Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 ReviewBlake Anglin
You knew it was going to happen. As with every other Capcom fighter, the base model, in this case Marvel vs. Capcom 3, is eventually superseded by the inevitable Super or Ultimate version. On one hand, you want to play the original game when it comes out, but you know it's better to wait till the new version comes out to reap all the additional rewards at a reduced price. Super Street Fighter IV was worth every cent of its $40 price tag, even if you owned the original. Unfortunately, I can't say exactly the same thing about Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. It's still incredible fun, but is there really enough content here to justify a new purchase?
If you enjoyed, but didn't buy, the original MvC3, or didn't play it at all, Ultimate is more than worth the price of entry. 12 new fighters enter the fray, upping the already impressive count to a total of 48 fighters. These aren't simple palette swaps either; each character has their own specific fighting style and nuances, even as button inputs are basically universal. A simple yet deep combat system rewards those who master it, but can be enjoyed by button mashers as well. The bright and vivid visuals pop off the screen, and the sheer amount of action on screen can be dazzling to watch. These matches really get the blood pumping. The three-on-three format is implemented beautifully, with a wealth of team combos and assists to learn. Since you won't have to learn a bunch of unique button presses for each character, you can focus instead on building a well-balanced team.
But anybody who played the original knows how tight and rewarding the gameplay is. What they may not know is how little new content they are getting for their money. Obviously the biggest change is in the new characters. They are all, without exception, a blast to play, and fill some interesting roles in combat. Nova and Dr. Strange are easily my favorite; Nova is a Phoenix-like powerhouse who isn't as fragile as the temperamental female. Dr. Strange plays like a quicker Dormammu, with a wide range of projectiles and traps. Rocket Raccoon, Firebrand, Frank West and Nemesis play completely different than any other fighter, with brawlers like Iron Fist, Strider, Ghost Rider and Vergil filling more traditional roles. The Blue Bomber is nowhere to be seen, but fan favorite Phoenix Wright is included, and has perhaps the most unique mechanics of any character to grace a fighting game. Gathering evidence, accusing your foe, and then kicking his ass in Trial Mode is a real treat. Two additional palette swaps are provided for each character, for a total of six, and a bevy of reworked stages joins the originals. DLC characters Jill and Shuma-Gorath, however, are not included on the disc.
Sadly, the rest of the upgrades are far less significant. The online multiplayer was an area sorely lacking in the original, and the only addition is a spectator mode. Yep, you're no longer forced to watch people's titles bump against each other whilst waiting in a lobby, although that option is available to you if you're into that sort of thing. That's it. There is no tournament mode or replay functionality to augment the bare bones ranked/unranked multiplayer offerings and a rudimentary lobby system is your only other option. Mission Mode returns with a few tweaks, and offers a great, if unexciting, training ground to learn character combos and tricks. Capcom has also included the ability to play as Galactus in Arcade, a mode that feels like it was pitched and developed in fifteen minutes. Give it a shot, and then never play it again.
That's not my only complaint with Arcade Mode. As good is the core fighting is, it's time we evolved past text and art stills as a competent ending. MvC3 promised a good story, and neither that nor this followed through. The closest thing resembling story is in the opening cinematic, after that it's just a string of meaningless battles. The meager endings are so poorly written and executed that it's not even worth the effort of fighting Galactus. Versus is still the stand-out way to play, and passing a controller around a room is as good with this game as any other fighter on the market.
A few other tweaks will only matter to the hardcore. A few moves have been tweaked for balancing purposes: Wolverine has a new Chun-Li kick type attack for example. The game-changing X-Factor, the key to winning advanced matches, has been reduced in duration, making it a much more strategic tool than before. If all this appeals to you, or if you missed out on it before, $40 dollars is still an impressive price for such a fun fighter, even if it fails to innovate.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.