Marvel vs. Capcom 3 received a lot of praise when it was released earlier this year. Despite the halfhearted online mode and the lack of gameplay modes, MvC3 was no doubt a great fighting game. However, as the months passed, the gameplay evolved in quite a negative way. Certain characters were clearly overpowered and some strategies were simply broken. Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 attempts to rectify the balance of the game while also including new features and characters.
At its core, the gameplay should be familiar to anyone that played the original Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (review). Ultimate still feels like a giant sandbox where your only limit is your imagination. The controls are simple enough for fans of all ages to pick up and play and it has enough depth for even the most hardcore players. The changes made to the game, however, do make quite a difference.
As expected, the X-Factor mechanic ended up being a huge problem in MvC3. Once activated, players were able to make miraculous comebacks with very little effort. Although the concept hasn’t changed, X-Factor is not as ridiculous as it once was. The first level in particular doesn’t do nearly as much damage, so it’s not as useful as before. The duration of X-Factor has also been tweaked all across the board and it won’t last nearly as long.
Despite these changes, a well placed level 2 or level 3 X-Factor combo can still eliminate an entire team in seconds, so it’s still an extremely powerful tool in the right hands. This is especially true since X-Factor can now be activated while in the air, which gives players even more options for combos. In the original MvC3, you were helpless if you were pinned down with beams of Hyper Combos unless you were on the ground. Thankfully, that strategy is somewhat less effective now since you can actually do something about it.
Combo scaling also received a rather significant change. Characters now react differently to attacks and this makes certain combos from the original MvC3 impossible to do in Ultimate. Capcom also removed the infamous “DHC glitch”. This was a technique that unfairly allowed players to reset damage scaling and hit stun decay by abusing specific Hyper Combos. Capcom also brought back the ability to mash through certain Hyper Combos for more damage, which is an annoying new feature.
The worst change comes in the form of the new HUD. Your team’s health bars are no longer listed in an order that makes sense. The bar for your second assist is at the top, the character fighting on screen is in the middle, and your first assist is at the bottom. It’s difficult to tell how much life your teammates have left, and that’s a huge problem. The HUD was fine in MvC3 so it’s confusing why Capcom even bothered changing it.
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 features twelve new characters and eight new stages. From the Marvel side there’s Ghost Rider, Nova, Iron Fist, Rocket Raccoon, and Hawkeye. On the Capcom front there’s Vergil, Frank West, Strider, Nemesis, Firebrand, and Phoenix Wright. For the most part, each character adds something unique to the overall feel of the game. There’s definitely a character for all types of play styles.
If you like playing keepaway from your opponents, Ghost Rider can dish out combos with his chain from nearly full screen. He’s reminiscent of Dhalsim from Street Fighter but with more combo possibilities. Rocket Raccoon can lay various traps on screen and burrow underground to confuse opponents. He’s also one of the smallest characters in the game and this makes him difficult to attack.
Hawkeye is one of the more exceptional zoners in the game. He has an extremely fast Hyper Combo and his arrows cause various types of status effects, including poison. Although one might think that he’s similar to Taskmaster since they both use a bow, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Doctor Strange uses a variety of spells to control the flow of battle and he has some great teleport mixups.
Nova is more of a rush down type character. He has decent mobility and his most basic combos are relatively easy to do. He deals a surprising amount of damage for very little work, so he’s probably a good choice for beginners. Iron Fist is more of a grounded fighter with tons of crazy combos and cancels. He has a variety of Rekkas like Street Fighter’s Fei Long and this allows him to constantly pressure opponents.
Firebrand is an aerial based character with various fireballs and diving attacks. He’s a bit difficult to use due to his reliance on canceling moves in the air. Fully utilizing his flight mode is going to be quite a challenge but it seems worth it.
Frank West is an extremely unique character for a fighting game. He actually gains experience points by taking photos and this gives him access to new special moves. Leveling up also changes the appearance of his weapons and makes them even more deadly. Frank’s shopping cart assist might be one of the best in the game and it’s going to be used quite frequently.
Phoenix Wright is another character that specializes in gimmicks. Seeing as Phoenix Wright isn’t a fighter, Capcom built his gameplay around the idea of collecting evidence. The animations of his moves are absolutely hilarious and none of them make any sense. Phoenix Wright becomes a serious threat once he activates turnabout mode. He can combo opponents from full screen distance with just his finger. Phoenix Wright is no joke.
Vergil is easily one of the best new characters in the game. Much like his brother Dante, Vergil has access to a variety of moves and his combos seemingly never end. He has a Devil Trigger state and this gives him access to even more stunts and tricks. Coupled with the right assists, Vergil might just be an unstoppable force.
Strider’s inclusion goes well beyond fan service. He’s fast, he has a great assist, he can travel across the screen with ease, and he can control space quite well. The only downside is that Strider can’t take many hits. The tradeoff is well worth it though.
Nearly every character from the original MvC3 has been tweaked and rebalanced. Some of the changes are more apparent than others. Don’t be surprised if you can’t do many of your old combos, especially if you’re using Magneto.
