control scheme is fairly simple, with each button executing a different attack, while the triggers and shoulder buttons handle the change of fighters and the assists. Combos can be executed with the analog stick and the corresponding attack button. The moves are fluid and suitably over the top, without being overly ridiculous. It’s as believable as comic characters will get.

The arcade mode is paced so that you can quickly win some fights and see yourself make progress. That gives you a chance to play around with different characters a bit – they all have similar control schemes. Combos work the same way everywhere, but each character has their own intricacies which will take a while to discover and become familiar with. The depth lies in using defense at the right moment, and timing your combos and assists properly. There is a lot more strategy in here than one might initially assume.

Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3

Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3

The production values spell Arcade – but in a very modern way. It’s clear that this game is made with arcade fighters in mind, but the graphics are on a level that easily competes with other high-end titles. The characters are full 3D and very detailed, while the action happens on a 2.5D plane with a variety of animated backgrounds from the two universes. Special effects from the combos look really good. Funny though – on one stage a huge chicken was floating in the background. At least it looked like a chicken. Probably waiting for the leftovers…

The music and voice overs are pretty much what you’d expect from an arcade game as well – suitably MIDIfied with an announcer that’s just the right level of over-the-top, without being cheesy. The characters bring their own taunts, voice overs and opening/ending lines. I could swear it’s Robert Downey Jr. lending his voice to the game’s version of Iron Man…

So that’s the game in a nutshell. What about the new stuff? The additional characters are a mixed bag. I really enjoyed playing with Ghostrider; his chain wreaks havoc. Rocket Raccoon was surprisingly capable for a guy his size – speed is an advantage of sorts. On the other end of the scale, there’s Phoenix Wright – with awkward movements and unspectacular combos, he was pretty much useless to me. The rest fell somewhere in between those extremes.

Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3

Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3

I really wanted to get into the multiplayer, but there wasn’t much of a chance of that happening. On the PS3, very few people seem to be playing online. I played a few internationally hosted matches, but my lag was so unbearable that the host finished me off in no time. Local matches were hard to find. Eventually I managed to play a few rounds with a friend, but it turned out that the guest always suffered from lag. Even when the movements looked fluid, the commands were always delayed by half a second or so, which puts a huge kibosh on trying to play a proper match. If this is the new and improved netcode, I don’t even want to know how bad the original was.

The big question is – was it necessary to put all these improvements and additions into a new game? Or could/should it have been DLC? To clarify – the new content is only available in this package. Owners of the original, which is just over half a year old, might feel cheated. The budget price point will only be a small consolation for the fact that you’re essentially paying for the same game with a few enhancements.

At the end of the day, I enjoyed my foray into fighting games. Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 is more accessible than other titles I have tried (briefly), with the Marvel cast giving it a feel that I can only describe as fairly mature. If you weren’t a fan of fighting games before, this won’t convince you otherwise. But for those who are looking for a way into the genre, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 is as good a starting point as any other.

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Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 review (PS3)

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