Monday, November 28, 2011
When it comes to releasing and then re-releasing the same content, Capcom is the developer to beat. It's released new versions of "Resident Evil 5," "Dead Rising 2," "Street Fighter IV" and HD remixes of "Resident Evil 4" and "Resident Evil: Code Veronica" in the last two years alone. And it's been doing these rehashes for awhile. Back in the PSone days, it trotted out Dual Shock versions of RE and RE2 and arbitrary updates to games like "Rival Schools." And now thanks to the rise in mobile gaming, it's putting many of its classics on phones and tablets.
The latest entry in Capcom's re-release parade is "Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3," the follow-up to "Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds" — a game that came out only nine months ago.
Anyone familiar with " Super Street Fighter IV," Capcom's other flagship 2D fighter, should know what to expect here: New characters, some minor rebalancing and a few new modes or some navigational improvements over the original. The problem is that only one of those things made it into "Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3."
Mission mode, which allows a player to take a fighter through series of aggressively difficult moves and combos, returns. It still serves as a great way to familiarize yourself with a character or characters and is a must if you're new to the series or in need of a refresher.
Fighting online is still a chore and results in cheap opponents and frequent disconnects, more often than not. Practice mode is still practice mode — nothing new here, and it pales in comparison to mission mode. Some of the characters' moves and play styles have been tweaked, but it's difficult to tell. If this is your first time playing MvsC3, you won't even notice.
As a result, the real draw to this refresh is the new characters: six on the Marvel side and six on the Capcom side, bringing the total fighter count to 48.
The six new Marvel fighters are all faster, more-agile characters, especially — and kudos to the developers for finding this deep cut — Rocket Raccoon, who works sort of as a counter to all of the small or weirdly-shaped characters on Capcom's roster. His collection of range attacks and defensive moves coupled with his speed make him a worthy adversary and a powerful ally in a capable player's hands.
Not to be outdone, the Capcom roster finally gets a bruiser on par with Marvel's Sentinel in the form of the Nemesis from "Resident Evil 3." Nemesis is almost overpowered, as the character features range and close attacks that deal sizable damage. What's more, he takes hits like a tank. Luckily, his aerial moves are less effective and he's not as mobile.
Most of the new fighters are a lot of fun to fight as or against, particularly Ghost Rider and Strider, and Capcom really put a lot into getting the characters right, all the way down to their pre-fight mannerisms, one-liners and post-fight sound-offs. There's something amusing and surreal about watching Ghost Rider blow hellfire onto Amaterasu from "Okami" or watching "Devil May Cry" villain Vergil pistol whip a tiny, sociopathic raccoon with an Australian accent.
While UMvsC3 is more of the same, the game's core is blisteringly fast fighting that can reward a player with a great feeling of accomplishment when a 50-hit combo is successfully delivered or a Team Aerial Combo leaves an opponent decimated. The fighting engine here is built for speed, and as a result it's easy for your fighter to get lost in all of the flash and theatrics.
Unfortunately, this same looseness to the combat system is one of the game's biggest faults. On paper, there is a lot of depth to the combat. Snap Back attacks allow you to eject an enemy from the field of battle, Advancing Guards allow you to get out of tight corners and avoid serious chip damage and Team Hyper Combos allow you to chain the specials of multiple team members together for massive damage.
The problem is that with the user-friendly controls and readily available specials, combat lends itself excessively well to button-mashing. There's little finesse necessary when fighting a human-controlled opponent, which causes many of the battles both online and off to resort to projectile wars and corner bullying. And because no new modes were added, we're left with a game that could have been just as easily made possible through DLC. "Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3" has a nice price tag at $40, but if you've already shilled out money for the original, it's hard to justify spending another $40 on what amounts to 12 characters and some new, somehow less inspired achievements/trophies.
That said, if you haven't played the original and are looking for a new 2D fighter in the wake of "Mortal Kombat," the game is worth it. Also, there's no online pass, so buying it used at a further discount is also an option. Just be prepared for a lot repetition that pays off every time a Viewtiful combo is landed.