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Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds Review

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On 02/22/2011 at 10:42 PM by Jason Ross

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The X-Factor, the ease at which a zoning character can be picked up, Sentinel, and some online issues prevent me from whole-heartedly recommending Marvel vs. Capcom 3 to everyone. Still, there are two universes of fun to be had, so anyone looking for a new fighting title should almost definitely consider Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

Since fighting games, like the ones in Capcom's Vs. series, have several entirely different audiences, I've decided to take a different approach than normal in my review in hopes of catering to the multiple groups of people to whom these games appeal.

The Basics

Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a fast-action, rushdown fighting title utilizing extensive, multi-hit combos to deal devastating damage. The game has 36 characters available to play as on the disc, 18 hailing from Marvel, 18 from Capcom's properties. A loose story ties together two universes as they fight to save the planet from some mysterious ultimate foe. There's a simple arcade mode, with several rounds against random teams of fighters that increase in difficulty with progression, ending with a fight against a rather challenging boss, as far as the massive Vs. games bosses go. A standard two-player Vs. mode exists and operates as expected, pitting two players, each choosing three characters, against each other, with handicaps, time, and damage settings selectable. Naturally, as is custom for fighters, there's a training mode with all the bells and whistles that allow players to explore the game and learn combos.

Through the usage of points, which are rewarded when players do almost anything other than look at the menu, various galleries of character art, concept art, movies, and sound tests are unlocked, as are a minor handful of playable characters, online titles, player accolades, and trophies. The system works well, offering a degree of reward without overdoing it, unlike earlier versions of Marvel vs. Capcom 2, which required players to unlock the bulk of characters through extensive amounts of gameplay. After several hours of gameplay, I've come nowhere near unlocking all the extras and bonuses, all of which are a nice addition to the core Marvel vs. Capcom fighting gameplay.


Every character is fleshed out with a degree of perfection meant to match each individual's characteristics. Zero's attacks and combos mimic the abilities he utilizes in later Mega Man X games, Captain America has attacks that let him charge forward and block projectiles. A newcomer, Arthur, from Ghouls and Ghosts, is able to throw the full array of weapons from his original title. Deadpool has a super combo that breaks the forth wall, as he swings his health bar to deal a massive volume of damage. There's no lack of references and rarely an aspect of a character that goes untouched through his or her move pool, costumes, pre-battle taunts, or post-battle victory speeches. Make no mistake, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 sets the bar for traditional fighting game characterization.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3 advances presentation to a new level, as well. The voice acting is, in my opinion, much higher quality than that of preceding titles, and heightens the in-game atmosphere to an unexpected level. Upon tagging in a teammate, the character switching out calls out his or her ally by name. Beyond this, the game is visually stunning and runs as smooth as could be hoped. The opening cutscenes set a high level of expectation, and the smooth gameplay does not disappoint. At points, the onscreen action is nothing short of absolute, beautiful chaos, yet the framerate has yet to stutter to any noticeable degree.

The Engine

Marvel vs. Capcom 3 brings over an altered version of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom's attack engine. Rather than assigning any individual button as “Punch” or “Kick,” there's simply light, medium, or heavy buttons. For nearly every character, a basic combo can be executed from pressing the light attack button, then the medium, then the heavy, followed by the “Special” attack button, which has a main use in knocking opponents to the air and spiking them back down. Intermediate combos can be performed following the same basic system, adding in low attacks and special moves to increase devastation. The most radical change in the engine is found with more complex combos: Rather than limit the attack chains of characters, hit-stun depreciates with each additional attack. In execution, that means the first time a character is sent into the “knocked-back” animation, the delay before recovering in the air is lengthy, but in a ten-hit combo, this delay is much briefer. Once the hit counter gets up to twenty or thirty, there's much less room to carry attacks. Naturally, the timing varies from character to character, and there are very advanced chains that take advantage of assist attacks from other players, allowing even larger combos to exist. All-in-all, the system works very well in providing any character the ability to string together lengthy chains of combos and deal life-threatening levels of damage without allowing many infinites.

New to the game is the “X-Factor,” meant to create close matches and allow comebacks for players on their last ropes. Slightly similar to the “Baroque” mechanic in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, the X-Factor does allow new chains in combo strings to exist, but it does so at no cost to health that could be recovered. To the contrary, actually, the X-Factor allows a character on the battle field to recover his or her red health rapidly, while simultaneously upping a character’s strength and eliminating the chip damage special attacks typically deal. Normally, as a combo's hit counter increases, the damage any individual attack deals decays, except when the X-Factor is in place. Utilizing the X-Factor, with the increased damage, 100% combos are not only possible, in many cases, they're relatively easy to execute. While the X-Factor can be used once in a battle by each player, its duration is increased with each defeated team member, lasting only ten seconds with all three characters in play, twenty with two, and thirty with just one. The X-Factor can unquestionably impact and redirect the flow of a fight in MvC 3.


