Marvel Vs. Capcom 3: Fate Of Two Worlds Review

This week saw the long overdue release of Marvel Vs. Capcom 3: Fate Of Two Worlds. The multitudes rejoiced, and for good reason too. It’s been nearly 11 years since Capcom’s Marvel Vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes came out. Just to give you an idea of what that means, that game was available in Arcades AND for Sega Dreamcast. It probably came with a copy of Lauryn Hill’s album. The point being that the year 2000 is a long, long time ago; too long in fact for the company that has been the gold standard of Fighting Games since the release of Street Fighter II almost 20 years ago.


Marvel Vs. Capcom 3: Fate Of Two Worlds (PS3 [Reviewed], XBox360)
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: February 15, 2011
MSRP: $59.99

The secret of Capcom’s success has been never to deviate from the formula established in Street Fighter II, which is:

* Colorful, cartoonish characters with individual back-stories and no ‘official’ protagonist, making it easy for players to choose their own favorites.
* Side-scrolling game-play. It’s particularly notable now that every other fighting game series has effectively embraced 360 degree fighting environments.
* A very thin framing plot that is, essentially, a series of boss battles without quests in between until you get to the big bad.
* Beginning with 1996′s X-Men Vs. Street Fighter, tag-team style game-play in which individual players have access to multiple fighters during a single fight.

And most importantly:

* Special moves that require precision timing with the buttons and stick, but are ridiculously CRAZY awesome when you pull them off.

That’s really it. As other companies whose classic franchises also saw first light during the era have changed each new installment considerably (often even changing a game’s genre), Capcom has decidedly never fixed what wasn’t broken. Since about 1996, every one of their fighting games has really just consisted of improvements to their formula, with crazy random stuff thrown in just to mix it up, and that process ultimately led them to the Marvel Vs. Capcom series. Which, it must be noted again, has not seen a new entry since the Clinton Administration. Fortunately, the prayers of people begging for a new Marvel Vs Capcom game have finally been answered.

So two and a half presidents later, how’d they do? The answer: spectacularly not bad at all. MvC3 is a ton of fun, it improves drastically on previous entries in the series, and it really captures what made arcades different from home console-gaming. But it’s also a tad frustrating thanks to sensory overload and difficulty executing special moves.

This is how you'll feel.

In some ways, it’s the best entry in the series. They’ve made some much needed changes, starting with the creation of new modes of play, including the useful and psychologically comforting ‘Simple’ mode. If, like me, you needed to play serious catch up due to having let your Fighting Game muscles atrophy, Simple Mode is your best friend. It makes executing combos and special moves much easier, and though it also limits the number of different special moves the player has access to, what you’ll lose in learn-by-doing you’ll make up for in getting to experience the satisfaction of beefy game-play before you’ve spent hours in Training mode figuring out how to make everything work.

Better still is the simplified fighting system that, unlike MvC 2, does not require that you have 8 fingers on all three of your hands. Replacing the previous games’ somewhat inscrutable 2 high attack/2 low attack 4-button combat system is the new 3 button system; one button for heavy attacks, one for medium and one for light. They’ve also added a new exchange feature that allows you to bring in your backup characters in the middle of game-play and even throw them into combos for extremely awesome effect. They’ve also slightly nerfed special moves and combos by comparison to previous game. The result: you can pull off truly staggering combinations of tag-team play, combos and special moves that combined with the excellent graphics lends an anime level of absurdity to your fights, but doesn’t facilitate easy cheesing. If you want to win, you’ll need to demonstrate actual skill and strategy rather than simply memorizing buttons and hitting them first. That gives you a strong incentive to play through training and get as good as possible while at the same time ensuring you don’t give up our of angry frustration.

It also might be the most perfect recreation of the authentic arcade gaming experience ever made for consoles. Nowadays, arcades exist for 3 reasons: a place to play Dance Dance Revolution; a place for skeevy pedos to congregate; and Dave and Buster’s. But back in the day, especially during the mid-90s peak of Fighting Game popularity, Arcades were like the underage smoking version of fight club, where at the drop of a hat total strangers could duel to the death, call each other immature slurs, then go their separate ways without so much as a bruised pinky. Just the thing for feeling like a badass without actually having to be one.

MvC3 brings that feeling back perfectly. Seriously, I strongly suggest you spend a lot of time in training mode and playing offline until you know what you’re doing, because if your console is connected to the internet, say goodbye to any hopes you may have of completing a game; at literally any moment you’ll find yourself at the mercy of a 12 year old who has way more time than you do and the no-hit KO skills to prove it.

This could be you!

It’s a perfect recreation of how it felt playing SFII or Mortal Kombat, minding your own business when some jerk asks ‘cool if I play?” while slipping in a quarter without bothering to wait for your reply, then proceeds to destroy you and completely set back your progress in the paper thin story. Brilliantly done.

