Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 Review

By Daniel Maniago - Posted Nov 14, 2011

In true Capcom fashion, Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 graces us with its presence not even a year after the release of Marvel vs. Capcom 3, causing many an eyebrow to raise. Does this sequel of a sequel live up to the hype?

The Pros
  • All-star cast of characters
  • Simple, yet deep gameplay
  • Improved online features
The Cons
  • Confusing Heads Up Display (HUD)
  • No Mega Man X

Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 Review

Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 is the sixth installment in Capcom’s popular “Vs. series”, dating all the way back to 1996 with the release of X-Men Vs. Street Fighter in arcades. X-Men Vs. Street Fighter was part of a new breed of fighting game, sporting an over-the-top fighting engine complete with aerial combos, screen-clearing super moves, and a 2-on-2 tag-team system. The Vs. series’ true success came with the release of Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 in 2000, a game which is regarded by the hardcore fighting game community as one of the greatest fighting games ever created. Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 was released on six different platforms and boasts a roster of 56 playable characters in which the player could construct a team of three. It would go on to be played competitively for the next 10 years, and even saw a re-release on PSN and Xbox Live Arcade with online play. Needless to say, a sequel to Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 had big shoes to fill.

Fast-forward to 2010. Just as all hope was nearly lost in the release of a third installment of the Marvel vs. Capcom series, February rolled around and Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 came to be. Though the game engine had been rebuilt from the ground up, it retained much of the core gameplay elements of its predecessors, attracting veterans and rookies alike. In true Capcom fashion, Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 graces us with its presence not even a year later (what installment of Street Fighter IV are we on again?), causing many an eyebrow to raise. Does this sequel of a sequel live up to the hype?

The Nitty Gritty

Players already familiar with Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 will feel right at home with Ultimate. Though this installment comes complete with 12 new characters (including fan favorites such as Strider Hiryu and Vergil), new stages, gameplay and balance adjustments all across the board, and an enhanced online experience, the game generally plays similar to its predecessor. Players can choose from 50 possible characters (Jill and Shuma Gorath are purchased as DLC) along with one of three assist types per character, making for numerous different team configurations.

Characters are controlled with a six-button layout: four different attack buttons of varying strength, and two buttons to summon teammates for assistance. Special joypad and button combinations may be inputted to perform special moves; these can be stringed together with basic attacks to perform combos. Two teams of three heroes (or villains!) duke it out, and the one left standing is declared victorious.

The battle engine of Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 is rather open-ended when compared to your average fighter, and is designed to be simple yet deep. Players are given a large playfield to work with (spanning several stories high), a wide variety of character archetypes (rushdown, keepaway, combo-oriented, support, tanks, etc), and an intricate combo system that allows your creative juices to flow. Teams can configured to either suit your own playstyle, cover the weaknesses of others characters on your team, or simply fill the role of team theme like Iron Man/Hawkeye/Captain America for kicks. Also, a special mode allows Galactus to playable against computer-controlled opponents, for those who would rather devour the Earth rather than save it.

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 4

An enhanced online experience further opens the possibilities of the game. The heavily requested Spectator Mode has been added, allowing an audience of up to six players to watch two players battling while waiting for their turn at the action. The new Heroes and Heralds mode allows you to earn special cards (over 100 cards total, three may be equipped at a time) used to augment your characters’ abilities with crazy attributes like parrying, super armor, or invisibility.

This special mode is separate from regular online play; players are prompted to pick a side of Hero or Herald on a weekly basis, and the side successful in its campaign is awarded prizes as a result. Heroes and Heralds is meant to be an over-the-top style of mode and is great for players to take a breather from their usual fighting game regiment. Though there have been reports of Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 having an improved netcode to reduce latency, it’s likely that your mileage will vary depending on various factors, including your connection and your opponent’s connection/location.

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What Game Is This Again?

Part of the charm of Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 is the way certain characters retain their essence, seamlessly transitioning from the “world” they originate to this fighting game realm. Arthur plays just like his 2D platforming days of Ghouls and Ghosts, complete with double jumps and his usual panoply of weapons. Okami’s Amaterasu comes equipped with Solar Flare and Devout Beads, and even has the same rhythm of attack utilized in Okami’s battle engine.

Players familiar with Devil May Cry will feel right at home playing as Dante or Vergil, as many of their tools remain intact. Firebrand spits hot fire and clings on walls just like in Demon’s Crest, and Spencer relies on his bionic arm, an obvious nod to the Bionic Commando series. Phoenix Wright searches for evidence, a staple in the Ace Attorney series. Much of the Marvel cast share this feature as well--Spider-Man zips across the screen via web-slinging, Hulk unsurprisingly hits like a truck, and Hawkeye fires with characteristic accuracy.

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3

Hardcore Versus…Softcore?

Fighting game fans are often categorized into two very general groups: the hardcore, tournament-entering crowd and the casual, not-too-serious crowd. UMvC3 aims to satiate both. Casual fans will be pleasantly surprised by the all-star cast of characters, detailed character models and backgrounds, intricate gallery features, and the relative ease of learning the game engine at a novice level.

Hardcore fans can sleep well at night knowing their complaints about the original Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 have been heeded; X-Factor has been adjusted across the board (especially level one X-Factor), Tron Bonne and Haggar crossover assists have been weakened significantly, Wolverine and Phoenix have been toned down in overall effectiveness, and the notorious “THC glitch” has been removed entirely. The game’s balance has been carefully adjusted to create a more varied experience in both gameplay and character variety.

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3

Every Rose Has Its Thorn

This isn’t to say the game isn’t without its blemishes, however (rant incoming). I find it needlessly confusing to have the HUD your characters as 3rd, 1st, 2nd, as opposed to 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or even 2nd, 1st, 3rd. Of all the possibilities of life bar orders, it seems the developers chose the one that makes the least sense (to me at least). I often find myself tagging in the wrong character or expecting the wrong character to come out during a Team Hyper Combo or after a K.O.

Players are now able to press the attack buttons repeatedly (aka “mash”) to tack on extra damage to certain hyper combos, though it is more of a redundancy than anything else and comes off as an afterthought. Mashing in Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 required a certain degree of technique depending on the situation; such is not the case in Ultimate.

Additionally, despite tremendous fan demand, Mega Man X remains absent from the roster.  Mega Man fans will either be amused or endlessly tortured by the numerous references to the blue bomber within the game.

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3

Good Fight. Good Fight.

Despite these minor gripes, the newest installment of Marvel Vs. Capcom is well worth the wait.  Capcom has gone a long way to ensure that Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 feels more like a fresh game rather than a minor upgrade, and it shows. Even gamers who aren’t necessarily fighting game fans can find something they like in this game, whether it be making a dream team of Wolverine/Ryu /Spider-Man or exploring Devil May Cry-inspired Dante combos and seeing how deep that rabbit hole goes.  Regardless of your gaming background, Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 affords endless variety whether it be in the form of team formation, recreating the arcade experience both online and offline, or just horsing around with your favorite Marvel and Capcom characters.