It’s the most ludicrous of fighting-game mash-ups: a squad of the most popular super heroes and villains squaring off against the character roster of a publisher whose titles range from Street Fighter to Resident Evil to Megaman. But it’s resulted in one of the most beloved fighting games in history, with Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes still enjoying a cult following some 11 years after its initial release. Finally, a sequel is upon us with the full grunt of the modern consoles behind it and an updated and more contemporary roster of Marvel and Capcom’s most popular characters (with a few classics thrown in for good measure). Ever wanted to see Sir Arthur, the dwarven, cartoonish protagonist from 1985 coin-op favourite Ghosts ‘n Goblins duke it out in a fair fight with, say, the Incredible Hulk? Resident Evil’s Chris Redfield against the God of Thunder, Thor? Now’s your chance!
While the full game came out only days ago, the final preview build was as good as we were going to get before going to print. At the time, the final roster had just been revealed, which you can find in its entirety in the boxout overleaf.
In Fate of Two Worlds, Marvel vs. Capcom’s trademark over-the-top, tag-in, tag-out gameplay is overhauled with the visual flair of Super Street Fighter IV. This is particularly remarkable given the amount and nature of the action going on at any one time: characters from both teams will constantly jump on- and off-screen to provide assists or double- or triple-hyper combos (which is a sight to behold in itself). And much like Street Fighter IV, MvC3 alters the fighting mechanic of its classic incarnations very little and is all the better for it. The main difference this time around is that, where MvC2 featured four attack buttons (light and hard punches and kicks), MvC3 uses a simpler system of only three attack buttons (light, medium, hard) that doesn’t distinguish between punches and kicks. Nevertheless, MvC3 is simple to pick up, but with a rewarding complexity that allows you to get as much out of it as you’re prepared to put in. Stringing simple combos together is easy enough for amateur players, although the best combos come with practice and simply can’t be button-mashed. Advanced techniques, such as air combos, are not necessarily mandatory in order to be competitive, but they’ll simply expand the repertoire of the devotee.
It’s far too early to tell from this build, but the characters seem relatively well balanced. Despite plenty of experimentation with the characters on offer, I struggled to find anyone that felt particularly over- or under-powered. But as with Marvel vs. Capcom 2 before it, it’ll take some time before the true potential of some characters is tapped by the community. And the notorious Sentinel was among the final characters revealed for inclusion, so it’ll be interesting to see whether he’s been sufficiently "nerfed”.
There is a metric tonne of fan service within Marvel vs. Capcom 3; enough to keep any comic nerd of long-time Capcom aficionado grinning for weeks. Most characters appear to have a background theme, with the Resident Evil arena featuring a Tyrant encased within a vat and a glass cage full of lickers (with the glass cracking as the fight progresses). The stiffly animated Arthur from Ghosts ‘n Goblins will lose his armour, eventually reduced to his boxer shorts, just as he did in the arcades nearly three decades ago.
If the devil is in the details, then MvC3 is one devilish game.
The early signs are very good indeed, and we can’t wait to get our hands on the full product. Check back next issue for our full and considered review once we’ve spent nearly every waking minute on the final game!