Ryu, for example, has been drastically improved. He can now fire multiple Hadoukens in rapid succession, blast foes with an invisible exploding fireball, and he has new Shoryuken. In exchange for one bar of meter, Ryu can enter a temporary trance state and this makes him even stronger. Once Denjin mode is activated, Ryu’s Shinku Hadouken can bounce off walls and his Shinku Tatsumaki literally causes a hurricane.
Wolverine and Wesker were extremely powerful characters in MvC3 and that hasn’t changed much. Both characters were nerfed in a variety of ways but they are still great characters. Wesker in particular receives an interesting boost in speed and damage whenever he loses his glasses. Other characters like Dr. Doom are even better now, while Tron Bonne has been made significantly worse. Her Gustav Fire assist does not have invincibility anymore and many of her old combos are simply impossible to do now. She was hit pretty hard for no particular reason.
One character that truly deserved to be nerfed was Dark Phoenix. She’s not nearly as mindless now and her fireball setups are less effective. That said, she is still very powerful. She can easily destroy an entire team in seconds but the matchup is slightly easier to deal with.
The online mode also received a much needed revamp. You can actually spectate matches now, which is something that wasn’t possible in the original MvC3. In terms of modes, there’s Ranked matches, Player matches, and Lobby mode. For the most part, the lobby system itself remains unchanged.
Matchmaking is much better this time around. You are no longer sent back to the main menu whenever you encounter an error. Finding a match is far less frustrating now and the process itself is faster. After an opponent has been found, you can check their bars of connection before finally accepting the match. This is possible to do in both Ranked and Player matches. What’s odd is that you can see the other player’s name in both modes, which means that someone might decline fighting you solely based on past experiences. That’s quite an oversight.
The netcode has also been improved but it’s still not quite right. At times it’s noticeably better than MvC3, which is great. However, it does feels like you’re playing underwater more often than not. In fact, there have been a few matches that were absolutely unplayable on Xbox Live, even with a full green bar connection. You most likely won’t have any issues though if you’re playing against friends with a stable connection.
Despite the improvements made to the online mode, it feels like Capcom is playing catchup when compared to everything Super Street Fighter IV has to offer. It doesn’t make sense why there isn’t a Replay Channel or even the ability to save matches. A spectator mode is nice and all but that should be a feature that is standard in all fighting games by now. It’s certainly not a bullet point that should be treated as something new or revolutionary.
Outside of online multiplayer, there’s Arcade, Versus, Training, and Mission mode – the same modes available in MvC3. There are no characters to unlock this time around, thankfully, but everything else is pretty much the same. You can rewatch all the endings, view concept art and character models, and listen to all the music. You can also read the comic that was originally included in the Special Edition of Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
Arcade mode is still a series of battles against the AI until you reach the final boss. You can also play as Galactus in Arcade mode now but he’s not really that fun to use. Sadly, the character endings are still an absolute joke even for fighting game standards. Marvel’s Frank Tieri once again wrote the story for UMvC3 but it’s not like you’d notice since there’s only about three lines of text for each character. A child could have easily written something more compelling.
It doesn’t seem like any changes have been made to the training mode. You can still manipulate pretty much any variable imaginable but it would have been nice if you could train with a friend online. Mission mode hasn’t changed much either. There are ten missions to complete for each character, which range from ridiculously easy to extremely challenging. Existing cast members from MvC3 have new challenges now to compensate for the changes made in Ultimate.
One of the new modes being added to Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 as free post launch DLC is Heroes and Heralds. In this mode, you can customize your team with cards to give them unique abilities such as parrying, projectile invulnerability, and super armored assists. It sounds interesting but we didn’t get a chance to play it since it hasn’t been released yet.
- The roster is even more varied now
- Better character balance
- Gameplay provides infinite possibilities
- Looks amazing in motion
- Even more fan-service
- Improved netcode
- Damage is still ridiculous
- The new HUD is initially confusing and unintuitive
- The story is a joke
Whether or not this should have been released as DLC is a subject that cannot be ignored. While Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 more than justifies its existence as a new release, it doesn’t exactly feel like an entirely new game. Could it have been released as DLC? Maybe. Capcom made some fundamental changes to the core mechanics though and the importance of these modifications should not be taken lightly. Although the changes might not mean much to casual players, having access to twelve new characters in a team based game is quite significant.
Even if Ultimate was offered as DLC that wouldn’t necessarily make it more convenient. A disc based product eliminates dealing with DRM and that’s always a plus no matter how you look at it. Imagine going to a gathering to play some Ultimate MvC3 only to find out that they don’t have your favorite character. You would either have to bring your system along or buy the DLC for them. It’s not exactly ideal.
I’d argue that having everything on a single disc is less of a hassle for everyone. Plus, you can always just wait for the inevitable price drop, which is something that rarely happens for digital releases.
Whether or not you should buy this game so soon after the release of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is different story. If you missed out on the original back in February then this game is a no-brainer. Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 feels more like a complete product with more characters, stages, and gameplay variety. The improved online mode certainly helps as well. That said, it’s still rather bare bones when compared to the competition.
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 might not be as much of an evolutionary leap forward as Super Street Fighter IV was to Street Fighter IV, but it’s a step in the right direction.