Product Type: Capcom PS3 games
Newest Review: ... special abilities. It's also quite disappointingly short, however, and shows that Marvel vs. Capcom was very much designed with two player... more
Who's the Daddy?
Marvel vs Capcom 3 (PS3)
Member Name: SWSt
Marvel vs Capcom 3 (PS3)
Advantages: Superb comic book style graphics and fantastic over-the-top sound
Disadvantages: Seriously short one-player mode; mis-matched characters; can descend into button mashing
Each bout sees you take control of a team of three players (which you can select) drawn from the wide character roster and pitched against a rival team of three randomly assigned opponents. The first player to have all three of their players defeated loses the bout. If that's you, then it's game over; if it's the computer (in one player mode), then you can progress to the next round.
In many ways (like most beat 'em ups) Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a pretty simple game, but several different game modes have been added to try and add to the long term appeal. Perhaps the most pointless (at least for impatient people like me) is Practice Mode, which allows you to try your hand at using any of the available characters to find the one(s) that suit your fighting style best. To be honest though, if you're anything like me you'll just want to skip over this and pile into the action proper.
To cater for the solo player, there are a couple of one player modes. The first is a less than half a dozen bouts against randomly selected computer opponents, ending in a boss battle with Galactus. This was seriously disappointing. The first time I played (and I'm not particularly renowned for my gaming prowess), I successfully completed all the main bouts, only to lose the boss battle at the fists of Galactus. On my very second go, I managed to beat the big guy. At this point, I rather naively assumed that Galactus was simply the end of Level 1 boss and that having won, I'd move onto the next level to fight more bouts against the computer. Nope. That was it. Defeat Galactus and you're done with one player mode and returned to the main screen. This pathetic half-hearted attempt at a one player mode was actually my first introduction to the game and I was beginning to seriously think that I had wasted the £15 I paid for it.
Thankfully, the second one-player mode is better, requiring you to undertake a series of challenges as different characters. Although also relatively easy to complete, it's a fun way of getting to grips with several different characters and their special abilities. It's also quite disappointingly short, however, and shows that Marvel vs. Capcom was very much designed with two player action in mind; the one player options are a distant afterthought.
In fairness, you can see why this design decision was taken. Human players are always more satisfying to compete against than computer controlled ones, partly because you can gloat when you win (particularly if you and your opponent are in the same room). However, battles against human opponents also tend to be more satisfying. Computers are quite linear in their approach and you can often simply repeat the same move (or combination of moves) to beat all-comers. Human opponents, on the other hand can learn your fighting style and develop ways to counteract it, leading to far more tactical and longer battles. This is where the fun really starts and it's those two player battles that will keep you coming back to this game time and time again. Online play is also available if you don't have a willing friend to hand, but I can't comment on this, as I've never used it.
An element of strategy is also provided by the fact that although there are mostly only two fighters on-screen at any one time, you can switch between your roster of fighters at any point. You will find that some characters are better against some opponents than others, so switching makes sense. Switching to a different character also allows the one you are replacing to recover some energy, meaning you have to keep an eye on energy levels and alter your strategy accordingly.
As you might expect from a game which is under the twin influences of comics and games, presentation is superb. This is an excellent updating of the old 2D beat-'em-ups like Street Fighter or Final Fight. The static backdrops (taken from a number of different Capcom games/Marvel comics) are nicely rendered, although they are very limited in number and you soon start to see the same backdrop repeated time and time again. It's the characters, though, that really capture the imagination. Larger than life and beautifully animated, it really is like "playing" a comic book.
This strong visual style carries on throughout the game. Various developments and story progression are presented via some luscious looking comic book style panels and each character has "character endings" and various other unlockable achievements, which open up new video or animation. This builds in a strong degree of long-term appeal to the title as it gives you a reason to try out all the characters, rather than simply sticking to the same one all the time.
Sound is brilliant, and ridiculously over-the-top! The loud, bombastic guitar based music really captures the sense of excitement you will feel as you pummel your fists into your opponent and each battle is full of shouts, taunts and meaty thumps as blow upon blow rains down. It's an incredibly noisy game - just as a beat 'em up should be - and definitely one of those you should play with the sound turned right up to 11!
There's a wide, if slightly odd roster of characters that will keeps fans of both licenses happy. Some (particularly on the Marvel side of things) are very well known (Spider-Man, Hulk). Others (Arthur from Ghosts and Goblins) are a little more obscure and will not be as instantly recognisable to some. That said there's a nice mix between fanboy favourites and widely recognised characters. As you might expect, each character also has their own set of signature moves which can be used to devastating effect on their opponent to turn the tide of battle in favour of their team. There are around 36 characters available in total (including some unlockable ones), although strangely, this is a smaller roster than Marvel vs. Capcom 2 boasted.
Where the characters don't work quite so well is in their respective abilities. Some are ridiculously strong and powerful, resulting in very one-sided matches. Others have moves which it's almost impossible to counteract and it's often possible to win a single bout just by sticking to one character, or even one move. In one player mode, for example, She-Hulk has a spin kick which computer opponents simply defend so the game becomes even easier. Things are better in two-player mode, but there can still be some unfair fights, depending on the characters selected.
As you might expect, controls are hideously complicated and prove to be one of the game's weaker aspects. Basic fighting and movement controls are the same for each character but special moves are accessed in very different ways and remembering these can be a real issue. This doesn't really encourage you to experiment with different characters - I find the best way to be good at the game is to find a character that suits your style and then stick with it. In turn, this leads to a lot of the game's many characters sitting on the side-lines unused, which is a shame when they are so well animated.
In addition, like so many fighting games), Marvel vs. Capcom 3 can just descend into being a button masher - randomly hitting the buttons on the controller as fast as possible in the hope that you somehow inflict enough damage on your opponent to win. Even when you do successfully manage to execute a special move, you're often not entirely sure how you did it, and are unable to repeat the feat. Skilled beat 'em up players will relish the opportunity to learn all the different special attacks and high-scoring combos that can be executed, but if you truly want to master the controls, you need to be prepared to put in a lot of practice.
In fairness, though, these are issues common to most beat 'em ups and are not exclusive to Marvel v Capcom 3. The wide roster of characters, superb graphics and fun gameplay (particularly in two player mode) means that this is a game you will keep coming back to. It's not particularly deep, but that doesn't matter when it's this much fun.
© copyright SWSt 2012
Summary: A fun game, particularly in two player mode, but not without its flaws
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