I’ve always been a fan of the fighting game genre though never a hardcore fan. Since first time I’d ever played a video game, which happened to be Street Fighter II on the Sega Mega Drive, my interest had garnered. Granted, I was absolutely woeful at the game, but it was still a defining experience in my gaming youth. Throughout my life I’ve grown up being a pretty big Tekken fan, and you can be damn sure I’ve gotten pretty darn decent at Tekken over the years, but I’ve always been really intrigued in the Capcom games, despite not being able to hold my dinner on them.
That hanged last year. Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition made its way into my PlayStation 3 and I started to understand the Capcom fighters more. I quickly realised that my Tekken skills did not transfer over, and that Street Fighter was a whole different beast. Now, while I may not be good, per se, I have at least grasped what makes Street Fighter the most popular fighting game out there, and I have actually begun to get gradually better at it. That gave me the courage to try a game which I always found much more daunting when I watched it being played, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
For a bit of context here, if you’re not a big fighting game fan and you’ve never seen some professional Marvel vs. Capcom 3 played, go watch this, the final of last year’s Evo tournament. It’s exactly why it was so daunting to me, but it’s also why I really wanted to get into it. I’ve got to say, with playing Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 on the PlayStation Vita, I’m really glad I did take the plunge as it’s a pretty great game, despite how daunting it seems.
Fought on a 2D plane, the combat system is easily the most fun of any fighter I’ve played, a mix of total insanity, but equally seriously tactical. Combos are the big focus along with juggles; being able to successfully knock your opponent into the air and deal damage with air combos is the key to success, and while it sounds simple, it’s very difficult to master.
That’s an apt description of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 as a whole actually. If you’re a first time player, it’s pretty easy to jump into Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, pick a trio of your favourite characters and have a great time just mashing buttons, on the lower difficulties of course. Try that on the higher difficulties, and the AI will wipe the floor with you. Try it online and, well… better you than me. However, as you spend time with Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, you’ll pick up on the nuances of the different characters, and you’ll realise just how much it takes to be great at this game. More importantly though, it’ll make you want to be great at it.
For newcomers, there’s the ability to use the Vita’s touchscreen to control the game, although the word “control” might be stretching it. Truthfully, the touch screen doesn’t really give you any control over the game at all; you literally just tap the screen and the game will auto attack for you, do combos automatically and even activate Hyper Combos automatically. There’s very clearly no skill involved here, and it’s not even really fun, if I’m honest. It just seems like a pretty half-hearted attempt to implement some sort of touch controls.
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is extremely pretty; the cel shaded/animated-type look to the characters is near superb, the different environments are varied and interesting, and the effects from the attacks are visually incredible. Thankfully, the console version runs at a buttery smooth 60 frames per second, something which thankfully hasn’t been lost in the game’s move to the Vita. It’s entirely essential that it does run at 60 frames per second too, timing is so key in the game that the reduced response time of a 30 frames per second refresh rate would totally throw the balance out of the window.
There’s a healthy amount of game modes as well. You’ve got your story mode, complete with stupidly over-powered and thoroughly annoying final boss – with the Galactus fight nothing short of Vita-out-the-window level of frustration, a versus mode to play some matches locally, your online mode – which allows one to search for matches that permit the use of touch controls (although unsurprisingly there are none), leaderboards, a training and practice area, and a pretty nifty mode called Heroes and Heralds.
Heroes and Heralds mode is a neat addition to the core game, and provides a conquest like board for players to work through. Players will choose to align themselves with either the Heroes or the Heralds in order to fight for control of the world; The Heroes want to save it, Glactus’ Heralds want to destroy it. The board contains a set of tiles, and picking a tile will enter you into a fight. Win said fight, and your faction gains some control of that tile, with the aim being to control all tiles. There is also a “Hit List” given to you, which contains a board of characters. Defeat those characters in your battles on the board, and they’ll be crossed out. Defeat all the characters in a line, and you’ll get access to a bonus stage which, upon gaining control, will give you access to special card.
The cards act as a strategic element for your fights, with the player being able to put together a deck of three cards to use in battle, with each cards having different effects, such as a faster refilling HC gauge, etc. You can build more than one deck and choose between them before battle, although you can only use one deck of three in each battle. This mode is also playable online too, with players picking sides and fighting against each other to gain control of the board over a seven week period. It’s an extremely clever idea, and a great way to add a meta game to the game’s otherwise vanilla online mode. Thankfully though, the online modes do at least work almost flawlessly with essentially no lag present.
There is no way I couldn’t recommend Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 on Vita to anyone, particularly if you are a fighting game fan. For newcomers, while you might not be very good at the game, you can easily pick it up and still have a blast, due to the nature of the game, in direct contrast to Street Fighter. The disappointing touchscreen controls really don’t detract from the core package, however, the Galactus fight is very awful, and did reduce my enjoyment of the game somewhat. Nevertheless, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a triumph of a fighting game, and one that I’ll surely be playing for a long time, and you should too.