Mighty and Marvel-ous
It's been three years since Street Fighter IV revolutionised the world of fighting games with Capcom's startling, distinguished take on the 2D fighter. In its considered execution, taking the flat sprites of the genre's heyday in the early 1990s and turning them into eye-popping 3D models that move with just as much grace and efficiency, a fighting revolution was reborn.
The game brings 19 characters from the world of Capcom - from stalwarts such as Ryu and Chun-Li to more unlikely opponents such as Amaterasu, the wolf Goddess from Okami and Viewtiful Joe - to face up against 19 classic Marvel comic book heroes. These include the obvious entrants such as Wolverine and Spiderman as well as more leftfield choices, such as M.O.D.O.K and She-Hulk.
A three-vs.-three fighting game, you must choose three combatants to take into the ring, and are generally free to tag each team member in and out freely during the course of a match.
Characters incur two damage types as they fight: normal damage and red damage. Tag a character out of the play area and, while they are 'on the bench' their red damage will replenish, making the flow of when you bring characters into the arena and when you send them out again a key tactical consideration.
In contrast to Street Fighter's 6-button configuration, Marvels vs. Capcom 3 simplifies things a little. Here are just three attack buttons: light, medium and heavy, and a special 'launch' button, that will whack your opponent up into the air if it lands.
Basic combos are triggered by hitting light>medium>hard then launch in quick sequence and, if you jump into the air after a launch opponent, you can continue the battle while airborne.
Hit the launch button again while in the air and you'll smack your opponent back down to the ground, while pressing a direction while doing do will bring in one of your teammates to continue to the attack in a seamless string. The action is fast, kinetic and spellbinding, and the quicker pace to Street Fighter IV will initially dazzle. But to compensate for the hyperactivity of the on-screen action, the inputs have been made a lot simpler, and providing you can execute a fireball motion (quarter circle towards your opponent followed by an attack) and a zig-zag shoryuken, most of the game's screen-filling special attacks will be available to you.
Death From Above
Visually, the game is a tour de force, with no slowdown even as the screen fills with explosions of pixels and fire. The modes on offer mirror those seen in Street Fighter IV. There's a basic single player 'campaign' to play through, a string of fights leading up to a final dramatic encounter with the giant Galacticus as he swipes at planet earth. Then there's a mission mode, which offers a series of combo challenges to be cleared for each character.
In terms of the all-important online modes, there are ranked and player matches to get stuck into, with every win and loss being recorded to your profile. Then there are lobbies, in which up to eight players can play winner-stays-on round robin matches against one another.
Sadly, unlike in Super Street Fighter IV, you cannot spectate other players' matches, and this oversight will make it harder to pick up tips from experts in the game. Nevertheless, the netcode is slick and fast, and playing online is a joy.
There is a slight lac of unlockables on offer here - particularly for a game that so obviously trades on fan service. But each character is stunningly realised, with a host of unique moves. The result is a game that may lack the weighty grace and considered character of Street Fighter IV, but that, in its dazzling light displays, provides a sugar rush alternative, that is just as worthy of attention.
- Fast-paced, exciting bouts
- A visual treat.
- Lavish character design.
- Lack of unlockables
- At times hard to see what's happening
- No spectating in online lobbies