Earlier this year, I wasn’t shy in voicing my approval
of Capcom’s Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (MvC3). Gamers, including myself, had waited years for the game and when Capcom brought it back for a new chapter, they weren’t messing around. Thanks to a stylish new look, fast paced gameplay, and an all star cast of characters, the Marvel vs. Capcom series was back at the forefront of the fighting game genre. Now, less than a year later, MvC3 is back again as Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (UMvC3).
Let’s one thing out of the way up front: yes, UMvC3 is a completely new retail game and no, it isn’t compatable with the “vanilla” version” released earlier this year. Those are just facts of life that fans of the series are going to have accept and move on, or get left behind from experiencing some of the best action available in the fighting game genre. As much as it may pain distraught fanboys to admit, UMvC3 is the best version of the game available.
Let’s take a look at what UMvC3 packs in its $39.99 package that wasn't in the original version. For starters, the game includes 12 completely new characters on the playable roster. On the Capcom side of things, players will be getting their hands on Frank West, Strider Hiryu, Phoenix Wright, Firebrand, Nemesis T-Variant, and Vergil. The Marvel side is adding in Ghost Rider, Dr. Strange, Rocket Raccoon, Hawkeye, Nova, and Iron Fist. The great thing about the new characters is that they all play differently than any of the existing characters in the game; there aren’t any pallette swaps here.
It could even be argued that some of these characters are even deeper than anyone on the cast previously. Both Phoenix Wright and Frank West in particular have very unique gameplay elements wrapped around their movesets which make them stand out above anyone else in the game. Each features their own meta-games which can level them up and open up their arsenals greatly. Capcom should also be commended for their selection of the new roster members. Most companies would take the easy route and go straight for the popular / “everyone wants these guys” choices but Capcom didn’t do that. Instead, they came up with an extremely unique and diverse cast, many of which will leave casual fans scratching their heads. Seriously, who remembers Rocket Raccoon? And who would have ever imagined Phoenix Wright appearing in a fighting game?
In addition to the new characters, there are also 8 new backdrops to fight it out on. This is one area that I feel more could have been done with as these improvements are marginal at best; most of the stages are simply variations of the previous backgrounds used in the original game. These involve slight variations in the time of day used and the addition of various weather effects on staple locales such as Asgard and Kattelox Island. . It serves it’s purpose but I think that it would have served them better had stages been based on each of the characters in the game. There are a couple of completely new stages including a back alley brawl setting that sheds some light on the fates of the characters who are missing from the previous game. I can really appreciate touches like these and wish that same effort had been put into all 8 new stages.
Also featured in the new version of the game is a completely revamped presentation style. I applauded the game’s comic book-style presentation before but has has been improved on in a major way. The game is literally laid out like a comic book; navigating the various menus and options, including the character selection screen, plays out as if you are turning the pages of a comic book. This really helps to add a true comic style feel to the game and it feels even more like a comic book that has come to life.
Those players who take things online, which is truly what you should be doing with the game, will find the experience in UMvC3 to be much better than the standard MvC3. The netcode used in the game has been vastly improved and the connection process has been streamlined. You won't find yourself booted out to the root menu when you fail to connect to a game, which used to feel like it happened 4 out of every 5 times you tried to find a match. That isn't the case any more. Connecting to opponents, regardless of the mode you have chosen, is pretty much quick and painless. You are also given information regarding the connection of your opponent before you start the match, which will give you a chance to back out if you see someone has a laggy or questionable connection.
One thing that is included this time around that I will agree should have been included originally back in February is the ability to spectate matches online. This feature is finally available although it should have been here from the start. Up to 6 players can watch the action of an online match now which should please those who congregate in lobbies and parties with friends.
If you shelled out the money for any of the costume or character DLC for the original version of the game, fear not. All of that DLC can be imported into the game and used in the new version. This doesn’t apply to the Shadow Packs which were released; those are not recognized by the new game.
All in all, UMvC3 has proven to be the complete package of the game and the version fans have been waiting for. I know that I am likely going to draw a lot of heat for such a positive review, but I can’t help it: I love this game. This series has proven to be everything that I hoped for in the sequel and then some. Sure, this content could have been released individually over time as DLC for the original game, but given the going price point for similar content gamers would have ended up paying a lot more out of their pocket for the total package on that route. The characters alone, going at $5 a piece, would have cost and additional $60 and that doesn’t include the new modes, gameplay fixes, balancing, and improved netcode put into this game. Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a complete refinement of an already impressive formula, and I cannot complain about that when it is offered at a discounted price.