The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Superheroes are in a constant state of change and reinvention. It feels like we can’t go a week without learning that a new caped crusader is traveling through time, having their ethnicity altered, or turning into a zombie. These changes occur to keep fans interested and prevent comics from yellowing on shelves. Fighting games face a similar challenge of spicing things up with new versions without making early adopters feel like they’ve been ripped off. Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 takes the shotgun approach to rejuvenation by unloading 12 new fighters into the series. While most of these new characters are all uniquely thrilling, the lack of innovation beyond them may leave owners of the original feeling unsatisfied when the honeymoon stage with the new cast ends.
Eager Capcom fans who have been holding their breath for the company’s insanely popular mascot to return to Marvel vs. Capcom should probably exhale, because Mega Man is nowhere to be seen here. In his place on the Capcom side we see the return of Strider, whose wall-jumping and lengthy sword swipes make nimbly cut down opponents with him a treat. My personal favorite new Capcom fighter is Nemesis, who makes up for a lack of flashy moves with a rocket launcher, beefy defense, and a disgusting hypercombo mutation. Phoenix Wright is easily the most fascinating fighter since Super Street Fighter IV’s oily Turk, Hakan. The bumbling lawyer specializes in clumsy indirect attacks while collecting evidence and swapping between investigation and accusation modes. Building a case against opponents while avoiding a beating results in some hilarious bouts that will have legal paperwork flying everywhere.
On the Marvel side we have the debut of superheroes like Hawkeye, Ghost Rider, and Doctor Strange. Ghost Rider’s clunky melee combat is compensated for by a screen-clearing chain whip that can be used to pummel foes with the flames of justice. Hawkeye’s variety of arrows can be used to freeze, ensnare, or straight up decimate opponents with the satisfaction of remaining safe on the opposite side of the stage. Capcom reached deep into Marvel’s backlog for Rocket Raccoon, an anthropomorphic varmint armed to the teeth with entertaining weapons. I loved clobbering fools with bear traps, laser rifles, handguns and log pendulums that would make the Ewoks proud. None of these new fighters are self-contained powerhouses like Sentinel or Phoenix, but they go a long way to jazz up the already solid tag-team combat.
While a bunch of colorful new heroes is cool, there isn’t much else that makes this iteration Ultimate. The one feature added to online play is spectator mode, something that should have been there to begin with. Sure, there are new character color palettes and certain stages now have new camera angles or are covered in snow, but these additions feel trivial in the end. Where is the replay channel or tournament structure that made Super Street Fighter IV such an improvement over the original? Lastly, I’m befuddled by Capcom’s decision to leave DLC characters Jill Valentine and Shuma Gorath off the disc.
In the same way that a comic series reboot can offer new fans a good jumping-on point, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is the perfect choice for curious fighters to check out the most complete entry in the series. Along with the new fighters, hardcore veterans will appreciate the tweaks Capcom has made to damage and combo-timing in an effort to rebalance the game. Middling fans who already played a bunch of the original and are only interested in new characters for novelty value will likely be left wanting.