Giant Bomb Review

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Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds Review

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While many will bristle at the mere sight of Marvel vs. Capcom 3's brand of crazy, it's actually a lot of fun once you put in some time and figure it all out.


Sometimes it's all just laser beams and HUD elements. 
Capcom's Marvel-licensed fighting games have been a constant build-up of ridiculous combos and juggles layered on top of a faster and often-streamlined take on the company's traditional Street Fighter roots. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 continues the trend along various lines, resulting in a game that may still be totally indecipherable for the average fighting game fan, let alone a comic book guy who just wants to see Captain America and Thor beat up on a wolf that happens to be a Shinto sun goddess. Despite attempts to offer simpler control options, Capcom's latest will register with some folks as a set of flashing blasts of cycling colors that earns its epilepsy warning. But if you stare at it and persist long enough to see past MvC3's flashy presentation--and you're in a position to play with friends of a similar skill level on a regular basis--Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is actually kind of awesome.

It's weird to even say that, because a lot of the changes to the fighting systems in MvC3 have their roots in last year's Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, which I kind of hated. Like that game, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 does away with separate buttons for punches and kicks, instead moving to three generic "attack" buttons for light, medium, and heavy. It's a dramatic change, and even after hours with the game, I still occasionally reach down for kick buttons that don't actually do what they're "supposed" to do. Decades-old habits are hard to break, and the game doesn't necessarily feel any less complicated due to this change. Though the way it genericizes combos across all characters with its Alpha-style L->M->H chains means that a lot of characters can bust out the same basic air combos using the same basic button presses.

If you've played any Marvel vs. Capcom 2, you've probably seen an air combo, where one player is launched into the air and decimated by a jumping attacker. The system wasn't exactly the easiest thing in the world to figure out, and the developers have simplified things a bit by devoting one button to your launcher, which lets you easily get guys up in the sky. By quickly chasing them up with a jump of your own, you can work your way up and down the attack buttons to execute air combos. You can also tag in one of your reserve characters mid-combo with this button. On the receiving end of a multi-character air combo, you're given the opportunity to break out of the combo by guessing which direction the attacking player is holding while attempting to tag in another character. The guessing game is easy to follow and the timing isn't too difficult to master, making the whole air combo thing feel a lot more manageable to a wider range of players, but since you can only break out when the attacker is tagging, the smarter attackers seem to just work in hyper combos and other single-character techniques instead of giving you an opportunity to escape further damage.

 It's a game full of unlikely trios.
If all of this "combo system" and "hyper combo" mumbo-jumbo sounds like too much for you to handle, the game offers a "simple" control scheme that reduces things even further, like giving you one attack button that you can just mash to perform combos and another that throws fireballs or performs other specials. While the notion of making the game more accessible to people who aren't already crazy fighting game guys is certainly sound, the normal controls in MvC3 aren't exactly rocket science, and simplifying the control even further doesn't do anything to take care of what really matters when it comes to enjoying the game. It doesn't help you develop a sense of the strategies that will help you win the match. Instead, the game sort of dumps you in and expects you to pick things up the way we all did back when arcades were king: by bashing your head against it for hours and hours and hours, all while hoping that you'll learn something along the way. While that certainly works, a proper tutorial that actually explains the basics would have worked wonders for players who look at the screen and just see four or five characters on the screen at all times and can't figure out what the hell is happening. Getting over that initial hump is key to enjoying everything that follows, and the game doesn't do a very good job of giving you a path or showing you what you're doing wrong. Instead it offers the same sort of list of combos that must be performed in the "mission" mode that Street Fighter IV had, only now you have to pause and go into a menu to see the controller motion versions of what it's asking you instead of a lengthy list of non-obvious move names like "Million Dollars." It all feels like a missed opportunity to bring novice players a little deeper into the fold.