But no joke, if you haven’t trained extensively, humiliating defeat will become routine. There is a steep learning curve and absolutely no mercy for the weak. But fear not, thanks to the eye popping graphics and insanely over-the-top special moves, you will love it, and will be too busy lolzing to become annoyed by how easily you have been dispatched. It’s rare to enjoy something at which you’re objectively terrible, but I have never laughed as hard, nor enjoyed myself so much, as I did getting my ass totally handed to me by strangers as I did playing Marvel Vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds.

But that enjoyment only gets you so far. Eventually you’re going to notice a few problems, chief among them the fact that, at least on the Xbox 360′s standard controllers, special move commands are a bee eye itch. I might have fat fingers, but I spent an hour in training mode with M.O.D.O.K., and I could only get one of his special moves to work consistently. It’s infuriating doing exactly what both the in-game instructions and the strategy guide suggests and having maybe 75% success. And it wasn’t just with M.O.D.O.K.; Morrigan, She-Hulk, Zero, all of them have moves that, while simpler than previous installments of the series, still use down-diagonal-left-left-diagonal-left-left-attack-attack style commands that require the precision timing of a safecracker to execute properly.

What this means is that you won’t be able to learn how to play effectively except by fighting AI, or another opponent who is at your same skill level. In other words, you can still find yourself cheesed and with no hope of catching up. It’s probably fair to say it’s simply inherent to fighting games generally, and once you finally get them right, you’ll tend to do so again and again, but spending so much time doing so delays practicing strategic play, not to mention getting down to fighting total strangers. It’s a weakness that should probably have been addressed.

Another problem is that as is the case with real world Arcade games, it’s a total sensory overload. You know how it’s really fun eating an entire pizza by yourself… for about an hour. Then you pay for it, and pay hard. At first, the colorful graphics, blistering attack combos and amazing special moves and the pounding, energetic soundtrack are charming. However, things happen so fast, and so much of the fights are devoted to animating the special parts that everything starts to run together in a headachey way. You keep playing, because it’s really fun, but it’s not entirely memorable.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing of course. Maybe being memorable isn’t the most important thing in the world. After all, in all honestly, the Marvel Vs. Capcom series makes absolutely no f*cking sense to me at all, other than that Capcom crams Every Single Thing They Can Think Of into a game. We all know the plot – somehow, characters from the Marvel universe end up in a giant battle royale against, and with, characters from the… Capcom universe(?)1. But no one plays these games because of the compelling story or richly detailed characters, they play because of the epic beat downs and hilarious What-if matchupes, and on these points, Capcom has more than delivered.

Ultimately, the point of the game is that you get to make Ryu fight Wolverine! Or Morrigan battle Iron Man. Or Chun Li whomp on Spider-Man. Essentially, it’s basically the ultimate form of the “Who would win in a fight between Jesus and Superman.” If it isn’t perfect, it doesn’t really matter, because they got that part 100% right, and that’s what counts.

You won’t be talking about it like you do Uncharted, but guaranteed, you’ll be playing it through 2012.

Pros

* Spectacular Graphics.
* Simplified by comparison to previous games.
* Excellent combo animations and character-specific special moves.
* Engaging game-play that’s a blast against AI or other humans.
* Extremely difficult to cheese.
* Perfectly captures what makes arcade gaming so much fun.

Cons

* Sensory overload: The constant noises and colors and hyperkinetic songs get a bit exhausting.
* Steep learning curve that makes it difficult for newbs and doesn’t entirely eliminate cheesing.
* (Slightly) unresponsive controls/convoluted commands – difficulty reliably executing special moves will get on your nerves.

Final Score: 90/100

1) First of all, how the hell are Mega Man and Viewtiful Joe in the same universe with Ryu and Okami? HOW?

Want to get the most out of the game? Check out our list of unlockable characters!

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4 Comments on Marvel Vs. Capcom 3: Fate Of Two Worlds Review

Georgie

On February 17, 2011 at 7:12 pm

i was trying to decide if i should get this or black ops. thx for this review, im going to go with marvel vs capcom!

Ross Lincoln

On February 17, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Hah, awesome. Please don’t kick my ass too hard.

Mez

On February 19, 2011 at 3:16 am

After playing for just twenty minutes we had unlocked all the characters! Getting all the bios etc is a lot harder as you actually have to deliver the killing blow to Galactus with the char you want to unlock the stuff for.
Its really fun to play with friends though and we’ve not tried it online yet so fingers crossed :)

frizlefry

On February 23, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Complaining about being unable to execute moves on an Xbox controller is like complaining you can’t win Daytona 500 with a Yugo. Console controllers are cheap, imprecise and made just well enough to last through the warranty. This is acceptable for most game genres but not for fighting games. A decent fight stick should be considered a prerequisite for MvC3 and other fighting games. For the majority of players, a modest investment in one will increase your enjoyment and execution. Chances are your opponents are using them and you are at more of a disadvantage than you realize.