2000 was one hell of a year: Internet giant AOL bought Time Warner, the world survived Y2K, and kindergartener Justin Bieber was busy making the juice-and-naptime set swoon. More importantly, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 debuted in arcades, bringing 3-on-3 action to Capcom Vs.’ ridiculously over-the-top fighting series. The game’s developers had hinted at a sequel for the better part of the past 10 years, and last year it was announced: Marvel vs. Capcom 3 would be real and it would be fantastic. We’ve been working the ins and outs of the game for more than a month now and, while it’s admittedly not the best in the series (yes, we went there already), this is certainly a worthy entry after a very long hiatus.

By Troy Mounis

Capcom tapped comic book veteran writer Frank Tieri (New Excalibur, Iron Man, Wolverine) to tackle connecting the dots between the Marvel and Capcom universes for MvC3. We weren’t expecting much—previous iterations in the series were light on plot items—but Tieri does a great job providing closure for each of the game’s 36 characters through the individual endings. The uniting thread for all of the available fighters is that the devourer of worlds and designated a-hole of the universe Galactus has set his eyes on Earth as his next target. Doctor Doom and Albert Wesker put aside their dream of world domination themselves and unite with their goodie two-shoed brethren to take him on in hand-to-fist-to-adamantium-to-grenade-launcher combat. Time to shake what ya mama and/or Weapon X government experiment gave ya!

At its core, not much has changed in terms of what your ultimate goal is: String together ridiculous combinations by utilizing a variety of juggle attacks, air combos and timed teammate tags. The way in which that happens, however, has shifted slightly … unless you’re of the button-masher mindset, of course. While MvC 2 used high and low punch and kick buttons (for a total of four buttoms; hurray, math!), Fate of Two Worlds makes it even easier on your fingers by introducing three-button combat—light, medium and high attacks—and a juggle, or “exchange,” button that knocks opponents in the air, especially useful to continue combos and transition them into a super maneuver.

As if that's not accessible enough, there's even a “Simple” version of those button combinations that softens the learning curve of executing special moves, but limits your character’s moveset. For example, Wolverine will lose the ability to pull off his berserker attack, but will be especially adept at uppercuts. The bottom line is that whether you’re a veteran of fighting games or a newbie, it won’t take long for you to get into the swing of things which is A-OK with us. If you’re in need of some serious training, the game also includes a “Mission Mode” which is similar to the training area from Street Fighter IV. It will help you learn some of the normal maneuvers, so you’re not in “Simple” moveset purgatory for the remainder of your MvC 3 life.

Marvel vs. Capcom  3 offers a little bit of everything for every type of player. Hardcore fighting aficionados may take one look at the roster, see returning characters like Wolverine, Chun-Li and Ryu and think that there’s not much new to learn. Not the case—the revised control scheme, coupled with different timing, tagging mechanisms, and animations, means that you’ll have to hit the (strategy) books once more. Even better for those addicted to being awesome is Shadow Mode, a new online mode that allows you to download AI opponents modeled after the fighting styles of the game’s developers and some of the top players from around the world. If you’ve always wanted to take on Seth Killian, Capcom’s Community Manager and all-around badass virtual fighter, you’ll be able to do so without having to stalk him at a video game convention. Good-bye, restraining orders!

The game also does a genuinely good job in being more inviting to less-skilled players than the previous games in the series, offering up the aforementioned Simple control scheme, as well as settings that go all the way down to “Very Easy” difficulty (also called “You Might Have No Hands”). Even those who have no interest in games but just enjoy the Marvel universe will love the various unlockables, like a metric ton of artwork, various promotional videos, and a fully interactive 3D gallery of all of the game’s characters.

And, of course, there’s the brand spankin’ new coat of comic book paint, making the characters and the environments truly realize director Ryota Niitsuma’s vision of bringing the Marvel comic books to life. Above all else, nothing will impress you more than seeing many of your favorite superheroes and video game characters take each other on in a fully-rendered comic environment. Despite the slightly anemic cast of characters Capcom decided to go with (see below), this is overall a meatier package. That’s what she said.

By far, the roster of characters. MvC 2 had a ridiculous count of 56 characters—some good, some bad, and others just regular staples of the series. We were expecting big things from Fate of Two Worlds, but the game falls flat by delivering only a 36-member roster that still seems to feature some very avoidable selections. While there are a number of new additions, like Chris Redfield and Devil May Cry's Dante, that bring a certain level of fun and variety to the action, there are others which were just plain bad decisions. Nathan “Sausage Fingers” Spencer from the lethargic Bionic Commando console iteration instead of the mustachioed version from the downloadable titles? She-Hulk? M.O.D.O.K.? W.T.F.? 

Couple that with omissions that range from questionable to glaring, like leaving out Mega Man when Tron Bonne and Zero are included, ditching Ken from the Street Fighter series and going without Gambit, a crowd favorite from the X-Men series. Heck, even the Silver Surfer is neglected—which wouldn’t have been that big of a deal if Galactus wasn’t the game’s boss character. In short, the available roster of fighters is a disappointment...unless, of course, Marvel vs. Capcom 2’s theme song ("I Wanna Take You For A Ride") was prophesying Capcom nickel and diming gamers with downloadable packs down the line. Ready your wallets, nerds!

While we would’ve liked a few more special guest appearances to keep the party going for longer, there’s no doubt the developers are planning to roll out additional character packs that will appease some of our gripes. Also, subtle additions like Shadow Mode will help the Capcom community refine their skills, while a robust multiplayer interface and a smooth online environment extend the action around the globe. It may have taken a decade, but Capcom delivered a brand-new Marvel vs. Capcom title worthy of its name.


This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.

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