Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds Review

By Brian Leahy - Posted Feb 14, 2011

Capcom continues its assault on the fighting game genre with Marvel vs. Capcom 3, a new entry in its "Versus" franchise from the producer of the fantastic Tatsunoko vs. Capcom. Is it time to break out that arcade stick again?

The Pros
  • Fantastic, Rewarding Fighting Engine
  • Great cast of characters
  • Training and Mission modes are excellent
The Cons
  • Where's the story they promised?
  • Can't spectate fights online. At all.
  • Online multiplayer enjoyment subject to lag

Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds Review:

While it has been 11-years since the original release of Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Producer Ryota Niitsuma is no stranger to Capcom’s “Versus” series, having just led the team that released Tatsunoko vs. Capcom for the Japanese arcades and the Wii. Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds has some big shoes to fill. It has to live up to MvC2’s tournament legacy and rabid fan-base, while also finding a broader audience in the rejuvenated fighting game genre.

Capcom, after going through a bit of licensing hell and years of fan requests for a sequel, was finally able to get development started with a renewed partnership with Marvel. While MvC2 featured a cast of 56 playable characters, many of them were severely underpowered and tournament play eventually evolved into constant bouts between Magneto, Storm, Sentinel, and a bit of Cable thrown in for good measure. MvC3 trims the roster to 36 characters (with two more announced as DLC), but just about every character seems to be a viable option. There’s also a lot more variety between characters and each plays just a little bit differently from similar choices. Characters that seem like gimmick choices, Arthur or M.O.D.O.K. for example, can be great fun to throw into the mix.

Are You Ready to be Taken for a Ride?

The first thing you’ll notice when you start playing MvC3 is that the fighting engine is ridiculously fun. The control system has been simplified since MvC2 and it’s easy to pull off some amazing looking combos, especially compared to SF4. You’ll get light, medium, and heavy attacks along with a “Special” attack that will serve mostly as your launcher, which will initiate air combos. There’s a ton of depth to be found underneath the controls, however, with a lot of strategy and choice. The limiting factor to your combos will usually be your creativity, with only the most complex moves requiring exact timing. Where Super Street Fighter IV requires tricky one-frame links, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 thrives on character and meter management.

As with MvC2, you’ll be fielding a team of three characters, each with one of three assist moves. This leads to a lot of potential match-ups and strategy in choosing characters. Some assists are incredibly powerful in the right situation, but do you want to choose a character based on their assist? With a little practice, you’ll be executing Delayed Hyper Combos, Crossover Assists, Team Aerial Combos, and Crossover Counters. None of these are particularly difficult to do, but all come with their own risk versus reward metagame.

The newest mechanic, X-Factor, is where Marvel vs. Capcom 3 sets itself apart from MvC2 in the biggest way. Each player will get one X-Factor during a fight, which can be used to cancel out of your current move, allowing you to link otherwise unlinkable moves, or just fire off two Hyper Combos without a gap. It also, however, gives your active character a significant boost in power, speed, and negates any chip damage for its duration. The strength and duration of this boost is dependent on how many characters you have left. Sure, you can use it while you have all three fighters standing, but wait until you’re down to one character and a comeback against three enemy characters is quite possible. Just remember, your opponent has one too.

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It’s A Real Page-Turner

Capcom and Marvel brought on Frank Tieri to handle the story and dialogue for the game, but sadly, the story isn’t really anywhere to be found in the actual game. Now, story isn’t high on my list of priorities for a fighting game so I’m not going to condemn the game for this, but it would have been nice to see something resembling a narrative attempted. You’ve got a bucket of great characters from both companies and the only story you’ll get in-game are four dialogue-free cutscenes depicting a battle between heroes from Capcom and Marvel until a more sinister threat appears. To actually find out what was going on, I was forced to turn to a brief comic book included only in the Special Edition version of the game. Beyond that, character endings are quick and feature two drawings and some non-spoken dialogue. It’s a missed opportunity, but doesn’t really hurt the game unless you were expecting an involved, engrossing story.

The dialogue, however, is fantastic and extremely referential. Characters will refer to each other and crack wise before, during, and after battle. These quips are good for a laugh and add a lot of personality to the characters. It really helps add weight to the fact that these characters exist in the same world. This is where the true strength of the writing shines and definitely sets the standard for fighting game dialogue.

But What Will Be in Super Marvel vs. Capcom 3

As for modes, you’ll get the requisite Arcade Mode, which ends with a big boss fight and unlocks each characters ending. The character that lands the last hit is the ending you’ll see, which is a bit annoying. It would have been nice to see the endings for all three of your chosen characters, but this should only really annoy those people that want to finish the game with all characters on the hardest difficulty. Versus is your mode for player-versus-player on the same console. To play against the AI outside of the Arcade Mode, you’ll need to utilize the game’s Training Mode. Thankfully, the Training Mode is phenomenal. You’ll get a ton of options for customizing the various meters, AI level, recording and playback of moves, and even a lag simulator.

Mission Mode is your one-stop shop for learning each character. Each character gets 10 missions, echoing Street Fighter IV’s trial mode, which range from simple special moves to complex combos that mix and match several gameplay mechanics. Some get rather challenging, but I never felt like any one mission was completely impossible for me.

Playing any mode in the game will earn you Player Points (PP), which is how you’ll unlock the game’s four locked characters. These four will be yours after only a few hours of gameplay. You’ll also earn gallery unlocks, achievements/trophies, and more through PP. Beyond that, there are tons of icons and titles to earn.

Endless Stream of Ryu, Wolverine, and Dante. Also, Deadpool.

Online is currently limited to Ranked Matches, Player Matches, and Lobby Mode. Ranked bouts will add to your overall rank and are one off fights between two random players. Player Matches are the same except they don’t bestow rank, but do offer easy options for quick rematches. Lobby Mode lets you create a room for up to 8 players to keep matches rolling. It’s a winner-stays situation, but unfortunately, this mode is crippled by not supporting ANY spectating. If you aren’t fighting, you get to look at the lobby screen and some life bars of the two players that are battling. I’m told that this is something Capcom would like to patch in, but there are no guarantees.

The netcode is comparable to Super Street Fighter IV. In short, you’ll probably experience a little bit of lag in almost every match, but it’s certainly playable. Like all fighting games, any amount of lag is going to diminish the experience when compared to playing against a local opponent. If you utilize the matchmaking feature, you’ll get plenty of low-lag games, but be warned if you’re going to attempt to play against friends that live far away or have questionable Internet quality.

Much Like a Comic Book Character, It’s a Hero With a Few Flaws

Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds is an incredibly fun game and should be in any fighting fan’s collection. While it isn’t the most mode-heavy fighter on the block, it’s one of the most enjoyable to actually play. I’ve already had play sessions where me and a buddy have rematched with no character changes twenty times in a row, trading wins back and forth. It’s extremely rewarding to play and keep playing. I’ve put in over 20 hours of gameplay into MvC3 and I’m already thinking about it when I’m not playing.

Capcom is already adding one new mode and at least two DLC characters so hopefully we’ll see additional modes and tweaks after launch. Sure, there are a few issues and the story is a missed opportunity, but there’s nothing that stands out as any reason not to go and get this game right now.