Marvel Vs Capcom 3

Posted on February 26, 2011

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A lot has changed in ten years. In the space between 2001 and 2011, George Bush has came and went ravaging two countries and our own military in his wake and Take That have got back together (presumably through some sort of Faustian pact). Of course a lot more has happened in that time but I couldn’t even think of being arsed to write them all down, and in any case I simply don’t have the room.  Two things which haven’t changed in the decade between being a shy schoolboy with naturally ridiculous hair to being a sarcastic misanthropic adult (still with naturally ridiculous hair) is a love of all things Marvel Comics and a love of fighting games.

Back in the days of scholars only busses and enforced physical education, Marvel Vs Capcom 2. hadoukened me full on in the face like a revelation. Being a 90’s kid I’d grown up with my brother’s Mega Drive and spent far too many hours after school ripping out hearts on Mortal Kombat and dragon punching people on Street Fighter 2: Special Championship Edition in all their 16-bit glory, but MVC2 offered a lightning fast variation of familiar game play, enhanced further through ostentatious, screen filling “hyper combos” and the ability to choose a three man team from an unprecedented roster of fifty six characters.
Throughout the decade since MVC2 was unleashed onto the world I’ve revisited the game for long periods at least once a year, but due to licensing issues surrounding the Marvel characters it seemed like I’d never get to see a new instalment. Thankfully though last year the stars aligned, the fates high-fived each other and MVC3 was finally announced, but after a decade of expectation, how does the finished product hold up?
I’m not going to beat around the bush here, or tease out my conclusions; put simply MVC3 is fucking awesome, a big, bombastic, filled-with too-many-e-numbers little brother to Street Fighter 4, it manages to be accessible to fans and new kids alike, something that its predecessor struggled with. MVC3 manages to do this by not only having a “simple mode” control scheme, but also by simplifying the normal commands into a context specific system. Gone are the high and low kicks and punches, replaced instead with a low, high, medium and special attack button, with the d-pad commands entered along with each button push determining which special move you pull off. It sounds rather confusing in writing, but in practice it’s hugely intuitive.
There may be fewer characters (thirty four with two more coming next month as downloadable content) but in reality Capcom have separated the wheat from the chaff, pruning away game exclusive characters like the preposterous giant cactus, Amingo, as well as jettisoning the re-skinned characters such as War Machine and bone claw Wolverine. A lot of the series’ established characters have also been left on the cutting room floor, with a large proportion of the Street Fighter cast stepping aside to make way for characters from newer franchises, such as Viewtiful Joe, Dante from Devil May Cry and Resident Evil’s Wesker. As for the Marvel side of things, the team have gotten creative; why have all of the Fantastic Four when the Super Skrull possesses all of their powers combined? And why have Hawkeye and Iron Fist when the villainous Taskmaster has access to their abilities? Throw in a wise cracking, fourth wall breaking Deadpool and Jean Gray with the power to transform into the all powerful Dark Phoenix in her dying moments and the only disappointment with the Marvel roster is the continually poor representation of Spider-Man’s rogue’s gallery (even Venom is MIA). Most importantly though, the characters are far more balanced third time around , with real care having being taken to insure that no character is so powerful so as to be unbeatable, with most trading heavy damage for low health.
 Elsewhere, air combos have been simplified and perfected so that pulling off a three character aerial beat down is both relatively easy but also a thing of satisfactorily violent beauty, whilst the art direction has been updated to 3-D models instead of the old hand drawn pixels approach, making everything the whole game feel infinitely more slick and eliminating the stretched pixilation that bigger characters suffered from in its predecessor. 
I honestly could wax sweet, lyrical hyperbole about MVC3 all day, but the simple fact is that, whether or not you’ve played either of the games which came before, MVC3 is an incredibly fun, fast and frantic take on the 2D fighting game that you probably think you know and have seen all before, and if you are familiar with the series then MVC3 carries on in its traditions, all the while streamlining and polishing until what is left is a pure distillation of the best the series has always had to offer.
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