There's an online mode with ranked matches as well as player fights, where the former pits player against player only once, but allows players to move up a ladder with additional fights and wins. The latter lets two random fighters match up and play until either one decides to quit, though no ranking credit is given. Additionally, there's a lobby mode which allows players to invite up to eight friends and allow randoms to fill in extra slots. In this mode, the winner continues playing until he or she receives a loss, and only one battle can happen at once. Unfortunately, the lack of ability to spectate in the lobby is downright frustrating at best, since, in a full lobby, while two players fight, the other six are left to just wait (and chat, if headsets are used.) Oddly enough, it seems impossible to intentionally enter a “Player Match” type game with a friend, so the quick “Rematch” option will always be unavailable for anything but local players and randoms. Still, since lobbies can be made private and set for two players, it's easy enough to connect with whomever you desire and have a good time.

My experiences online have been uneven, to say the least. Online lag has ranged from negligible to terrible, from play session to session, lending me to suspect that at some points in time, the game's server is getting slammed, given the newness of the title. Connecting with someone for a ranked fight seems to involve random chance. Over half the time I choose the mode, I'd see a message saying I was unable to connect, and rather than asking to try again right then, the game reloads the “Online Mode” menu, which takes a bit too long for my liking, given the frequency of the error. Unfortunately, upon connecting with another player, both sides then choose their characters, a process that seems out of place and stalls the match even more. Upon the end of the match, a player's data is updated based on their character selection and performance, a process which again can take quite some time.

Fortunately, choosing “Player Match” alleviates many of these issues. After each match, a “Rematch” choice is available, and if both players select it, a new match begins immediately, no reconnections, character select screen, or data update occurs. Still, making a connection here was hit or miss. I actually had more success finding a match by entering training mode, which, like arcade, allows a player to open himself up to either ranked or player matches. After beginning the training round, only a matter of seconds would pass before I connected to someone and we were choosing our characters. Still, for some reason, after each individual connection, I was forced to select my team and the opposing training team once more, rather than transferred back into the training room I was in prior. For such a fast-paced game, connecting online seems very slow, which could either be from poor online game design or busy servers.

For Beginners?

Given Marvel vs. Capcom 3's high level of presentation, streamlined combo system, and great deal of characterization, I believe Marvel vs. Capcom 3 would make a great title for beginning players interested in the fighting genre. A roster of familiar and obscure faces gives players a great opportunity to have fun playing as the super heroes they love. Even more, there's a simple mode giving access to some basic chains and special attacks without requiring complicated D-pad/Joystick rotations. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is without a doubt one of the easiest traditional fighters to approach and enjoy if one has little or no experience with the fighting game genre, provided said person isn't playing a skilled, more experienced player.

For Intermediates?

Those with genuine fighting game experience, but whom wouldn't consider themselves masters of the genre, might have second thoughts about MvC3. Characters who “Zone” well, like Arthur with his many weapons, or Amaterasu with her “Cold Star” ice-firing attack will present annoying walls for many at the intermediate level. Characters that zone well are defeatable, absolutely, but the methods to overcome rapid-fire projectile attacks will take time to master, despite how simply these methods are learned. Additionally, I felt as though the X-Factor allows maddening levels of comebacks, where otherwise, a player would lose.

In many cases, I found myself tempted to just let two characters die and fight using my third character, powered up by the X-Factor. When one X-Factor is activated, the game becomes a short round of keep-away, and if both players have X-Factor on, it's a matter of “Who hits first?” For me, the X-Factor is an unwelcome addition to the game, especially given that nearly every character is already incredibly powerful. Other than the disparate returns in ability for a few characters and the X-Factor, there's still a lot of tense, back-and-forth action to be found within MvC3, and I definitely have to recommend it for the typical fighting game enthusiast that isn't quite at the top of his or her game.

For Competitive Players?

This isn't really a question to ask in a review. Whether or not the game becomes a something seen in a competition depends on a number of factors, and already, a handful of the best fighter gamers in the world have announced displeasure with the power of the X-Factor and the unbalance of Sentinel, among a few other things. Those looking for a title with perfect balance likely will want to look elsewhere, but that doesn't mean the game won't hit the competitive circuit due to sheer popularity, just like its predecessor.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.

Side By Side - Possible Online Differences

I played the Playstation 3 version of Marvel vs. Capcom 3. The Xbox 360 version may contain an entirely different online experience.



Our Take

Jason Ross Senior Editor

02/22/2011 at 10:47 PM

Truth be told, the game was borderline a 4-star title, rather than a 3.5 star. Why? The character endings were once again nonsensical, like with other fighting crossovers, but this time, nearly every one is unsatisfying. Beyond that, the menus are a bit of a mess, both in online and offline modes. The core gameplay and attention to detail with the characters brings the game up to four stars, but if there were slightly less in-game polish, the game would have scored lower.