The game has a standard single-player mode with a decent final boss fight against Marvel's Galactus, though the endings aren't so great that you'll feel the immediate need to beat the game with every single character. As in just about every other fighting game ever made, the thing that keeps you coming back is the multiplayer. Locally, you can obviously sit with a friend and fight it out again and again. The game also has online support, which is reasonably good at matching you up with opponents and, when the network conditions are decent, the latency inherent to playing on the Internet isn't an issue. However, actually getting into a game might be harder than you've anticipated. Like Street Fighter IV and Super Street Fighter IV before it, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 has the same issue of often preventing you from connecting to other players. At one point, I had counted two actual matches sandwiched between over 30 failed attempts to connect. And as if that weren't bad enough, failed attempts knock you back one or two menus, forcing you to navigate back to the online menu before you can try again. With this continuing to be an issue, using the "fight request" system, which attempts to match you into online games while you play the single-player modes, is the best way to find fights. It's sad that this continues to be an issue for Capcom's fighting games.

In addition to playing against one other person, you can also organize lobbies for up to eight players in the standard format, where the winner continues to fight while losers are sent to the back of the line. But this mode doesn't contain any sort of spectate mode, leaving you staring at a menu and the health meters of the currently active players. Unless you're the sort of person who wants to spend eight or nine minutes between matches chatting with other players--or if you're the sort of person that doesn't lose--this is a weak option, at best. And not to keep harping on the past, but this is also something that Capcom did very well in Super Street Fighter IV, making the whole thing even more confusing. Without it, group battles feel like a waste of time.

Dante's guitar licks are MURDEROUS. 
It's easy to pick away at the edges of Marvel vs. Capcom 3. The menus could have been cleaner, the options could have been more robust. But the core action is a lot of fun once you get the hang of it. The learning curve perhaps isn't quite as steep as Marvel vs. Capcom 2's was, and it's a great-looking game with over 30 characters that actually feel very different from each other. If you're into non-standard characters, the game has plenty of short dudes, like Viewtiful Joe and Amaterasu, or big lugs like Sentinel and MODOK. If you're looking for bread-and-butter fighting game characters, guys like Captain America, Ryu, and Super-Skrull all fit that basic bill. There's also a lot of great music in the game, including remixed versions of MvC2's character select screen music, which feels like a nice bit of silly fan service. Given the mashed-up nature of the game, there's a lot of solid fan service throughout, like a Punisher-style Captain America costume and lots of references to various things from Capcom and Marvel's past.

There are also some nice things at the periphery of the game that make it more inviting, like the ability to create three different teams ahead of time as your "reserve units." From the character select screen, you can pop up this list of teams and quickly select your favorites. Considering you need to pick three characters and three assist types every time you see a select screen, it's a great shortcut to have. There's also an in-game "license card" that shows you how you're doing, what your win/loss records are, which achievements or trophies you're close to unlocking, and a list of titles and icons to select from.

The key thing you need to know about Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is that just because you're a fighting game fan doesn't mean you're going to fit right in and have a good time. Capcom's Marvel-licensed fighting games have consistently been a different breed of crazy, over-the-top fighting that's just going to rub some people the wrong way no matter what. Even this attempt to simplify the action and make it more accessible isn't going to be enough for everyone. But if you've ever had an inkling of interest in Capcom's previous attempts but found them too impenetrable, MvC3 is probably your best bet at finally cracking that code and getting some enjoyment out of all this crossover madness. Just make sure you've got some like-minded, similarly skilled opposition to take on, or else it's going to get messy and decidedly unfun.     Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
80 Comments
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Posted by MooseyMcMan

Great review Jeff! And I'm glad you were able to have fun with it!

Moderator
Posted by Nizzleworth

i enjoy video games

Posted by LangarN

love it

Posted by Chubbaluphigous

So close 

Posted by Yummylee

Surprised it even has a screenshot of the DLC costumes.

Posted by TheLastNeo

God Dammit, so close...

Posted by 234r2we232

4 stars... so that means by the end of the year he's going to resent it?

Posted by Gahzoo

Wish I could play this game to give it my own verdict.

Posted by LittleBigJono

nice review

Posted by Underachiever007

Good review, Jeff.

Posted by TRAYNREK

Boom!  I thought you were leaning lower than a 4 star Jeff.

