I?ve been looking for a reason to dust off my Tournament Edition fighting stick for a while now. Now that Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom is here, I?ve been putting it to good use, trying to learn all the new characters and combos included in this updated version. Marvel vs Capcom 2 is still one of my favorite fighting games ever which is why I was so surprised it took so long for Capcom to eventually release the third game. Now in the span of under a year, we already have this new ?ultimate? version of the game that boasts a significant roster update, new stages, modes, and a slew of new features and balances.
The fighting mechanics are essentially the same, and it?s still a very deliberate chaos happening on the screen at all times. While all these new features and updates will be great for the hardcore and competitive players, casual fans might feel a little confused at why this is a full disc purchase rather than a DLC package (like how Super Street Fighter 4 did the Arcade Edition DLC update if you chose to download rather than buy a new disc). I enjoyed Marvel vs Capcom 3 when it came out last February, but it wasn?t without its own problems such as over powered characters, infinite combos, and a lackluster online. This new Ultimate edition tries to rectify all these issues and more while improving and adding upon a great franchise.
The main story is essentially unchanged; you?re still trying to prevent Galactus from destroying everything, and to do so, you?ll need to defeat him. What is new is the inclusion of this story being told in comic book form at the beginning of the game. If you go into the gallery and actually read the comic, it slightly explains that all the characters are trying to stop Galactus, but are fighting each other for their own reasons. It?s vastly unchanged and you?ll still net points for how well you do in your matches. It?s simply a shame that the endings you get for beating arcade mode is a few comic book panels; it just didn?t feel all that satisfying trying to earn the different endings.
Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 still utilizes the same mechanics of fighting one on one with a team of three characters that can be swapped out at any time or used to help assist your current character defeat your opponent. You?re still able to choose what assist ability you want each character to have when selecting your fighters and performing moves will slowly fill your Hyper Combo meter that can be used for devastating attacks (and even more powerful combination attacks the higher your gauge).
The gameplay mechanics are untouched and still use the same three button control scheme. You have a light, medium, and heavy attacks, along with the special attack button that allows you to launch your enemies into the air for air combinations. A drastic change though is that the X-Factor mechanic returns, but can now be active mid-air, damage has been reduced, and lasts for a shorter duration. For those that didn?t play Marvel vs Capcom 3, X-Factor allowed you to have a massive damage increase, speed output, and even health regeneration; all of these made for some very interesting comebacks, but it was also controversial with some of the hardcore crowd. For casual players like myself, I liked the system, as it at least gave me a last chance of making somewhat of a comeback when I was badly losing a battle.
Another change you might notice right away is that the HUD has been slightly changed, though I don?t feel it?s for the better. The new HUD made it harder for me to see my teammate?s health and what position they are in. On the flip side, it?s much easier to tell if you have any X-Factor left or not. You may notice some new stage select and character screens, but most of the other visuals have essentially been unchanged aside from the drastic HUD update.
A big complaint many had about Marvel vs Capcom 3 when it released was the drastic drop in playable characters compared to part 2. Marvel vs Capcom 2 had over 50 playable characters, where 3 only had 36. Ultimate now adds 12 new characters to the mix bringing the total to 48 (50 if you included the two downloadable characters), which is still less than part 2 had. The twelve new characters (6 from Capcom and 6 from Marvel) are all new except for Strider Hiryu (who returns from part 2) and range from very powerful (Nemesis), to completely odd and whacky (Pheonix Wright). For the most part, the new characters felt like they fit and belonged in the game, so let?s go over the new characters.
Doctor Strange is all about luring the other person into playing the game you want to play. Get them close, and then unleash your combos with some unconventional moves. I found Firebrand to be very weak compared to many of the other characters as his damage output is low. Ghost Rider seems to be one of the more solid characters, as he can keep almost anyone at range and uses his chain whip to do decent damage from almost anywhere on screen. Hawkeye is similar in the same way that he can use his arrows to dictate where the fight takes place on screen, and even poisoning his enemies.
Iron Fist is a solid choice if you?re a pressure fighter like myself and light to be constantly attacking by using dashes and making the opponent wonder where you?ll be next. Nova is another pressure fighter that has some crazy combos that take chunks off life bars as well. I wasn?t a fan of Vergil?s move set, but I was surprised with how good Nemesis performed. He?s a straight forward character that doesn?t require you to memorize insane button combinations to do well. Strider returns and is as elusive as ever. While he isn?t? that great at taking hits, he can attack and then retreat almost instantly on a whim.
The last three characters to go over are the most unique and interesting in my opinion. First up we have Rocket Raccoon. He reminded me a lot of Servbot from Marvel vs Capcom 2, as he has a very small hit box due to his height, and he?s very sneaky and getting around screen and trapping you into some of his combos. While not all that powerful, he can be an annoying character to fight against in the right players hands. Frank West from Dead Rising fame finally makes his debut to the series (I?m not sure why it took this long) and he will use his photography skills to good use in a match, as they will power up some of his special attacks. Again, not the most powerful, but unique to fight with and against. Lastly is the courtroom attorney, Pheonix Wright. His addition feels more like fanfare, as he?s very weak and takes a lot of preparation to be competent with. He needs to collect evidence to change him into a powerhouse that can easily decimate almost anyone, though you?ll need some noticeable skills to pull this off appropriately.
While the new characters will get most of the spotlight, many changes have been made to some of the previous characters as well that will take some getting used to if you used them as your main group. Ryu has been changed from a mediocre character to someone that can hold their own. He can now spam fireballs and is a much stronger character in general. Captain Americas seems to have gotten a boost as well and I?ve made him part of my main fighting team. Not everyone got boosted though; the more powerful characters have been relined with balance in mind, like Magneto. He seems more sluggish making it much more difficult to setup and execute your combos. The same goes for some of the characters assists that made them once invincible, this is no longer the case. It seems like almost every character played slightly different (for better or worse) to try and alleviate the problem of everyone using the same top-tiered characters.
Capcom seems to have listened to the community when it comes to online competition, as now there?s a spectator mode where you can watch other people fighting with friends. You no longer have to wait as long when a match isn?t found and rematching is much easier this time around. With an improved netcode implemented, matches for the most part seemed smoother and there was nothing to complain about in this department.
While Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom brings some desired (and undesired) changes to the table, there are some glaring omissions in the character department. There?s no Mega-Man, Venom, Ken, Gambit, and a few others that I would have really loved to see return from the second game. Hopefully they?ll be DLC one day, but at least any characters and costumes you purchased from Marvel vs Capcom 3 will carry over into Ultimate.
For a casual player like myself, I still found it very difficult to become very good at the game (going online proved this). There is a mission mode that teaches you the different move and combos, but it really needs to be expanded, as it?s just there, but doesn?t do a great job to guide you (like Street Fighter IV) and make you a better overall player. To be honest, it feels like it?s too soon to bring us Ultimate as a full priced disc purchase rather than a title update and DLC. A DLC update was done with the Arcade Edition of Super Street Fighter IV, so I?m wondering why it couldn?t have been done in the same way here for Ultimate. If you?re a casual player and already bought Marvel vs Capcom 3, then it?s hard to justify this upgrade unless you really want to play with the new characters (or see how your fighters have been tweaked). If you?re a competitive player or don?t have the original offering, then this is obviously the version to get without hesitation. It won?t win you over if you didn?t click with it the first time, but if you enjoyed your time in this crossover, the new characters and updates should keep you hooked for a little while longer.