Dominique Buck here to review a game belonging to arguably one of the lesser discussed genres in video games: a fighting game. Ever since their homes in the golden age of gaming, known as the arcades, began to die down, fighting games have become more of a smaller sub community within the gaming community. Fighting game enthusiasts, much like their fellow eSports brothers in the Starcraft community, travel the world and play their game of choice in national and sometimes worldwide tournaments.
2011 was actually a pretty big year for fighting game fans. Among the games released this year included BlazBlue Continuum Shift II, Mortal Kombat 9, Super Street Fighter 4: Arcade Edition, and Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
But today I’ve chosen to review one of the more controversial fighting games released this year, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Released less than a year after the original Marvel vs. Capcom 3, it made more than a few fans upset. Is it worth the money to update?
Presentation and Concept–
Ever since the original days of X-Men vs. Street Fighter, the concept of these two companies, which originally had nothing to do with each other, was one of the weirdest ideas for a crossover. Yet oddly enough, it seemed to work. Whether the player entered in the series as a fan of characters like Wolverine, Captain America, and the Incredible Hulk, or Ryu, Jill Valentine and Strider Hiryu, the mesh between these two world has simply worked, and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is no different. The clash between Capcom and Marvel is brought to life by special dialogue that not only references instances in their own comics/games of origins, but also brings some sort of idea of what these characters would be like if they existed in the same realm. Players really gain the sense of rivalry that Ghost Rider might have with Dante or Ryu might have with Iron Fist. This is emphasized by the opening of the game, which features intense cinematic stills of some of the new cast fighting the old characters. Capturing one brief glimpse in the epic battle between Vergil and Wolverine, Ryu and Nova, or Phoenix and Wesker is enough to send hype down the spines of anyone who is a fan of either company.
Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and subsequently Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 are the first games in the series to have their characters rendered in 3D. Ultimate Marvel, even more so than Regular (or, Vanilla Marvel as it is affectionately called in the fighting game community), goes with the comic book theme, with the characters decorating the menus in true comic book fashion and different logos jumping out at you just like they would in a comic book. It also throws in small references to previous games, such as the cover of Marvel vs. Capcom 2 lurking behind the character select screen. The characters, even if their original game wasn’t in 3D or if they’ve never been rendered in 3D fashion before, all look familiar and true to their place of origin. The new meters have been up for debate however, as some fans very much prefer the new dark blue health bars, and giant X reminding you that you haven’t used your X Factor yet. Others, however find a lot of these elements to be really distracting. Overall though, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a great looking game, especially the game’s opening.
Here’s the thing about Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3: The main thing that really justifies the re-release is the fixes in gameplay. While Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was a fantastic game, within the early weeks of the games release, people were already finding things that were pretty unbalanced about it. It was by no means unplayable, but there were still certain abuse-able tactics. Ultimate Marvel, while it doesn’t fix everything, is a much more balanced game. The goal behind Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was to provide a game that newcomers to the fighting game genre could ease their way in, while at the same time, allowing veterans to continue the series crazy combo creations, and Ultimate Marvel is no different. The game is nowhere near as hard to get good at as other games such as Street Fighter 4, however it still has a lot to offer to those that have been playing fighting games for years. It’s also one of the few fighting games out there that manage to have a cast of characters that all feel like usable, viable characters, including new addition Phoenix Wright, that many were worried would be too much of a joke character. Even with the 12 new characters, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom’s roster is not as large as Marvel vs. Capcom 2, however, I have to believe that this allowed Capcom to focus on each character individually and improve them to the best of their ability. Marvel vs. Capcom 2 was plagued with characters that clearly stood above the rest, and while these top tier characters that returned for Marvel vs. Capcom 3 are still really good (e.g. Magneto, Sentinel, or Storm), they don’t clearly outshine the rest of the roster. This was then taken to a greater extent in Ultimate Marvel, where some of the new characters that were a bit overpowered (e.g. Marvel’s Phoenix, or Dante of Devil May Cry fame), got the proper fixes that they needed. Sure, it could be argued that this could all be fixed through patching, however, if you look at the entire change log, that would have been a LOT of patches.