Posted by Little_Socrates

I'm glad to hear that you warmed up to it, Jeff.

Posted by Landon
@sofacitysweetheart said:
" 4 stars... so that means by the end of the year he's going to resent it? "
Err...what?
Posted by I_smell

Oh cool, I thought you were gonna give it  3.

Posted by SuperSambo
@Gahzoo
Wish I could play this game to give it my own verdict.
Why dont you then?
Posted by ThePhantomnaut

ITS BLUE LIEK CANDY!!!!!!!! 
 
  

Posted by Beforet

Is that LDK Dante? Okay, I think I'm on board with all of this nonsense.

Posted by EDfromRED

 Looks like a great game, but I play  Fighting games too infrequently to merit a purchase. My Fighting-Game-Green is going towards Mortal Kombat.
Posted by LiquidSwords

5 starts, DENIED!

Posted by Zamir

i called and i thought wasn't going to get it right because Jeff was very on the fence on this game in the quick look and the bombcast

Posted by Gahzoo
@SuperSambo said:
" @Gahzoo
Wish I could play this game to give it my own verdict.
Why dont you then? "
Capcom Store boned me, hard.
Posted by Bistromath

I am pumped as fuck for MVC3 TNT; the matches are incredibly fun to watch.

Posted by Undeadpool

In the midst of trying to learn the basics. This game is a LOT to take in, I'm basically unlearning 90% of SSFIV.

Posted by Hailinel

A better review than I expected.
 
Still, the text doesn't really do a good job explaining why Jeff hated Tatsunoko vs. Capcom when compared to this game, given that MvC3 inherited the earlier game's control mechanics.  There's not much comparison there aside from "I hated this other game, but whatevs."

Posted by Legend

Great review. I'm really enjoying the game.

Posted by xXwindoverXx

Great review Jeff!

Posted by LiquidPenguins

I kinda have a problem with this review. It reads like a 3 star review yet you gave the game the arbitrary 4 star rating. 
 
DISCLAIMER: I have not picked up this game yet, but I intend to do so sometime in the next month. I still plan on bitching about an arbitrary number on the internet anyway.
 
The game looks and sounds super dense, and you complain about the fact that there really isn't anything to help ease people into it. Just going by the quick look, the menus and tutorials look like a total mess, and it's super intimidating, which you also bring up. Single player content looks minimal and you describe the online as a mess with the horrible lost connection menu bullshit. It's 2011, I don't feel bad calling this a requirement, but the lack of a basic feature like spectator modes sounds unforgivable; you even call group modes a "waste of time". In the obligatory last paragraph summary you explain that this game could intimidate the average fighting game fan, which also doesn't really gel with the 4 star review. I don't think that a game needs to conform to genre standards to be any good, just that the fighting genre is pretty niche as is and I see fault in a game that is going to be indecipherable to a portion of the fighting game community.
 
What I'm getting at here is that the review does a really poor job of explaining why you should be excited for this game if you already weren't 100% convinced that you would buy it. It reads more like a warning with a few nice words tacked on at the beginning and end to remind readers that the game isn't painfully mediocre. 
 
Again, I have not gotten a chance to play this yet and it could totally blow me away, but your review does a poor job of explaining why it deserves praise. I don't think the score needs to be changed, just going by this review it's really hard to give a shit about this game.

Posted by bearshamanbro

Great review. Don't envy you having to put a score on this game so soon, but you did an admirable and comprehensive job.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

Kind of expected from the way he was talking during the quick look. Nonetheless, I'm not paying $60 for this game because it's a versus game and all my other fighting game skills don't really translate. Maybe one day...

Posted by Brendan

Man, I'm really glad you didn't give the score I thought you were going to Jeff, because otherwise I would have been ALL UP IN THIS BITCH. /sarcasm

Posted by Chaoskiller2000

I really enjoy Marvel Vs Capcom 3 its been a long time waiting. I have only just began with it, but I still probably will like MVC2 the best. However it is amazingly fun I dont see what is so complicated or what is so crazy about it but it could be because I normally like the play style of the Vs series over other fighters and thus play them more often.

