As much as I love the Street Fighter IV series, it has done little to open me up to other fighting games in the last few years. Granted, I’ve bought every major fighting game since, but none of them could ever stuck with me. I’d play them for a few hours and go back to Street Fighter without hesitation.
After a handful of matches in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, I was concerned that this game would suffer the same fate. As with prior vs. Capcom games, the pacing, team mechanics and execution demands felt completely alien to me. But after a few hours, some training mode time, and some online wins (!) it got me thinking that maybe things will be different this time.
For one, this isn’t Marvel vs. Capcom 2. That fact alone I’m sure will disappoint some MvC2 purists, but I could never keep up with the insane speed or dexterity that came with that game. MvC3 does run a bit slower and the controls are somewhat simplified, which makes it easier for me to grasp. If you played Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, you know what to expect. My previous experience with that game was enough to get me off the ground here.
From there, I just got into the flow of the game. It also doesn’t hurt that I’ve been actively following the game for the last few weeks. After a few hours, I was able to get the feel for button-induced dashing and the combo system to the point where I was able to somewhat consistently land 40+ hit air-raid-off-the-ground-delayed-hyper-combos. Once I overcame some of the early execution barriers, I was able to start thinking about the strategy behind character selection, character order and how to correctly use assists.
If you’re not the slightest bit of a fighting game enthusiast, but want to play as your favourite Marvel characters, the learning curve is definitely lower in a way. While there is still a ton of dexterity involved in hitting massive combos, you can do some very cool things without any fighting game experience under your belt. As long as you’re facing off against someone of similar skill level, I see this game being much easier and exciting to get into if you don’t normally play games in this genre.
If you want to simplify things even further, players have the option to use ‘Simple Mode’. This mode allows you to execute special moves with simple button presses and directional inputs. This mode sort of works like Smash Bros. While you get the instant satisfaction of pulling off crazy moves with easy inputs, you also sacrifice a number of moves available to you. For example, Dante in regular mode has a whopping 40 special moves. In Simple Mode? Only three. If that sacrifice doesn’t matter to you, then by all means go for it.
The core fighting game experience to be found in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 isn’t for everyone, but I’m really enjoying it, which means a lot from a die-hard Street Fighter player. I don’t see myself committing to this game like I do with Super Street Fighter IV, but I’m sure to be playing the heck out of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 for a while.
As an overall package though, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 has room for improvement. Oddly, it’s a notable step backwards from Super Street Fighter IV. The payoff for beating Arcade Mode is really weak, as you only get slides and text rather than any sort of animation. Mission Mode is sort of like Street Fighter’s Trial Mode, but notably worse. Training Mode has a lot of great settings for you to manipulate, but they’re only good if you know how to play the game. Unlike Blazblue: Continuum Shift‘s amazing Tutorial Mode, this game doesn’t teach you anything about how to actually play the game. It still boggles my mind how fighting game developers still haven’t copied this yet.
Arguably an even larger omission to this package are the severe lack of online features. Outside of ranked matches and player matches with lobbies, there’s no team battles, no tournament mode, no spectator mode or replay channel. The lack of spectator mode makes sitting in a lobby pointless, as you may have to sit through upwards of six fights and only see moving health bars.
For what it is, I like this game quite a bit. It’s won me over in a way that a fighting game hasn’t done since Street Fighter IV, where all I could think about was playing more of it and getting better. If you’re willing to come to grips with the speed and craziness on the screen, you’re in for a good time. If it only had the feature set of Super Street Fighter IV or Blazblue: Continuum Shift, this game would be a serious contender for best new fighting game of this generation.