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Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 Review

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On 11/22/2011 at 01:11 PM by Jon Lewis

A great improvement to one of this year's most anticipated fighters.

For Hardcore fighting game fans, or those who passed on the original MvC3. Casual players who played the first game may not find the differences so appealing.

It took ten years for Capcom to release a sequel to the popular fighter Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 finally released in February of this year, and nine months later, we already have a follow up with Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Many gamers and fans were angered, while others were optimistic. While Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was a fun game, it suffered from a lot of fundamental problems regarding balance issues and lack of content, among other, smaller issues. Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 served to not only fix those issues, but provide more content to please people that weren't happy with the original. Overall, the main problems were addressed, and while there are still obvious things missing that should have been included in the game, it manages to trump MvC3 in every way.

For those who don't know, the Marvel vs. Capcom series is a fighting series that got its start long ago with X-Men: Children of the Atom. Street Fighter character Akuma was a bonus fighter in the game, which later spawned the title X-Men vs. Street Fighter. Capcom later took it a step further and expanded both brands to create the first Marvel vs. Capcom. The premise is simple: all-stars from both Marvel and Capcom face off against each other in fast paced, combo heavy combat. The premise hasn't changed in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3; however the fundamentals have changed a lot from the first, and though the average gamer won't notice, they have changed a lot between the original Marvel vs. Capcom 3 as well.

Two teams of three face off on a 2D plane. There are basic attacks, special moves, and hyper combos among other techniques that create a fighter that is basic enough for a beginner yet complex enough for the competitive scene. Players have light, medium, and heavy attacks, a “special” button which generally functions as a launcher (which helps players preform air combos), and two assist buttons which allow your two teammates to aid in battle. There is a simple mode where these buttons are a bit more friendly to a beginner, but players will probably want to play with this standard control setup. Optimally, the game is played with an Arcade or Fight Stick accessory, which faithfully re-creates the arcade experience (though a standard game pad works perfectly fine). 

The huge draw of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is the addition of twelve new characters, only a few of which have been included in previous Capcom fighters. Other than that, the majority of the characters are brand new to the genre and feel completely original. Characters like Nemesis of Resident Evil fame, Virgil from Devil May Cry and even the largely requested Phoenix Wright of the Ace Attorney series are some of the new additions to the Capcom side. Characters like Dr. Strange, Nova (my personal favorite), and the odd (but awesome) Rocket Raccoon are some of those new to the Marvel side. All of these characters feel original and provide something fresh to the game. Each character faithfully represents their respective franchises and each are fun to play. For example, Phoenix Wright's fighting style is extremely unorthodox. Players are encouraged with him to find evidence mid-battle. Once Phoenix finds the proper evidence, he gains the ability to enter a mode that gives him new abilities. Once he hits the opponent with his famous “Objection” move, he enters a super powerful mode that gives him a ton of bonuses, and an almost “broken” finger point attack has juggling properties and causes wall and ground bounces. Not to mention in this mode he gains access to the hilarious level three hyper, which does a godly amount of damage. 

While this sounds overpowered (and at some times it is), the remainder of the 50-character cast still puts up a fight thanks to a complete re-balance of the game. Characters who were extremely powerful in the previous game such as Wolverine, Wesker, and Phoenix (Jean Grey) were all toned down to give other characters a more fair fight. Other characters who were in need of improvements, like Chris Redfield and Captain America (my personal favorite character) got much needed refinements to make them more viable in a competitive environment. The new balance isn't perfect however; Wesker is still a great force to be reckoned with due to a new ability where he gains a power and speed boost from simply breaking his sunglasses in battle. Thor, while improved, still has a hard time in a competitive setting due to his slow speed and start-up times. Along with that, the X-Factor technique, which when activated grants a power boost that scales depending on the amount of alive fighters on your team, has had its power reduced, making it a lot more fair than it was in the original game. Though it can still help turn the tide, it's not as much of a guaranteed win as it once was. Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3's overall balance is comparable to Super Street Fighter 4 -- every character pretty much has a fighting chance in the right hands

While the competitive Versus mode is the bread and butter of a game like Ultimate MvC3, there are other modes to help pass the time. Arcade mode once again makes a return, where you fight a series of enemies leading up to a final battle against Galactus, and upon victory you are given an ending for the character that led you to victory. One of my main complaints with this is that the endings are very basic. They consist of a few pictures with some text, and that's it. I would have liked it if they learned from their mistake with the original, and provided full, animated endings for the characters. That said, some of the endings have been re-done and a lot of them are full of fan service (and trolling) which make them a tad more enjoyable then they were in the original game. Owners of the first game will unlock a mode that actually allows you to play as the final boss which is fun for a while, but nothing to keep you interested for more than a few minutes. 

Trial mode makes a welcome return as well, giving players basic and advanced combos to experiment with. Players are tasked to complete objectives that challenge your ability to execute moves related to each character. They range from basics like executing a Hadoken, to combos that rely on various techniques involving X-Factor cancels, assists, and multiple hyper moves. Thankfully, the original cast has been given new trials to complete, meaning that some of the useless techniques that the original taught are gone in favor of much more useful ones that highlight character strengths -- and improvements. 

One mode that got a huge overhaul was the online mode. Online was noticeably weak in the original game, but has seen some major and necessary improvements in Ultimate. Matchmaking is a much faster and smoother process and features have been added to make the online work better. Player and private matches now offer a rematch feature which is very welcome system (the original always took you back to a hub menu). Players also gain the ability to spectate other matches, which is a feature that should have definitely been in the original game but wasn't. Thankfully it's here and it works fine. I do wish they went the extra mile and added a replay mode as well, considering its usefulness and popularity in the Street Fighter games. 

The netcode has also been overhauled, making matches play more smoothly than ever. The previous game was almost unplayable at most times, and this one thankfully doesn’t suffer from the same issues. Lag still exists, and it's by no means perfect, but being playable online is a big deal for games of this type. 

After playing extensively with the new characters and revamped gameplay modes, I came to think, “Why didn't Capcom simply wait until now to release the game?” In all honesty, this version makes the original completely obsolete. Fans who paid full price (or even more for the special edition) pretty much paid for an open beta; that's unacceptable. Casual fans who bought Marvel vs. Capcom 3 back in February probably won't care enough to purchase Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. However fighting game fans who passed on the original or who are heavy in to the competitive fighting scene will love Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. The balance feels right, the online works well, and Capcom has promised new downloadable modes for free, like the Heroes and Heralds Mode, which dramatically alters the way that you play the game.

It may be a shameless double-punch to my wallet, but it's still my favorite fighting game of the year.

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.



Jason Ross Senior Editor

11/29/2011 at 06:44 PM

I felt like most of the additions outside of the new characters were changes that would normally be patched into a fighting game at this point. The new characters are fun and great, but I feel like this battle system isn't as solid as the one used in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, even with its imbalances. Mega Crash + Baroque feels a lot better than X-Factor, even when TvC only had two characters on a team as opposed to three.

Basically, what I'm trying to say is that I pretty much completely agree with JD here. Both games received the same score, and of course I'd recommend Ultimate MvC3 over the original in all areas aside from price at this point, but in my book, neither game pushes itself out past that.

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