Posted by MormonWarrior
@LiquidPenguins: 
I kinda see your point about this review, although after listening to the Bombcast last night, it totally makes sense. He thinks it's a great game, but he's not totally into it. That's unlike Tekken 6 and Soul Calibur IV where he liked the core sort of, but all of the periphery was such a mess it turned him off to it completely. Or they were super lazy. He doesn't feel that way about this.
Posted by SiN13

Dang, after the comments on the bombcast I was expecting a 3/5.

Posted by metalsnakezero

Nice fair review Jeff.

Posted by Gonmog

Great game love it! I also give it a solid 4 stars! But i know i will play it longer and more often then my 5 star games!!

Posted by HadesTimes

This is a really great review. I love a well explained opinion. It seems like most print media reviewers are unable to do this with this game.

Posted by MatPaget

Definitely my favourite Jeff Gerstmann review <3

Posted by ezdude

Well, thought for a flip-flopping game.

Posted by McGhee

Just got this game today and have been playing for the last two hours, just going through some missions and arcade fights. The ways that you will be able to mix and match characters and their attacks seems endless. 
 
The biggest problem I've had is that the online still seems to be broken. Every time I tried to find a match it failed and kicked me back to the menu. After so many failed attempts I went into arcade mode and set it to take fight requests. After one match I was joined and played one match. It was terrible laggy. 
 
Hopefully this online stuff will get fixed soon.

Posted by NDN_Shadow

Was expecting a 3/5 after the latest Bombcast. Good it's know it's not all terrible. Still don't not think it's worth $60, at least for a non-competitive fighting game guy like me.

Posted by Marokai
@LiquidPenguins said:
" I kinda have a problem with this review. It reads like a 3 star review yet you gave the game the arbitrary 4 star rating."
The contrast between virtually everything Jeff has said about the game and the review score is kind of weird.
Posted by Ichorid4

Fair review all round. I'm just feeling an awful niggly feeling that I won't have decided for a long time whether I like this game or not. The ambivalence is killing me atm.

Posted by Ghostiet
@Marokai said:
" @LiquidPenguins said:
" I kinda have a problem with this review. It reads like a 3 star review yet you gave the game the arbitrary 4 star rating."
The contrast between virtually everything Jeff has said about the game and the review score is kind of weird. "
The same was with Comic Jumper last year, but that contrast was much, much more jarring.
Posted by K1LLERD1ABLO

Great review Jeff.
 
But for a guy like me who never played a MVC game before, ill stick with MK, seems alot more accessible :)

Posted by The_Hiro_Abides

I picked this up Tuesday, and I've been able to get into it. Initially I thought it would be some confusing mess like MvC2 and it was a little friendly. But, yeah, it's pretty great. 
 
I'm having a lot of fun and getting a little better as I fight matches. 
 
This review covers just about everything relevant to the main game. So good write up!

Posted by MachoFantastico

After the mixed reviews I was a tad worried, but still sounds like I'll have a blast. 

Posted by ProfessorEss

I can't stop thinkin that he was about to give this game a three, and then looked at his Tron review and said "oh shit" :P

Posted by Brodehouse

I prefer light-medium-heavy because it makes more sense to me as part of a strategy.  Kick or punch doesn't really tell me anything about how long it takes to get out or how quickly I recover.
 
When it comes to fighters it just seems like if it's not Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat, it gets reviewed as if it was made 'wrong'.

Posted by dudeglove

Wow, even after SSFIV they still can't fix the multiplayer issue? Just great, Capcom.

Posted by Napalm

This review reads more like a three. While I certainly cannot read into Jeff's mind, his concerns and frustrations seem to point towards a score lower. It seems, and from what was shown, the training and tutorial problems, as well as no spectator mode, is detrimental to the experience as a whole, and this is coming from somebody who regularly spectated matches in Super Street Fighter IV online. This seem entirely unacceptable to ship the game in this state.

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