Additionally, given the lack of a full, cohesive story despite four great opening movies, the reduced roster size, and a handful of missing online features, I can't help but shake the feeling we'll see a better "Super Marvel vs. Capcom 3" at some point in time.

Nick DiMola Director

02/22/2011 at 11:35 PM

I must say that my excitement for this game has been a little crushed by this review. I still own and love MvC 2 and by all accounts, it doesn't sound like this is really a step up.

I'll probably wait until this is close to bargain bin before I bother buying it, and just enjoy some other games in the meantime.

Jason Ross Senior Editor

02/22/2011 at 11:39 PM

It's a step up from MvC2, yes, but also a step over. Since you liked Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, I'm sure you'd like this game, but truth be told, it actually feels like a step back from TvC in some regards.

Joaquim Mira Media Manager

02/23/2011 at 01:53 AM

I will always be a beginner in regards to fighting games, and truth be told I think MvC3 can be a bit daunting, for me at least.


02/23/2011 at 05:38 AM

What a joke of a review, I never had as much fun in a fighting game since Tatsunoko Vs Capcom. This game plays just as good as TvsC. Sure being lighter with a few modes and unlockable extras is a little disappointing, but it's not very detrimental.

I'm sorry but I can't take any of Jason's reviews seriously and what's up with these separate sections for this review. Is PixlBit suddenly trying to emulate Kotaku's or Kombo's horrible review template now?


02/23/2011 at 05:48 AM

To the person that wrote this review and/or edited the review - why does the side by side say: "

I played the Playstation 3 version of Marvel vs. Capcom 3. The Xbox 360 version may contain an entirely different online experience."

That adds nothing to the review except for the fact that maybe you are trying to add filler content that adds nothing to the review or you can be dead wrong. If you can't prove that it does have a different online experience then why add it in the first place?

If your our take proves that you are having issues with assigning scores, perhaps you should stop reviewing games if you can't offer a solid opinion about your gameplay experience when you review games.

Jason Ross Senior Editor

02/23/2011 at 06:02 AM

Hey anonymous. Yeah, TvC was a great game. And MvC is almost as good, but is has a few more issues than TvC does, hence the half point lower. There's different sections because it's a review for a different type of game than what I normally do. A fighting game, especially one with a wide variety of characters like this, is for many different audiences. I voiced my opinions on where I saw the game for several different audiences. It's not a perfect format, but I believe it gets the job done pretty well.

I hate to say it, but from reading what you say, you admit that it's a few modes lighter and the unlockable extras just don't seem like enough. That's what I spend some time in the review talking about. Beyond that, I feel there's some hiccups due to the X-Factor and a few other gameplay mechanics. When you look at the content and my overall conclusion, it doesn't sound like our point of view differs as much as you might think.

Regardless, if you don't enjoy my review opinion and you have constructive criticism, I'd be glad to hear it out. As it stands, though, it doesn't look like you have much, except for the idea that you don't like headings on various sections in reviews. What is it about them you don't like? I added them in because I felt they would point readers to relevant sections that they might care about, but I'd like to know what seems so off-putting to you.

Nick DiMola Director

02/23/2011 at 06:05 AM

Anonymous Comment #1: I don't want to speak for Jason, but I believe he marked down the score due almost entirely to the X-Factor. Clearly it's an odd inclusion that detracts from the experience as it seems to remove an element of skill. At no point did he say it was a bad fighting game or unenjoyable, just that it has problems - like many games do.

Additionally, his score is not far off from the Metacritic average of 85, so apparently he falls in line with popular critic opinion. Furthermore, the popular user opinion sits at a 71, which means he sits healthily between the two scores.

I'm not sure why you can't take any of Jason's reviews seriously. He always expresses his opinion and never gets bogged down in describing the minutiae of the game. As for the sections, we're not trying to emulate anyone. Jason felt strongly that the game had three different audiences and he wanted to speak to each individually. The sections facilitated with that goal.

Anonymous Comment #2: The Side By Side was added as a disclaimer. Jason played the game on the PS3 and he experienced a wide range of connection quality from match to match. Because we have tagged the review for both systems, we want to point out that the Xbox 360 version may not suffer the same problems, so players there may have "an entirely different online experience."

As far as assigning scores goes, Jason wrote his Our Take to describe some of his logic that he used to assign his score. His review is full of solid opinion and whether or not he struggled in choosing his score, a score has still been assigned. That score is solid and unchanging and inexorably linked to the opinion demonstrated by his text.

Matt R Staff Alumnus

02/23/2011 at 12:37 PM

Side by side could've been more specific but it was a very good review.

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