Let’s be honest: the fighting game genre is merely a shadow of its former self. Ten to fifteen years ago, the genre was the darling of the industry; every developer was pounding one (or more) titles out every financial quarter, attempting to cash in on the demand of consumers both in the arcades and at home. It was very similar to the way developers view FPS games now days. Over the past decade, the fighting genre has all but died. While it may have died off in the general market, the competitive scene has flourished and actually grown exponentially thanks to the dedication of die-hard fans and an increased desire for the rush that comes from one-on-one competition. Even in its darkest (least popular) times, there has been a small but vocal demand for more games to satisfy that desire. Things have started to change dramatically over the last 3 years. Ever since Capcom released Street Fighter IV, the genre has been seeing a major resurgence in both the public demand and developer interest. Companies such as Namco, SNK, and Arc System Works were quick to hop on the bandwagon and grab their own piece of the newly-craved pie. The companies that jumped on board have resurrected some of their classic series like Tekken and Samurai Showdown as well as create new IP such as BlazBlue. The game’s predecessor, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, remains THE game on the competitive scene, only recently being usurped in some circles by the recent Street Fighter IV series. Fighting games are back and in a major way.
Enter Capcom and Marvel. As a team, the two companies are no stranger(s) to the fighting game genre. The two licenses combined for a series of hit fighting games back in the 90’s and left off with what is arguably the most popular game on the competitive scene, Marvel vs. Capcom 2. License issues over the past decade have prevented the two from picking up where they left off as the Marvel license has been bounced around like a rubber ball throughout the industry, from developer to developer. All of a sudden, to everyone’s surprise, the companies announced that they were getting back together in April 2010. Thanks to their new alliance, the possibility of a Marvel vs Capcom 3 wasn’t just a possibility, it was a reality. Now, nearly a year later, the fighting game that fans have been dreaming about for a decade is upon us; Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is here.
Close your eyes and think of the biggest, most action-packed, flashy, over-the-top comic book that you can imagine. Now, double its “awesomeness” factor and imagine that comic coming to life, jumping right off of the pages that are laid out in front of you. That is Marvel vs. Capcom 3. MvC3, from start to finish, is a comic book that has been brought to life. From the moment the first menu appears on the screen to the scroll of the final credit, the game is presented to you as if you are flipping through the pages of the world’s most dynamic comic. The personalities of both companies are prevalent throughout the entire experience in the colorful characters and the vibrant world that surrounds them. Whether you are transitioning from match to match or menu to menu, you literally see a “turning of the page” which just further reinforces that “comic brought to life feeling”.
All of the character models in the game have been designed to look as if they were lifted directly from the pages of one of Marvel’s monthly serials. You can freeze the action at any moment in time and I guarantee that it would fit in the panels of that imaginary comic book from earlier. The text and font that appears on screen throughout the various matches and menus strongly resembles the descriptive text and font that appears in an actual comic book. The gameplay even reflects this feeling as the screen often tears or rips as if it were made of paper; perhaps my favorite little graphical detail of the game is when the final boss appears and rips the pages off of the screen, leaving small sections remaining at the bottom as if your comic book fantasy had truly been invaded by the wielder of the Power Cosmic. This all leads to a persistent environment that creates a great comic-themed experience.
The gameplay system of MvC3 has undergone as big of an overhaul as the graphical system. If you have played Capcom’s last versus game, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom on the Nintendo Wii, it will feel vaguely familiar. notice that I said familiar, this isn’t the same system used in TvC; MvC3’s system is deeper and far more expansive. Gone is the standard Capcom, 6-button setup which utilizes three punch and three kick buttons. MvC3 relies on three attack buttons, a special button, and two buttons that correspond to each of your partners. The attack buttons function in a “context sensitive” manner (thank you Conker’s) in which the same button will be used to execute multiple attacks depending on your characters’ position and circumstance. This control concept was introduced in TvC but has been expanded, and dare I say perfected, in this game. This may sound extremely limiting but the result is an insanely expansive system that allows for deeper combinations and attack strings that can be altered with even the slightest adjustment of your character on the screen. This time around, timing and positioning is everything.
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