The other advantage Ultimate Marvel has over other fighters is that every character feels unique, and accurately represents their place of origin. Wolverine fights with his claws in a frenzied fashion; Wesker is creepy and intimidating; Hulk is a huge powerhouse; Deadpool brings his silly quotes and weapon mastery to the table; and Arthur tosses around his weaponry that fans of Ghosts and Goblins will instantly recognize. This was no different for the 12 new characters. Frank West uses his camera to level up, tosses zombies around the battlefield, and beats the opponents with chainsaws, baseball bats, and other unconventional weaponry; Doctor Strange uses his magical mastery to confuse the opponent and counter their tactics; Hawkeye has a wide array of arrows; Ghost Rider likes to swing his chain around; Phoenix Wright collects evidence; and Nemesis lurches around and tosses his body weight much like he would in his origin game. One could simply spend hours in training mode, figuring out tricks with their favorite Marvel and Capcom characters.
The music in Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is an often debated topic. Some loved its more jazz-based soundtrack, while others felt it to be really out of place. Ultimate Marvel, however gives each character his or her own unique theme, which in the case of the Capcom characters is usually a remixed version of a song from their own game. Ryu and Chun Li use updated versions of the themes they’ve had since the Street Fighter 2 days; Spencer uses a remixed version of the original Bionic Commando theme; and fans of the Ace Attorney games will smile with nostalgia whenever they managed to get Phoenix Wright into turnabout mode. However, the Marvel cast received their themes too, with those that were in Marvel vs. Capcom 1 getting new versions of their old themes, and newcomers like Deadpool getting brand new themes. Rather than being one genre, the music in this game bounces all over the place. Haggar’s theme has a more hip hop feel to it; Deadpool’s has a very 90’s rock feel to it; and She Hulk’s has a slightly techno feel to it. A person may not like every song in the game, however, there is definitely something for everyone here, and each character’s theme feels rather appropriate for that character. Many of the voice actors were taken directly from their origin games, in the case of Capcom, or from people who have voiced them in previous cartoons in the case of the Marvel cast. If you’ve been watching Disney XD’s Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, then you’ll recognize the voices of Hawkeye, Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, and Hulk. Ryu is voiced by the same people, in both Japanese and English, by the same person that voiced him in Street Fighter 4, and so on. For the Capcom cast, you have the option of turning their voices to either Japanese or English, so if you’re like me and used to hearing Chun Li, Ryu, and Akuma in Japanese, you don’t have to suffer through their English voices. However, since the Marvel cast does not have Japanese voice actors (excluding those that are in the recently released Marvel Anime), you have to stick with their English voices.
This is probably the biggest problem with Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Unlike other fighting games, such as Mortal Kombat for example, it lacks a ton of modes. For those who plan on becoming seriously competitive within this game, the lasting appeal is instant. Playing online, either through quick matches or in lobbies with up to eight people provides all the lasting appeal you’ll require, however others may not find the game worth keeping for that long. An announced ‘Heroes vs. Heralds’ mode plans to remedy this problem by introducing cards for people to collect, equip to certain characters for interesting effects, and join a side - either the Heroes or the Heralds – to compete against others online in weekly wars. However, in its current state, its lasting appeal is pretty limited to those that are interested in getting good at the game.
In closing, I know it’s going to be hard for some to justify rebuying a game, but the new characters, new stages, and much needed game balance more than justifies its re-release. In a year that saw several different fighting games released, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 stands above all of them as my personal pick. Its only real downside is that it may not feature the same lasting appeal to those that aren’t interested in playing online or becoming really competitive in the game. But to those who are looking to find their new fighting game, or are looking to find their first serious fighting game, look no further than Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
Presentation and Concept: 9.5
Lasting Appeal: 7.5