Marvel vs. Capcom 3 has quite a legacy to live up to. After all, it is the sequel to one of the most cherished fighting games ever made. Fans have been demanding this game for a decade now and disappointment seems inevitable. Capcom somehow managed to do it, though, and created a game that is arguably more ambitious than its predecessor. Gaming’s greatest crossover is back and it’s just as awesome as it’s ever been.
The first thing you’ll notice about this game is that it looks absolutely fantastic. The comic book art style makes everything look dynamic and really brings the game to life. Even the stage backdrops are expressive to the point that it actually becomes a beautiful distraction. In motion, this is easily one of the best looking fighting games around.
If you’re unfamiliar with the versus series, the premise is as simple as it gets. Characters from Marvel and Capcom, for whatever reason, are now in the same game and want to fight each other. The series is known for its ridiculously over-the-top fast paced gameplay with crazy beams shooting all over the place. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is no different. Although it may not seem like it at first, this game is faster than its predecessors and far more satisfying.[boxout]Despite being a sequel, MvC3 is a new game that completely rebuilds the foundations set by the series. It might be difficult to accept at first but this game is not Marvel vs. Capcom 2. All the wonderful 2D sprites from Capcom’s past have been replaced by beautifully rendered 3D character models. The roster is also noticeably slimmer in comparison to MvC2, and features only 36 characters in total (with two more on the way as DLC).
The button layout has also been modified and is less complex than Capcom’s previous fighting games. MvC3’s simplified control scheme allows the game to be more accessible and friendly to new players. Individual buttons for punches and kicks have been replaced by three commands – Low, Medium, and High. Every character also has a universal Special Attack button that acts as a launcher. This means that you’ll always know which button to press when going for an air combo. The Special Attack button can be used as a normal attack under certain circumstance as well.
Input commands shouldn’t pose much of a problem for most players either. If you can do a Hadouken and Shoryuken in Street Fighter, that’s almost all you need to know. The inputs for Special moves and Hyper Combos are either a quarter circle motion, the zigzag uppercut motion, or some variation of the two. Of course, that’s not to say that every character is the same. Each attack is different and you still need to use them appropriately.
The new control scheme makes experimentation and execution easier without sacrificing depth. It’s more important to know what to do and when to do it than how to input the command. This design philosophy works well for a game as fast paced as this one. And if the inputs are still too difficult for you to pull off, you can opt to use Simple mode to make things even easier.
New to MvC3 are tag team aerial combos. By pressing the Special Attack button and a direction during an air combo, you can tag in your partner to continue the assault. Each direction has different properties to take advantage of. Holding up will send the opponent further into the air and inflicts the most damage. Holding either left or right hits the opponent toward the side of the screen and inflicts a minimal amount of pain. And lastly, holding down will slam the opponent into the ground and grants you one meter for your Hyper Combo. Team aerial combos are very rewarding to do but it comes at a risk. The attacks can be countered by correctly guessing the direction used by the other player.
Another new mechanic is the X-Factor system. Each player has the ability to activate their X-Factor once per match by pressing all four attack buttons simultaneously. While activated, your characters become stronger, faster, won’t take chip damage and can regenerate lost health. The effects vary by character and increase in power, speed, and duration when you have fewer team members.
To say that X-Factor is a game changer would be a huge understatement. Even in a 3-on-1 situation, you can activate X-Factor and win a match in seconds before your opponent has time to react. In Marvel vs. Capcom 2, it was very difficult (i.e. nearly impossible) to overcome the odds in such situations. In Mvc3, it’s almost a regular occurrence and it completely changes the dynamic of the game.
If you don’t use X-Factor effectively, it can cost you the match. In most cases, you’ll want to save it for when you’re down to one character. However, there are some situations when using it earlier can actually give you the advantage. Either way, it’s a ridiculously overpowered gameplay mechanic that makes the game very exciting.
The roster features a solid mix of fan favorites and newcomers. Despite having fewer characters to choose from, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 has more variety than its predecessor. There are no fluff characters or clones in this game. Even though X-23 is literally a female clone of Wolverine in terms of storyline, her moves and play style are completely different. Ryu and Akuma might both be Shotos from Street Fighter with similar movesets, and yet, they aren’t clones either. Every character seems viable and that’s what makes MvC3 so great. It’s not a game with a superfluous roster, nor should it be. Although, the exclusion of Mega Man is indeed heartbreaking.
Forming a team that compliments everyone’s fighting style is one of the most important elements to understand. With 36 characters in all, there’s a lot of possibilities. You might not always choose your favorite characters, though, as some tend to work better than others as a team. Finding that synergy really makes a difference in the long run. As with MvC2, inactive characters can be called in to perform an assist attack. The timing has been changed a bit and it takes longer for them to jump on screen. It’s also a lot easier to punish assist abuse in this game since they take more damage, especially if you activate X-Factor. This makes spam less of an issue since there’s more risk involved in using them.
Balance has always been a touchy subject for fighting games. In previous versus titles, there were teams and characters that were obviously overpowered. It’s a weird situation in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 because everyone has the potential to do ridiculous damage. Sentinel is the only character that really stands out as being abusable or cheap, and even then, he can still be beaten. For the most part, this game boils down to whoever rushes down their opponent the most effectively. Constantly blocking and taking your time will get you nowhere.